Catching Up

Last weekend we saw 3 movies. We had a date night on Friday evening, during which we saw Crazy, Stupid, Love. And we created our own double-feature on Saturday, where we saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Help. I really liked all three movies, but The Help and Crazy, Stupid, Love were my favorites (no surprise there). Really though, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was very good–much better than I expected.

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I’ve read The Help twice–once when it was first released, and again in preparation for seeing the movie. It is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Of course, it’s much better than the movie, with nuances, character development and background that a 2-hour movie can’t go into. However, the movie does keep true to so much of what makes the story so deeply engaging. In both the book and the movie, we’re slapped in the face by hatred that runs so deep in so many (and often still does). And we find that hatred does indeed have a million faces, but we don’t expect it mingling with beauty.

Of course, like any movie that deals with race, class, crime, etc. this movie (and book) has come up against criticism for its subject matter and how it deals with it. Some think it romanticizes the era–rather than addressing how things really were–where writing across race was the complicated issue.

But when it all comes down to it, I think the main idea of the film–what Aibileen (Viola Davis), Skeeter (Emma Stone) and Minny (Octavia Spencer) were all fighting for–was that everyone recognize the beauty in and importance of everyone else. And, as Aibileen so aptly put it, that no matter their race, class, station, crime or conclusion, everyone need remember: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.

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I’ve been wanting to see Crazy, Stupid, Love for a while now, which is why we added this to our movie-watching spree. The cast was perfect! Emma Stone has become such an “it” girl, and I always love Julianne Moore. Those two together would have been enough to make me go see the movie. But when you add in Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell (plus a little Marisa Tomei), how could it be anything but great?

And it was great. It had a little of everything. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it was funny and serious–all at once. Just like love can be, right?

****

As I said above, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was so much better than I expected. I went into it afraid that the rising of these apes was going to last for the better part of the movie. I was wrong–thankfully. Most of the movie centered around Will Rodman (played by James Franco), a San Francisco scientist who has been trying to develop a cure for Alzheimer’s disease by testing a genetically engineered retrovirus on chimpanzees. The virus mutates the chimpanzees, giving them a human level of intelligence. He ends up taking one of these very intelligent chimps (Caesar) home and raising him. Caesar learns sign-language, how to use a toilet and interacts with his humans as if he is one himself. But in protecting Will’s father (who has Alzheimer’s) Caesar gets sent to animal control, where there are about 30 other primates.

In the meantime, Will is asked to develop another retrovirus to treat Alzheimer’s. It is delivered via aerosol, and while it heightens the chimps intelligence even more than the first, it has the adverse effect of killing humans.

I won’t give it away because this movie really is worth seeing, but suffice it to say that now things are in place for these super-intelligent primates to revolt and take over, as the human race dies out.

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