WHITE FANG (1991)

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Christopher

I knew this was a book but I don’t have any memory of this movie in my life. I’m glad Elizabeth recommended it though ‘cause I think it was fun to watch. I was a little disappointed with the story. I felt like it was going to be more about Jack and White Fang as a team instead of them being together being the finale but I think once I realized that was what it was going to be I warmed up to it.

I would be very interested in reading the book. I think it’s more just from White Fang’s perspective which sounds interesting. He was by far the more interesting character. Jack was pretty boring to me.

Elizabeth

When I saw someone in The Last Waltz play the mouth harp it immediately reminded me of White Fang. I hadn’t thought about White Fang in a really long time, but the more I thought about it the more antsy I was to watch it. It’s a movie I’ve surely seen about a dozen times but probably hadn’t seen in like 18 years or something.

Watching movies or TV shows like that is always a crazy experience to me. Before we watched White Fang the other day, if you had asked me about the plot, all I would have been able to say was “It’s about a boy and his dog.” If you had asked me what the music was, I wouldn’t have even known where to start. But as soon as White Fang started and the music started, I suddenly remembered pretty much the entire musical suite as if I had been listening to it everyday. And with each scene I would get flashes of the scene coming next, which I really didn’t realize I remembered. It was crazy.

But anyway, about White Fang. Watching it now as an adult, and knowing my child self and what I could and couldn’t watch, I sort of don’t know how I loved White Fang and watched it so much. That’s not to say it’s not an amazing movie, because it is. It follows White Fang, a wolfdog (we only really know him to be a wolf at first until we’re told later he’s a wolfdog) and most of his journey through life. It’s intercut with the story of Jack (Ethan Hawke), who’s trying to get to and then make it on his father’s gold claim in Alaska.When we first meet White Fang, he’s a sweet little puppy living with his mom in a little wolf den. But while his mom is out hunting for food, she gets shot and has to literally crawl back to the den. While whimpering!! And then White Fang comes out and the camera shows us a close up on his mom’s face as she DIES. And then White Fang cries and whimpers, rests his head on her dead body, and lays there with her until he’s completely buried in snow. It makes me cry just typing this shit out. And the thing is, I remember that scene and his mom dying. But I guess I somehow handled it as a kid? I remember Mufasa’s death in The Lion King being traumatizing so I really have no idea how I made it through this one. White Fang goes through a lot of shit in his life, not limited to being captured and tortured by evil townspeople who train all of his tameness out of him so he can dog fight. So that’s another thing. I remember those dog fighting scenes (and there’s kind of a lot). And I remember that it was sad and awful because White Fang was a sweet doggy who was being forced to fight by mean people. Buuuuut I had no idea these were fight-to-the-death situations. I was used to seeing my own dogs play fighting when I was growing up and I think I thought these scenes were pretty much the same thing. Even though these scenes really are pretty brutal.

White Fang and Jack meet up throughout White Fang’s life. Jack first sees White Fang as a puppy after he’s lost his mom. A while later, while with his mentor and friend Alex (Klaus Maria Brandauer) they spend time with a Native American tribe where Alex is friends with the chief. By then, the chief and his family have found and taken (and named) White Fang and are using him as a work dog. Jack approaches White Fang to pet him but is quickly reprimanded by the chief, who tells him that dogs are for work and that humans are gods to dogs. Jack is put off by that, who pretty much argues that even if that’s true that doesn’t mean you can’t be nice to the dog. Later on after that, Jack comes across White Fang at the end of a dog fight, barely alive, and Jack saves him. Earlier, with the tribe, White Fang saved Jack from a pretty terrifying (though unrealistically slow) bear, so Jack saving White Fang makes a lot of sense and is also pretty cute. Jack nurses White Fang back to health and slowly undoes all the terribleness that other people had done to the point that White Fang slowly trusts him, then slowly likes him, then eventually love him.

I really do love this movie. I love that, like the book, White Fang really is about White Fang (who doesn’t talk, CHRISTOPHER) and his life and everything he goes through. Jack’s story is interesting but really is only necessary because the movie needs some dialogue to sort of anchor White Fang’s scenes. A lot of terrible things happen to White Fang and Jack, but in the end they’re straight up soulmates and once they find each other for good, their lives are so much better and they basically live happy ever after. AMAZING!!

Also . . .

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JUST LOOK AT DIS LIL PUPPPPYYYYYYYYYYY

 

THE LAST WALTZ (1978)

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Elizabeth

Good music documentaries are really good, and to me, really, really good if the music is from a long time ago – preferably 30+ years ago. And I don’t say that because I love older music above all else, but I do love seeing really clear footage of musicians in their prime, especially if I’ve only ever known those musicians as much older. So if you have that and then throw a director like Martin Scorsese into the mix . . . I mean, you’re all set.

I’ve honestly never really listened to The Band. In fact, I think I may have heard of them longer ago than I thought and was just confused by their name. After watching this I realized I actually know more of their songs than I thought. But either way, the majority of my listening to The Band has come from being around Chris when he listens to them. But like any good documentary, my lack of knowledge about The Band really didn’t matter.

The Last Waltz is mostly a recording of their final concert as The Band, mixed in with small interviews in between. When the band first came on stage, the first thing that struck me was how weirdly modern they look. Except it’s more like modern bands look like them. What I’m saying is that it was really funny and interesting to see this band in the 1970s look like a band from 2015 just because 70s style has come back in a big way. The only thing that really dated them was their heavy cigarette smoking.

But really, the best part was seeing all of the musicians in this documentary so young. Besides The Band, there’s Dr. John, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, Emmylou Harris, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, and Ringo Starr . . . among others. It was crazy! It’s like everyone looked the same . . . but so different? Like I was watching all of these people’s children instead of them themselves. I also learned that I actually had no clue what Van Morrison looked like, which I hadn’t really realized. And that he was a giant dork:

Van Morrison . . . cool guy?
Van Morrison . . . cool guy?

I think my favorite part of the whole documentary was a conversation with Robbie Robertson, talking about all the people there. He talks about how influential everyone is on each other  and everyone else and will continue to be. Which is really just amazing because I don’t think even he realized just how right he was. I mean look at that lineup! Bob Dylan! A Beatle! Neil Diamond AND Young! I mean every name up there has an incredible following and were (and still are) insanely influential and important to music. What an amazing time, place, and thing to be a part of.

Christopher

Music never really became a big thing in my life until high school. Before that I can only really think of a few things I liked and most of that seemed to be a product of my surroundings. In high school I first learned about Bob Marley and got pretty into him. Then I was introduced to Bob Dylan. That really changed my life. What was funny about that was before I really knew who Bob Dylan was I knew of him through parodies on TV shows. Probably mostly The Simpsons, but what always happened was that I kind of liked what it sounded like? So when I actually heard the real Bob Dylan for the first time, I was completely in love. He’s something that has been a constant in my life ever since and I keep finding more of his stuff to get into to this day. So with this background, Bob Dylan is what brought me to The Last Waltz.

High school was also the time I became interested in movies so getting my hands on any kind of Bob Dylan anything was always at the top of my list. The Last Waltz was one of the top docs I had heard about and even though I knew of The Band I was really new at understanding their role in history, especially in terms of Bob Dylan. This movie really took me from the beginning and I watched it on a regular basis for a while. The number of performers is ridiculous. And because of this I learned a lot of new people. This movie was the first time I had heard of Dr. John, Paul Butterfield, and Ronnie Hawkins. This became the one concert I would choose if I had a time machine. (Now I think it would just be a 1966 Bob Dylan concert.)

I feel lost in this post now because I have way too much to say about it but I love this film and it’s worth watching. I’m actually going to be driving to their studio/house Big Pink at the end of June. I’ll be flying into Albany and renting a car. I am so excited I can’t really think about it. I want to bring some water colors to try to do something while I’m there but I’m still thinking about what I want to do exactly.

LEFT BEHIND (2014)

Nicolas Cage In Left Behind HD Stills

Christopher

This movie is as big of a mess as the original but at least we get to see a crazy-looking Nicolas Cage changing into the good Christian he was always meant to be. The worst thing about these movies to me is that fact that I find the aftermath of everyone disappearing far more interesting than the actual event. It reminds me of all the Superman/Batman/Spiderman movies. Every time they reboot them they have to retell you the origin so you never get past the beginning and into the juicy stuff. I have no clue if they will make another one of these but if they do and it makes it to Netflix I’ll watch it for sure!

Elizabeth

So I’m sure you know the premise of Left Behind, right? The rapture happens. And before we move on any further, let’s just think about that for a second.

Left Behind is supposed to give you this feeling that non-Christians know at some point that, if Christianity is correct, the rapture will occur, causing all believers to disappear to hang out with God and avoid his wrath. Except in the real world, no one knows any details about this, even among Christians. The kind of rapture they’re even talking about (where some people are left behind) didn’t even really come about until like 200 years ago. And yet the left behind characters in Left Behind keep talking about how they just should have listened to their Christian friends/family members, that the Christians were right, they predicted this exactly, etc etc. Um, no. This is a world in which Christianity is the same across the board, and also I guess a world in which the Bible goes into great detail about this rapture. So really, Left Behind is almost beyond fantasy because even the idea of Christianity this movie has is not real.

So now that we’ve established that the people behind Left Behind don’t even understand the concept of the rapture (or possibly even Christianity itself), that doesn’t leave much room for any of the movie to be any kind of good. Nicolas Cage and his absolutely terrible hair play Rayford Steele, which is a name that also lends itself to this being a fantasy. Ray is a pilot married to Irene (Lea Thompson), a born-again Christian. They have a daugher, Chloe (Cassi Thomson) and neither Ray or Chloe consider themselves Christian. But Irene seems prettyyyy insane and definitely annoying, so you can see why they’re turned off by it. Cassi flies home to surprise Ray on his birthday but gets a phone call from Irene telling her that Ray was called to a last minute flight to London. Now, why Irene was not at the airport to pick up Cassi is beyond me. Cassi decides to hang around the airport to try and catch Ray, whom she sees flirting with a flight attendant and not wearing a wedding ring. While there Cassi runs into Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray) an apparently super famous journalist (because there are so many of those). It’s somehow love at first sight (basically) between Cassi and Buck, but alas Buck boards Ray’s flight to London.

Cassi goes back home then takes her little brother to the mall. While she’s hugging him a flash of light appears and he disappears, leaving his clothes and backpack and everything else. The same thing happens to people all around Cassi and in about 2 minutes the entire mall devolves into total chaos, complete with looting and violence. Now, I understand that something like this would cause a panic on a huge scale, but would people turn into crazy animals that quickly? I think everyone would be too caught up in what the hell just happened to think about looting, but who knows. Anyway, people everywhere disappear, including on Ray’s plane. At first no one knows what’s up until gradually people start saying what I was talking about before, shit like “This is exactly what Mom described” as if there is a Left Behind-rapture scene in the Bible. Eventually Ray safely lands the plane and is reunited with Cassi (who is also reunited with her apparently new boyfriend, Buck). THE END! Except not really, since I guess we can expect the apocolypse next.

Besides everything I already mentioned about the rapture, and the insanely terrible acting and pace of the movie, I also had a huge problem with the way Cassi’s character is portrayed. She’s skeptical of religion, but she clearly loves her family (she’s frustrated with her mom, yes, but you never get the feeling that she doesn’t love her) and seems to be a decent, responsible person. And yet, not good enough for God. I feel like Cassi’s skepticism, as opposed to outright 100% athiesm, should be enough for God to have some wiggle room. But nope! I guess all these Christians who so perfectly described this rapture failed to mention that only born-again Christians get to hang out with God – everyone else is fucked.

I mean, of course this movie is bad, but you knew that right? It’s actually not as bad as the terrible Kirk Cameron version from 2000 if for no other reason than the production is slightly better. But this movie is unbeliveably terrible and I would hope anyone going into this would expect nothing less. Just look at this fucking poster:

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