This is my first-ever attempt at an end-of-year favorites list. Some of these were actually released prior to 2007, but this is the year I stumbled on them. One of the many blessings of marriage is that it teaches you how to love and understand (or at least try to understand) a person who is very different from yourself. Jamie and I have loads in common, but our brains could hardly have been wired more differently. For example:
–I’m a singer/songwriter who could talk about music for hours (and do).
–Jamie’s only ever bought one CD in her life, and it was the Titanic soundtrack.
–I’m a movie junkie.
–Jamie falls asleep with her head on my lap in every movie we watch, even when I rent something girly. If she does stay awake, she forgets everything about the movie within 36 hours.
–Not only am I a voracious reader of novels, I have (wonder of wonders) written a book.
–Jamie doesn’t like to read. Well, that’s not entirely fair. Before we had kids she read quite a bit. Nowadays, she reads books but they have pictures and are about the Poky Little Puppy or Olivia the pig.
Don’t get me wrong–she’s a really smart lady. But different things light her up, like good conversation over a mug of hot chocolate, or kick-boxing classes at the YMCA, or teaching kids to read. She handles the checking account, is so organized her friends have often suggested she go into business, and is the best teacher I could ever ask for my children. Folks are usually surprised to hear that she’s not terribly into music, especially in light of her former career as my background vocalist, but it’s true: she never really wanted to be a singer. She wanted to be a mom and a teacher, and by the grace of God that’s exactly what she is (not to mention a great cook, a great wife, and a great jogging partner).
I say all that to say this. Her sensitivity level is much higher than mine when it comes to language, violence, and intensity in movies. So in light of the demographic that surely exists in my listenership, to spare any of you from being exposed to something you might find objectionable, I offer (mainly for movies) the Jamie Rating System:
JWAOIW= Jamie Would Approve Of Its Wholesomeness
JWEIBIMRHD = Jamie Would Endure It, But It Might Ruin Her Day
JWREAC = Jamie Would Rather Eat A Cat
After some thought, these have been abbreviated to:
JWA = Jamie Would Approve (great for the whole family)
JPW = Jamie Probably Wouldn’t (not for kids)
MEOW = Jamie Would Rather Eat A Cat (for film aficionados only)
Here we go, in no particular order.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
This movie managed to be terrifying and beautiful at the same time. It’s a work of formidable imagination that shouldn’t be read too much into, methinks. Taken at its most basic level, it’s visionary, shocking, surprising, and deftly executed. Of course, there are hours of conversations that could be had about its symbolism, its use of myth and faerie, and the meaning intended by Catholic writer/director Guillermo del Toro. RATING: MEOW
I loved this movie. Beautiful to look at, rife with meaning. There’s a great review of it by Jason Gray here. RATING: JWA
No Country for Old Men
This was either one of my favorite movies or one of the most frustrating movies I’ve ever seen. I’m a fan of writer Cormac McCarthy as well as the Coen Brothers so I was giddy when the lights went down in the theater. During the first 75% of the movie I thought to myself (in between shudders) that it was a masterpiece, but the end was so odd, unconventional, abrupt, I rethought my opinion. I really want to see it again so I can pay closer attention to what’s being Said, with a capital S. Here’s a Rabbit Room review. RATING: Double MEOW
3:10 to Yuma
Because I’m a sucker for a good old-fashioned cowboy movie. And that’s exactly what this is. RATING: MEOW
As Curt has pointed out before, one of the great things about independent film (and music) is that it often surprises you. Director Werner Herzog is a strange bird (have you seen Grizzly Man?), so I knew going into it that this wouldn’t feel like an ordinary war movie. I was right. I love seeing a story unfold in which anything might happen. RATING: JPW
Bridge to Terabithia
Except for the occasional cheeze (why couldn’t they have checked with me before they included those scenes where the teacher is singing with her class?), this was a delightful, emotionally satisfying film. (My little boy Aedan read the book before the movie came out and cried and cried.) RATING: JWA
This is one I only watched because I was stuck on a plane coming back from Sweden earlier this year. I’m still amazed that the Teacher Inspiring a Classroom of Misfit Kids genre is still alive. I’m even more amazed that I liked this movie. Even Jamie liked it. O Captain, my Captain. RATING: JWA (Note: this isn’t for kids.)
Reign Over Me
It’s been a while since I watched this, but I remember being really moved by it. Jamie and I watched it on a bona fide double-date with Jason Gray and his wife, and I’m pretty sure all our eyes leaked. Adam Sandler. Who knew? RATING: JPW (Jamie enjoyed it, but probably doesn’t remember a thing about it.)
Honorable mention: I Am Legend, Amazing Grace, The Bourne Ultimatum, Michael Clayton
Coming up next, the list of favorite books read in 2007…
I just watched Once tonight, and loved it. It’s set in Ireland, so the language might be a little much for some folks (though the f-word with an Irish accent doesn’t seem so much like a wordy dird, does it?), but the music was great and the story was sweet and sad all at the same time. I almost wrote “sweet and sad at…once.” But if I had done that someone might have thrown up.
As a singer-songwriter and recording artist, Andrew has released more than ten records over the past fifteen years. His music has earned him a reputation for writing songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. He has also followed his gifts into the realm of publishing. His books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga.