Monday, July 21, 2008

So we're back. Ryan and I flew in from Florida on Saturday night.
The funeral was about as nice as it could be, given that it was a funeral. We had a small memorial service at a funeral home in my grandmother's town of Belleview, in a building that once served as the town hall. There were lots of flowers, some singing by a local gospel guy, and a nice service conducted by a Methodist minister who was about the same age as Ryan and I (Ryan talked to him about video games, comic books, and other stuff after the funeral). A bunch of Grandma and Grandpa's friends and neighbors showed up, and some of the other members of The American Legion, which my grandparents have been involved with quite actively for many years (Grandpa Ross is a WW II veteran from the 82nd Airborne who served in North Africa, Italy, Normandy, and other places).
In addition to attending the service, we got a chance to hang out with my dad's side of the family, who we really don't get to see very often. Uncle Bob and Aunt Linda, my dad's cousin Kirk, and his wife, Terry, along with their kids, Michael and Kathy, and Michael's wife, Becca. We rarely get to see them, but they were all there, and we had a nice visit (as good as could be, you know, given the fact that our larger purpose was to attend a funeral). It was also really good to see my Grandpa Ross and to hang out with him a bit (and, of course, it was good to see my parents- hi Mom and Dad!).
Florida was ok, but it rained quite a bit (not the weather I was hoping for out there in the Sunshine State). Ryan and I ended up renting a Cadillac for our time in Florida (we had a 1.5 hour drive from the airport in Tampa to our hotel in Belleview).
So, anyway, it was a nice goodbye for Grandma Ross. Her family and many of the people who loved her were there, and she would have enjoyed seeing us all together.

So, like I said, I got back on Saturday night. Yesterday I spent a lot of time chillaxin' yesterday, and last night we had Mono E practice. Eric brought his keyboard instead of his guitar, and we spent some time playing songs by Bob Dylan and Traffic in addition to keyboard versions of our own songs.
After the movie, Chris Griego came over, and he and Reed and I went and saw the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight.
I really enjoyed the movie. Christopher Nolan seems to actually take the characters seriously, approaching them in a surprisingly "realistic" way, and the storyline of the movie actually poses some interesting questions and addresses interesting themes, including the nature of true evil and the sacrifices that have to be made in the pursuit of justice and righteousness (and the question of whether society, at large, is worthy of the rewards of such sacrifices). Heath Ledger, as promised, does a very good job of portraying the Joker (although I'm not sure that he ended up being the creepily haunting presence that many people thought he would be- his version of the Joker takes too much joy in the chaos that he creates for the character to really be haunting). Ledger's Joker seems to be, as Michael Caine's Alfred points out, a kind of idealistic villain who commits crimes not for the love of money, but instead, just because he wants to "watch the world burn".
The movie is set in a Gotham which looks much more realistic and identifiable as a major American city than the hyper-stylized Gotham of some earlier Batman movies (I'm pretty sure it's mostly filmed in Chicago), and I think that the realistic setting helps the audience to better see these characters as real people rather than just symbols.
Anyway, I enjoyed the movie. I'm not sure I'm ready to see all superhero movies go this way (this was a grittier, more realistic take on Batman- the kind of computer graphics-assisted, super powered athletics of a Spiderman or a Hulk would have seemed very out of place here, although I've enjoyed them in other movies). Nonetheless, the "realism" of The Dark Knight worked well in Christpher Nolan's hands, and it brought a concern for the moral decisions and the emotional trauma of the characters that we don't get in many superhero movies.
I don't want to oversell the film (maybe this more realistic take on Batman will not sit well with all viewers- after all, the closer to reality you get, the harder it will be for some people to take seriously the idea of a guy running around in a Bat suit- there's the danger, I guess- you either buy it or you don't), but I really enjoyed it.
Now we have only the release of Step Brothers to look forward to in our summer movie lineup...


mcsteans said...

What about Pineapple Express?

J.S. said...

Eh... I put Pineapple Express in the willing and maybe even happy to go see it category. To say that I'm really anticipating its release in any way is probably going too far.

Anonymous said...

What about Tropic Thunder? Which might be great just for insane Robert Downy Jr. as the African American troup leader! But more importantly, the Coen brothers' new movie?! Burn After Reading I think? That looks amazing!