Saturday, February 22, 2014

Still Life With Robin: What to See Before You See...

House of Cards via Wikimedia Commons
by Peggy Robin

Now that sunny weather has returned, it’s time to get out of the house. Maybe you’re thinking of going out to the movies. If you do, you may well be headed toward the most popular movie of the last few weeks, The Lego Movie, which has racked up a phenomenal 96% favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes ( and has won critical praise both as a kids' movie and a movie adults can love. If that’s not enough to get you going, how about a look at how amazing Legos can be when they're used by a true artist? Here are some of the incredible creations of Lego designer/sculptor Nathan Sawaya:

If you’re not sure that a full-feature-length movie about animated plastic toys is for you (critics’ praise notwithstanding), then perhaps you would prefer the World War II art-recovery thriller, The Monuments Men. Before you head out to that movie, here’s something to see beforehand: the story of the actual Monuments Men, as told in a 2007 documentary called The Rape of Europa, available from Amazon  or Netflix. You can see the trailer here: You’ve heard that the truth can be stranger than fiction; in this case it may even make for a better movie.

Now for those who are not planning to go out to the movies until they’ve had a chance to watch all 13 episodes of season two of House of Cards, available on Netflix since last Friday, I have a suggestion of something to watch the minute you’re done. It’s the British version that was produced in the early ‘90s (also available through either Netflix or Amazon). Here’s Slate’s very persuasive case as to why the British original tops the American adaptation:  My own take (having binge-watched both versions) is that the 26 American episodes released so far make for more intricate, more complex, and more demanding viewing, while the 3 seasons of the British series --a total of 12 episodes-- are an exercise in a more literary, more classically structured, and more elegant form, making for a viewing experience that is ultimately more memorable and more enjoyable. But each is great in its own way. When you’ve seen both versions, you come away with a deep appreciation of how ambition and lust for power can be manifested in many different ways in many different characters.

Not up for a contemplation of the nature of evil? Just want to see something fun and beautifully animated? Here's the thing, which will make you glad you don’t live in a permanent world of ice and snow: It's the Disney movie, Frozen (which comes in at 89% favorable on Rotten Tomatoes). You don’t need to see anything by way of preparation. I’ll wager you’ve seen enough ice already this winter!


Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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