Archive for January, 2013

Warm Bodies Connecting

Posted: January 31, 2013 by jperritt in Comedy, Horror
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

warm_bodiesWarm Bodies is your classic love story of a young girl falling in love with a young zombie boy during a zombie epidemic. Okay, so there are some slight modifications to your classic love story; however, the basic premise is the same.

During a zombie attack, a zombie named R (he can’t remember his name but believes that it started with the letter ‘R’) rescues Julie from becoming someone’s dinner. R is a bit of a special zombie and begins to fall in love with Julie. This love begins to turn his lifeless, cold body into a warm body (now you get it).

Although I have not seen the film, it seems to explore themes of connectedness and love. Today I’ll raise a few thoughts about human connection and tomorrow we will take a closer look at love.

Not too long ago the first 4 minutes of this film was posted on Apple trailers, so I decided to take a look. I knew I was going to be blogging on this film and I also knew I needed all the help I could get in order to accurately discuss a film falling in the “zombie love story” genre. I was very surprised by what I saw. I had a hunch that the filmmakers were going for a dark comedy of sorts, but there was a scene that really struck a chord.

R is walking through an airport terminal and providing narration for his day-to-day life. He isn’t happy with the zombie apocalypse and wishes things were different. This leads him to imagine life prior to the epidemic and he imagines humans being more connected. He assumes we were so much better at expressing ourselves. However, the scene illustrates the exact opposite. The scene shows every human walking through the airport terminal on some sort of cellular device. Not connecting. Not communicating. Not expressing themselves at all.

According to this film, you, in all likelihood, are a zombie. You are a nothing more than a warm body.

Adults can often complain about the amount of time teenagers spend on their cell phone or MP3 players. But, in my experience, adults are just as bad, and in some cases, worse than teenagers. In a very real sense we have a zombie epidemic taking place in our culture.

Just today I saw a mother and daughter having breakfast together at a restaurant before school. During the entire meal the daughter was texting on her phone and her mother was staring at the wall. Two warm bodies sharing space but not connecting. We could each share many more stories like this.

Warm Bodies seems to address a very important aspect of the Christian life, community. Human beings long to be connected to one another. In a sense, waking up in the morning and checking twitter, instagram, facebook, etc. is communicating a longing to be connected to others. While it is a form of connection and community, we are increasingly becoming a culture who is feeding on a steady diet of lesser community.
In Genesis 1:26-27 God says, “Let us make man in our image” [emphasis mine]. God is telling us he is a ‘we’. He is one God who exists in a plural form. This is the trinity – Father, Son, Holy Spirit. And the trinity is in perfect community with one another. Although distinct, they are intimately connected to each other. Therefore, humans being created in God’s image long for this connection. When we are deprived of that, or settle for lesser connection, we become nothing more than warm bodies.

Is this true of you? Parents, has your household become filled with nothing more than warm bodies? Husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, are you talking with each other or just texting? How much time are you getting away from screens and looking in the eyes of another (not on skype)?

If we aren’t careful, this zombie epidemic may be a little close than we think.

Advertisements

Sylvester Stallone stars in Bullet to the Head, which opens this weekend.  Arnold Schwarzenegger is currently starring in The Last Stand, which opened a couple of weeks ago.  The stars are both in their sixties (late sixties, I might add) and are both starring in genres they helped defined.  The obvious question is, who would win in a fight?

larsThis post might bother some people.

Trust me, I’m not trying to ruffle any feathers. I’m not trying to stir the pot. People might misunderstand what I’m trying to communicate because of some questionable content from Lars and the Real Girl. But, let’s rewind things a bit.

Several months ago my wife and I got on a Ryan Gosling kick. We watched The Ides of March, Drive, and Crazy, Stupid, Love. prior to Lars. Gosling has come a long way since the Young Hercules television series, as well as, his almost silent character from Remember the Titans. I had almost written him off completely for the terrible film, The Notebook. I understand that there are some touching moments in The Notebook, but glorifying fornication doesn’t really do much for me. Maybe its just me.

All of that to say, I really like Ryan Gosling. Although I cannot recommend that you watch all of his films, he is a talented actor and Lars and the Real Girl truly displayed the range he possesses.

In the film, Gosling portrays the character of Lars, a delusional hermit who lives in the garage of his brothers house. Lars is more than odd as he interacts with his family and is even more so when he’s out in public, however, there is something endearing about this character. Even though he may posses qualities associated with people who have extreme social anxiety disorder or OCD, he possesses a kindness that’s truly likable.

Lars lives in a small town where most people are aware of his condition. Although they struggle to interact, even understand Lars, they attempt to show him love. Even though kindness is not in short supply from the townspeople, Lars still cannot break these introverted tendencies until he meets a special friend named Bianca.

This is where some people might get bothered, but please bear with me, just as the townspeople bear with Lars. The special friend Lars meets is actually a doll he buys off the Internet (I don’t have to go into detail to explain what that doll is). The unique aspect to Lars’ purchasing of this doll is that he just wants companionship. (I must say that I saw this movie several months ago, so I might be off on some details.) Lars doesn’t sleep with the doll – she actually stays at his brother’s house. As far as I can remember, he doesn’t even do anything remotely sexual with Bianca.

The aspect I want to focus on from this film, and the major theme that stuck with me, was the sense of community expressed in the film. Even though Lars and his special friend got many a raised eyebrow when he took her on the town, they embraced her. Women take her for a night on the town, the beauty shop women fix Bianca’s hair, and people even converse with her on occasion. [SPOILER] As Bianca gets sick, the people from the church come and cook meals for Lars, and show true love and concern for him.

There’s a point in the film when Lars is speaking with his sister-in-law, Karin, and he exclaims that she doesn’t even care about Bianca. Karin, fed up with bathing and caring for Bianca for quite some time exclaims, “Every person in this town bends over backward to make Bianca feel at home. Why do you think she has so many places to go and so much to do? Huh? Huh? Because of you! Because – all these people – love you! We push her wheelchair. We drive her to work. We drive her home. We wash her. We dress her. We get her up, and put her to bed. We carry her. And she is not petite, Lars. Bianca is a big, big girl! None of this is easy – for any of us – but we do it…Oh! We do it for you! So don’t you dare tell me how we don’t care.”

Karin’s patience towards Lars finally comes to an end in that scene, but she communicates some profound words of love and community. The entire people share the burden of Bianca, because they love Lars.

I couldn’t help but think of the apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, a letter that stresses unity in Christ. I therefore, a prisoner for The Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Would you be so bold to show the love of Christ to an awkward individual such as Lars? Who are the Lars’ of your life? Who are the awkward people who do the unthinkable that God has placed in your path? Whether it’s the purchasing of an Internet doll or something less extreme, we are called to bear with one another and strive after unity, because we were the awkward recluse whose door Christ came knocking on.

Snapshots

Posted: January 27, 2013 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.

Bullet to the Head – Stars Sylvester Stallone…this should be enough info. Genre – action; content – you name it.

Warm Bodies – During a zombie epidemic, a young zombie falls in love with a living girl. Genre – comedy, horror; content – violence, language and some sexuality.

Stand Up Guys – Some aging con men plan a reunion for one last heist. Genre – comedy, crime; content – language, drug use, violence.

 

 

The Last Sin Eater: by Pilar Stevens

Posted: January 25, 2013 by Josh Kwasny in Drama, Guest Post
Tags: , , ,

Last_Sin_EaterI heard a line in a recent blockbuster that reminded me of a great book turned movie. “The Last Sin Eater” by Francine Rivers is a compelling story that deals with sin, guilt, forgiveness and the atonement of Christ. If you have not read the book or watched the movie I encourage you to do so. But beware I’m about to spoil it for you.

What is a sin eater? He is an escape goat, a man chosen to “take upon himself” the sins of those that die in the village. He has pawned his own soul for the benefit of those he serves. He is picked from the young men in the village by the luck of the draw and must perform his duties which segregate him from the community. To look at him or to touch him is to be possessed by the same evil that he has consumed.

“I need the sin eater to take my sins away now. I can’t live with what I have done.” said Cadi Forbes, a ten-year old girl living in a settlement community of Welsh Americans in the mid-1850s. Cadi’s sister died in an accident the year before and Cadi blames herself. Her mother is so broken hearted over the death of her daughter that she has pretty much given up on life and of course Cadi blames herself for that too.

Trying to free herself from her guilt and shame, Cadi sets out to find the sin eater. Unfortunately, after the sin transfer ceremony, Cadi still feels the same. “Nothing has changed”, she tells the sin eater to which he replies, “there is nothing else I can do for you, child.” But God, in his infinite mercy sends Cadi a preacher, a preacher that teaches her of the one and only true sin eater, the Lamb of God who takes sin of the world. Cadi is more than ready to receive the Gospel message and jumps at the chance to be forgiven. (I cry every time I watch this part.)

Cadi, her friend Fagan and Miz Elda confront the villagers with their own need of forgiveness and with the truth of the Gospel. The sin eater named Sim receives the message of the last sin eater and is set free from his “responsibilities”. At the end of the movie, you see Sim baptizing some of the village people. How fitting is that!

This movie perfectly represents the never changing, always working power of the gospel. It is a great reminder that Christ came for us while we were still his enemies and that only the gospel can change not only a person but an entire village into a God-fearing and God-loving community. I pray that our world be filled with more people like those in the movie, hungry for true forgiveness and peace with God.

So in which blockbuster did I hear about the sin eater? Any guesses?

In light of this weekend’s releases, I think that I’ll stay home and rearrange my sock drawer. I may record it and post it on Youtube to offer an exciting alternative to these films. John Perritt can review it.

Some thoughts and questions to ponder:

MV5BMTg4NzQ3NDM1Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjEzMjM3OA@@._V1._SY317_

Movie 43 – “A series of interconnected short films follows three kids as they search the depths of the Internet to find the most banned movie in the world.” – IMDB.com

1. Really? An entire movie about bad and offensive movies? We already have the American Pie and Harold and Kumar films. Do we need to travel deeper into the depths of depravity?

2. Why is it that “off-color” humor is so popular? Why do films of this nature do so well?

3. This film suggests that there is some kind of moral code in people (why else would movies be banned). In your opinion, how far is too far? Where do you draw the line?

4. I am sure there is some funny stuff here, but I am not sure it is worth a dive in the dumpster.

MV5BMjA4MDQwODg2NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTc5ODc2OA@@._V1._SY317_Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters – “In this spin on the fairy tale, Hansel & Gretel are now bounty hunters who track and kill witches all over the world. As the fabled Blood Moon approaches, the siblings encounter a new form of evil that might hold a secret to their past.” – IMDB.com

1. Wow. Gotta give this a couple points for creativity. Little Hansel and Gretel grow up to become vigilante witch killers. I suppose life would be better without witches.

2. This film could be entertaining.

3. Seriously. I got nothing.

MV5BMTk4MzM2NTQ1Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODIyODY1OA@@._V1._SY317_

Parker – “A thief with a unique code of professional ethics is double-crossed by his crew and left for dead. Assuming a new disguise and forming an unlikely alliance with a woman on the inside, he looks to hijack the score of the crew’s latest heist.” – IMDB.com

1. The trailer says, “It’s not revenge. It’s payback.” What’s the difference? Really, I don’t get it.

2. This film looks like a modern day Robin Hood (sort of). What do you think of Parker’s ethical code? “I don’t steal from those who can afford it. I don’t hurt people who don’t deserve it.”

3. The tagline of this movie is “To get away clean, you have to play dirty.” Are there times when we must do bad things for a greater good?

There are some pretty bad movies being released this weekend. Not just bad content, but sub-par filmmaking. That being said, what’s the worst of the bad this weekend?

BernieNo, this is not a review of Weekend at Bernie’s, that classic 1989 dark comedy about a wealthy dead man who is kept “alive” by his two idiot employees. Ironically, this Bernie is also about a dead rich person who the town thinks is still alive–but it’s a woman this time, and is actually a true story. The film stars Jack Black as Bernie, the sweetest man in small town Carthage, Texas. Shirley MacLaine is the wealthy widow that he ends up murdering, and Matthew McConaughey is the quirky D.A. who prosecutes Bernie. You need to watch Bernie simply for Jack Black’s incredible performance as the lead character. Personally, I’m not a big fan of his movies–other than Kung Fu Panda–but he really captures this part perfectly.

Spoiler alert! Bernie Tiede comes to a small East Texas town and becomes its assistant funeral director. He is a chubby, partially effeminate man who the old ladies find intoxicating because of his sweetness to grieving families. The movie opens with Bernie training young morticians in the art of preparing a dead body for a viewing, as well as how to care for the bereaved. But Bernie is much more than an incredibly sensitive funeral director. He is the lead tenor in the Methodist church choir. He teaches Sunday School. He volunteers his time to teach drama at the local high school. He even acts and sings in the high school musicals. And the list goes on. Bernie finds time to help almost everybody in town in some way.

Bernie’s practice is to visit widows a few days after a funeral to check on them–especially the elderly ones. On one such occasion, he reaches out to the richest (and meanest) widow in town, Marjorie Nugent (MacLaine). Gradually, he becomes her personal assistant, taking her to dinner, traveling with her, and even handling her financial affairs. The townspeople don’t know if Bernie has become her paramour or is just being sweet (because he may be gay anyway). In the end, Marjorie becomes so controlling of his life that Bernie shoots her in the back five times and stores her body in the freezer. For nine months, he goes about life as usual, giving the appearance that she is still alive, and just reclusive. Only the local D.A. (McConaughey) and Marjorie’s stockbroker are suspicious, since they never succumbed to the saccharine sweetness of Bernie.

What’s fabulous about this movie is how the true story is interspersed with the “real” townspeople of Carthage, giving their play-by-play analysis of the entire tragedy. These characters really capture the feel of small town Texas, that’s for sure. And, unfortunately, they are pretty typical Bible Belt evangelicals too, albeit on the naive side of the spectrum. With their descriptions of Bernie, you would think they were describing Jesus Himself–which caused quite a dilemma when Marjorie was discovered to be murdered. Even then, many of the people of the town either dismissed the idea of Bernie’s guilt, or found ways to rationalize how he could have committed such great evil. In the end, the trial actually had to be moved to another small East Texas town because there was no way Bernie could have had a fair trial–he was too universally LOVED!

Which brings me to the main question of this post: Why do we have trouble believing that sweet, kind people can do evil things? We seem to be able to understand the Adolph Hitlers and Osama bin Ladens of this world. After all, evil people do evil things, right? But even then, if evil people show the right amount of remorse and sorrow, we are tempted to exonerate them, no matter how horrible the crime. So it is even worse when a “good” person does something really out of character! Bernie had done so many great things for so many people that it was beyond belief that he even had an evil thought, much less commit murder.

The problem is that so many people, even evangelical Christians, don’t really believe in total depravity. I see it in the eyes of parents when they talk about how unbelievable it is that their “good” child could have done such bad things. They attempt to explain their child’s sins away, blaming friends, fatigue, or some bit of misfortune. In this humanistic age we live in, many do not want to believe that people really are depraved and sinful.

But the truth is that there is no such thing as a good person. Jesus himself said: “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.” (Luke 18:19). When we don’t believe in total depravity and the deep-seated wickedness in the heart of man, then we will easily close our eyes and excuse behavior instead of expose it. Bernie is a film that exposes our desire to see the world as a place where good people do only good things and bad people do all the bad things. This sort of thinking doesn’t leave room for a good God who alone saves even the “sweet” people of this world!

Snapshots

Posted: January 21, 2013 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.

Movie 43 – A comedy (involving every actor on the face of the planet) about three kids looking for the most banned movie in the world. Genre – comedy; content – graphic nudity, crude and sexual language, and drug use.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters – A story about the fairy tale we’re all familiar with, except it’s completely different.  Genre – fantasy, action, horror; content – strong violence and gore, nudity, and language.

Parker – A thief gets revenge on his former crew after they double-crossed him.  Genre – action; content – language, nudity, and violence.

I’m scared, call Mama

Posted: January 18, 2013 by Emilio Garofalo Neto in Horror
Tags:

Yesterday we talked a bit about the new horror movie Mama, a story of 2 girls who for a few years survived in a house in the wilderness being taken care by some monstrous thing they call Mama. When a real family becomes their parents, Mama from the woods is jealous. You know, horror stuff follows.

1-Mama-Poster

In yesterday’s post we began to explore why it is that we enjoy horror movies and creation even more twisted versions of our own world. I wrote about the broken window principle for a while and pointed you to one of Perritt’s posts that talks about this matter as well.

Let me explore the issue a bit more from another angle.

As humans made in the image of God we were created to be creators, or sub-creators if you will, since our own creations are always derivative. We are receptively creative; we were made to be makers.

As creators we have the opportunity of making imaginative worlds that in some senses resemble our own and in other senses are strategically different. The movie Mama, for example, basically is a sub-creation of a world pretty much like ours, except for the little fact that there are monstrous creatures in the woods that raise lost children and happen to be very protective of them. Any work of fiction is like that; from literature to movies to our own make-believe worlds. From Westerns to Sci-fi; there are always similarities and disimalarities, that allow us to connect at the same time that we try on new stuff. Even when we day dream about a vacation or about a new job we are sub-creating in our minds a reality that is different and let us imagine “what if…”

Thre is another side of the coin as well. As consumers, we like to experiment what it would be like to live in a different world or even simply to walk in the shoes of a different person in this very world. So we like to watch war movies and get a taste for what it would be like, we enjoy watching horror movies and feel the controlled fear of peeking into this world, while knowing that we are safe. We want to feel like what it is to live in 19th century Paris, or in the middle of a sports season with the pros. Sub-creations allow us to taste such things, from a safe environment and without having to put in the effort of actually going to war or training hard to be a pro.

Incidentally, many men who go after pornography are carrying on this same principle, a supposedly fun and safe thing to experiment, to inhabit this world of different women and practices for a little while and imagining what it would be like. No harm done right? Except that there are consequences; we cannot flick a switch in our brain and go from living life mode to experiencing safely the alternatives mode. Those experiences, whether from movies or books, they become in some sense part of our experience; and we begin to merge reality with fantasy in our expectations and desires. Thus a man can become bored with his own wife, another may think that his job is worthless since he is not saving the world daily, a woman may think that her marriage lacks the drama and romance of the Rom-Coms…

As sub-creators we are called to exercise this gift with wisdom!