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May 28, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Katy and I went on a date night to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  Perhaps I was set up for disappointment, given that Raiders of the Lost Ark is my favorite movie of all time ever, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was nearly as good.  But I found that Crystal Skull has more in common with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom than the other two.  It centers, like Temple, on a sort of made-up mythology rather than the epic sweep of (literally) biblical proportions that held up Raiders and Crusade.

It’s not a bad movie, and in fact is an enjoyable couple of hours.  It is, in fact, a great popcorn movie – nothing too heavy, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

The first third of the movie was marred, I thought, with Spielberg and Lucas’ attempts to make the film look as though it were filmed three years after Crusade.  The sets looked too much like sets.  The outdoor scenes at Area 51 were too obviously filmed on a soundstage.  And the crystal skull looked too much like it was made of clear plastic stuffed with translucent cellophane.  It should have seemed more awe-inspiring than it was.  Some of the major plot twists were a little too predictable.

The action scenes, however, were great and the kind of ride you expect from Indiana Jones movies.

It’s going to get a reluctant thumbs-up from me simply because it didn’t ruin the legacy of the original trilogy.  I just hope they don’t try to resurrect the franchise with Shia LeBouf taking over the hero role.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals – Nothing but the Water.

I can’t seem to get enough of This Is Somewhere, so I had to eventually acquire Nothing but the Water as well.  There just ain’t enough Hammond B-3 organ in rock and roll music anymore unless you’re the Allman Brothers or Robert Randolph.  Grace’s organ graces the music wonderfully.  The songs and the production are rougher around the edges than This Is Somewhere.  In my opinion, Somewhere represents a step forward in many ways for Potter and the Nocturnals.  I like Somewhere better, but there are true gems on Water as well.  Joey is just heartwrenching (and rocking at the same time), and the title tracks (part I and II) are gospel-flavored and awesome.  No regrets.


You know the old saying.  Knowing the inner workings of politics is a little like watching the butcher make sausage.  While it’s fascinating, you may not want to eat it anymore.

HBO’s Recount is an excellent movie documenting the political shenanigans surrounding the 2000 election and the insane machinations that took place behind the scenes.  It’s not easy capturing the drama of an event when everyone knows the ending (the Titanic sinks, the Apollo 13 astronauts come home safely, etc.)  But they managed to get it right.  Director Jay Roach (the Austin Powers series) tackles the situation with a good blend of tension and levity.

HBO was a perfect venue for this movie – it doesn’t really feel like a theatrical release and it works well on the small screen.  As usual Kevin Spacey turns in a great performance.  Laura Dern is captivating as Katherine Harris, portraying her as a vulnerable, in-over-her-head crony.  I felt both angered by her and a bit sorry for her at the same time.  My only complaint with the movie was that Denis Leary poured on the Boston accent a little thick – and he’s from Boston!

Recount ultimately makes me want to stay the heck away from politics.

Post-Rapture Radio: Lost Writings from the Failed Revolution at the End of the Last Century – Russell Rathbun

If you haven’t read the blog Post-Rapture, you’re really missing out.  Now, I’m not a dispensationalist or a rapture theologian by any stretch of the imagination.  But there is something to be said for Russell Rathbun’s critique (writing in character as Richard Lamblove) of the malignancy that is the Contemporary Christian Culture.  I agree wholeheartedly with his assertions that consumerism, rampant individualism, and faulty hermeneutics have eaten away at what we call Christianity to the point that Jesus can hardly be seen anymore.  It’s sad that Christianity has become focused so intensely upon one’s “personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” and not upon being “doers of the Word.”  It’s sad that the church is focused on finding Jesus in the Christian bookstore, in the Christian CD section, in the Jesus T-shirt aisle, and on that giant rack of fish stickers for the car.

One can hardly fault Rathbun for creating a character for his prophetic voice.  It takes guts to write what he’s written here.  Doing it in character allows him to inject humor, fantasy and (dare I say) parable to make the medicine a bit more palatable.

Rathbun’s observations about preaching are spot-on and inspiring.  If you preach, check this stuff out.  I’m not finished with the book yet, but I’m loving it so far.

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