Tuesday, December 30, 2008

everybody was kung fu fighting

because i have a 4 year old i watch way more movies and tv shows for children than i have since i was a wee tyke. now, reading the best and worst movies of 2008 year lists remind that i simply don't care for much of what had hit the screens this year. my loss probably, after all, i still have yet to watch many of the best films from the last five years. when friends ask how i liked say no country for old men they are shocked to find i've not seen it.

that doesn't mean at all i hate movies, even new movies. i watch films all the time. but since i'm a genre nut the only time i manage to drag my stinking carcass and endure the crowds and the price of admission, sodas and popcorn [which adds up very quickly] to the theater the movies i see are mostly horror and only the ones i've really been wanting to see.

however, this was the year that i started taking nicholas to the movies. the cinema for kids now is a vast improvement over the dreck that i was forced to endure as a child. i don't mean classics such as mary poppins exactly, i'm talking about the 1970s when the disney studios in particular went south and was churning out barely watchable fare such as, among many others, the cat from outer space and escape from witch mountain. i'm still rather fond of these films because these were the movies of my generation and i watched them at such a young age that it is impossible not to look upon them without a bit of childhood nostalgia. but they are not very good movies.

well then, back to the end of year lists. for the most part they are bogus. reading some lists today online i think i saw three of the movies and have no interest in seeing most of them. the brad pitt vehicle the curious case of benjamin button is getting very good press. however, i have no interest in seeing it. maybe it's the fact that pitt, beautiful he is to look at, is not really much of an actor. he's been in some decent films before but i don't think i could handle sitting for two plus hours watching pitt move from old age to youth in a grand epic scale that is designed to pull at your heartstrings. more than likely, the film would probably manage only to knot up my gutstrings.

but there is one film this year that is among my favorites. dreamworks, that rival of those magicians over at pixar who managed to do the most excellent wall- e, created a very good little homage to the kung fu films of the 1970s, kung fu panda. now wall - e is on the top of many critics best of 2008 lists but my money is on the panda. it is a sweet-natured action-packed romp of faith and loyalty which is really the base of many of the old kung fu films. even the annoying jack black who voices po, the fat panda who turns out to be a great warrior, was held in key. something about animation that frees up actors i think to go outside their normal working personas and expand their range.

perhaps it is simply nostalgia for cheap-jack kung fu movies with the bad dubbing and supra human feats of strength and acrobatics that colors my opinion of panda. but it holds up well after repeated viewings. the energy of the flick almost had me kung fu fighting like i did after a day of watching kung fu movies at the long-gone star theater way back when and singing along to the carl douglas song as i kicked my way to the bus for home. sheeeiit.


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