Let’s face it. Summer is ending.

There. I said it.

Amidst the bustle of back-to-school, I think it’s important to have some quiet nights tucked in here and there to regroup, recharge, or, let’s be honest, to veg-out.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve updated my Film page, so I thought I’d share a few of the new reviews with you.

“The Hunger Games”: If you enjoyed the trilogy of books even a little bit, you should definitely check out the movie. {But please don’t be like the lady next to me in the movie theatre who brought her four-year-old son to see it. I had to pull all my big hair to one side just to block him out because I felt so badly for him. He kept whispering, “I’m scared, Mommy. I want to go home,” and his mom kept telling him, “Mommy just wants to watch her movie. Please be quiet.” So. sad. Isn’t it some kind of abuse to make your small child watch all of that violence?!} My friends Marie and Patrick had a “Hunger Games” potluck just ahead of showtime at the theatre. Our invitations came with singed edges and asked us to bring a food that would’ve fit in in District 13. Brilliant! I brought something I thought might have fit in at Peeta’s bakery, naturally. So here’s what the film had going for it: Jennifer Lawrence brilliantly played Katniss. She was perfect with her quiet reserve and pride. The cinematography was awesome. The filming of the District 13 scenes was at such a contrast to the filming during the Game; District 13 scenes were all wide shots that took in the mountains and countryside and all the little grimy cabins, while the games were all close-ups, lending to that feeling of frenetic fear and of being hunted within a contained space. The wardrobe was fabulous, especially in District 13. They looked like a bunch of folks from Appalachia in the 1940’s. Loved it! Also, Lenny Kravitz was perfectly cast as a super-cool and kind of mysterious Cinna. Here’s what didn’t work for me: The training scene was so boring I found my eyes closing. The cast of other players in the game made me feel like I was watching an ABC “After School Special” (do they even have those anymore?) – not the best acting. And, my biggest complaint of all is that Peeta is just not played by the right guy. You can tell the actor’s hair isn’t really blonde, so he comes off looking really fake, and Peeta is not a fake person. To me, Peeta is supposed to be unassumingly handsome, and he should have a quiet, strong confidence. Not happening. Overall, I give the whole thing a second place to the book.

“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”: {I actually was quietly given a copy of this dvd when it was released into the theatres. Somehow someone from Hollywood got it, let their mom borrow it, and their mom let me borrow it. It was all very covert. And exciting. Shhh.} We’re coming up on the anniversary of September 11th, and that is what this film is about. “Where were you?” We’re all going to be taking a moment to reflect on this soon, as we will surely be asked. It was the one morning as a single teacher that I had not turned on the news while I was getting ready. In the car on the way to my classroom of fourth graders, I thought the people at 107.7 The End radio station in Seattle were playing a sick joke. My whole day was a delicate dance of learning and comforting and worrying and sorting fact from fiction, like everyone else’s, I’m sure. Lots of kids didn’t come to school that day because the fear was so rampant. At the end of the day, I knocked on my husband’s (then boyfriend of just a few months) door. Instead of talking about it, he wanted to watch a Monty Python movie. And we didn’t really talk about that day. As the years have went on and we have had to grieve so many things, both separately and together, his reaction makes sense to me now. But we never really got to talk about it until we watched this film.

This movie starts with all the confusion that happened that morning, only it’s happening all around a little boy who has some mental quirks. He’s walking home through Manhattan after school is shut down. He has some sensory issues and doesn’t answer the phone while his dad (Tom Hanks) keeps calling from the towers. The guilt from this gives him no peace for a long, long time. His mom is played by Sandra Bullock, who is, in a word, perfect. We learn through flashbacks what a wonderful and special relationship this boy had with his father, who really understood his quirks. He finds something hidden in his dad’s closet that he thinks will explain things to him somehow, and so he goes on a covert quest through the city for months and months every weekend while his mom thinks he’s doing something else. He has to talk to strangers, which is very difficult for him. He meets a lot of people from different walks of life while he’s looking for answers, and he learns a lot about sharing grief. His grandma lives in an apartment across the street, and he also is trying to unravel the mystery of her mute guest this entire time. The whole movie is tender, sweet, at times even funny, but always tearing your heart out. It comes to a beautiful conclusion that really leaves you with the lingering notion that we are all in this thing together. I really, really, really recommend this movie with two thumbs up, ten bags o’ popcorn, and five out of five stars! And, P.S.: Tom Hanks is one of the best actors. Ever. Ever. Ever. Who’s with me?

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