Archive for June, 2014

Eli Roth is Pretty Sick

Posted: June 30, 2014 by jperritt in Horror
Tags: , , , , ,

green-inferno-poster-900My first exposure to Eli Roth came through one of my friends comments about Roth’s film, Cabin Fever.  This friend of mine could handle movie violence a bit better than I could, so he thought he would be just fine.  After watching the film, he summed up his thoughts in one word – Sick!  After pulling a bit more out of him, he stated the film was simply over-the-top gross and he could hardly handle it.

Without either of us knowing who Eli Roth was (the director of CF), we were introduced to a common component in his films – graphic violence.  Well, this film seemed to put Roth on the map, so he has continued to write/direct/star in many other films.  Not only do his films contain graphic violence, they typically contain graphic nudity, as well as, disturbing acts of torture.

Another series of films that seemed to bring his name back into the lime-light were the “torture-porn” films, Hostel Hostel 2.  These films (which I have not seen but heard/read much about) contain sick acts of torture occurring to unsuspecting tourists.  Basically, any horrible thing you could think of (and some you couldn’t think of) are depicted in these movies.

And now, the reason I am bringing him up today, is because of two forthcoming films he’s associated with – The Green Inferno The Sacrament.  Roth is directing TGI (he also co-wrote the screenplay), and only producing TS.  Although both films have differing plots, they are similar in their sickening depravity.  And they both prove how utterly disgusting Eli Roth’s heart and mind are.

sacramentNow, some of you may think that I’m being a little harsh on Eli, but I’m simply using his words.  In the trailer for TGI it states, “From the twisted mind of horror master Eli Roth”.  In other words, all this talk is only assisting him in his PR tactics for his films (you’re welcome, Eli).  Roth loves his twisted mind.  He loves that he’s known for being sick.  He loves it so much, he ensures it’s going to be used in the marketing of his films.  To say it another way, being twisted has become his identity.

While I do want to discuss the term “horror master” associated with Eli Roth, I’ll only say a couple of things because I want to focus on his twisted heart.  The term horror master needs to be associated with directors that put thought and care into their craft.  Anyone, I repeat, anyone can use graphic violence and disturbing torture scenes to get a reaction out of an audience.  Roth could more accurately be labeled “gross-out master”, but horror master is a bit of a stretch.  Back to twisted ol’ Eli.

Proverbs 17:20a states, “One with a twisted mind will not succeed,”.  Again, Roth has become known as the twisted, violent, sex-crazed, horror director.  He’s built his identity around this content.  Basically, if you hear his name associated with the screenplay, directing, or producing, you can expect to see twisted sex and violence.  But, as the above Scripture states, he will not succeed.

You see, one thing Christians can agree with Roth on is that mankind’s heart is twisted.  Roth’s heart is twisted, my heart is twisted, and your heart is twisted.  And, what Roth has done, is tapped into that twisted nature.  There’s something intriguing about sex and violence to all of us (for starters, God created sex).  Yes, by God’s grace, some of us aren’t as drawn to these distortions as others, but there is still a sinful tug – a moment of curiosity – some of us feel.  He has realized this and exploited it for gain, but God’s Word says otherwise.  God’s Word ensures emptiness, destruction, and failure to those indulging in twisted wickedness.

While many in this world seek to exploit that darkness, God exploits grace.  He grants it to people who are undeserving.  He lavishes love on those who hate.  He grants compassion to those deemed as lesser by the world.  And he’s all about redeeming the twisted hearts of mankind.  Roth’s exploitation will only result in further emptiness, God’s, however, grants life and freedom to a twisted bunch of sinners like you and me.

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dumb-head

[This post is taking place of a trailer today.  We didn’t want to run this trailer for obvious reasons]

Many of you out there probably saw the film, Dumb and Dumber.  For me, I honestly have no idea how many times I’ve seen the original – I know I saw it twice in the theater.  There are those who doubt it’s a classic and exclaim that it definitely doesn’t serve a sequel, however, I disagree.  At least, that was my initial thought.

It has been two decades since the first film was released, so it’s difficult for me to keep my expectations under control.  Especially since it is one of the best comedies ever made (that’s a fact…not opinion).  Therefore, I had braced myself for disappointment when preparing to watch the premier of the trailer a few weeks ago.  Even still, nothing prepared me for the level of disappointment I would experience.

For those of you who know much about Dumb and Dumber, you know that Peter & Bobby Farrelly directed it.  And, as you may be aware, they were the directors credited for the “gross-out comedy”.  While Dumb and Dumber did well in the theaters – especially because Jim Carrey’s career was just taking off – There’s Something About Mary would go down as their crowning achievement they could never repeat.  If you’ve seen that film, you know there are some very crude aspects to it (and that’s putting it mildly).

Keeping that in mind, I don’t know why I was that surprised by the level of grossness depicted in the trailer to Dumb and Dumber To.  For starters, it’s not like Dumb and Dumber was some bastion of cleanliness.  It had its fair share of crude humor  – Lloyd’s “laxative cocktail” for Harry produced some graphic results.  While the first installment wasn’t in short supply of bathroom humor, there wasn’t anything (I can recall) that was just too far.  However, the sick level the Farrelly’s have taken this sequel seems to be too much – and that’s just the previews!

What this trailer taught me was something Scripture has taught me – mankind is depraved.  Ever since Genesis 3 mankind has continued to display the sinfulness that is present in their hearts.  But, more specifically, a thought that came to mind was something Paul says in Romans 1:30, “inventors of evil”.  You see, years ago when the Farrelly’s directed There’s Something About Mary, they made humorous moments out of shocking the audience with unexpected levels of sickness.  They thought up (invented) new ways of depicting evil that would force a chuckled-gasp from the audience.

And, if 20 years has taught us anything, it’s this, The inventions of evil at the theaters have only gotten darker.  In many ways filmmakers have honed their craft and that is a great thing.  However, in the genre of comedy, the lines are often being pushed farther and farther.  What was funny in the past, is now lame.  What is sick 20 years ago, is now tame.  And, what is shocking now, will one day seem sane.

Since I know the Farrelly bros frequent this site multiple times a day, here is my request to you.  Peter & Bobby,  Dumb and Dumber To is still in the post-production phase.  Which means, there’s still time to cut that scene (if you’ve seen the trailer, you know which one) from the final cut of the film.  Go for timeless!  Keep the tone of the original without going too far.  Maybe the shocking aspect of Dumb and Dumber To, could be keeping the humor tame?  Maybe you guys could pull the reigns back on a genre that was formerly referred to as comedy?  Maybe you guys could focus on punchlines instead of scenes that want to make people puke?

Maybe, however, you guys are simply illustrating another fact to us.  Maybe Dumb and Dumber To will simply be a soon-forgotten illustration of wandering hearts.  Those who go and see this film are wanting laughter.  They’re wanting escape.  They’re wanting to get away from the thoughts and concerns of a broken life for a while.  However, there’s no movie that can bring any audience member complete joy.  Yes, they can receive joy.  Yes, they can give thanks to God for what they see.  But, any attendee of a film will ultimately be disappointed when joy is separated from Christ.  And, what the Farrelly brothers, the sequel, and the audience are all illustrating to us is futility.  They think joy is making comedy more and more depraved, but that’s simply because it can’t do what Christ can.  Creation is not meant to be separated from the Creator, but when it is Dumb and Dumber To is the result – more depravity.

So, that’s my conclusion about the film.  There’s part of me that wants to see it, but that’s just the nostalgic portion of my heart.  In the end I know the only thing this film could do for me anyway is add to my depravity.  And, my heart’s doing pretty well at pumping out depravity on its own.

princessNot too long ago I bashed a Disney classic (Peter Pan; even though I do like it), so I thought I would come to Disney’s defense in this post.  After all, we had an excellent time in Disney World this past October and we own/enjoy many of their movies.

We were recently watching The Princess and the Frog, and I noticed how this film contains some pretty dark themes in it.  Then, I thought about almost every Disney film having elements of evil depicted.  Let’s take a minute to reflect on a few of the films:

  • Finding Nemo – the mother and her litter (is that the correct term?) of fish are destroyed in the opening minutes of the film.
  • The Lion King – the father is stampeded by some gazelles, Scar makes us all cry, and the hyenas are just plain mean.
  • Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs – the scary witch still gives me nightmares and she poisons Snow White (whose voice drives me crazy, by the way).
  • Sleeping Beauty – has Maleficent who looks demonic prior to turning into a dragon, but drives further fear into the hearts of pre-schoolers by breathing fire.
  • Toy Story 1 – Sid
  • Toy Story 2 – Al of Al’s Toy Barn
  • Toy Story 3 – Lotso
  • Toy Story trilogy – all of them have some pretty terrifying/sad moments.  Sid’s toy experiments, a child who abandons her doll (Jessie) on the street, Lotso’s rebellion, toys descending into the pit of “hell”, and Andy making the entire audience cry by giving his toys away (be honest…you cried).
  • Up – everyone over the age of 25 was crying in the first 10 minutes
  • Tangled – “Mother knows best” Mother Gothel’s aging makes every child cower; not to mention her fall out of the tower is a little unsettling.
  • Frozen – the parents die and Elsa won’t build a snow man with Anna for Pete’s sake! (the huge snow creature is also frightening).

And, then we get to The Princess and the Frog, quite possibly the most demonic and frightening, because it does explicitly deal with demons, after all.  Dr. Facilier makes a deal with the Devil and uses voodoo throughout the film.  Demons dance around and then Dr. Facilier’s deal goes wrong and he is dragged to hell…literally.

But, all this talk may have sounded somewhat negative and I began this post stating it would be positive.  So here’s my assertion: This is all really good stuff.  I mean, sometimes I’d watch these films with my children and think, couldn’t they have left all the dying out?  Couldn’t they have left off that scary part?  Or, did they really have to make the moles on her nose that grotesque?  However, then I thought about the nature of evil and realized, it’s real.

The truth is, there is death.  The truth is, there is sadness.  The truth is, demonic forces are wagging war against us each and every day.  If that’s the case, then what’s my problem with these depictions?  My problem is the fact that my pre-fall nature is kicking in.  I want Eden.  I want the Eden that existed before that nasty serpent.  Or, I wan’t Jesus to be here…now.  I want to be in Heaven.  You see, these desires are normal.  The knee-jerk desire that hates evil, death, sadness, and demons is a good thing.  But, the cold harsh truth is the fact that we live in the “already” and the “not yet”.  Jesus Christ has already come, but he has not yet returned.

Therefore, Disney got it right!  We need children growing up with a sense of fear, sadness, and evil.  It is unloving to raise them without a sense of brokenness.  The more brokenness they feel, the better.  It’s just our job to let them know that there’s only one “magical spell” that can break this.  And it’s not a kiss from a prince or some incantation from a good wizard, it’s only fixed by the righteous blood of Jesus Christ.

secret_life_of_walter_mitty_ver6The first time I saw the trailer to this film I was very impressed.  It was a movie that was on my “to-watch” list (not that I have an excel spreadsheet or anything).  However, I heard some mixed reviews from some trusted critics, so I put this film off a while.  But, I finally got around to watching it and I really liked it.

Yes, it is on the quirky side.  Yes, it may be just a little too weird for some of you.  But, if you watch it with any level of honesty, you’ll realize it’s a film about you.  To put it another way, you’re weird.  I’m not trying to hurt your feelings or get your day started off on the wrong foot, but you are a little strange.  Please don’t skip to another blog or run and grab the tissues just yet, hang on and I’ll explain.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is about a quiet, “nobody” who dreams of being somebody.  Walter [Ben Stiller – who also directed the film] is an average guy who often has extraordinary fantasies of courage and success.  However, his job is threatened and he embarks on an adventure that blends fantasy and reality.  You see, the film gives us glimpses into Walter’s head.  Without the screen going black or employing some cinematic visuals that fade into a dream, we are seamlessly carried off into Walter’s fantasies.  Because of this, the viewer often wonders if this is reality or simply one of Walter’s crazy dreams.

Now, back to the part where I called you weird.  If you took offense to the statement, let me ask you this question, would you like for someone to get into your head for a week?  Would you like it if someone could record all of your thoughts and play them for your family and friends?  I think the answer for most of us would be a loud, NO!  Why?  Well, chances are, most of our thoughts are sinful.  After all, our heart is poisoned with sin and we, therefore, end up thinking a lot of things we shouldn’t (see the Sermon on the Mount).

But, what Walter Mitty showed us was that fantasies are normal.  Yes, the movie may have seemed a little too weird, but it captured similar fantasies that are rolling around in your mind.  Who hasn’t had fantasies about being a hero?  Telling off the bully in their life? Or, saying just the right thing at the right moment?  Most of us have.

In fact, I would say that you’re not weird if you have fantasies, I would say you’re weird if you don’t.  Fantasies are typically favorable thoughts.  We rarely have fantasies that end bad for us, do we?  I mean, how many of you have fantasies where you are the villain and someone else is the hero?  Fantasies tell us something is broken.  In Walter’s life, he was the “loser”.  He didn’t have a lot to offer – just think of his conversation with the e-harmony guy.  However, he compensated this lack, by dreaming scenarios that righted the wrongs.  Scenarios that brought about justice, that manifested romance, and that ensured a “happily ever after” ending.

The reason we have fantasies, like Walter, is because this life isn’t what it should be.  Justice is flawed, love is imperfect, we don’t say the right things all the time, people are bullies, there is sadness, the list goes on and on.  Therefore, many of us imagine a life that is perfect, a life without sadness or injustice.  A life that seems to only exist in our minds.  The truth for the Christian, however, is that these “fantasies” about perfect justice, love, and peace are not things that solely exist in our minds.

Trailer Tuesdays: The Giver

Posted: June 17, 2014 by jperritt in Uncategorized

“When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong.”

dragonHow to Train Your Dragon 2 is a worthy followup to its 2010 predecessor; it will likely be in contention for the Academy Award for Best Animated Picture (yes, I know that The Lego Movie was released earlier this year and that Big Hero 6 is yet to come). The movie is also a mixed bag of ideology, replete with worldview implications. DreamWorks has stepped up their game—following the Pixar model—and created a movie that is for adults (almost) as much as it is for kids. Sure, How to Train Your Dragon 2 has plenty of juvenile humor, but it also has plenty of emotional and thematic depth. In other words, there is a lot of subtext in this film; and since I’ve only seen it once, it is very likely that I have missed some things. Realizing that many of you probably have yet to see it, I want to—as much as possible—offer some spoiler-free thoughts on Dragon 2. However, I’ll assume that you have at least seen the trailer. By highlighting the artistic beauty, theory of animal nature, emotional depth, and depiction of human sexuality in How to Train Your Dragon 2, this post will hopefully give you some things to consider as you watch the movie.

Beauty

When storytellers and filmmakers create fictional worlds filled with fantastical creatures and all manner of natural beauty and splendor, they do so because they are humans made in the image of a God who creates. The artist may suppress his or her knowledge of that truth (Rom 1:18), but their handiwork often betrays them; and this is precisely what has happened in How to Train Your Dragon 2. This movie boasts some excellent cinematography, which is what one expects when ace cinematographer Roger Deakins is the visual consultant. Some of the flying scenes in this movie are downright gorgeous; the color palette truly enhances the characters’presence on screen. As you watch, pay attention to the detail of the characters’wardrobe and physical features. The art department did a great job aging the characters; Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) even has some stubble! Simply put, How to Train Your Dragon 2 deserves praise for its aesthetic excellence.

dragon 2

Concerning Animals

One of the commendable aspects of the first movie is that it avoided the pitfall of humanizing the dragons and making the film a dissertation on colonialism. In some ways, How to Train Your Dragon 2 continues that trend; in some ways it doesn’t. The animators characterized the dragons in such a way that they act like dogs; and the citizens of Berk treat them as such, using them in sport and keeping them as pets. Hiccup’s mom Valka (Cate Blanchett), on the other hand, is a bit of a nut when it comes to her view of the nature of dragons. Now, I promised to avoid spoilers, so all I will say is that she really, really thinks dragons are special—human special. I half expected her to pull a Dances With Wolves and go around yelling, “Tatonka, Tatonka.”The antagonist Drago, voiced by Djimon Hounsou, is the opposite: he sees dragons as objects to be misused and abused.

Allow Dragon 2 to cause you to consider how we should view and treat our animals as Christians. Animals are not our equals; they are not created in the image of God. Yes, we have dominion over them; but we are certainly not to abuse them.

Emotional Depth

How to Train Your Dragon 2 has stock, cardboard characters aplenty, but it has some round, dynamic ones as well. One of the things I appreciated most about Dragon 2 is that it gives us in Hiccup a protagonist who is changing. He is becoming a man (remember the stubble I mentioned earlier?) and is learning to lead. He makes mistakes from which he learns and grows. Hiccup is a character we can think about—he is relatable. Our empathy with his character is what fuels our interest in the story. In addition, Hiccup is endowed with his own unique mannerisms and interests, such as his predilection for finding undiscovered places. The point is that realistic characters are hard to come by these days, and we can and should appreciate it when a filmmaker delivers.

We know from the movie trailer that Hiccup’s mother plays a prominent role in Dragon 2, and a fountain of emotional depth is unleashed when Stoik (Hiccup’s father, Gerard Butler) is reunited with his long-lost wife. It is one of the most moving depictions of marital love since Up, and is worth the price of admission alone. It reminded me that even for unbelievers, marriage is one of God’s greatest common graces. On a related note, you’ll want to look for the theme of sacrificial love, too (I can’t say much more without spoiling).

Sexuality

Some of the things discussed in this section might be minor spoilers; but parents, you will probably want to read this before you take your child to see the movie. News broke before the release that Gobber (Craig Ferguson), a secondary character, would come out as gay in Dragon 2. Gobber’s actual announcement is very short. While watching a seemingly awkward conversation between Stoik and Valka, Gobber leans over to Hiccup and says, “This is why I never got married . . . this and one other reason.”This admission is subtle and will likely go unnoticed by younger children. Having a gay character in an animated film is nothing new; it’s just part of our culture’s attempt to normalize the sin of homosexuality—although it is not a particularly preachy attempt. The unfortunate thing is that filmmakers are increasingly succumbing to the temptation to forgo good storytelling for the sake of being culturally relevant and politically correct. What exactly, you ask, do I mean by that? I mean that Gobber’s admission that he is gay adds nothing—zero, zilch, zip, nada—to the plot of How to Train Your Dragon 2. In fact, Gobber’s coming out, which is meant to pass for comic relief, actually disrupts the serious and heartfelt tone of the scene in which it occurs. And since Gobber’s homosexuality has no relevance to the story, there is no justification for its inclusion. Christian moviegoers need to be prepared to deal with the normalization of homosexuality in children’s movies.

I need to add one more observation about the depiction of sexuality in How to Train Your Dragon 2 before concluding, because homosexuality is by no means the only type of sexual sin. The character Ruffnut (Kristen Wig) becomes infatuated with Eret (Kit Harrington) at one point during the film. Of course, many movies for children feature romantic subplots, but Ruffnut’s relationship with Eret can only be described as lustful. In several instances, she salaciously gazes at him as his muscles bulge while he completes a task (this, too, is done for comedic effect). His biceps are shown in closeup to reinforce the lustful gaze. Attraction is a good thing; God created men to be attracted to women and vice versa. Lust is another thing entirely, and I believe that Gobber’s homosexuality and Ruffnut’s lust are related. One of the tenets of this so-called age of sexual freedom and tolerance is that sexuality is seen as a solely evolutionary function, no longer carrying any teleological significance. If sexuality is not seen as a glorious picture of Christ’s love for his Bride. sanctified for the marriage setting, is it any surprise that unbelieving filmmakers have no qualms about showing children how to behave sexually? It’s high-time we realize that movies are not safe, pure, and ideology-free simply because they’re marketed as a “kids”movie, meeting the G or PG prerequisite.

In spite of its problems, I still enjoyed How to Train Your Dragon 2. I said earlier that it was a mixed bag . . . and it is. The filmmakers have done some things very, very well. The problems with How to Train Your Dragon 2 are very real, but—and I don’t say this very often—this is a movie that makes me want to see another installment in the franchise (as long as they can avoid politicizing and preaching a social agenda).

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[Blaine Grimes is a servant of Christ, husband, watcher of movies, and reader of books. He once trained a dragon that takes the form of an overweight Beagle.]

 

 

back-to-the-futureI was introduced to Back to the Future when I was about nine or ten years old. I loved that movie; and for a two or three month stretch, I watched it at least once a week. It is no surprise, then, that Back to the Future is one of my all-time favorite films, with my appreciation of it increasing over the years. Incredibly intricate, yet virtually free of plot holes, Back to the Future—thanks to Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale—boasts one of the best screenplays ever written. Simply put, it is the Hollywood style narrative at its best. These stylistic and formal elements deserve to be written about, but that is not what I’m going to do in this post; nor am I going to discuss time travel, our desire to change the past, and the sovereignty of God (Brian Sorgenfrei has already written an excellent post on the latter topic, and I recommend it to you). Instead, I am going to briefly analyze the use of nostalgia in Back to the Future[1]. One of the many ways in which this film succeeds is in its ability to show the shortcomings and short-sightedness of an overly nostalgic worldview.

For a 90s kid watching an 80s movie centered in the 50s, Back to the Future is a quintessentially nostalgic experience. The film, for me, sparked an interest in all things Untitled 21950s—in soda shops, Coke in a bottle, classic cars, Chuck Berry, and like things. Of course, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale wouldn’t have it any other way; they intended to invoke nostalgic feelings in the viewer. In the first act we are introduced to an old courthouse that houses a broken clock, which, as the lady from the Hill Valley Preservation Society tells Marty, is an important piece of history. It’s a reminder of the way things were back in the good ol’days. In addition, Marty’s mom, Lorraine, bemoans the state of the dating culture: “I think it’s terrible! Girls chasing boys. When I was your age I never chased a boy or called a boy or sat in a parked car with a Untitled 3boy.”All of this nostalgic reminiscing is contrasted with the Mayor’s initiative to replace the clock tower—erasing part of the town’s history—and the run-down Hill Valley High School, with its graffiti-stained exterior. According to the older characters in the film, things just aren’t the same anymore. There once was a time when everyone was an upstanding citizen, when the world was right; but now, it’s 1985, and everything has changed so much.

Untitled 4What follows is a series of brilliantly executed cinematic reversals in which Zemeckis and Gale overturn and destroy all of the nostalgic notions of the past that they worked so hard to establish in the first act. Marty learns that he and his dad both struggle with a fear of rejection. He learns that his ostensibly moralistic mother liked to drink and smoke in high school; and he is forced to face reality when his 1955 mother proudly declares, “it’s not like I’ve never parked before.”By spending a week in the past, Marty McFly realizes that although the times may have changed, the problems are fundamentally the same. He has a lot more in common with his parents than he cares to admit. In the end, it turns out that the past wasn’t as glorious as it was made out to be. The 1950s nostalgia was nothing more than a facade. Back to the Future does indeed give us a somewhat idyllic and romanticized version of the past—especially at first; but it Untitled 5does not stop there. Back to the Future takes us beyond nostalgia to a place where we can learn from the past.

I do not mean to imply in my analysis that society is incapable of decaying or getting worse; for clearly that is not the case. My point is not to encourage Reel Thinking readers to avoid reminiscing and purge all happy memories of the past. Collin Hansen is absolutely correct when he says that “[r]emembering the past is good and biblical.[2]”In other words, as Christians, we should think about the past. The life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ are historical events. The problem is not the past itself, but having an overly nostalgic conception of it. Consider Collin Hansen’s admonition:

[N]ostalgia is the enemy of faith. By lamenting the good ‘ole days, nostalgia tempts us to forsake the present day as beyond the scope of God’s redemption, out of reach from his intervention[3].

Don’t be like Lorraine, always touting the supremacy of bygone eras. Let us learn from brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone before us; let us learn not only from their successes but also from their sins and failures. This is exactly what Paul exhorts the church at Corinth to do. Yes, he points out that the Israelites “drank from the spiritual Rock [Christ],”but he also mentions that “God was not pleased”with many of them (1 Cor. 10:4,5). “[T]hese things,”Paul says under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did”(10:6). We must remember the past and think about it. We should acknowledge our heroes of the faith, but not idolize them. Let us learn from the successes and shortcomings of the “cloud of witnesses”(Hebrews 12:1). Back to the Future is just a small reminder that getting stuck in the past can be dangerous business.

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[1] Oxford Dictionaries defines nostalgia as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past.”http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/nostalgia?q=nostalgia

[2] Collin Hansen: http://thegospelcoalition.org/article/nostalgia-is-the-enemy-of-faith-learn-from-your-heroes-warts

[3] Ibid.

Trailer Tuesdays: Made in America

Posted: June 10, 2014 by jperritt in Uncategorized

“Because music succeeds where politics and religion fails.”

The_Amazing_Spider-Man_2_59[There will be MAJOR spoilers; i.e., don’t read it unless you want the movie ruined]

Several weeks ago I was able to go see The Amazing Spider-man 2 and I was impressed.  I’ve heard that critics did not care for it to much, but I haven’t even gotten to read those just yet.  I went in expecting to enjoy it, which isn’t always a sure-fire recipe for an enjoyable experience.  I enjoyed the initial reboot in the Spider-man franchise, with a few exceptions: the over-the-top cheesy love story and the over-the-top cheesy construction worker/wrecking-ball sequence.  Both of these aspects made the film a little less enjoyable, even though it was an enjoyable experience, overall.  Therefore, I was looking forward the second installment of The Amazing Spider-man.

I thought that the second film built off of the first very well.  I also thought that there was enough back story in the film to connect the first two features.  I also appreciated the acting by most of the major cast – especially Harry Obsorn/Green Goblin.  In my opinion, this was one of the better comic book adaptations on the silver screen.

One possible critique of the film (even though I really enjoyed it) was the formulaic nature of it.  And, when I say “formulaic” I mean, it was a lot like The Dark Knight, which is the second Batman (for those of you who use that terminology).  Okay, so SM2 wasn’t on the level of TDK, however, there were some similarities.  Think about it for a minute.  In TDK, Bruce Wayne spends a majority of time attempting to win his love interest.  Peter Parker also spends the majority of his time to win his love interest.  In TDK, Wayne loses allies in Harvey Dent, Parker also lose allies/long-time friends in Harry Osborn.  The Dark Knight was #2 in the Batman franchise, The Amazing Spider-man 2 was also (less creatively named) #2 in the franchise of Spider-man movies.

Most importantly, both films hinged on the fact that the super hero suffers the death of their girl.  Bruce Wayne lost Rachel Dawes and Spider-man lost Gwen Stacy.  Both superheroes were in the process of saving their heroine (even though Batman was tricked by the Joker).  And, both heroes contemplated giving up on the whole super-hero business – I’m the one who killed her!  If it wasn’t for me, she would still be alive.

However, it is (arguably) the death of Rachel and the death of Gwen that really draws us into the story.  (Okay, so the opening sequence of TDK drew me into the story).  But, SM2 really sold me on the death of Gwen.  I wasn’t pulling for her to die.  It’s not like I had a certain dislike for her character (I actually like Emma Stone), I think it was the realism of the whole story.  I mean, this side of heaven we need to expect imperfect endings.  We need to expect sadness.  We need to expect loss.  Every hero is flawed.

Spider-man, as awesome as he is, is imperfect.  He’s disrespectful.  He’s a little too arrogant. And, he shot his web a little too late when it came to saving Gwen (sniff, sniff).  I enjoyed many aspects of SM2, but one of them was this fact – there are no happy endings until Jesus Christ returns (that sequel is going to be AWESOME!).

Were you a Bully?

Posted: June 5, 2014 by jperritt in Uncategorized

bully-posterSince I work in youth ministry, this film had been on my radar for quite some time.  However, I just got around to watching it a month or so ago.  For those of you who haven’t heard of this film, let me give you a little bit of info.  Bully is a documentary which follows several different children’s stories in various locations in the US.  The film gives the viewer a small glimpse of what life is like for these students who are bullied almost daily.  The film not only shows us the horrors they face on the school bus and the classroom, but also the sadness their family and friends endure alongside them.

Bully is one of those films everyone needs to watch.  It is a film that will depress you, move you to tears and convict you for those you have bullied in your life.  Even if you did not actively participate in bullying an individual in your junior high or high school years, did you reach out to those who were bullied?  If not, in some ways, you can say that you “inactively” bullied them.  Let me explain.

This film highlights the problem of bullying, which seems to be taking place more and more in our society.  Just for the record, I don’t think this world is any more, or less, evil than it always has been and I am aware that bullying has always been with us (it has existed in the human heart ever since the fall).  I do believe, as the documentary displayed, that school authorities have become more lax, as well as, some fault being placed on individual families.  But, back to my point…

Just because you never actively bullied an individual doesn’t mean you can’t bare some of the blame.  If you witness someone being bullied and don’t stop to show them love, aren’t you guilty in a different manner?  You may not be hurling insults or shoving someone into a locker, but are you showing them love?  You see, bullying can also be withholding love toward someone?

Every human was created with the desire to be in loving community, because we were created in the image of triune God.  Therefore, we all long to be accepted, to be in fellowship, to be loved by others.  Of course, the entrance of sin disrupted all of this and broke the sense of community we all had, however, Love still came into this world. Love came in the form of Jesus Christ and Jesus showed us what it meant to go against bullying.

Jesus showed love to the unlovable in our society.  The downcast, the insignificant, the embarrassing-to-be-associated with.  Jesus loved a people who are nearly impossible to love – you and me.  Until you realize that you were the insignificant loser Jesus reached out to, you won’t be motivated to love others.  Until you realize that you had nothing attractive in you to draw Jesus into fellowship with you, you won’t desire to fellowship with the unattractive.  Until you realize you were an enemy of Christ, you were one who nailed him to a cross, you won’t ever show love to those who are unloving to you.

Therefore, let us pray that today, as well as the days we have left, will be spent showing love to those God brings about in our life. Let us reach out to the unloved and insignificant.  Let us do it with the understanding of Christ’s love displayed toward us.