Movie Reviews: Memorial Day Weekend Wrap-Up

Posted on May 28, 2007

Due to the rainy Saturday we had in Chicago over the long weekend and my general interest to kick back on said day made it a good time to catch up on some movies I had been meaning to watch. Just for the record, Laura and I did do a 20 miler on the bikes on Sunday and generally got outside a bunch. I thought I would mention that so none of you out there thought we were shut ins.

Without further adieu here are quick reviews of the movies we took in over the weekend.

The Last King of Scotland

Fantastic film. The acting was incredible (especially Forest Whitaker’s portrayal of Idi Amin) and the locations were breathtaking. The subject matter was also fascinating. I knew nothing about Uganda in the 70s and Idi Amin’s reign as dictator before I watched this film and, although the film was fictional, it did get a lot of the history across. Check out this one if you have a chance. It’s intense so be prepared but ranks right up there as one of my favorite films of 2006.

Blood Diamond

Continuing with the Africa theme Blood Diamond was next up on the viewing queue. Blood Diamond is another fictional film set in a very real setting. In this case the setting is Africa in the midst of civil war and it focuses on the mining and trading of what are known as Blood Diamonds or diamonds mined in a war zone and sold in order to finance insurgent/rebel war activity.

The film was a good one although the ending could have been tied into the film a bit better. DiCaprio was excellent in his role and showed again that he is a great actor. This film is both action packed and very character driven. It doesn’t head too far toward the bleeding heart zone even though it could but it still makes you think about the diamond trade and I know I will insist that any future diamonds I buy are conflict free. As with The Last King of Scotland this film is one you should check out without question.

The Queen

The Queen focuses on the royal family, and in particular the Queen, during the tragic loss of Princess Diana. While Helen Mirren does an incredible job portraying the Queen I have to say that I found the film quite boring. The plot just dragged. It truly would have been more interesting if this film was a documentary since you would have been seeing actual historical footage. If you want some insight into the royals you should check this out but otherwise it’s best left on the shelves of your local movie rental joint.

Fast Food Nation

This film was pretty eye opening. It shows, through a fictional narrative, the process it takes to get a burger to your local fast food joint and into your hands. Exploiting illegal workers, having untrained workers gut cows which causes manure to contaminate the meat and crippling injuries that take place in the meat packing plants are the just the start of what this film shows as the reality of the fast food business.

This film did head down the bleeding heart track but apparently a lot of what was said does happen in the meat packing and fast food businesses. I hardly ever eat fast food simply due to the health issues but now it will be hard to ever stomach another fast food burger while on the run or traveling.  This is not because fast food doesn’t taste good, cause it does, but because I don’t want to support such awful corporate practices.

This is a film you should check out and then do research on your own as I have been doing. While technically it was not a fantastic film the message is still one that bears listening to and following up on.

For example, Chipotle restaurants will not use meat from animals that have been fed antibiotics (a practice used by cow farms who pack cows in very close together in dark barns - they have to give them antibiotics to keep them from getting sick since they are so close and standing in their own filth). Good work Chipotle. Ultimately it is up to us as consumers to make the change happen by requesting organic and free range options and supporting restaurants like Chipotle are a good step in the right direction (plus their food is great!).  Bottom line: I won’t become a vegitarian but I will insist that the animals I eat are raised and killed in a humane way.

Side note: On the DVD special features section there were a few short animated films called “The Meatrix” that are well worth a watch. Check them out here.

That ends the movie wrap-up.  I hope this will help you fill out our netflix queue for rainy Saturdays to come.

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1 Comment so far
  1. Jake Parrillo May 29, 2007 11:25 am

    This is where you guys should go next time.

    it’s great nature watching.