Movie Review: Meloncholia

What is it with filmmakers and nihilism these days?

Melancholia, written and directed by Lars von Trier,  is another in a long line of films pimping an oversimplified view of reality paraded as thoughtful art.

The movie is divided into two parts. The first covers Justines’s (Kirsten Dunst) wedding reception and her abnormal reaction to what most people would consider one of the happiest days of their life.

The second part of the movie starts the day after the wedding and follows the response of Justine, her sister Claire and brother John’s (Kiefer Sutherland) attempts to deal emotionally with the threat of an approaching planet predicted to collide with and end all life on earth.

The message in the movie is found in the film’s implicit critique of the three characters’ responses to the impending doom.

Claire responds with fear. As a result, her husband John (Sutherland) is constantly trying to protect her from reality. “Have you been online again [reading about the approaching planet]?” he asks. John is unrealistically hopeful, naive even, in assuring his wife that the planet will pass without incident and that “scientists aren’t always right.” Continue reading “Movie Review: Meloncholia”

Movie Review: Blue Like Jazz

Blue Like Jazz, the movie based on Donald Miller’s best-selling book of the same name, opened yesterday at theaters.

The movie is based on Miller’s spiritual journey from a Texas Baptist boy to Reed College pagan and back to a more mature Christianity.

The book is a post-modern spiritual classic that is interesting and insightful, while at the same time authentic and convicting. It is, however, so good it promises more than a movie can deliver.

The movie begins by showing us Don’s (Marshall Allman) fundamentalist Baptist culture before heading off to college. The scene in Miller’s Baptist church, complete with racially insensitive puppetry to illustrate truths from the Bible, is so cringeadelic it made me want to backslide.

Shortly after arriving at Reed College, which prides itself as the most godless campus in America, Don abandons Christianity. In the movie, everything and anything is accepted at Reed, except Christianity, and Don’s desire to be accepted by others leads him away from Jesus. Continue reading “Movie Review: Blue Like Jazz”

On Movies & Evangelism

When the Apostle Paul found himself in front of the Athenian Supreme Court with an opportunity to reach the most powerful men in Athens with the gospel, he drew on his knowledge of their culture.

In pressing home a point regarding the relationship of man to God Paul said, “…for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His offspring.'” (Acts 17:28).

Paul was well-read.  The first part of the quote, “for in Him we live and move and exist…,” is from the 6th century B.C. Greek philospher/poet Epimenides.

The second part is from the fifth line of a poem by the 3rd century B.C. Greek poet, Aratus, entitled Phaenomena.  Here is the first stanza of the poem: Continue reading “On Movies & Evangelism”

Movie Review: The Iron Lady

If you are looking for a biography of a famous person told in storybook form you may be disappointed.

If, however, you are interested in what makes a leader, you will find much to value in The Iron Lady.

This biopic is told from flashbacks of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who now, well advanced in years, takes us through a series of events from her rise to power to her ouster by her fellow Conservatives.

Three of the major themes in the movie are the loneliness of leadership and the conviction and courage necessary to be a successful leader.

Thatcher, portrayed by Meryl Streep, is confident in her vision for Great Britain even when it spawns opposition within her Conservative party, broad-based protests in London, and an attempt on her life.

She has the courage to stick with her principles whether they require unpopular spending cuts in the midst of a recession or going to war against Argentina in the Falkland Islands.

The theme of loneliness is reinforced in the shots of Great Britain’s first and only female Prime Minister surrounded constantly by men, and by returning again and again after each flashback to Thatcher alone in her apartment or in imaginary conversation with her deceased husband Dennis. Continue reading “Movie Review: The Iron Lady”

Going My Way

On Christmas night, The wife and I watched Going My Way, starring Bing Crosby.

I had seen parts of it before but never all the way through. It’s a wonderful, uplifting movie about a young Catholic priest (Crosby) sent to an old church on the decline. Crosby’s mission is to turn things around and save the church.

With his warm smile, spectacular voice and winning ways Crosby (Father O’Malley) transforms the community and then makes his tear-jerking exit.

The movie is a classic. It won seven Oscars, including a best actor for Crosby. I’m guessing it inspired many to the priesthood and ministry.

But as the movie ended and I contemplated what I had just seen, as I’m want to do following a good flick, I realized there was something missing, something really important. Continue reading “Going My Way”