Yesterday, in between social engagements, I amazingly managed to squeeze in a trip to the Park Theatre to watch Once. I was first alerted to this movie by Nick, who asked me to pick up the soundtrack for him in NYC. A low budget production that won an award at the 2007 Sundance Film Fest, this modern day “musical” (if you had to call it something) stars musicians Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, who play a Guy and Girl whose relationship develops in a such way that seamlessly and brilliantly integrates the music with the storyline. Visually, it has a very raw and grass roots feel; parts of the film are shot like a documentary. If you like acoustic guitar music and appreciate the creative, collaborative process of music-making, this film is for you (especially you, coko). The music is achingly poignant and expressive, underscored by the unresolved (oh, did I just give it away?), romantic tension in the relationship between Guy and Girl.

Here’s a live performance by Hansard and Irglova of one of the more popular songs from the soundtrack, “Falling Slowly”:


While I didn’t like how the trilogy His Dark Materials turned out, nor do I subscribe to Philip Pullman’s theology, I *did* enjoy reading The Golden Compass. The premise and fantasy world established is fascinatingly unique; his characterizations and plot development in this first book gripped me to the point of sacrificing a night’s rest so I could finish reading it in one sitting. A movie, based on the first book, is being made (starring Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman, Eva Green), to be released on December 7, 2007. I am very curious to see it. It will be controversial, especially among conservative religious circles.

Anyways, I was alerted to this bit of movie marketing by ziasudra, where you get to figure out what your daemon is. Mine is a gibbon named Thalius. Great. (If you’ve really got nothing better to do, feel free to comment on my results. Very possibly, your input might morph it into something else.)

I finally got around to seeing Children of Men last Saturday. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it, if you can stomach gritty violence and are willing to be led through a vast, emotionally disturbing landscape. But be forewarned: it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (nor is it a first date movie).When I exited the theatre, I found myself caught in an emotional tension between the despairing realities of the world I live in and my need for hope; certainly, I became more convicted than ever of how much this world needs a Saviour.

Though tinged with a shred of hope at the end, the film is absolutely heartbreaking to watch. Set in the not-too-distant future of 2027, the movie quickly introduces us to a world suffering from infertility–there hasn’t been a human birth for 18 years. People are downright depressed by this drought of new life. Also, terrorism and violence are rampant; people are living in constant chaos, fear, and paranoia. The future is bleak; a suicide drug called “Quietus” has been developed and made readily accessible to anyone wanting terminal relief from their hellish existence.

But somewhere, amidst this hopelessness, is a miracle about to take place: a very pregnant woman about to give birth. As soon as we meet this woman, a social outcast, the film slips out of the sci-fi genre into a political action thriller. As I alluded earlier, the movie ends on a (faintly) hopeful note, but the odds of arriving there are daunting, keeping me on the edge of my seat.

I wept in certain parts of this film. In spite of the futuristic setting and extreme living conditions portrayed, the story and setting offered incredibly relevant and contemporary themes. I was struck by the fact that many people in the world ALREADY DO live in terror, chaos, and hopelessness. What keeps them going, I don’t know.

Along with some other things going on in my head these days, the movie is part of opening a can of worms that is forcing me to confront how I contribute to the social injustices in the world. I am finding that everywhere I turn, there is no avoiding the fact that how well I live is irresponsibly costly or at the unjust expense of others. This realization is a despairing thought. But more on this on another day.