Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Summer Blockbusters

The weather’s been so crazy hot here (our yards look like hayfields) that I haven’t been doing much cooking. In fact, I’m freezing rather than canning our surplus tomatoes because I can’t stomach the idea of boiling anything in the kitchen. So I’ve lounged around in the air conditioning watching movies. Indulge me. They’re slightly food related: The first includes an enormous amount of pies, and the second paints a scenario that if left unchecked will leave folks with little money for luxuries like groceries.

I was traveling last week – and my flight home was only delayed by 20 minutes! One night I was meetingless and commitmentless, so picked up some Thai takeout and headed back to my hotel to tuck into a good movie. I’d heard a lot about Waitress, and was in the mood for something fun and funny, so it won out over, say, The Reaping. This is the story of a small-town waitress in a bad marriage who loves creating and making pies at the small diner where she works. She names the pies after whatever is happening in her life. I Hate My Husband Pie. Falling In Love Pie. When she finds herself very unexpectedly and unhappily pregnant (and creates the resulting Bad Baby Pie), she ultimately needs to figure out what is important to her. When I started watching, it was initially hard to separate the movie story from the back story of Adrienne Shelly, the film’s writer/director/co-star, who was brutally murdered not long after shooting wrapped up. But the characters (including Ms. Shelly’s shrinking violet, wacky co-waitress) are so much fun that I eventually just enjoyed the movie. While everyone in it was great, a big tip of the hat goes to Andy Griffith, who played Joe, the relentless and crusty diner owner.

Maxed Out

A horror film without gratuitous gore, Maxed Out is a documentary about the credit card lifestyle and industry. It’s not a secret that Americans are farther in debt than we’ve ever been historically, with savings rates in the negatives. And yes, much of that can be attributed to personal responsibility. Yet, there’s a dark underbelly in the credit card industry that this film uncovers: the predatory, bottom-feeding natures of the companies issuing credit, and what they’re allowed to get away with. For example, MBNA, not any of our representatives in government, wrote the bill that President Bush pushed through and signed that eliminates credit card forgiveness when someone claims personal bankruptcy. MBNA also–what a coincidence!–was Bush’s biggest corporate contributor in the last presidential election. I also learned that credit card companies actually target those who recently claimed bankruptcy because they won’t be able to default a second time, and they have “a taste for credit.” In fact, the companies refuse to screen those with bad credit and refuse them cards because this demographic is where the companies make all their money in late fees and interest payments. This was an incredibly scary film that indicted both individuals who jump on the easy credit wagon and buy things they don’t have money for, as well as a bottom-feeding industry that is unregulated and unrepentant in building a house of cards that can’t be sustained. On a side note, the night after I saw the film -- a night that was not atypical -- Phil and I received seven pieces of mail, and four of them were credit card offers. It's scary.
Have you seen anything good lately?


Blogger Teresa said...

That is quite scary. The only movie I saw this summer was the new Harry Potter flick. We didn't even see Shrek or Pirates.

9:03 AM  

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