My parents gave me a gift card to Amazon. I've always got a few items in my cart there, so it's always appreciated.
I just received a DVD I ordered, Joe versus the Volcano. I am quite convinced this is among the best films ever made, perhaps the best.
It's not that there's an incredibly complex plot: the story is remarkably simple. It's not that it's terribly humorous: there are a lot of great one-liners, but the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. This movie is great because it tells a simple story very well. And it does so effortlessly.
Most people I've known who've seen this movie didn't like it. I understand that: it's a movie that's not easy to classify, which means it's hard to know what to expect. The first time I saw it, I wasn't sure what I thought. The second time, I was convinced it was brilliant.
The story is about Joe, a hypochondriac with a dead-end job in a depressing factory. His boss is an idiot, his co-workers are lifeless, and he's miserable. Then his doctor tells him he really is sick: he'll be dead in six months. So Joe quits his job. The next day, he's approached by an insane business man who offers to pay for him to live like a king, if he'll jump into a volcano in one month. Seeing no real point to his life, Joe agrees.
The story follows Joe on his journey to a small south Pacific island with an enormous volcano, into which he's planning to jump. Joe meets several memorable characters: the limousine driver who teaches him how to dress, the salesman obsessed with luggage, and the spoiled daughter of the businessman paying Joe. The characters are brilliantly done: drawn in bold strokes, but very simply. Each feels like a real person.
Ultimately, its Joe's journey to find a purpose for his life. He quits his job, goes shopping, sails to the South Pacific, is shipwrecked, and finds the best luggage in the world.
If you've not seen the movie, I recommend you watch it. If you've only seen it once, you need to watch it a second time. It's not the sort of thing you can really grasp the first time. To me, this is one of those movies that comes out of nowhere and stuns me. It's funny, quirky, a little strange, and a little exciting. The acting is great, the story is interesting despite its simplicity, and the characters are convincing. The photography is captivating; there is a whole host of symbols and images that appear and reappear through the movie. Well worth the $5 on Amazon.