Big Fish

This latest from Tim Burton is warm, off-beat and appealing. It’s themes are very Christian as are the images. Big Fish – remember the one that got away? A young man, Will, (Billy Crudup) goes home because his father (Albert Finney) is dying. They have not spoken for three years. The father is a very social person and has always related to people through fantastic stories. Will scorns his father and regrets every believing him.

The strongest feature of this film is its heart, the father-son relationship. But let us not stop there. Family, marriage, death, and very strong baptismal imagery are front and center – as are Burton-esque visual motifs that you’ll recognize from his other films.

It’s an odd piece, typical Burton parable. It will make you smile and maybe shed a tear or two.

Good on story-telling and metaphor.

Last Samurai

The Last Samurai is a fine film and arguably Tom Cruise’s best acting so far. It takes place in 1876 when three US soliders go to Japan to turn the Japanese army “western.” And in some ways, this is like a Kurosawa film turned into a western and then woven together. It’s about culture clash, culture colonization through trade and economics. The most appealing thing about it is the integrity of the friendship between Cruise and the main Samurai warrior. Is this an allegory for today? Oh yes. It is violent, but not nearly as intense as it could be and it is contextualized. Nothing gratuitious. It is no where near Saving Private Ryan, for example. The film avoids cliche’ and has some moving moments in the film.

It could be argued that this training wrought World War II in the Pacific and that a film like this is inappropriate. This is a matter for dialogue certainly, yet it behooves us to remember that the Americans went to Japan in the first place and opened the door in 1853 (Adm. Perry with a trade agreement in hand.)

A nomination for Cruise? I’d vote yes. It’s very good. If you are a student of gloablization you won’t want to miss this.