Saturday, April 28, 2012

Two movies and a book

Thought I would share today about a good book I just read and two good movies I have seen.

Wife and I don't go to the movies very often except for the week between Christmas and New Year's. We talk about it a lot and have a lot of weekend conversations where we discuss going to see a movie. We'll even get so far as to look up the feature times.  In reality, though, we usually don't make it.

I have made two exceptions to this rule lately. Both movies I saw were based on books I had read -- Blue Like Jazz and Hunger Games.

Blue Like Jazz is an "indie" (independent) film based on Christian writer Donald Miller's book of the same name, the book that catapulted him to notoriety.  The film almost never happened. Nashville filmmaker Steve Taylor worked with Miller several years ago on making a movie out of BLJ but scrapped it when they decided they just didn't have the funds to make a film.

Some folks got wind of this and, long story short, raised the money through a web site. Each person that contributed is named as an associate producer in the movie's ending credits.

I loved Miller's book. It's a compilation of essays in which he candidly confesses his struggles with conventional Christianity.  He talked about moving from Houston, TX to Portland, OR where he attended a progressive liberal arts college (Reed).

Miller struck a nerve with believers and non-believers alike, especially believers like myself who have been left cold by more conventional Christian leaders who would purport to speak for all Christianity. Besides the message Miller delivers, affirming his faith, his writing is beautiful -- both sensitive and humorous. 

OK, this part was not supposed to be a book review but I get carried away.  I liked the movie Blue Like Jazz; I didn't love it. The movie presents a fictionalized account of Miller's life and his experiences at Reed -- very different from the book, while still conveying the same faith affirming message.

But it is not for the faint of heart, very much earning its PG-13 rating.  The fictionalized Donald Miller's experiences at Reed are crazy. I had to really stay with it, hoping for the resolution of the story that it did indeed have. It was worth it.


Hunger Games is based on the movie of the same name, the first of the trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I wrote about the book in this space right at the end of last year. I found the book incredibly weird but incredibly compelling.

The movie did the book justice with only a few insignificant departures from the story line. Unlike many movies I see based on a book I have read, many of the characters and scenes were very much as I had pictured them as I read. I highly recommend it.


After Wife and I visited Walt Disney world a few weeks ago, I couldn't quit thinking about its sheer mass. I mean, the place is huge, so much more than a theme park (well, it's four theme parks, but so much more).  I had been there a number of times but I had never really considered its enormity.

I was curious about some of the history behind WDW and how it all came about. I found a book, Married to the Mouse, by a college professor, Richard Foglesong.  Foglesong recounts Disney's early days in Orlando and the unlikely relationship developed among the city, the two counties on which the Disney developments sit, and "the Mouse."

The Disney company was able to become an entity unto itself, negotiating almost unheard-of deals with both city and county governments in central Florida. I found it fascinating, although the author is pretty detailed about land-use and government, which might bore you if you're not interested in that kind of thing.


Kelly said...

I don't think Blue Like Jazz will soon be coming to a theatre near me. I did enjoy the book, but from your description, I'm not sure if I'd enjoy the movie.

Glad you liked The Hunger Games. I thought the movie was very good. Did you enjoy the next two books?

Bob said...

Kelly, Yes -- I loved both of the subsequent books and look forward to the movies.