movies you should see

Run, don't walk, to I Heart Huckabees . It's smart, funny, and it features a bunch of eminently likeable actors. (Mark Wahlberg AND Lily Tomlin, for starters. Jude Law and Isabelle Huppert. Someone for everyone.) Probably more appealing to those of you prone to self-examination -- but somehow I suspect that already includes anyone who keeps a blog. It's been getting mixed reviews, I suspect because it features environmentalist idealists (a rock-hugging poet and a firefighter who both bicycle everywhere) talking about trying to discover the meaning of life outside of the consumerist pap fed to us by Big Corporations. The surreal existential detectives are charming in their enthusiasm for interconnection, as is the devilish dark French philosopher who operates as their opponent. Finally, both teams (and their philosophies) are reconciled: everything in the universe is interconnected -- and life involves suffering. The great challenge for human beings is to try to embrace, understand, and deal with both of those axioms. Now, for me, none of this is new -- nor do I expect it would be for the select few who actually read my blog. But survey the reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes and you quickly realize how threatening a little Buddhist philosophy can be to some viewers.

You should also see Tarnation. The story behind the making of this movie is every bedroom auteur's dream: Jonathan Caouette, the editor/director/subject of the film, took 160-plus hours of home movies and captured audio, sat down with his Mac and iMovie, and created a film that got Gus Van Sant and John Cameron Mitchell to sign on as executive producers. The original 3 hours has been further edited down to 90 minutes for its general release. The other story behind this film -- Caouette's experiences growing up and his mother's many treatments for mental illness -- is plenty compelling in and of itself. But this is a film that takes your conventional ideas about autobiography, documentary, and self-exposure, and remixes them into something totally new.