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Under My Skin

I had a post all lined up about Friday’s soul-thawing flirt with spring weather, the endless clear blue sky, so high that you could finally stop slouching under winter’s cast-iron 5-foot ceiling and stand up straight with a sigh of relief. The birds heralding the changing season, fat sparrows frolicking in the bare but budding branches, gigantic robins, red breast puffed, hunting grubs or worms or new life. Berries bursting red from under the season-spanning dark greens of bushes that love both winter and spring – all those lovely things you notice on the first day of real sunshine when hope breaks though at last and you feel winter might end (never mind that it almost didn’t really start this time around).

But then I saw three movies this weekend and any spring sunshine I saw turned grey and all the warmth seeped right out of the light and now I’m clutching at my cup of tea hoping to feel some measure of comfort. None of this is helped by the lost hour that is Daylight Savings, which takes away the morning sun and lets me trudge to work in the pre-dawn dimness for a few more weeks. Also, losing that hour really messes with my sleep patterns, leaving me even more hung over with sleeplessness than the usual Monday morning does.

But I was heading to the movies here. This weekend the boy and I saw three movies: one, in the theater and two on DVD. All three are movies I would highly recommend you check out, but please, do not attempt to recreate what I did. Those three movies are intense, deeply psychological, and they deposit images under your skin like certain spiders or bugs lay eggs. They are also fantastic, each in its own way.

First up, The Host. As the wise Kung Fu Monkey says: “Is it less than three hours driving time to the only theater playing The Host? Drive it.” I will echo that sentiment. Go see this movie. It is so much more than a monster movie. Much more than your average Korean monster movie. It has family dynamics, stifling bureaucracy, and a very cool monster. And the metaphors. I’m still tense. And since the KF Monkey is a screenwriter working in Hollywood, and thus knows his shit, I’ll leave him with the last words on this move: “This thing is pure movie. Plot development and character that would never escape intact from the Hollywood development process. Go.”

But not enough with having seen this one fantastic, terrifying, engrossing movie, we then go ahead and watch Hustle & Flow. This is Craig Brewer’s second feature length movie, and the first one to be noticed. You may recall last year’s Oscars when a little song called It’s hard out here for a Pimp won Best Song. Yeah, that’s the music of Hustle & Flow. And it’s great. When that song won, I hadn’t seen the movie and was annoyed at the song. It’s hard for a pimp? What about the hos? Isn’t it harder for the ones actually doing the work?

But the music is key to this movie, and it is really something. If you haven’t seen it, go ahead and rent the DVD. I say, you can only profit from seeing this movie. Hey, according to the Filmspotting audience, even the Christian movie critics like it (see podcast #151).

And finally, we got around after all this time to seeing The Prestige – a movie that we missed in theaters partly due to lack of time and partly because on the day we planned to go see it, we first watched Grave of the Fireflies and were thereafter entirely incapable of doing anything but cry into our pasta (well, I cried anyway). Because of the fruit-flavored candy tin. Damn it! That is the saddest movie I have ever seen.

But I was going to talk about The Prestige, which is not exactly a sad movie, but it’s also not a happy one. It does feature Nikola Tesla, a field of glowing light-bulbs and soul-sucking magic acts. Both Ganesh and I called the ending ahead of time (the secrets behind the magic if you will) but the film stuck with me long after we pulled the DVD out of the player. In fact, images from the movie invaded my dreams and warped my mind’s nightscape. Thanks, Christopher Nolan, thanks for the nightmarish thoughts that woke me up last night. That movie really got under my skin, because although I could see the payoff, the secret or twist or whatever coming, and I was right, you still made me think about what that meant, what the implications truly were for the choices made by the characters and now I can’t sleep.

But I’m going to blame that on the early Daylight Savings Time change and pretend your movie didn’t creep me out on an entirely existential level. Because really, who wants to be that intellectual about a movie?

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