Quirky comedy. A teen kid struggles to overcome his insecurities around his family, friends and schoolmates that is exemplified in his leftover habit from childhood of thumbsucking. This movie breaks the traditional story structure rules and focuses a bit more on character than story, but is ultimately a very interesting tale that left me thinking about it for days. The main point of the story is incarnate in the “mentor” character of the kid’s dental surgeon, played ironically by Keanu Reeves. The kid tries all these different ways to stop his habit, from hypnotism, to taking drugs for ADD, which is one of the funniest and profound elements of the story. The kid realizes that the drugs are just another fake solution to our human condition, which is really an indictment against the medical model of psychiatry that dominates our culture.
But the story goes farther than this. After the kid has tried all these means of stopping his habit, and has not been able to do so, the dentist meets with him again and tells him his previous theory was all wrong and apologizes for it. He then concludes with a monologue expressing the theme of the film that we really don’t have the answers to the human condition and each of our theories and attempts are just our confused way of wandering through life trying to find our way. Although this is ultimately existentialism in its cynical view of truth and rejection of solutions to the human condition, there is a big grain of truth in it that connects with me. While I believe that there is absolute truth, I don’t think that as humans, we have absolute or certain knowledge of it outside of faith. And even having a connection to God doesn’t guarantee absolute or certain experience of victory over our problems. Our understanding of God is often wrong in so many different ways as well. This doesn’t mean truth is undiscoverable or that we should not seek to find answers, but merely that we need to be more cautious in our pursuits of claiming certainty and have a willingness to consider the remote possibility that, yes, we might actually not have it all right.
Russian Supernatural Horror. Okay, this is a vampire movie that has some cool moments in it, and was done for an amazingly small amount of money 4.2 million. It looks almost as big as Underworld 2. I was amazed. It is a very convoluted and detailed story about the forces of lightness and forces of darkness held in balance through the ages, based on some ancient truce made by the two warring kings of each side. The emphasis is on choice, and how everyone must choose for themselves which side to be on, and these forces cannot violate that free will. It is a Manichean Dualistic worldview that understands spiritual reality as two equally opposing forces in a perpetual struggle for the souls of mankind.
And there is a prophecy of a Gnostic redeemer who will come one day and choose one of the sides, who will it be? So, very Gnostic. And quite frankly, it was a bit too esoteric and detailed for me to follow. But there are some very cool things that happen in it. For instance, the very beginning starts out with a young man going to an old woman in present day to put a curse on his unfaithful girlfriend pregnant with another man’s child. This lady turns out to be a modern day witch, and it’s all very Jean-Pierre Jeunet style in its gothic quirkiness. Very interesting characters who are not all beautiful, as in Underworld. I like that about foreign films.
So anyway, this old lady starts to curse the woman and her unborn child after telling him it is a “sin” to kill the unborn. So, then the guy yells stop because he can’t bring himself to do it, and these spirit beings stop her from clapping her hands to finish the curse and the baby is safe.
So, this guy goes on to join the forces of light. Meanwhile, the forces of darkness are depicted as vampires. So by the time the hero has to help this kid twelve years later who is an “Other,” that is, he is sensitive to the spirit realm, the hero comes to realize that the kid is his own child. The girlfriend was not pregnant with another man’s child, but with his own! But for some convoluted reason the hero is deceived into thinking he must kill the kid for the good, and is stopped in mid stride by the bad guy. Then the child asks him why was he trying to kill him, and the hero replies that he would never try to kill him. To which, the child replies that he did try to kill him, TWELVE YEARS AGO when he used the witch to curse his unborn child. This desire to kill his own child is what causes the child to go to the forces of darkness instead of light. And that, my friends, is a VERY powerful life affirming story. Three cheers for the Russians!
Suspense Thriller. Harrison Ford as a computer security executive for a major bank whose family is kidnapped by a bank robber who wants Ford to break through the bank security for him or his family gets killed. This is a formula thriller, but I loved it. And particularly the very strong value that the story incarnates on a personal as well as societal level: FIGHT TERRORISTS/CRIMINALS TO THE DEATH, DON’T SUBMIT TO THEM. Let’s Roll!!