Friday, January 11, 2013

Ten Down, Twenty to Go; Or Movies, Movies, Movies!

The physical aspect of fasting has become much easier in the last couple of days, almost to the point of not even noticing that I'm skipping a meal.  Which is good in some ways: no headaches, the day goes by more quickly, I'm not desperately trying to distract myself from wanting food.  But in some ways it's almost counterproductive; there are times I almost forget I'm fasting.  This morning I almost licked the huckleberry jam off my fingers after spreading some on the boys' toast.  My fingers were literally millimeters away from my tongue when I remembered and it was excruciatingly difficult to force myself to wash them instead of lick them.  It was huckleberry jam, folks!  I also find myself slipping into more of a casual attitude with my prayers.  When my stomach was growling every few minutes, it was a good reminder to take a second to offer up thanks or just check in with the Almighty.  Without that fairly constant, though minor, physical discomfort, I'm not remembering to pray as often as I mean to.

I actually miss water more than food.  Before this month, I had gotten in the habit of filling a glass with ice water and sipping on it throughout the day, refilling it several times.  I look forward to sunset for my little snack, yes, but mostly for the big glass of water I can chug down.

Now, about's very rare that I actually go to a movie theatre, sit in the dark with some pop and popcorn and watch a first-run film.  And it's happened three whole times in the past month!  First The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, then Les Miserables, and finally Lincoln.  And I found them each quite profoundly moving for different reasons, with powerful themes that speak to different facets of the human experience.

I love the world that J.R.R. Tolkien created, and though I was concerned when I heard that The Hobbit would be filmed in three parts, I was still inordinately excited to see Peter Jackson make it come to life the way he did The Lord of the Rings.  And I was completely engrossed in the film from start to finish.  The story of dear, stodgy Bilbo breaking out of his comfortable hobbit hole and the expectations of his familiar life to become a burglar on a quest to the unknown makes me believe that, as Galadriel assures Frodo in the later trilogy, "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future."  And that change is possible because first Bilbo, and then Frodo, made choices to step (far) outside their comfort zones and stretch themselves.

In this first Hobbit film, Gandalf, explaining to Galadriel why he included Bilbo in the dwarves' party, speaks a Truth: "It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay, small acts of kindness and love."  That sentence gives me hope that while I may not be able to make great actions to combat the evil in the world, I can have a positive influence over my immediate community and relationships.  And besides all that, The Hobbit is just a great adventure story! (I read it aloud for the boys at bedtime last year and they loved it.  My goodreads review is here.)

I want to write a whole post on Les Miserables, so its mention in this post will be short, but again, I loved this film from beginning to end.  And I can say that, despite the fact that I don't care for Hugh Jackman's voice (I prefer my tenors less reedy), nor Amanda Seyfried's voice (I find her vibrato a bit grating), nor Russell Crowe's voice (was it just me or was he a little flat here and there?).  I've seen the stage musical, and the film, just by nature of the medium, was so much more intimate and, I thought, emotionally intense.  I'll deal with the thematic issues in another post, but even my husband who passionately hates doesn't at all care for musicals liked Les Mis.  (He even admitted to shedding a tear when Gavroche was shot.)

And finally, Lincoln.  Lincoln really should have felt ponderous and plodding.  At two and a half hours and with the number of times Daniel Day-Lewis's Abraham Lincoln stopped to pontificate or tell a story, it should have felt six hours long.  But it was so masterfully done that I was almost startled when the inevitable and oh-so-sad end came.  The film doesn't shy away from the brutality of war, the intimate, messy, bloody, ugliness of it on every level, and that is hard to watch.  It also shows the human cost of slavery for both the slaves and their owners, and the entire country.  Tommy Lee Jones's turn as Thaddeus Stevens is particularly enthralling.  The film is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals, which I picked up at one point a couple of years ago and couldn't get through (pitiful goodreads review here).  I'm going to have to give it another shot.

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