Archive for December, 2012

Snapshots

Posted: December 31, 2012 by jperritt in Snapshots
Tags: ,

snap·shot – a brief appraisal, summary, or profile.

Every Monday we hope to provide our readers with snapshots of films being released for the upcoming weekend. This will be a brief summary of films that will assist our readers in the area of discernment. Instead of searching other sites and reading lengthy articles, it’s our hope to provide a concise list of all the films of the weekend in one consolidated post. If you wonder why we don’t list the MPAA ratings, please click here.

Promised Land – A salesman from a big natural gas company meets the people whose lives will be changed by his company.  Genre – drama; content – language.

Texas Chainsaw 3D – [BRRRRMMMM!!] [Scream] [Blood sprays] All in 3D.  Genre – horror; content – Strong bloody violence (not that you need me to tell you that) language & sexual content.

Django, revenge and racism

Posted: December 27, 2012 by Emilio Garofalo Neto in Drama, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Django_Unchained_Poster

Django Unchained is one of my most expected movies of the year; yes, up there with the Hobbit and the Dark Knight Rises.

I think Tarantino movies have a special thing about them that makes them immensely quotable and instigating. Yes, they also have a lot of violence and bad language. That would be a good topic for one of those days.

Let us focus rather in another issue today, the matter at hand: vengeance over the evils of slavery. Keep in mind that, as it was with Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino is not aiming at historical accuracy or the like. He wants to tell a story that is set in a certain time period and have fun with it. So, while there will be much that is realistically 19th century Old South, there will be much that will not and that is certainly not the point. If that idea bothers you, avoid the film.

The story is set in the pre-Civil war time; when racial issues are bubbling up, slavery is contested and defended with the use of  the Bible; the whole country is about to be split over the issue. Maybe a double session with Django Unchained and Lincoln might give a great fun at the 19th century time.

A big issue in the film is, of course, racism. Slavery in the Old South was racist; there is no way around it. Being born with a certain skin color qualified you for freedom, with another qualified you for force labor and demeaning life conditions.

Recently John Piper wrote a remarkably biblical book about the issue, Bloodlines. I recommend that you go read it. We are often blind about some racial issues in the Bible, partially because we were taught to be color blind. Yet, it is there. Many times we do not think about the ethnic nuances in the biblical story, such as Miriam’s complaint about her brother Moses marrying a black woman.

Sadly many times we have foolishly tried to use scripture to defend our sinful points of view. Every heretic is guilty of this. Everyone who uses the freedom of the Gospel to indulge in sin is guilty as well. And so is every person who justifies his prejudice with misquoted or out of context Biblical verses. That is the case with our own history; many times protestant ministers in the USA and other countries have tried to justify Old south slavery based on wrong or dishonest readings of scripture.

Racism is a weird thing; someone said it is the “misguided notion that my race is better because it is mine”. Really, that is the only claim. Most people will recognize that it is a bad thing and we should not look at color or ethnic traits in order to define one’s value before God and men. Yet, most people have prejudices of one way or another.

Racism is a weird thing that happened after the Fall; we began to look at our diversity created by God as if that was something to be resented or feared. Remember, God is both three and one; three persons but only one God. In him dwells perfect unity as well as perfect diversity. When he made man in his likeness, he made the whole of mankind to reflect this combination of unity and diversity. Of course, this happens imperfectly or better, creaturely (if you want the theological term it is “ectypally”). The whole of mankind together in its diversity reflects God, and we are one race.

Can you see why it is actually quite dumb to think that Caucasians are better that Guatemalans, Norwegians better than Nepalese, Brazilians better than Bulgarians or Africans better than Caucasians? We need each other so together we can better reflect God’s image. The unity in diversity is God’s plan for humanity; when we say part of humanity is lesser we are saying the image of God is distorted and we are offending God himself…

Now, I have not seen Django Unchained yet; I know for sure there will be plenty of violence and enthralling conversations and unforgettable characters; I also know that the racial/slavery issues will be exacerbated and many will call foul. And yet, even in the distorted mirrors of amusement parks we may be able to notice something about ourselves that goes largely unnoticed…

The Christmas season is known for being a successful time at the box office.  Are you going to be one of those who adds to the success?  If so, what film will you be seeing?

A Christmas Story

Posted: December 25, 2012 by Josh Kwasny in Comedy, Drama, Family, Seasonal
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a christmas story

A Christmas Story (1983) is, no doubt, one of my favorite Christmas films. IMDB.com summarizes the story: “Ralphie has to convince his parents, teachers, and Santa that a Red Ryder B.B. gun really is the perfect gift for the 1940s.” I won’t spill anymore digital ink with a synopsis. If you would like more about the general content, head to IMDB.com.

I love this film for a number of reasons. 1.) Nostalgia. The story is set in Hammond, Indiana – a town very close to where I grew up. The film’s setting feels like home. 2.) Great narration. The film is like a stroll down memory lane as an adult Ralphie recalls Christmas growing up. 3.) Great characters. The list includes Ralphie’s “old man,” local bully Scut Farkus, a dream-busting store Santa, and Flick – the infamous example of why peer pressure is a dangerous thing. 4.) I can watch it again and again. It’s just one of those films.

A Christmas Story is also a great film, because it vividly illustrates the danger of idolatry. The cast of characters unknowingly warns us of the power of an idol.

Perhaps for many, the mention of idolatry brings to mind little golden statues that people in biblical stories worshipped. While that may be accurate to a point, idolatry can be defined more broadly. Idols are things that take the place of God in our lives. Idols rule us. They control us. Idols are the things that we think about more than anything else. Put simply, an idol is often a good thing that has become a God-thing.

We vividly witness two tell-tale signs of idolatry in Ralphie and his “old man.” How can you tell if something is an idol? If either of the two statements below are true, you have an idol in your life.

images-11. I must have it! – It is an understatement to say that Ralphie would like a “Red Rider” BB gun for Christmas. He doesn’t just want it…he needs it! Throughout the film we watch Ralphie’s desperate attempts to ensure that Red Rider is under the tree Christmas morning. From subtle hints to outright manipulation, Ralphie must have that gun.

Idols are “must haves.” You can spot an idol by answering this question. What must I have in order to be happy?

images2. I must keep it! – One of the plot lines of the film follows Ralphie’s “old man,” Frank, who is the grand prize winner of a fish-net stocking-clad leg lamp. This raunchy table lamp, while prized by Mr. Parker is despised by his wife. Frank becomes so obsessed with his lamp, that his wife “accidentally” breaks it while vacuuming.

Idols are “must keeps.” We will do anything to protect an idol. Answer this – What must I never lose in order to be happy?

Although it may be easy to identify the ridiculous obsession of a leg lamp, the idols in our own lives can be difficult to see and/or acknowledge. Idols are deceitful things. They promise us happiness and satisfaction, but soon enslave us – leaving us dissatisfied and wanting more. We find ourselves trapped in sin – unable to get away from our new masters.

We need help destroying what will ultimately destroy us. We need people like Ralphie’s mother who will risk relationship in order to help us to break the chains of our idolatry. We need others in our lives who will help us to destroy the idols that deceive us.

Hebrews 3:12-13 puts it this way…

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from he living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Do you have people in your life who will encourage and challenge you? Do you do this for others?

Let’s heed this Christmas warning and work together to fight idolatry – remembering that satisfaction will only be found in relationship with the true God – Jesus Christ!

Snapshots

Posted: December 24, 2012 by jperritt in Snapshots
Tags: , ,

snap·shot – a brief appraisal, summary, or profile.

Every Monday we hope to provide our readers with snapshots of films being released for the upcoming weekend. This will be a brief summary of films that will assist our readers in the area of discernment. Instead of searching other sites and reading lengthy articles, it’s our hope to provide a concise list of all the films of the weekend in one consolidated post. If you wonder why we don’t list the MPAA ratings, please click here.

Django Unchained – A former slave, turned bounty-hunter, fights to rescue his wife and kills a bunch of slave traders in the process…oh, yeah…and it’s set in Mississippi – shocking! Genre – drama, action; content – strong graphic violence throughout, language and nudity.

Les Miserables – “In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s daughter, Cosette. The fateful decision changes their lives forever.” [IMDb] Genre – drama, musical; content – suggestive and sexual material and violence.

Parental Guidance – If you’re really considering this movie over the above two, just go see The Hobbit again. Genre – comedy; content – some crude humor.

Jack Reacher by: Alan Kimball

Posted: December 21, 2012 by jperritt in Uncategorized

jack reacher      JACK REACHER:  What is in a Character?
By Alan Kimball

At first glance, the movie trailer of JACK REACHER looks like a typical Hollywood-action-blockbuster  packed with fight scenes.  However, the unique framework of the movie itself lies in understanding the motivations of the title character (Tom Cruise). The character of Reacher himself is fascinating,  given the fact that he is possibly the most unique character ever to hit the book shelves or the silver screen.

The movie, JR is based on the novel One Shot, which is part of a book series by British writer Lee Child. The first book in the Reacher series debuted in 1997 entitled Killing Floor and was released to wide acclaim and popularity mostly due to its main character and its first person narrative of the book.

The plot of the book One Shot (Book Number 9 in series order) concerns the story of a former marine sniper who is accused of murdering five random strangers  using a rifle one calm evening during rush hour in a crowded shopping plaza.  The police find a man by the name of James Barr (Joseph Sikora) who did a similar crime a decade before and take him to police headquarters. He is asked the ultimate question:  Why did you do this?

Instead of answering the question directly, the man says he was framed by someone for the brutal crime. Then Barr does the unexpected: He demands the services of the only person who can help him prove his innocence, the mysterious Jack Reacher (Cruise).

With the movie coming up, the question for discussion is:

Who is Jack Reacher?

Lee Child’s version of the character is of a wanderer – rarely staying in one place.  He has no money, no wallet and no social security card. He only pays with cash leaving no trace for someone who wants to find him.  His height is 6”5 and he weighs roughly 200 pounds, built like a linebacker. The only possession he owns is a toothbrush. However, he is not your typical loner, in a previous life he was a MP (Military Policeman) who earned both the Silver Star and Purple Heart for being wounded in the line of duty.  For him, violence is the last resort and often treats people with respect, calling them sir or ma’am. He is a man of many skills including a variety of fighting arts. He dislikes knifes and prefers hand to hand combat when challenged to fight.

Throughout the book series, Reacher is a very positive guy who often shrugs when asked about his military background or his life. He offers no excuses or complains. Jack Reacher accepts his life as what it is, not what it should be.  I’m reminded of Romans 8: 28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I also am reminded of a wrathful God. (Psalm 7:11) Reacher in a way serves as a judge to rid the streets of crime by any means necessary.  When people see Barr as a weakling and close in on him, the 6”5 Reacher appears and tries to save him from seemingly impossible odds. (Luke 18:26-27)

Reacher has a cool backstory and a lot of mystery to him. For example, in the books you learn why he was let go by the military.  As far as the Reacher books go, I recommend One Shot or Killing Floor (Number 1 in the series) for first time readers. You don’t have to read the novels to know the character but I strongly suggest you do because the books can answer questions you might have about him.

The only concern I have about the movie is that people might get the impression from the movie posters and trailers that Reacher is a pleasure-seeking killer.  He does kill, but he is not a cold-blooded murderer. My point is, that he only kills when necessary and he dislikes doing  – a testament to his strong morals and sense of right and wrong.

As we wrap up, let me go back to our original question, the title of the article.

Jack Reacher is the right guy to have in your corner. He is a good solid guy with moral clarity who tries to do what is right in every situation.  Without question, he helps others in need. If Jack is your friend, be thankful, if he is your enemy then hide because it may be your last day on earth.

In conclusion,

_______________________________________

Alan Kimball is a former resident of Madison MS; He graduated from T.C Robinson High School in Asheville NC and attended college at College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas.  In his spare time, he is an avid reader of books, watches movies and plays video games when he is not in class. His favorite movie is Dial M For Murder.

We know most of you who missed seeing The Hobbit last weekend, will be going to see that this weekend.  And those of you who saw The Hobbit last weekend, will be going back to see it again.  But, we figured we’d at least give you some questions to think through this weekend’s new releases.  Therefore, if you go see one of the below films, be sure and engage your mind by asking these questions.

The Guilt Trip (2012) Poster

The Guilt Trip (2012)

THE BUZZ: Reviews indicate that a subdued Seth Rogen and a hammy Barbra Streisand make for one familiar and unwelcoming road trips in some time. At first we thought it would be a coup for Seth to get his movie mom to take a hit on camera, but now we’re more focused on what exactly is going on with his career choices. [IMDb]

  1. What does this movie tell us about honoring our parents?
  2. How does this movie define the role of ‘son’?
  3. What are the negative and positive truths this film communicates about family?
Jack Reacher (2012) Poster

Jack Reacher (2012)

THE BUZZ: Sure the title of the movie is akin to the “Tug Toner”, but Tom Cruise’s reunion with Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote and produced Valkyrie marks the beginning of creative marriage between star and filmmaker: McQuarrie wrote the All You Need Is Kill screenplay and just might write and direct the fifth M:I outing. But here McQuarrie takes a second turn behind the camera as director of the adaptation of Lee Child’s novel, which has been on the Paramount lot since 2008. It’s a tall order to make a movie as universally entertaining as M:I4, but if the world embraces Cruise as homicide investigator Jack Reacher, there’s a bounty of other Reacher adventures from which to choose. But this will be the only one bold enough to cast Werner Herzog as the villain. [IMDb]

  1. How does this film distort justice?
  2. How are the lines between good and evil blurred?
  3. The tagline read “The law has limits. He does not.”; what does this teach us about our sovereign God?
This Is 40 (2012) Poster

This Is 40 (2012)

THE BUZZ: One of the smartest ideas Judd Apatow has made since he segued into super-producer/occasional director mode was promoting the supporting characters from his best comic environment to their own movie. Pete and Debbie and Jason (Jason Segel) were the true stars of Knocked Up; and I’d make a needless argument that Leslie Mann is funnier than KU and Bridesmaids combined. [IMDb]

  1. Does the film portray marriage more positively or negatively?
  2. Can we agree with some of the negatives/difficulties of marriage portrayed in the film?
  3. In what ways does this film miss biblical truths about marriage?

Now that The Hobbit has made about $100 million at the box office, we figured most people have gotten a chance to see it.  Therefore, what did you think?

Trapped – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Posted: December 18, 2012 by Emilio Garofalo Neto in Uncategorized

 

First of all watch this trailer.

The Diving Bell and the Buttefly

This is stunning movie that flew below most people’s radar. It tells the story of a man, Jean, who one day suffers some sort of stroke becoming then almost completely impaired physically. He can’t move at all. And yet, his mind is still perfectly active. All he can do is blink. Imagine yourself in such situation; you would feel trapped, lonely, frustrated, perhaps you would even wonder is death is a better option than living like that. The film explores the idea of a man, with a  fully functional mind being trapped in a useless body. Can this condition be overcome? Can we do things that make us man even with so severe limitations? It is a great film that will challenge and inspire you.

One  thing to consider is how we often feel trapped in our lives, like it is impossible to exist in this skin. It may be because of problems, of diseases, of fear – the easy way out is to cease to function, to go into a downward spiral of giving up on life. The Bible tells us, however, that we are able to press forward even when paralyzed by fear and circumstances; as long as we depend on God’s strength and solutions, rather than our own. In this sense the movie provides am overall beautiful illustration of pressing on in spite of dire and terrible situations. Jean is able to write books by spelling letter by letter with the blinking of his eyes. Stunning stamina and perseverance for a task that is way too hard for him. We are called to perform tasks that require from us more than we can give; we depend on external power for that.

There is another matter I wish to consider: Is the body simply a prison for the soul? There has been historically a complicated understanding of what it means to have a body . Many in church history, following more Plato than the Bible, argued for the evil of the physical world, the need of one’s spirit getting free of the prison that is the body. This has created many wrong views and practices; asceticism, isolation, prohibition of marriage and a pervasive idea in evangelical churches that we will spend eternity in some disembodied form; living as spirits in heaven.

The Bible does not call the body a prison for the soul at all. Man is made in God’s image; both his body and his soul are integral parts of who he is before God. When Paul and others speak against the evil of the flesh, they do not mean the veil of the physical part of us, what they are referring to is our sinful condition, which is in fact a spiritual problem.

The Biblical teaching is that all of us are breaking down; we all were born with bodies that will eventually fail; some begin earlier than others, but all fail and die. Our hope is not in how strong, healthy and active we can be, but in preparing our spirits through Christ, not for a disembodies existence, but for a glorious resurrection in which our perishable bodies will be raised imperishable, and we will gloriously display for eternity what it means to be redeemed mankind along with our master. Go read 1 Corinthians 15 and fill your heart with joy and hope.

 

Snapshots

Posted: December 17, 2012 by jperritt in Snapshots
Tags: , ,

snap·shot – a brief appraisal, summary, or profile.

Every Monday we hope to provide our readers with snapshots of films being released for the upcoming weekend. This will be a brief summary of films that will assist our readers in the area of discernment. Instead of searching other sites and reading lengthy articles, it’s our hope to provide a concise list of all the films of the weekend in one consolidated post. If you wonder why we don’t list the MPAA ratings, please click here.

The Guilt Trip (opens Wednesday) – A mother and son travel cross-country on a trip of a lifetime (it looks funny, but Seth Rogen is in it so he will find a way to make it nasty). Genre – comedy; content – language and sexual content.

This is 40 – A look at the lives of an aging couple and how they process it. Genre – comedy; content – language, drug use, sexual content, and crude humor.

Jack Reacher – A homicide detective investigates a crime involving five victims of a sniper shooting. Genre – action, drama; content – violence, language, drug use, and some sensuality.