Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: April 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Movie Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

by Tony Dayoub

The good news is that X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a lot better than the last X-Men film was. The bad news is that this overstuffed entry in the comic book mutant saga is as unwieldy as its title. No, this movie is not as bad as I expected, which kind of precludes me from poking too much fun at it. Worse than that... it's mediocre; not good enough for one to celebrate its ingenuity; not bad enough to revel in its outlandish action blockbuster hallmarks. It commits the cardinal sin of the superhero sequel - to try to top the one that came before it. And this being a prequel more precisely, it makes the same mistake as others of its ilk - to try to explain away any of the mystery about its main character which attracted us in the first place.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Blu-ray Review: An American in Paris (1951) and Gigi (1958)

As Trek fever begins to grip this fanboy's soul (Star Trek returns next week), it is easy to consider the qualities that the sci-fi and musical genres have in common. For me, both serve as transportive experiences, escapism that allows you to leave daily life behind and travel to fabricated worlds where design and color take on a greater importance. Vincente Minnelli innovated in the musical genre by leaving behind the stage-bound Busby Berkeley-style show musicals or Astaire & Rogers-style dance musicals. Minnelli created worlds in which a man could walk down the street (more likely a backlot) and suddenly break into song. Technicolor would become as prominent a character in his films as any of the leads. Two of his musicals were recently released on Blu-ray: An American in Paris, which shows us the possibilities that can be explored in the genre; and Gigi, which demonstrates the genre's limits. As I've said before, the existence of Blu-ray is justified not by how it displays contemporary films, but because of the enhancement it gives to a remastered piece of classic cinema. Both films have beautiful, crisp pictures, that reveal tonal variations in the bright saturated colors that were never apparent in their original DVD releases. This is particularly surprising in the context of the heightened artifice of An American in Paris which was confined to the backlot for much of its shoot. In the film's climax, the paintings of French Impressionists Dufy, Manet, Van Gogh, etc., come to life during Gene Kelly's splendid ballet interpretation of George Gershwin's titular composition. An American in Paris is also a testament to the collaborative forces that shape a film. It is difficult to overstate the importance of Gene Kelly's contribution as a co-director to Minnelli. Minnelli may have guided the formal aspects of the cinematography and staging, but it is Kelly's choreography during the movie's many dance numbers that truly elevate this Oscar-winner to the level of a classic. Perhaps influenced by Powell & Pressburger's The Red Shoes (1948), with its 15-minute ballet sequence, Kelly was determined to include his 18-minute ballet sequence that is the undisputed highlight of the film. The additional 3 minutes, though a by-product of Gershwin's composition, probably satisfied Kelly's competitive streak, discussed further in a wonderful episode of PBS's American Masters included on the Blu-ray. Kelly's discovery, Leslie Caron, the ingénue of An American in Paris, went on to star for Minnelli in Gigi, also a musical, also set in Paris. But the effect here could not be more different than in Minnelli's previous film. Where the earlier film's scope seems limitless despite its shoot being confined to a backlot and soundstages, Gigi seems limited by its decision to shoot on location. I guess to justify production value, the actors are often upstaged by the Paris setting because of the decision to frame in favor of the appealing locations, as seen below. There are also some unintended laughs delivered by the otherwise delightful Maurice Chevalier as Honoré Lachaille. When he sings "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," its hard to suppress the darker connotations the lyrics have (specifically because it's sung by a rather old man) in modern society. And it's hard to ignore the misogyny inherent in his conversations with his nephew, Gaston (Louis Jordan). At one point, Honoré congratulates him for provoking his first attempted suicide, a reference to Gaston's mistress and her response to their break-up. Still, the Blu-ray contains a fascinating extra, the 1949 French version of Gigi, a nonmusical also based on Colette's novel.

Monday, April 27, 2009

"...This is the greatest bar band in the land, and if they don't think we know 96 f***in' Tears..."

That statement was made by one Bruce Springsteen, 59, as his E Street Band then proceeded to tear down Atlanta's Philips Arena last night with an improvised rendition of this song: Springsteen's nearly 3-hour set last night was, in fact, noteworthy for its surprising amount of cover songs (you can find a full setlist after the jump), including two requests that, as the singer noted, seemed designed to stump the band. Maybe it was the fact that Springsteen's producer of late, Brendan O'Brien, was in the audience last night. Or maybe it was because he was missing wife Patti, absent due to an injury. But as the New Jersey phenom proved with his best show I've ever seen, this ain't no ordinary gang of musicians. Needless to say, my post for today on two Minnelli musicals new to Blu-ray will be delayed. But as I recover from the astounding evening that was had last night, in which my wife discovered she has a new crush to daydream about, I leave you with last night's program courtesy of Backstreets. Atlanta, GA - Philips Arena - April 26, 2009 Setlist: "Badlands" (Darkness on the Edge of Town - 1978) "Darkness on the Edge of Town" (Darkness on the Edge of Town) "Outlaw Pete" (Working on a Dream - 2009) "She's the One" (Born to Run - 1975) "Working on a Dream" (Working on a Dream) "Radio Nowhere" (with Jay Weinberg - son of E Street drummer Max - on drums) (Magic -2007) "Seeds" (w/ Jay Weinberg) (Live 1975-1985 - 1986) "Johnny 99" (w/ Jay Weinberg) (Nebraska - 1982) "The Ghost of Tom Joad" (w/ Jay Weinberg) (The Ghost of Tom Joad - 1995) "Raise Your Hand" (Live 1975-1985) "96 Tears" (? & the Mysterians) "Trapped" (Jimmy Cliff) "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" (The Rising - 2002) "The Promised Land" (Darkness on the Edge of Town) "The Wrestler" (Working on a Dream) "Jungleland" (Born to Run) "Kingdom of Days" (Working on a Dream) "Lonesome Day" (The Rising) "The Rising" (The Rising) "Born to Run" (Born to Run) * * * Break * * * "Hard Times" (Stephen Foster) "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" (Born to Run) "Land of Hope and Dreams" (w/ Jay Weinberg) (Live in New York City - 2001) "American Land" (w/ Jay Weinberg) (The Seeger Sessions: American Land Edition - 2001) "Detroit Medley" (Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels)

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Year 2000: Counting Down The Zeroes - Unbreakable (M. Night Shyamalan)

The passage of time can destroy or crystallize your opinion of just about anything. In the world of cinema, films can become dated or with hindsight, look quite prescient. M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable falls into the category of the latter. The visually arresting movie is the earliest example of American cinema examining the mythos of comic book superheroes with reverence. Misunderstood at the time of its release because of an ill-conceived marketing campaign designed to sell it as another Sixth Sense, it calls for a reexamination in light of last year's release of The Dark Knight. Like that film, this one takes the mythology of superhero graphic novels quite seriously, grounding the players in a real world, and burdening them with the same kinds of problems people deal with on a daily basis. Unbreakable is about two men who seem to be mirror images of each other-reflections and refractions will be a running motif. David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is a melancholy security guard who is in the early stages of separating from his wife, Audrey (Robin Wright Penn), and keeps his son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark), at a distance. Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) is a wealthy dealer in comic book art who has insulated himself from the rest of the world because of a condition that causes his bones to break at the slightest impact. David is the sole survivor of a train wreck which brings him to the attention of Elijah. Elijah believes that if he is a man on one side of the spectrum of fragility, his opposite number, a man of superhuman strength, must reside at the other side of the spectrum. It all makes sense to David's son Joseph, a comic book fan who is looking for anything special to elevate his rather ordinary, estranged father. Elijah's relentless harassment of David and his family concerns him. David only sees an overgrown, bitter, isolated individual who has started believing in the comforting graphic novels he grew up with while real relationships eluded him. But Elijah is correct in asking David if he's ever been sick. He hasn't. And Elijah astutely suggests that the car accident that once sidelined David's promising football career may have simply been an opportunity for him to leave a sport which his then-girlfriend Audrey found repulsively violent. Shyamalan takes some of the conventions of superhero mythology and builds his own iconography around it. David's alliterative first and last name, for example, is common to superhero's secret identities, i.e. Peter Parker/Spider-Man or Bruce Banner/Hulk. Yet his depiction of David's environment in drab and industrial green tones is a cinematic expression. In the picture above, one can see how Shyamalan subtly frames the film's subjects frequently using columns, windows and the like as a subconscious reminder of the comic book panel, as first discussed by Jim Emerson at his movie blog, Scanners. That screen capture also implies the reflection motif discussed earlier with its inclusion of the chandelier in the frame. One man, unbreakable in body; the other, unbreakable in spirit, doggedly hoping to measure his own importance by confronting his opposite doppelganger; both are framed in the scene above. Here is an explicit framing of the two diametrically opposed men by the stadium bleachers, with David's past playing out behind them in the form of a football game at the stadium he guards. Once an active participant in the game, he is now an outsider relegated to overseeing its fans on the fringes. More of Shyamalan's use of color coding can be found in the cool blues and purples that dominate the screen whenever the crippled Elijah is onscreen. And his name is an evocation of prophecy, destiny, indiscriminate fate. Here, David is framed in the candy-colored hues of Joseph's world, a world of unfulfilled dreams and limitless potential sprung to life from Joseph's comic book sensibilities. Audrey and David on a first date since becoming estranged. With each experiencing a new lease on life since David's miraculous survival, their dreams become a possibility once more. The interior of the bar is lit like an exterior - lush, green, and with a hint of sunlight lining each silhouette. They are still in shadow, still haven't let go of the resentments; his over sacrificing his destiny for her, and hers over the wall he's built around himself. Here David is framed by the doorway in the dark, the long night of his rite of passage beginning with Elijah's message on the answering machine in the foreground. Framed again, this time by the train wreckage he survived, David wears his security uniform rain poncho as he remembers another wreck he lived through. The poncho evokes the capes so often found in superhero mythology. The weight of the past on his ultimate destiny, the superhero origin told in flashback is a comic book convention. In my mind (and perhaps only in my mind), this one recalls the staging of the origin on TV's Incredible Hulk (Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno), a TV show that was the first to show the same level of reverence towards a comic-book superhero. The train station sequence fuses all of the errant elements together, as David's destiny becomes clear to him. He has returned full circle to a train station, home to the same mode of transport that forced him to reexamine his life. James Newton Howard's score reaches an ominous crescendo during his sequence. Eduardo Serra's cinematography highlights evildoers - like the woman in the red jacket - with splashes of color whenever they brush up against David, as he instinctively reads their particular crimes committed. David, seen from behind with his palms pointing out, recalling similarly staged depictions of Jesus in biblical epics of the fifties like Quo Vadis (1951) and Ben-Hur (1959), where Jesus' face is given power by its absence from the frame. The crane shot depicts the emergence of the Messianically-lit David from the crowd of travellers, an abrupt shift in point-of-view reserved throughout the film for moments in which David's destiny comes to the fore. From the depths of hell - or at least the street below - a harbinger of evil rises toward the light: the evildoer that will prove to be David's first challenge. Out of the darkness and rain emerges the hero. The God's-eye point-of-view again, as the camera surveys the completion of David's journey - and its casualties - from above. Now a little more brightly lit, as David achieved a form of self-actualization last night. The dawn is taking hold for David and Audrey as their resentments recede with the shadows. David's gift to his son, a newspaper drawing of himself as a superhero. The family unit in the heart of the home - the kitchen - together at last. The once gloomy household now lit like an exterior also. The brightness of a new day for Audrey and David, and Joseph - now closer to his dad than ever - sharing his secret identity. The revelation that Elijah caused the train accident that set David on his path comes to him when he shakes Elijah's hand. A gloved hand, from the bitter man incapable of joining society, meets an outstretched hand, from a man who now knows who he is. David and Elijah are surrounded by the comic books that have, in their own unique way, defined who each is. David's joy is drained by Elijah's reveal, and the frame is overwhelmed by Elijah's cool-colored blues and purples. Elijah, eccentrically dressed as a criminal mastermind, realizes his own destiny as the villainous "Mr. Glass," or so he thinks. A virtual cipher all of his life, he still can't define himself without doing it through others: the teasing kids who invented the nickname, and David his superheroic opposite. This post was first published at Film for the Soul for its continuing series on the best movies of the 2000s, Counting Down the Zeroes, on 4/20/09.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

DVD Review: Max Fleischer's Superman (1941-1942)

by Tony Dayoub

Long in the public domain, the Fleischer animated adventures of Superman have appeared in multiple DVD editions of inconsistent quality. But Warner has finally released them after extensive remastering from original elements, and boy, are they a beauty. The Technicolor brilliance really shines through on these 17 shorts. And for fans of the Man of Steel there is a lot to glean in terms of the development of the 70-year-old character, then still in his infancy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Caprica Pilot: A New Chapter for a New Era

With the recent demise of the much beloved Battlestar Galactica, this avid TV watcher found himself mourning the loss of its wonderful characters in a way he seldom has before. Perhaps it was because the series reached what is generally rare for television: a satisfying conclusion. I actually found myself wanting to follow the new adventures these characters had set out on in the final minutes of the show. It is fitting that the science fiction series, an allegory for Bush's "War on Terror" era, would wrap up as America enters a new, hopeful, but more opaque era of economic uncertainty. The new prequel spinoff, Caprica, is a chapter in the Galactica saga that captures the feeling, characteristic of the Obama era, of American life at a crossroads. The opening title card states, "Caprica: 58 Years Before the Fall." It is a world we've seen in glimpses on Galactica, beautiful, glistening buildings forming a gleaming skyline overlooking an ocean. But it is a society on a precipice. It has reached the apex of its civilization and the seeds of its ultimate destruction are being sown right now. It is a world much like our own where there are differing socioeconomic levels because of class and racial bias. And its young people rely on virtual technology to fill the void in their lives where the gradually disintegrating family structure once existed. The Graystones are representative of just such a dysfunctional family. Its patriarch, Daniel (Eric Stoltz), is a Bill Gates-type billionaire genius in the robotics world, struggling to find the missing component necessary to bring his cybernetic life-form nodes to life. Wife Amanda (Paula Malcolmson) is a surgeon. They both have a contentious relationship with their good-hearted but rebellious daughter, Zoe (Alessandra Toreson). Zoe is one of a whole generation of kids that retreat into a virtual world called the V Room, a rave-like atmosphere where one can participate in orgies, Fight Club-like match-ups, or even kill avatars that stand in for people you hate. But Zoe has built a separate room for herself and her friends within the V Room, a spiritual oasis where she and the others can share their newfound monotheistic religion secretly, without being ostracized in Caprica's polytheistic society. More than that, Zoe, apparently a cybernetics wunderkind, has found a way to download enough of her medical, scholastic, economic, and personal data into her virtual avatar that she has imbued it with life in a way that still eludes her father. So when she is killed in a suicide bombing by her religiously radicalized boyfriend, the Zoe avatar is all that's left of her. Here is a scene where Daniel first meets the Zoe avatar: Discovering his daughter's creation, Daniel sees a way to both bring Zoe back into the real world, and resolve the issue with his cybernetic life-form nodes, which we'll henceforth call Cylons. Also killed in the bombing are Joseph Adams' wife and daughter. Adams (Esai Morales) comes from a different planet and background than Graystone. The economically depressed world of Tauron is still crime-ridden as it continues to recover from a civil uprising decades ago, and supplies Caprica with its farming and labor classes. Joseph emigrated from Tauron as a child, and is now a mob lawyer. His brother Sam (Sasha Roiz) is a hit man-for one of the Tauron mob families that Joseph represents-who promises to find out who was responsible for the bombing. Daniel and Joseph soon form an unlikely bond over their shared grief in a wonderful sequence where they go to a cafe, and smoke and drink coffee together for the better part of a day without speaking. Daniel shares his discovery about the new AI technology with Joseph. Despite some reluctance, Joseph is willing to see what it can do. But a haunting scene with his daughter's avatar soon makes Joseph call the whole idea an abomination. Joseph realizes that he must let go of his grief and focus on raising his 11-year-old son. In a portentous scene accentuated by one of composer Bear McCreary's familiar musical motifs from Galactica, Joseph opens up to his son about his background, how he named him William after his own father who died in the uprising, and how he changed their family name from the more ethnic Adama to hide the fact that they are Taurons. William Adama will, of course, grow up to be the protagonist of the previous series. The events in Caprica cleverly foreshadow much of what happens later in Galactica, while still managing to make a clear break with the mother show. The pilot feels a bit overstuffed with characters and ideas that will certainly be delved into later in the series. This also occurred in Galactica, which didn't really show its potential until its first regular episode, "33." My favorite actress from Deadwood, Paula Malcolmson, doesn't get much to do just yet. And I didn't even mention another powerful actress, Rome's Polly Walker, who plays the sinister leader of the cult behind the bombing, Sister Clarice. She establishes a strong presence in the pilot, but she is tangential to this story at the moment. I have a feeling that her true contribution to the series hasn't yet begun. The cinematography by Joel Ransom is a lot less vérité than it was on Galactica, setting a much more formal tone. McCreary's score is more lyrical, weaving in more string motifs throughout while avoiding the drums associated with the mother show... until we get a look at the birth of a Cylon where the drums are a welcome callback to Galactica. Also back is production designer Richard Hudolin who remembers that though this is a prequel, the technology should look newer since this pre-Cylon war society was still a bit more arrogant about its advances. And costume designer Glenne Campbell returns as well, offering some interesting eccentricities in the clothing worn by Capricans, the men wearing fedoras and sporting suits and overcoats much like you'd find in a period piece. Thematically, Caprica picks up where the epilogue to Galactica's final episode left us, with a society overconfident in its technology and dependent on its consumerist creature comforts, but spiritually bankrupt. This new chapter is far more in keeping with the turbulent and confusing times we live in today. Where Galactica's Cylons and their destruction of the Twelve Colonies were clear stand-ins for 9/11 and Al-Qaeda, Caprica could potentially confront the moral gray areas that arise when we are our own enemy. Our country's decline in power and our decisions to throw multiple rescue plans at the problem to see what sticks is alluded to in Graystone's approach to solving his Cylon development issues. Another theme: The social stunting of our youth and the degree it involves computer social networks as a replacement for forming real relationships. Even the spillover of drug violence from Mexico as a result of corruption and economic strife is referred to in the Tauron subplot. And so the Galactica saga begins to take shape in Caprica. While the show's focus is still a bit scattered, there is a lot of substance to this allegorical look at our increasingly complicated times. Caprica debuts in 2010. An extended edition of the pilot will be available on DVD and Digital Download on 4/21/09. This post first appeared at The House Next Door on 4/20/09.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Dozen Characters for the Ages

My friend MovieMan0283 over at The Dancing Image recently suggested I take part in the ongoing film blogger conversation regarding favorite film characters. Normally I'd call this a meme. But it seems everyone is being a tad mindful of each other's schedules and avoiding any application of pressure by skipping the usual, " are the rules... and you must select five other bloggers... blah, blah, blah..." So in that spirit, I will do the same because it seems so much nicer. After the jump, I've listed a dozen of my favorite movie characters in chronological order. With each, I've included a pivotal quote which is either character defining or somehow seals their celluloid fate. I encourage all of you to come up with your own, and list them in the comments section or your own blog. Enjoy! Ralph Meeker as Mike Hammer in Kiss Me Deadly (1955) She told me if I dropped her off at the bus station, I could forget her. But if she didn't make it, she said, "Remember me." Gene Hackman as Popeye Doyle in The French Connection (1971) All right! You put a shiv in my partner. You know what that means? Goddammit! All winter long I got to listen to him gripe about his bowling scores. Now I'm gonna bust your ass for those three bags and I'm gonna nail you for picking your feet in Poughkeepsie. Pam Grier as Coffy (1973) It was easy for him because he really didn't believe it was comin'. But it ain't gonna be easy for you, because you better believe it's comin'! Gene Hackman as Harry Caul in The Conversation (1974) I'm not afraid of death. But I am afraid of murder. Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather: Part II (1974) If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone. Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in Alien (1979) Wait a minute. If we let it in, the ship could be infected. You know the quarantine procedure. Twenty-four hours for decontamination. James Caan as Frank in Thief (1981) You are making big profits from my work, my risk, my sweat. But that is okay, because I elected to make that deal. But now, the deal is over. I want my end, and I am out. Michael Douglas as D-Fens in Falling Down (1993) I am not economically viable. Al Pacino as Carlito Brigante in Carlito's Way (1993) Who the fuck are you? I should remember you? What, you think you like me? You ain't like me motherfucker. You a punk. I've been with made people, connected people. Who've you been with? Chain snatching, jive-ass, maricón motherfuckers. Why don't you get out of here and go snatch a purse? Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth (1998) I have rid England of her enemies. What do I do now? Am I to be made of stone? Must I be touched by nothing? Terence Stamp as Wilson in The Limey (1999) You tell him, you tell him I'm coming. Tell him I'm fucking coming! Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood (2007) I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Year 2000: Counting Down The Zeroes - Before Night Falls (Julian Schnabel)

Seeing Before Night Falls (2000) again for the first time in 8 years, I am struck by how timely it still is. With a new administration in the White House far more open in its foreign policy, Cuba is one country that is benefiting from the America's reengagement in the world of diplomacy. The Congressional Black Caucus even sent a few representatives this past week to sniff out its new leader, Raul Castro, and investigate if there is enough cause to consider building bridges between the U.S. and Cuba. As the son of Cuban immigrants myself, I've always had a somewhat more complicated view of the internal realities in Cuba. Director Julian Schnabel captures my own feelings on the subject and presents a story that is somehow both realistic and surreal, political and poetic; a story of a small, beautiful island on the decline under the weight of corruption, yet fiercely surviving because of the powerful will of its creatively spirited people. Writer Reinaldo Arenas (Javier Bardem) is a homosexual who comes of age at the same time as Fidel Castro's revolution comes to fruition. While Arenas at first supports the revolution because of the change it seems to bring, he quickly comes to realize that the new regime is far more oppressive than he first thought. Dissent is not welcome. And the creative community is targeted for its position in society, ideally suited in fomenting dissent among Cuba's free-spirited population. Homosexuals are also targeted for "rehabilitation", placing Arenas in the sights of the island's oppressors. We follow Arenas through his travails in Cuba's prison system, and his eventual exile from the island, ending up in New York where he lives in poverty until his death of AIDS. But Arena's will is never diminished by his troubles, and his story's arc serves as a metaphor for that of Cuba itself. Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), a renowned painter himself, has always specialized in telling the story of artists facing personal adversity, whether real (Basquiat) or imagined (Lou Reed's Berlin). This frees him to use creative license in depicting the story of Before Night Falls. For instance, Arenas isn't always the most reliable narrator. His romantic childhood as told to an interviewer late in the film flies in the face of the impoverished childhood we observed earlier in the movie. We begin to realize that Arenas' art - and in fact, Cuba's - thrives as a result of its existence under oppression. For whether its the poverty that ruled the island before the revolution, or the regime that ruled after, Arenas and his fellow Cubans used the resulting climate as an incentive to create transcendent paintings, literature, music and dance. There are details I relate to, having family that experienced the 1959 Revolution firsthand. In an early scene on the island, Arenas seems to be eating hard-boiled eggs and broccoli because that is all he can afford. We later see him eating the same in New York, where he has freedom of choice, but has perhaps become institutionalized into eating this after his years under Castro. Arenas is often being observed by shadowy government informants, a fact of life in Cuba. Once in New York, he extols the virtues of baby food by pointing out how simple it is to eat for a writer since it can be eaten right out of the jar, a tall tale used to cover up his embarrassment that it is also a cheap source of nutrition for the penniless author. Schnabel shows us how the Cuban people have survived through times of great political repression by continuing to indulge their creative spirit. And though there are many opposed to lifting America's economic embargo against Cuba, I believe that once it is lifted it will allow a subtle shift to occur. No longer will the United States be seen as aiding in the punishment of Cuba's economically depressed people. It will be seen as contributing to the dialogue among its artistic community, as democracy begins its slow invasion into the island and pushes new sources of ideas to the forefront of the Cuban consciousness. Only then will the Cuban people have a chance to escape the oppression of their daily lives that they have grown accustomed to. This post was first published at Film for the Soul for its continuing series on the best movies of the 2000s, Counting Down the Zeroes, on 4/14/09.