The Adjustment Bureau: A Recommendation from Steve

I may be posting this on April Fools Day, but this is no joke.  I loved this movie!  My older son saw it a couple of weeks ago and raved about it, but he loved Inception and I didn’t.  Since The Adjustment Bureau had received quite a few lukewarm reviews, I was prepared to be disappointed, despite the fact that I am a big fan of Matt Damon.  I can understand where the lukewarm, and even the negative reviews are coming from, but I’ll join my son in raving about this movie.  Just as the main characters, David (Matt Damon) and Elise (Emily Blunt), sense a spark when they first meet and then come to realize that they share a love that is something special and undeniable, I was caught by the first frames of the film and that feeling grew to the point of complete blubbering by the time the credits rolled.

There is much discussion about what type of movie this is.  I would agree with those who say that, whereas it is built on a sci-fi thriller framework, it is really a hybrid of a love story and an examination of the big questions of life (how God works and how free will fits into that picture).  It may seem that those two elements make strange bedfellows, but I’ll write a reflection on the movie that shows how it reveals an essential connection between the two.  As with much science fiction, your enjoyment of this movie requires you to simply be drawn in by the premise, without quibbling over whether all the pieces fit together.  That kind of thinking can come later.  However, in this case, accepting the premise is not enough.  Since this is even more so a love story, how you perceive the chemistry between the couple is also vital.  I was a believer from the first moment their eyes met!  Now, add to that a willingness to live in the questions the movie raises, without being so concerned about the answers that you end up watching the movie rather than experiencing it, and you just may love this movie as much as I did.

I’ll save my commentary on more specific elements of the movie for my reflection piece, but I’ll say a bit here about why I found this to be a better movie than Inception.  I’ve seen this move called Inception-lite and Inception for Dummies, but I disagree.  Both movies took on big questions.  Both movies were presented with complex premises.  The difference for me is that I was swept away by The Adjustment Bureau, but I always felt like I was observing Inception from the outside.  It really comes down to the story and the characters.  I cared about David and Elise.  I wanted them to be together (no matter what the “Chairman” wanted!).  I didn’t care about anyone in Inception, including Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio).  Sure, the special effects are better in Inception, as are the action sequences, but it lacked heart.  It left me cold.  The Adjustment Bureau has plenty of heart.  It really is about the power of love.  It left me in tears, happy tears, and as a bonus also has me thinking in some new ways about God and our relationship with God.  That makes it a winner in my book.

Ranking the 2010 Best Picture Nominees by Steve

As the 2010 Oscars ride off into the sunset (thanks for nothing, James Franco!), I’ll bid them adieu by posting my rankings of the Best Picture nominees.  I still haven’t seen 127 Hours yet, so I’ll update the post when I do.  It’s available on Netflix at the end of the month, so I’ll see it then.  I sure hope that Franco is better in the movie than he was on the aforementioned Oscars.

Drum roll, please…

1. Black Swan – This movie drew me in like no other this year.  I’ll write a reflection soon on why I found it to be such a fulfilling movie experience.

2. Social Network – Among other things, Jesse Eisenberg was incredible!

3. True Grit – Blows the original away.  I love the Coen brothers!  A reflection on their movies soon, also.

4. The King’s Speech – I wanted to dislike it, but I couldn’t.  I cried…a lot.  Another coming attraction: a reflection on why I like to cry at the movies.

5. Winter’s Bone – Among other things, Jennifer Lawrence was incredible!

6. The Kids Are Alright – It was certainly more than alright.  I laughed, I cried.

7. The Fighter – Great performances by the leads, but the bizarre sisters nearly ruined it for me.

8. Inception – A reflection coming on why this was the most disappointing movie of the year.

9. Toy Story 3 – With our son going off to college, it certainly hit home and there was much that I liked, such as the prison camp movie references.  Yet much of it was simply fluff and some of it was interminable.  I couldn’t wait for the extended escape sequence to be over.  Alright, I’ll confess, I was hoping they would all burn up in the incinerator so we could be done with it!

So there you have it.  Now on to the magical movie moments of 2011.