Thursday, March 22, 2007


Since arriving in Antwerp, we've all seen a lot more movies than we would have at home. John's and my work hours are more flexible, and the girls are in school several days til 3:30, which allows for the occasional 11am matinee. Just a 10-minute walk from the apartment (like everything else) is UGC Cinemas, a multiplex with a great selection of films.

Only thing that's a bit of a bummer is, we can't see foreign films (even Letters from Iwo Jima) because the on-screen language is not English and the subtitles aren't either. Other than that though, there are all kinds of good movies out right now and we've gotten to see a few.

John and I have seen two together: The Illusionist and Blood Diamond. Illusionist was GREAT, love Edward Norton, loved the story and soundtrack. It's my kind of movie, and John thought it was one of the best he'd ever seen. A bit of love story, a bit of mystery and magic, a bit of Hapsburg-era royal glamour...very cool.

Blood Diamond was interesting to see since Antwerp is the diamond capital of the world, and UGC cinemas is just a few blocks from the very sorting tables mentioned in the film, which is a first-rate presentation of some of the issues surrounding "conflict diamonds," diamonds sold to finance weapons purchases by corrupt governments and revolutionary insurgent groups in Africa. I'm interested in the claims of some diamond merchants that they can "certify" their diamonds, when the fundamental point the movie makes is that once the diamonds hit the sorting tables in Antwerp, the stones with a tainted past can be tossed in with the others and who in the world would ever know? After seeing the movie, I became much less interested in the thought of taking home a diamond as a souvenir of our time here.

By myself, I went to see The Painted Veil, again with Edward Norton, which I guess I liked...I had read a critical review that took the movie to task for using the Chinese actors/characters almost like scenery, that the supporting characters were not as three-dimensional. While I absolutely agree with that criticism, the book itself is not about China at all. It's about two people from England whose experience traveling in a third-world country in the 1920's transforms their relationship and perspective. The setting could have been any locale in the world experiencing political turmoil and a cholera epidemic at that time. Take your pick. The story itself is good, but the locale, and thus the people who inhabit it, are a device, fundamentally.

Finally JieJie and MeiMei and I saw Happy Feet but I didn't know to look at the schedule to find the magic letters "OV" for "Original Version. We ended up seeing the movie in Flemish, which is no big deal for a kids' movie, and they understood some of it, having been in a Flemish-speaking school for two months now. The movie was cute, fun, had a nice message, but after a while lost a bit of its spunk. Anyway, if there are other kids' movies to see before we go, I'll know to look for "OV" on the schedule.

D & D are probably wondering whether we've gone to Metropolis yet, the gigantic Lollapallooza of movie palaces in Antwerp. No, not yet, but we'll get there.

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