Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday Afternoon at the Movies

by Pa Rock
Movie Aficionado

After it became apparent that yesterday was not going to follow the script that I had prepared, I went with Plan B, which was to go out and get a couple of movies and kick my brain into neutral for the remainder of the day.  Unfortunately, I wound up selecting movies that were so good, my poor brain had no opportunity to slough off.

The first film that I watched was The Oxford Murders starring John Hurt and Elijah Wood.  I have a penchant for British mysteries, and have even spent a few hours roaming the campus at Oxford, so I felt this movie offered some promise of time well spent.  (Although I did go into the viewing with some question as to how murders could possibly be solved at Oxford without an able assist from Inspector Morse or Detective Sergeant Lewis!)

The Oxford Murders is the story of a young American, Elijah Wood, who comes to the august university in hopes of studying under a world renowned philosopher and numbers theorist, ably portrayed by John Hurt.   Although the student and his would be mentor initially get off on the wrong foot to the point Wood begins packing to return to America, they soon become connected to one another through a series of murders which appear to be linked because of mathematical symbols connected to the acts.

There is a lot of numbers theory woven into this mystery, and it marks the second time that I have seen the Fibonacci sequence explained in a movie.  (The first was in The Da Vinci Code.)  Add to the incidental math education the fact that John Hurt just keeps getting better and better, and The Oxford Murders becomes a movie that justifies a quiet afternoon at home.

The movie that took up the remainder of my afternoon was La Mission, the tale of a really tough but well respected Chicano bus drive in San Francisco's Mission District.  Law and Order's  Benjamin Bratt stars as Che, at the tattooed, tough-as-nails bus driver in the film that was written by his brother, Peter Bratt.    Che is an ex-con and recovering alcoholic who lives for his friends and neighbors and the survival of their neighborhood.   He restores old cars into beautiful lowriders that he and his buddies parade through the neighborhood every Friday evening.

Che also lives for his motherless 18-year-old son, Jesse (Jeremy Ray Valdez), and it is apparent that being a single parent has been the saving grace of Che's checkered life.  Che's life, and his relationship with Jesse, spirals out of control after he accidentally discovers that his son is gay and involved with a white youth from an upscale community.

La Mission is a simple story that is driven and sustained by Benjamin Bratt's amazing acting skills.  His Che is a man of passion and conflict, a man who can inspire hope and confidence one moment, and abject disgust the next.  Benjamin Bratt drives this movie and makes it an amazing experience.

The Oxford Murders and La Mission are both well worth an afternoon at home.

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