Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Narnia and Christianity -- One in the Same? Hardly.

In art the audience is encouraged to project its own emotions and feelings onto a slate of work, not necessarily feel things the way their creators intended them to be. Not only is it more sensible a notion, it is also easier -- who the hell knows for sure what the exact message of a certain detail was in a piece of literature or in a scene in a movie? The great thing about it is that looking from different perspectives makes for more worthwhile discussion, otherwise you might as well just have the author or filmmaker stand in front of you and tell you exactly why things are the way they are.

Imagine how boring that all would be. Imagine, furthermore, how completely withdrawn the casual person might become if they were forced to endure continued talk about the thrust of something like the Narnia Chronicles, in which C.S. Lewis supposedly modeled his series of children's fables after certain interpretations of the Bible. Reading, watching, hearing -- whatever the task -- is made unique because by people bring their own idealism and perspective to the job, not by someone trying to directly correlate the meaning of something the same manner that its founder did.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Returning to Hogwarts

Those who know me well enough to predict what I will like and dislike are no doubt staring on in a state of confusion at the recent revelation that I have recently joined the ranks of the millions of people that make up the Harry Potter fanbase. In years past my only connection to the world of young wizards and witches was limited to the big screen: a prospect that, needless to say, is reason enough to understand why the desire to read J.K. Rowling's series of novels was never that strong.

Some have called me a killjoy for speaking negatively of all three released film adaptations of her stories, but I stand by my initial response: these movies lack perspective, and are not about youngsters being heroes but about how special effects can upstage potentially-resonating childhood fantasies.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Batman Begins / **** (2005)

"If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something else entirely."
-Henri Ducard, Dialogue from "Batman Begins"

In comic books it is the ideology of heroes (particularly the more emotionally unstable ones) to become the embodiment of their phobias, to turn all traces of pain and suffering into an inspiration behind their careers as crime-fighters. Some (like Frank Castle, aka The Punisher) embrace this conviction at a tactical level, while others (like the more well-known Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man) simply remake themselves into actual objects of horror. The latter certainly constitutes for most of the more interesting superheroes of the comic universe; when it comes to leaving a lasting impression on those whom you are facing off against, sometimes image is everything. And besides, if you were a masked vigilante who wanted to be known to those whom you were waging war against, would you have more success being yourself or being an unknown in a spider suit?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Cinderella Man / *** (2005)

Family man and all-around nice guy Jim Braddock lugs around enough nobility to put most guys to shame, the task on his shoulders so physically demanding and uncertain that it's a wonder he is able to go home at night and be halfway civil to his children and wife. Reality is certainly not in his favor; a successful prize fighter whose golden days dissipate just as the clout of the Great Depression is set into motion, his life both in and out of the ring are sent into major freefall, a predicament that would be more than enough to cripple any man emotionally. But no, here is a guy who projects the ideals of the working class and an attitude of optimism so resolute that he refuses to cave. For him, failure is not only not an option, but a completely foreign concept. Maybe that is what drives him down a road of new opportunities and success, or maybe it is just sheer luck. In any case, this is the kind of guy whose ambition is just as great as his dignity, and when put to the test he faces those dilemmas like they are nothing more than challengers in a ring begging for a knockout.