Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Movies to Watch

I watched the Martin Scorsese movie "The Departed" and I was blown away. It is seldom nowadays that one gets to watch a movie that "disturbs" and I promise that "The Departed" will really stay with you. I don't want to be a spoiler so I won't reveal the film's plot here. Suffice it to say that it is a good movie with an all-star cast: Jack Nicholson, Leonardio di Caprio, Matt Damon, Martin Sheen, Alec Bladwin and Mark Wahlberg. The acting is not so bad - if you liked di Caprio's acting in "The Beach" (I think he has mastered how to play the troubled, vulnerable youth character) you will like this movie. Also, Matt Damon played his "double-life as a mafia-mole cop" role down to a tee, reminiscent of his acting in "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (I think he has found his acting niche by playing "double-identity" characters). Martin Sheen was perfect as the fatherly police chief and Wahlberg as his badass lieutenant. As for Jack Nicholson, well he is truly menacing and intimidating in the movie. I can say that as a crimelord he is more intimidating in "The Departed" than that Marine Colonel character he played in "A Few Good Men". I think Filipinos will especially like this film and will be able to relate with the movie's "good cop, bad cop" theme.

Another movie I cannot wait to watch is the film about the life of American senator and political icon Robert F. Kennedy entitled "Bobby." I think the simple title is most appropriate to RFK the man. In contrast to his suave brother JFK, RFK was an awkward, taciturn man who often forgot to comb his hair and who wore white socks with his tuxedo. While JFK embodied "effortless grace" (he excelled academically without seemingly studying, got invited to all the right parties, dated all the society debutantes in school and became a celebrated war hero), Bobby had to work hard for his (he was a mediocre student twice kicked out of school, an awkward and self-conscious child who was always insecure about his older siblings' achievements). Even in their choice of wives and family life the brothers are complete opposites: while Jackie Kennedy embodied sophistication (she was treated like American royalty) and became a worldwide fashion icon, Ethel Kennedy was an ultra-religious Catholic who bore RFK a dozen children even when it was no longer fashionable to do so. JFK often kidded his brother that his house "looked like a zoo" with all the litter and ruckus that his brood make. For much of his life, RFK lived in the shadow of his more famous, more intelligent, more "evertyhing" older brother and acted as his political adviser-confidant-campaign manager-punching bag and all-purpose shock absorber. But when his brother was assassinated, Bobby came into his own. Being "disadvantaged" his whole life, he identified with the underdog and developed his own political philosophy which, compared to his brother's and juxtaposed with that "conservative" era, was quite radical. His brand of political activism has inspired and continues to inspire countless people to work for change.

I decided long ago that I liked RFK better than JFK after reading Evan Thomas's book "Robert Kennedy: His Life." Here is an excerpt from the book describing/comparing the tombs of JFK and RFK:

"When Robert had helped design JFK's grave, he had disagreed with his brother's widow. RFK wanted a plain white cross. Jackie desired a grander and more elegant memorial. Today, President Kennedy's grave spouts an eternal flame, and a massive black slab bears his name. On a sweeping curve of marble are carved the heroic words of John F. Kennedy's inaugural address, 'Let the word go forth from this time and place... that the torch has been passed...' Beyond lies the federal city and the great, glistening monuments to Lincoln and Washington.

Robert Kennedy's resting place is to the side, down a narrow alley shielded by some small trees. On a block of marble facing his grave are carved fragments of his two best speeches, his peroration from the Day of Affirmation speech to the South Africans ('Each time a man stands up for an ideal... he sends a tiny ripple of hope...') and the lesson from Aeschylus he delivered in a slum in Indianapolis on the day Martin Luther King was shot ('In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair... comes wisdom...'). A small, plain white cross stands by a stone slab inscribed with his name and the years of his birth and death. In constrast to the grandeur of JFK's grave, the effect is unadorned and a little lonely. One thinks of his struggle to overcome fear and wonders what, if he had lived, he might have done."

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