Category Archives: Movies

Mother’s Day

I’m going to combine two posts into one. Fear my blogging power!

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I’m doing okay, actually. Had a bit of a moment when I read this, but otherwise I was on an even keel for the day. That’s good, actually. Looking back at previous years, this day has been better or worse, depending on stuff.

Elder James McDonald grabbed me after worship and said that he had been praying for us. He lost his mother a few years ago, too, and he said that he’d been thinking about us. On the one hand, it’s a positive indication that it took me a moment to figure out what he meant. On the other hand, I was deeply moved and appreciative that he had remembered. Made me feel loved.

The day before that, I watched Baby Mamma with Crystal. She wanted to see it, and it was for her birthday, so I said yes.

Now, before I launch into my cultural critique, I need to say that I enjoyed the movie. As my father would say, “It was diverting.” It followed the romantic comedy formula without the central relationship actually being a romance. In other words, it was about a relationship founded initially on a lie that needed to be transformed to a relationship founded on truth. Maybe it was a buddy movie…or maybe buddy movies are related to romantic comedies.

Anways, the bits about pregnancy and childbirth were pretty funny, and I laughed at the right places. At least, I’m pretty sure that they were the right places.

Then I left the theater with Crystal, opining that our civilization is doomed.

Providentially, as we wandered the Shoppes after the movie, we stumbled upon the display of the Dirty Laundry Project, which essentially reinforced my concern.

We have disconnected love, sex, marriage, and childbearing. In the movie, one of the characters says to another one, “What does being married have to do with having a baby?” One of the T-shirt said, “Love does not equal sex. Sex does not equal love.” While it’s certainly true that sex doesn’t always equal love, isn’t it supposed to? Several of the T-shirts talked about waiting to have sex. Wait for what? Marriage was never mentioned. Apparently, you’re supposed to wait for “the right one”. But, in the heat of the moment, the one in front of you is “the right one”.

And, ultimately, we take love, sex, marriage, and childbearing, and turn them into ways to satisfy our own lusts and desires. Yes, even childbearing. It’s the new way to self-actualize, to find meaning in your existence. Having children has become about being fulfilled as a person, not about giving to the next generation.

The more I wander the world, the more that I realize that the simple act of establishing a household, centered on the marriage of a God-fearing man to a God-fearing woman, raising God-fearing children, is a revolutionary act of epic proportions. The kind that makes the foundations of this corruption system tremble.

Here’s one from the quote file:

“Surely avant-garde enemy rebels of the system never had to change diapers.”–Bruce Sterling, Islands in the Net

I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

No Country For Old Men update

I haven’t forgotten about this. However, this Friday, the folks at Film and Theology at Mars Hill Church in Seattle will be watching this. I’m waiting to hear what James Harleman has to say before writing up my thoughts. This is mostly because I’m still gathering what I thought about this movie.

I owe…

…all of you a post about No Country for Old Men. I’m still collating my thoughts on the film, and then I’ll write them up.

I’ll probably use my writing time today to work on A Flower for Mara, though, so I’m putting this here so that I’ll remember to write about this movie.

Or, alternately, so one of you will nag me in a bit.

Gone Baby Gone

I saw this a couple weeks ago and hadn’t gotten around to writing about it. I’m not going to be particular about spoilers, so I’ll put this one below the fold.

But first, the trailer.

Oh, and a mention that this is a must-see if you’re at all into Dirty Secrets.

Continue reading

A bit more on horror

Still, the hot button genre with the highest temperature seems to be horror, and how Christians should – or shouldn’t – interact with it.

Horror, Gore, Fear and the Christian…

Since I mentioned horror in an earlier post, I thought that I’d link to this.

Sons of Liberty movie

Sons of Liberty should be played like this.

I know what I’d like for Christmas

People have hoped and speculated on if it would happen, but I just heard today that it’s actually happening. Hooray!

(Why yes, I am being deliberately mysterious.)

Reflecting on Blade Runner

I’ve watched Blade Runner a bunch of times. I’m enough of a die-hard that I have the original version on VHS, plus the Director’s Cut on DVD. It’s in my Top 10 favorite films. It’s worth seeing just for the sets. Remember, this is all pre-CGI. Everything that you see was built from scratch.

It’s also inspired by the sort of detective fiction that I’ve been reading of late. So I wanted to watch it again from this angle. I’ve viewed it many times from the SF angle. This time, I wanted to see it as a noir. In the final analysis, I’m not sure if it actually works from this perspective. I mean that exactly as it sounds; in my mind, the jury is still out on whether or not Blade Runner is actually a noir, or if it is only stealing the visual cues of the genre.

But that doesn’t really concern me, because I gained a little more insight into the movie this time around.

Blade Runner belongs to that philosophically-oriented subgenre of SF that is trying to probe serious questions through its stories. Specifically, Blade Runner is asking the question, “What does
it mean to be human?” [*]

For those of you who don’t know, the movie is about replicants, which are genetically-created robots, nearly indistinguishable from humans, except by their emotional responses. The newest models (Nexus-6) are so advanced that, in an attempt to keep them emotionally stable, their creators gift them with implanted memories to give them a sense of having a past. Also, they only have a four-year life span.

Since an out-of-control replicant can do a lot of damage, they are banned from Earth and are used on the off-world colonies instead as cannon fodder, slave labor, and the like. Any replicant that returns to Earth is “retired” by special police units called “Blade Runners”.

So, here’s the question. Replicants look like humans. They have memories like humans. They even have emotional response like humans. So why aren’t they humans?

The easy response is that they are made, and humans are not. But that fails to answer the question in a satisfying way, especially as, throughout the film, the replicants react and respond in very human, understandable terms.

What makes us human?

This time, watching the movie, I realized that there was an answer in the film that I had overlooked in the past.

At the end of the movie, Roy Batty, the leader of the replicants, is chasing Rick Deckard, the blade runner who has killed…er…retired all the other replicants in his little group. They work their way up through an abandoned building, where Roy traps Deckard. In desperation, Deckard tries to leap to the next building. But his jump is too short. He is left scrabbling for a handhold over the yawning abyss.

Roy, a combat model replicant, makes the jump easily, and stands over Deckard. Then he says, “Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.” Deckard struggles, flails, and slips. He is begins to fall.

Lightning-quick, Roy reaches out and grabs him, saving him from death. Then he drops Deckard on the roof, sits down next to him, and says these immortal lines: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.” And then, while Deckard watches, he slumps and dies.

Mercy. In the end, Roy showed Deckard mercy.

Another character does so, too. Gaff is another blade runner who has been monitoring Deckard’s pursuit of these replicants. Gaff also knows that Deckard is harboring another replicant (Rachael) at his apartment. But he gives Deckard a chance to escape. He can’t give him much. Both Gaff and Deckard understand that Gaff will have to hunt them both. But Gaff shows mercy to both Deckard and Rachael.

All this brings me back to this quote, from one of the detective novels that I’ve read recently:

“That isn’t your real motivation. I know your type. You have a secret passion for justice. Why don’t you admit it?”
“I have a secret passion for mercy,” I said. “But justice is what keeps happening to people.” —The Goodbye Look, Ross MacDonald

Mercy is the virtue that makes us human. That certainly seems to be what Blade Runner is getting at. And isn’t that part of what God wants from us?

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8; KJV)

*Another worthwhile film addressing the same question is Dark City. Interestingly, the visual cues are very similar. Maybe there’s more to the noir references than meets the eye.


When I first saw this video, it was strangely haunting. And then, yesterday, it made me think of Bliss Stage.

So, there. Two links for the price of one!

Reflecting on “300”

First, if you haven’t seen “300”, you really need to watch the trailer. Go on; I’ll wait here.

Now, based on that trailer, it would be hard to expect a reasoned, historical presentation the Battle of Thermopylae. “300” is not about history; it’s about the myth of the 300 Spartans, the ultimate last stand, that we love to tell over and over. So, “300” homes in on those features, not the uncomfortable history that actually sits behind the story.

And is this really a bad thing? When I went to see “300”, I was expecting an uber-macho film with over-the-top action and crazy costuming. And that’s what I got: Spartan supermen with tough guy lines.

Of course, the fun bit is that some of the tough guy quotes were actually said. “Come and get them” has to rank up there with the best that Schwarzenegger has given us.

I must confess, though, that I left the movie theater uncertain as to what I thought of the film. There were several areas that concerned me.

The first was the sexual explicitness of the movie. There were several scenes that were fairly explicit, including one with rampant sexual deviancy. Now, I understand why those scenes were there. (Well, two of the three; the whole thing with the Oracle was actually gratuitous.) However, I wish that the filmmakers had decided to achieve their story goals in other ways. As it is, I’m hesitant to recommend the movie as it stands.

I’m also concerned about the violence in the film. Let me be clear; I’m not throwing out the use of violence. I spoke highly of Apocalypto, which was another violent film. Also, the violence in “300” was highly stylized, reflecting its comic book origins. There was lots of blood, but it was more like Mortal Kombat than true battlefield carnage. And yet…what does it say about our society that a popcorn movie is full of such violence?

Also, I had to laugh when the movie tried to set up the Spartans as the guardians of freedom and liberty. Since I’m too lazy to do my own research, I simply refer you to this link, where some of the actual history is discussed. I’ll let a quote suffice:

The Spartans were a highly militarized, brutally hierarchal, and ferociously violent civilization. And that’s the opinion of a Greek who is very friendly to the Spartans. They often refused to fight in foreign wars — like the Ionian Revolt — because they were afraid of their own slaves revolting.

For that matter, what about the Spartan childhood which was depicted fairly accurately by the movie? The physically imperfect are killed at birth. At six you are taken from your family to live in communal barracks, where you are brutalized until you survive your rite of passage. Nice place, eh?

So, yeah, I’m not really buying “Sparta the free”. Or, as was said by Joshua BishopRoby

300 is a movie about a city that intentionally turns its citizenry into psychopaths and the one moment in history when that turned out to be a good idea.

That all being said, there were some positive things about “300” that I’m going to point out.

First, there’s something irresistably attractive about someone who refuses to be corrupted, even if taking the high road is harder. Leonidas is easy to like for this reason.

But, even moreso, I want to call attention to Gorgo, his wife. Now, my understanding of Greek history and culture is that there’s no way that a woman would have had the sort of sway that Gorgo has in the movie. Chalk it up to another anachronism. But I think that Gorgo is a wonderful picture of what a good wife can look like. Gorgo is a submissive wife, to be sure. She was trying to be a helpmeet to her husband, not pursue her independent goals. Yet, at the same time, no one could accuse Gorgo of being weak. On the contrary, she was tough as nails without ceasing to be feminine.

As a result, her husband values her opinion greatly. In the trailer, you can see the brief exchange between Leonidas and Gorgo, right before he kicks the Persian messenger into the well. He has drawn his sword and has it to the messenger’s neck. But, before he takes irreversible action, he looks to his wife. You can see the conversation play out in their expressions.

“What do you think, dear?” Leonidas says. “Should I kill the Persian messenger and plunge us into war? I’m thinking that I should, but I wanted to know if you were seeing something that I’m missing.”

“Hmm,” Gorgo says. “No, you’re right. Better go ahead and do it.”

Now that’s a wife.

So, what did I think of “300”? As a raw action film, I rather enjoyed it, and I think that there are some valuable examples in the film. Just, don’t expect too much of it.