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Saturday, November 12, 2005

My Pop Culture Diet This Week

Movie - Hotel Rwanda
Some are calling this the Schindler's List for of Africa. It's a grim and violent story of corruption, attempted genocide, and the incompetence of the UN. Not to mention the harsh indifference most Americans and Europeans have towards Africa. But more than that it's a story of courage. Don Cheadle - always a favorite - was excellent. And seeing the people and the setting made me anxious to return to Africa sometime soon.

Book - Fight Club: A Novel
Author Chuck Palahniuk pulls no punches, so to speak. This is a tale of urban terrorism spawned from male frustration with contemporary culture. A culture of boys raised by women, without strong male role models. A culture that wants to feminize the men and masculinize the women. A culture that tells you that you are your name; you are your family; you are your possessions; you are your job. Tyler Durden wants to hunt for elk through the misty mossy canyons of Manhattan. His vision is apocalyptic. It's Hegelian. Let's light this corrupted world on fire so that something purer can rise from its ashes.

Palahniuk uses lots of bad words and intentionally tries to shock his reader. It is brutal and darkly hilarious. His abrupt and choppy writing style, angry and sentimental, is full of testosterone. As is so often the case, a contemporary artist keenly diagnoses many of the ailments of the human condition but is unable to offering a truly helpful response. And yet beneath all the vulgarity is just enough insight to make this a most interesting read.

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scott adle said...

Hotel Rwanda is one of those movies that is so scary because it is true. That stuff actually happened, and the people who could stop it did nothing. It is also the kind of movie that can help stop that kind of passivity towards those kind of events. President Bush watched this film twice and was troubled by what he saw. Mark Steyn commented on this, saying (something like), "Hotel Rwanda did more in two hours than the UN has done in years." It's a movie that shows what happened and then makes you sick that you didn't do anything more.

I just happened to watch 'Fight Club' the movie last week. I'd seen it before, but it'd been a while. I think it gets across several of the points that you mention the book stressing (although the book, as always, was probably better). I agree with you that the story shows that a contemporary person sometimes can see some of the problems with the current society (and our condition), but then doesn't find a way out--or at least not a good way out. He's pretty optimistic if he thinks that by leveling the economy, something better would be the result.

As a side note, just because it was pointed out to me by a friend while watching the movie, there is an interesting bit of editing in the film. In one of the scenes after a fight in the basement, Edward Norton peels his face off the ground. The narrator is speaking, and ends with the word "Salvation". When he speaks this word, there is a shot of the ground Norton just got up from. The shot is of a cross (formed by lines in the cement) with blood drops around it. Not for sure if it was intended, or who it would be intended by (producer, director, editor?), but if nothing else it's a neat coincidence.

Movie I'm going to check out this week: The Green Mile. Just another movie that I haven't seen in a while, but I know I really liked when I saw it. Stephen King has written some great movies (Shawshank Redemption was also his).

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Great observations.

I particularly agree with your assessment of The Green Mile and Shawshank. I would have to say that those are two of my favorite films.

I've read The Green Mile novel and the novella called Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption by King. And these are two rare instances of when I think the movies are actually better than the books. It is, as you say, frequently the other way around.

The Cubicle Reverend said...

Though the endin gin the movie is actually better than the book. I found fight club to be quite distressing because I didn't want to admit that I felt that way and there was a part of me that thought,"I want to do that!" And it turned out at least one of my friends felt sort of the same way.

scott adle said...

I'd heard that the book ended differently, and that the author actually likes the end of the movie. I know what you mean when you say you said you felt the way they did in the movie, and wanted to try it. I felt that way for a while, then I stubbed my toe and cried out in pain. Had to take it easy for a while. I realized it's probably a good thing I haven't been in a fight.

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