Archive for February, 2013

Here are a few thoughts for those of you heading to the theater this weekend to catch a new release…

jack-the-giant-slayer-film-movie-poster-headerJack the Giant Slayer“The ancient war between humans and a race of giants is reignited when Jack, a young farmhand fighting for a kingdom and the love of a princess, opens a gateway between the two worlds” (IMDB.com).

This is not your momma’s version of Jack and the Beanstalk – unless you gotta pretty awesome momma!

A couple questions to consider:

1. What does this story say about war? Is there a specifically Christian way to think about war?

2. When is violence against a whole race of people justified? Or is it ever justifiable?

tn-500_2121 and Over – “The night before his big medical school exam, a promising student celebrates his 21st birthday with his two best friends” (IMDB.com).

Another film from the writers of The Hangover – “yippeee” (he said sarcastically)! I really think that the world needs another comedy about getting drunk and doing stupid things…yep.

1. This is a comedy, right? What is funny about glorifying sin – even if it is now legal?

2. Turning 21 is a significant turning point in our culture. Is getting drunk our standard rite of passage to adulthood? What does this film teach us about becoming an adult?


The-Last-Exorcism-New-PosterThe Last Exorcism: Part
II“As Nell Sweetzer tries to build a new life after the events of the first movie, the evil force that once possessed her returns with an even more horrific plan” (IMDB.com).

Our culture continues its fascination with the occult. Here is yet another installment.

1. What does this film tell use about the power of the Devil? What does the Bible say about the Devil and the power of demonic forces?

2. How should Christians respond to films of this nature?

3. The tag line says, “Believe in Him.” What do you think about that?

Well, the Oscars are over.  The little golden statues have been handed out.  Some people are happy.  Others are sad.  Some, however, are just plain shocked proving that the experts were off in a few categories.  Just curious, what do you think was the biggest shock at the Oscars?  And no, Jennifer Lawrence falling onstage doesn’t count.  We’re talking about shocked in terms of statues awarded.

Les-Miserables-2012-Wallpapers-les-miserables-2012-movie-32697313-1280-800

The newest adaptation of Victor Hugo’s historical novel, Les Misérables, has had its share of critical acclaim and just plain criticism.  Maybe I’m not smart or cultured enough to be a hater, but I loved this film!

Sure I found it awkward to watch Wolverine and Maximus sing to each other, but all in all, this film is fantastic!

What makes Les Mis so great is not the acting – although I was blown away by the tremendous talent of each of the actors. The performances of Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and Sacha Baron Cohen (Yep – Borat) were particularly noteworthy.

Les Mis has incredible music.  You will hum songs like “Look Down” and “Master of the House” for weeks after seeing the film (at least I did).  If you don’t cry during Anne Hathaway’s singing of “I Dreamed a Dream,” you most likely have no soul.  It will take your breath away!  Although it is amazing, the music is not what makes this movie great.

While it is true that the film includes excellent scenery, choreography, lighting, and special effects, what really makes Les Misérables a great film is one thing – the story.  Les Mis is a great film because Les Mis tells a great story – the story of grace.

Spoiler Alert!

Set in 19th-century France, Les Misérables introduces us to Jean Valjean, a man who spent 19 years in prison for stealing bread. After being released on parole, Valjean attempts to rob the Bishop of Digne.  He is caught by the police and brought before the Bishop to confirm the burglary.  Instead of pressing charges, the Bishop extends grace to Valjean by giving him not only his silver tableware, but his valuable candlesticks as well.  This amazing act of grace impacts Valjean in a significant way.  He decides to break parole and pursue a new life.  His resolve is to be a generous man – showing mercy and grace to everyone he can.

This story includes a stark contrast to grace.  Enter the ruthless policeman Javert – a man of justice – who pursues the parole-breaking Jean Valjean for decades.  Despite Valjean’s changed heart and desire to peacefully live his new life as a generous benefactor, Javert is relentless in his pursuit of justice. 

russell-crowe-as-inspector-javert-in-les

At its core, Les Misérables is a story of grace.  We witness the power of grace – something powerful enough to change a man from poor criminal to rich benefactor.  This story is not about health and wealth, however.  The newly acquired riches are not the point.  Jean Valjean’s new status and affluence are merely the means by which he can continue to show others the grace and mercy he had received from the Bishop of Digne.

Jean Valjean’s transformation is remarkable!  He is a truly a changed man!  He even shows mercy to Javert when he has the opportunity to kill him.  Although Javert’t death would mean his ultimate freedom, Valjean offers grace.  This is too much for Javert.  Unable to cope with this alien power, Javert takes his own life .  The great law-keeper is destroyed by grace!

Les-Misérables-Hugh-Jackman-Jean-Valjean

What make Les Misérables so compelling is that Jean Valjean’s story is everyman’s story.  Sure, some will protest and say, “I am not a thief! I am not like that man!  I am a good person!”  The truth is that no one is good (Romans 3:10-18).  Like Valjean, each of us is a thief.  We attempt to steal from our Creator.  Instead of following his way, we selfishly pursue our own glory.  Like Valjean, we are caught red-handed.  Our evil deeds are exposed.

Although the Bishop of Digne is on screen for but a few moments, the impact of his gracious actions to Jean Valjean reverberate throughout the rest of the film.  In the true story of redemption, God the Father likewise offers grace to sinners.  In Jesus Christ we receive not only acquittal from our crimes against God, but we are given the gift of adoption – all the riches of the Father are now ours in Christ Jesus.

This is the story of grace.  Grace that changes everything!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

(Ephesians 1:3-14 ESV)

Snapshots

Posted: February 25, 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.

Jack the Giant Slayer – When a shady character gives you magical beans, you should be a bit more careful or you could open up a gateway to a kingdom of giants.  Genre – drama, adventure, fantasy; content – brief language, fantasy action violence, and scary images.

21 and Over – A med student, who is about to take a huge exam, turns twenty-one and indulges in [see content].  Genre – comedy; content – crude and sexual language, drug and alcohol use, graphic nudity, and pervasive language.

The Last Exorcism part II – If this is part II, do they really think we’re going to buy the fact that this is the last exorcism? Genre – thriller, horror; content – horror violence (this probably includes vomiting and head-spinning), terror, and language.

Thursday’s Thoughts

Posted: February 21, 2013 by jperritt in Thursday's Thoughts, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

snitch-poster-dwayne-johnson

As you think about heading to the movies this weekend, be sure and take your mind along with you.  Here are some thoughts to consider as we look at the main releases of this week.

Snitch

Inspired by true events, father goes undercover for the DEA in order to free his son who was imprisoned after being set up in drug deal. [IMDb]

– How far would you go to protect your child?
– What does this movie teach us about family?
– How is the love of John Matthews noble?  How is it ignoble?
– How is the law portrayed?
– Is good and evil blurred?  How?

Dark Skies

As the Barret family’s peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them. [IMDb]

dark-skies-poster– What was the most terrifying part of the film?  Why?
– Is it good to watch movies that cause terror?  Why?
– Why are we so intrigued by aliens?
– Do you think aliens exist?  Why or why not?

The Oscar for Best Picture will be given to one of the below films this Sunday.  It seems that most of the experts are claiming that Argo has it in the bag.  However, we want to know which film you think deserves to be called the Best Picture of 2012.

joker-oscarsWell the Oscar winners will be announced in less than a week (this Sunday for those of you who did not know), and I must admit that I’m a little upset with the Academy. I know, I know, I couldn’t imagine having the job they have of selecting a handful of films out of the possible contenders. To put yourself in their shoes, try and pick your favorite film of all time. Or, simply list your top 10 films. It’s not easy, right? You can pick some, but you leave some others out.

Even though there’s a certain level of grace we should give the academy, I’m going to go ahead and state that they really messed up by not – at least – nominating The Dark Knight Rises. I understand that filmmakers created some of the best films our cinemas have seen in recent years, but come on.

Just like everyone knows that Saving Private Ryan should have won Best Picture over Romeo In Love (some of you didn’t even realize that’s the incorrect title, which proves my point), everyone also knows that The Dark Knight should have been nominated in 2008. It would have been considerate of the Academy to at least admit their obvious error, by nominating TDKR.

I know the TDKR has received its fair share of criticism. Many people have pointed to the obvious plot-holes in the film and other minor issues with the story, but that is EXACTLY why TDKR should have been nominated. That is, it actually had a story to critique! When was the last time a comic-book adaptation had a decent story? You never hear people picking apart The Avengers or The Amazing Spider-man, but they’ve elevated their expectations of TDKR because it’s a higher caliber film.

You see, the Academy failed to nominate this film, because they honestly didn’t know what to do with a comic-book-action film that was actually just as good, or better, than many of the other dramas released. The Academy had never seen a superhero portrayed in this way and it caught them off guard. They were ready to admit that it was a good action film, but they were completely blind to the fact that these films have forever changed actions films.

They would also be hard-pressed to name a trilogy that has been complete as this one. My friend James Harleman states, if you didn’t like The Dark Knight Rises, you didn’t like The Dark Knight. These three films possess some of the most consistent, tightly woven story-lines to ever grace the silver screen. And what recognition does Christopher Nolan get? Nothing. What about the fact that Christian Bale actually portrays three characters in every film, any notoriety? Nope. What about the fact that almost every comic-book action film has used the Batman trilogy as a template for super hero movies, does that account for anything? Guess not.

It’s hard to measure the difference these films have already made and will continue to make, but the fact that they have changed filmmaking is worth far more than a golden statue.

What does this have to do with theology? Everything. Anytime someone makes a unique piece of art, and a timeless piece at that, it is something we should take notice of and appreciate. Christopher Nolan obviously has a gift and used many gifted actors and filmmakers to hone his story, but that’s what we should applaud. Any gift we have is a grace. There is a Giver who bestows the gift and the lengths at which we strive to sharpen those gifts, gives glory to the Giver. We don’t need an Academy to tell us that.

Snapshots

Posted: February 18, 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.

Snitch – A father goes undercover for the DEA in order to save his son. Genre – action, thriller, drama; content – language, violence, & drug use.

Dark Skies – This is the story of your typical suburban family who is plagued by demonic forces that will stop at nothing to torment them. Genre – horror, sci-fi; content – violence, terror, drug use, language, and other disturbing things that belong in demonic movies.

Hardly saving and never dying

Posted: February 15, 2013 by Emilio Garofalo Neto in Action
Tags: ,

die hard

Yesterday we talked a bit about how Jesus is the opposite of McClane, in that he is at the right place and right time and it is through his own death that he saves the day, nay, the world.

I have not seen the movie but I am pretty sure that McClane saves the day.

Now, how many more times will John McClane have to save the day? Well, if they had the budget and the time, they could presumably make a new movie every year (or semester) for decades and we would never run out of perils and situations. You could imagine a Die Hard in each big city of the world and in all sorts of situation; McClane could fight North Koreans, White Supremacists, Sudanese cannibals, Somali pirates, Taliban fighters, people from the underworld, Daleks… his need is to constantly save the day because the day keeps getting in trouble. There has to be a way to end all troubles once and for all.

In the Old Testament the sacrifices made by the Levite priests were only palliatives and could never take away sin. They had to be done over and over again because the day brought new troubles and new sins.

The reason is that they were only a shadow, or a preview of what was to come. Jesus in his own sacrificial death begins the reconstruction of this world; the divine project is not merely to save a bunch of people, but to actively make a new heaven and a ne Earth in which righteousness dwell. When this happens, we will have been saved completely. while such day doe snot arrive, we rest on his grace and work in service to his kingdom (even if it means our death). Not to save the day, but because it has already been saved.

 

Dying and living at the right time

Posted: February 14, 2013 by Emilio Garofalo Neto in Action
Tags: ,

The Die Hard franchise has been a bastion of fun, violence and quips for over 25 years now (could this be right?). Yes, John McCLane has been killing bandits while making us laugh and cheer for years. The fourth movie (live free or die hard) was a bit disappointing to many, the PG-13 rating being considered one of the main reasons. In my humble opinion, it is not really inferior than the second or third installments.

Here is the final trailer for this movie, gotta love the ubiquotous use of “Ode to Joy” in the series trailers…

The series often play with the idea of being at the wrong place at the wrong time; whether at the Nakatomi Plaza on Christmas (making this one of the best Christmas movies ever), or an airport and now, it seems, in Moscow. Thankfully he is always the right man for the job and teams up with a Sam Jackson, Justin Long and other folks to save the day from robbers to all sorts of terrorists.

This idea of being at the wrong place is intriguing to me and offers a curious contrast with Christ. I am currently preaching a series in the Gospel of Mark, and know we have reached the passover meal, when Jesus gives instructions to his disciples and announces a betrayal. What is remarkable about the incident, is how much in control Jesus is of the situation. He knows about what Judas did; he knows there is a room prepared for him. He knows when and how everything is going to take place; he went to Jerusalem for this ocasion. He is the right man, in the right place and in the right, precise time, appointed before the creation of the world.

John McCLane is always at the wrong place and time, and yet seems to find resources to save the day and himself in the process; his life is always at risk but he ultimately prevails (or as long as the series continue…). Yet, when it comes to Jesus, the surprising thing is that even though he is in control, at the right place and the right time, it is precisely through his own death that he triumphs over evil. The Gospel is madness to this world; it is a story that no screenwriter could imagine. It is the story of the one who controls all things dying for the terrorists who rebelled against him. Good and surprising news…