Arts and Entertainment

Dastardly cinema gives reason for thanks this weekend

Local indie film-houses feature the new Baz Luhrmann film and ‘The Boy in Striped Pajamas,’ providing thanksgiving through escapism.

With the dire effects of global warming revealing themselves — in addition to a cataclysmic mortgage bust followed by the ensuing — and growing, global financial crisis, underscored by two on-going wars on foreign soil and deepening concerns of a massive recession (or the next great depression) at home, it can be hard to find reasons to be thankful here in the fading twilight of the dawn of the 21st Century in America.

I guess there’s (cautiously) Obama.

Thankfully, we’ve always got the old American standby — escapism.

Kitsap’s local independent film houses — The Lynwood on Bainbridge and The Orchard in Port Orchard — provide nicely to that end this weekend. Each will be featuring an emotional, maybe-it’s-not-so-bad, escapist-type picture for the holiday — perhaps chalking up a 21st century addition to the all-American roster of Thanksgiving traditions: thanksgiving through escapism.

We start about as far away from America as one could get, in “Australia,” Baz Luhrmann’s new film, playing at the Lynwood this weekend.

It stars the ruggedly handsome Aussie cowboy — looking an awful lot like Clint Eastwood in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” — Hugh Jackman and the aristocratically seductive Nicole Kidman, which is reason enough to be thankful in some circles.

Luhrmann, the director famed for his work on the Leo DiCaprio version of “Romeo and Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge,” sets this epic story of romance and action in his native land. “His ‘Gone With The Wind’ to Australia,” the Lynwood’s web listing reads.

Set in northern Australia, just prior to World War II, an English aristocrat (Kidman) has traveled there, having inherited a cattle station the size of Maryland in the bush. With unscrupulous English cattle barons plotting to seize the land from her, she reluctantly joins forces with the strapping, rugged local (Jackman) for an epic cattle drive, across hundreds of miles of the unforgiving continent.

They arrive only to face the Japanese bombing of Darwin, one the most serious attacks ever on Australia in a time of war.

So, I guess, maybe it’s not so bad here in America in the 21st century.

It definitely could be worse — which leads to “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” showing at the Orchard over the weekend.

It’s a catchy title. Gives the film, derived from John Boyne’s award-winning novel, an almost whimsical air. But in actuality, the phrase depicts one of the coldest, most horrendous realities of human nature, ever — an 8-year-old, bald-headed boy wearing the uniform of Jewish prisoners at a Nazi extermination camp.

Bruno, another 8-year-old boy (one without the striped pajamas), is the son of a Nazi commander who has just been reassigned to a rural post in the German countryside amidst the height of World War II. He and his family relocate to a secluded farmhouse, leaving their lives behind in Berlin.

“Think of it as an adventure, like in your books,” Bruno’s dad tells him. Only the curious 8-year-old is forbidden from exploring the mysterious farm behind their new house, where everyone seems to be wearing striped pajamas. But being a curious 8-year-old, Bruno eventually finds his way to the barbed wire fence separating the house from the farm and finds Shmuel — the boy in striped pajamas — playing in the dirt on the other side.

Ecstatic to have found another boy his age, Bruno starts making daily visits and tragically derives more and more about the situation despite the patriarchal inflicted ignorance.

So, while the world seemingly hurls from one crisis to the next leading up to the annual day of giving thanks, we can be thankful, at very least, for the fact that we’re not a lonely 8-year-old whose only real friend is on the other side of a barbed-wire fence, interned in a Nazi death factory run, in part, by your father.

‘THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS’ a film derived from Irish author John Boyne’s award-winning novel, will play at the Orchard starting Nov. 26, with showings on Thanksgiving at 822 Bay St. in Port Orchard. For tickets and show times go to www.orchardtheater.com. Info: www.boyinthestripedpajamas.com.

‘AUSTRALIA’ the new Baz Lurhmann film starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman will play at the Lynwood starting Nov. 26, with showings on Thanksgiving at 4569 Lynwood Center Road on Bainbridge. For tickets and show times go to www.lynwoodtheatre.com. Info: www.australiathemovie.com.

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