Sunday, December 30, 2007

Some of the Best

This time of year, many writers are putting together a “best films of 2007” list. I would like to get in on the action, but it would be a little impractical for me to try to list the best films that have come out, since I have seen so few of them. Instead, this is the “best films Aaron has seen in 2007.” Thanks in no small part to the Quincy Movie Nights, there have been plenty of good films to consider. After much thought, I have chosen a trifecta of winners to share the title.

The first of these films, Juno, is still playing in theaters. Jason Reitman’s story of a pregnant high school student - a sort of wise fool surrounded by adults who do not always get it - began as a limited release, but quickly moved to theaters everywhere. And it is easy to see why. The audience with which I saw it was laughing out loud and clearly enjoying the humorous moments; but when the film got serious, you could have heard a pin drop. The story is well written, with several neat turns and reversals; it is well acted, with a first rate performance by Ellen Page in the title role; it is beautifully shot; and it has a quality musical score. Finally, the film is grounded on solid philosophical and moral principles. It does not bill itself as “pro-life” or “family-friendly” and does not assault its viewer with kitch messages. Indeed, the film is very much a creature of the modern age, frankly acknowledging the reality of family life in 21st century America. But it is also a film that understands and speaks to the fundamental importance of human dignity, the value of parenting and the importance of committed relationships.

In America (2003) is the story of a modern Irish family moving to New York City and struggling along with financial and family issues. Normally a film with that description would not pique my interest; it sounds like it would either be pathetically cheesy or terribly depressing. But as Nathan (not exactly the house optimist) explained, “this is a feel-good movie I can get behind.” Unlike most films of the feel-good genre, In America is neither predictable nor poorly acted; instead, it is a highly believable story. (This is probably due, in large part, to the fact that the script was written by a real family, based on their actual experience.) In addition, the story is artfully constructed, with several thoughtful sub-themes weaving through the story of the family’s struggles.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) can be a confusing film. But fear not; the confusion is artfully handled, complementing the story, instead of leaving the viewer woefully confused. Michel Gondry’s story of love, loss and memory, like Juno and In America, avoids the formulaic, with several enjoyable plot turns and a nice interweaving of the main plot line and a subplot. Though I have only seen the film once, I have little doubt that a second viewing would reveal a wealth of carefully thought out details. But in addition to its narrative qualities (which are many), Eternal Sunshine is a beautiful piece of art. Much of the story is set in the world of memory and Gondry has done an excellent job of imaging what that might look like. (Thankfully, this does not include massive amounts of computer animation that tax the viewer’s suspended disbelief.)

There were any number of honorable mentions, but their ranks are far too many to actually mention them. Perhaps another blog post...

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chrismas Don't Care

It's almost Christmas and the radio waves are jammed with sleigh bells and cheer. This Year Sufjan Stevens held a Christmas Song Swap Contest. We thought that it might be fun, so Quincy house members, and our friends in the new international sensation, Fauxhawk Favre, joined us to create two songs for a short Christmas album. We hope that you all enjoy them, and have a very Merry Christmas.

Chrismas Don't Care - Fauxhawk Farve

Far Away Christmas - Nathan Castellanos

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

A new figure: Part III

While studying the works of an obscure Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci (pictured left), for my History of Political Warfare exam, I was struck by his picture. The resemblance with a soon-to-be housemate is, well, striking. Is it possible that Gramsci did not die in 1937, as suspected, but is in fact still among us, posing as one Santiago Ramos (pictured right)? Decide for yourself.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This Christmas Season, Make Sure to Remember Those Less Fortunate

Report: Nationâ??s Wealthy Cruelly Deprived Of True Meaning Of Christmas

Friday, December 07, 2007

For All of You with Holiday Parties to Attend

(For a larger version, simply click the image.)

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

75 Years! Time to Celebrate

"You make wine to cheer human hearts, olive oil to make faces shine, and bread to strengthen human hearts." Psalm 104:15

Today, December the 5th 2007 is the beginning of the 75th year that the absurdity of prohibition was repealed in the United States.

Here at the Quincy House we are raising a glass to those courageous lawmakers who realized that the heavy hand of the state was causing more harm than good.

This is a cause for celebration, however, even now the vestiges of that dark time still live with us. The freedoms that our forefathers, Jefferson, Washington and countless others fought for are still not fully attainable to the average American. If my patriotic fervor led me to emulate our first president and distill a batch of rye whiskey, the over reaching federal powers would definitely not smile.

So raise a glass.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Don't Cry For Him, Venezuela...