Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

In Paul Blart: Mall Cop, comedian Kevin James reunites with long-time collaborator Nick Bakay.  What emerges is something akin to John Candy’s Only the Lonely meets Die Hard. James has the sensitivity of Candy, but the strong physical humor of Belushi and Farley.

Paul Blart is a loveable loser.  He’s a mall cop who can’t seem to make the NJ State Police force due to his hypoglycemia.  His ex-wife only married him to get her green card, so he lives at home with his mom and daughter.  He exudes shame, confronted with his failures, seemingly, at every moment.  He seeks comfort in food, which just adds to his shame (this is how addictions work).

But Paul’s heart is taken with young and beautiful Amy who works at one of the kiosks.  He tries to be himself, and woo her- but mistakenly gets drunk and acts the fool.

All this leads up to Black Friday, and a plot to rob the mall Paul guards.  He uses his wits and knowledge of the mall to slowly subdue them.  Like McClain, he’s the inside man talking to his friend on the outside while the specialists remain clueless.  He refuses to escape to safety so he can rescue Amy from the robbers.

This is a silly romp that does not take itself seriously.  What results is a fun little movie that requires little of the audience.  But, this shame-filled man becomes a hero.  The self-important people who belittled him folded under the pressure, but love drove Paul Bart on to risk his life to save others.  So, in the silliness there is a message.  It’s not who people think you are that matters, but who you really are.  Enjoy the silliness.

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David Wayne, aka the Jolly Blogger,  is my friend.  We spent some time together at RTS Orlando.  But we got to know each other much better when we both served different churches in Winter Haven.  I was often a beneficiary of he and Lynnette’s hospitality.  They even put up with my dog, except for when he peed on their Christmas gift.  Actually, they handled that in their typically gracious manner.  I was very disappointed to learn they would be moving to MD.

Their move to Baltimore paid off when I was stranded in Baltimore one Christmas Day when the Albany airport was closed due to snow.  David came to the hotel to bring me home to enjoy fellowship and a hot meal (and I had not had anything to eat all day).  Again, graciousness and hospitality.

David was the one who encouraged me to blog.  He understood how isolated you can feel in Winter Haven.  He may regret that encouragment.  I did tell him to let me know if I said anything really stupid or crossed any lines.

Ever the good guy with a hearty laugh, David recommended me for a position recently. 

Why am I going on about the JollyBlogger?  My friend learned he has colon cancer.  He’s going to spend Christmas Eve on the operating table.  Not quite what he and the family were thinking Christmas would be like last week.  So, I’m asking those of you who share our faith in Jesus as our Prophet, Priest and King, to pray for David, Lynette and their 3 kids.  Ask for mercy and grace.  He’s no superstar pastor, but he’s the kind of guy you’d want for a pastor- a heart open to Jesus and His people.  (here is more after the video)

I love that movie.  And that scene…. how can you not be moved.

Update: The surgery went well, and David is recovering.  But, they found 2 large tumors on his liver (which is NOT good), nodules in his lungs and his lymph nodes  have been infected.  Bekah is making updates on his blog.  Please continue to pray.

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This morning we were talking about Psalm 16 in preparation for Sunday’s sermon.  One guy thought it reminded him of guys he knows grabbing themselves by the collar and preaching the gospel to themselves when facing temptation.  In Psalm 16, David is reminding himself of God and His benefits because he’s in danger of forgetting them in the midst of his troubles.  Psalm 16 becomes a great example of what it means to preach the gospel to yourself.

Preaching the gospel to the people

Preaching the gospel to the people

Ivan brought up the movie Luther.  Early on, Satan is accusing Martin and he is overcome with despair.  His Confessor Staupitz overhears this and enters his cell and preaches the gospel to him, summarized by “I am yours, save me!”.  Later, while at the Diet of Worms, Luther is again assailed.  This time he preaches it to himself- “I am yours, save me!”  He was internalizing the significance of the Christ’s saving work so he’s remember and believe it in the midst of spiritual attack.  If you haven’t seen this movie- what are you waiting for????

In the process of talking about preaching the gospel to yourself, I remembered a (short) interview with Jerry Bridges by C.J. Mahaney on the subject.  I think Jack Miller coined the phrase, but he is at least the first person I remember using it.  Maybe he got it from someone else.  But it is a helpful way to spend 20 minutes.

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The Incredible Hulk is something of a restart after a subpar intial effort to bring the Hulk to the big screen.  Ang Lee’s The Hulk was too angst ridden, which is what Ang does best.  It had the depressed pacing of most of his movies.  So they punted on everyone involved with The Hulk and started (almost) over.

They brought in Edward Norton (big improvement), Liv Tyler (I preferred Jennifer Connelly), William Hurt (an equal exchange for Sam Elliott) and thankfully didn’t revisit the storyline with his father.  The script here is heavier on action, and less on emotional storylines apart from Bruce’s longing for Betty while he wanders the world in an attempt to stay ahead of General Ross’s attempts to capture him.  They “redo” his initial transformation into the Hulk during an experiment gone wrong as part of the opening credits.  It differs from the Ang Lee version.  There is a quick glimpse of some Stark Industries blueprints [sonic(?) cannons used in a battle scene], setting up Tony’s appearance at the end (cameo by Robert Downey Jr.).  The story runs essentially concurrently with Iron Man.

This movie is more playful than Ang Lee’s.  You catch a quick glimpse of Bill Bixby’s old TV gig as Eddie’s single dad.  Big Lou makes a cameo as a security guard as well.  They answered the question of how come his pants stay on as well- elastic waistbands.  They obviously stretch too far, adding a bit more comedy as Bruce tries to keep his shredded pants on.  This version is much more like the other superhero movies, and I’m sure much more of what Marvel had in mind in the first place.

The story is about Banner’s quest to eliminate Hulk.  He fears how the military will use the “technology” used to create Hulk if they can capture Banner and figure it all out.  Banner has been working with another scientist to find a cure.  But he needs the data from the event.  To get this he must return home, during which he hopes to connect with his love, Betty Ross.  Of course, General Ross is hot on his trail with his own special soldier.  When they discover the ‘cure’ they aren’t sure if it merely suppresses and episode or completely cures him.  Suddenly they need Hulk to become a hero.

Hulk is more creative in his rage.  He uses parts of cars as shields, brass knuckles etc.  His rage is more apparent.  He seems more dangerous, scary and less “corny”.  He’s not jumping outrageous distances.  He’s also more human, which is what adds to the terror in some ways.  He retains knowledge of Betty.  His love for Betty is the one thing that can control his behavior.  It is more of a love story than the previous take on Hulk.

After rescuing her during a battle on the college campus, there is a scene reminiscent of King Kong.  They are hiding in the cleft of a rock face.  She is both afraid and drawn to him.  I could not help but think of Christ- He is not safe, but he is good and reborn hearts are drawn to Him despite the fact He is mighty and awesome.

Both General Ross and Blotsky want Bruce’s power for themselves.  Like Adam, they fell for the original lie, and have a desire to be gods.  Their quest for personal power drives them in different ways.  Ross wants to control Hulk, to harness technology.  Blotsky wants to defeat Hulk, seeing him as the ultimate rival.

The movie is quite intense, particularly when Abomination arrives on the scene for a climatic battle with Hulk.  Hulk appears to be no match for Abomination until Betty is threatened.  I was unclear if he actually killed Abomination ( I don’t want to give away too much in the odd chance you haven’t seen it).  But if he didn’t, how did they end up restraining him?

Aside from the violence, there is almost a sex scene that would be inappropriate for the kids.  But they have produced a much more enjoyable movie this time round.  I look forward to the next one.

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We Own the Night takes place in drug plagued late 80’s New York City.  It is the story of a father and his two sons.  To say there are dad issues in this movie is quite the understatement.  I was reminded of the story of the Prodigal Son(s).  Joaquin Phoenix plays Bobby, the son of the Police Chief (played by Robert Duvall) who takes the last name of his late mother.  He avoids the Police Department and ends up running a night club.  He also avoids his family since he is a big disappointment to his father.  He finds a substitute in the club owner, a Russian who imports fur.  He is like family to the Russian and his family.  The man’s wife tries to fatten him up and treats him like the son she never had.

Mark Wahlberg plays the obedient, trusted son Joseph.  He joined the Police Department and has risen to the rank of Captain.  He is angry at his brother for leaving home and the family business.  Bobby is angry at him for messing up the good thing he thinks he has going, and the condemnation he feels.

Tensions heighten because Joe is the head of the new drug task force.  He and his father inform Bobby that the owner’s nephew is a Russian mobster dealing drugs out of the club.  Soon Bobby will have to choose between his real family and the family he thinks he loves- the one that tolerates and supports his very indulgent lifestyle.

What emerges is an average cop drama with a fantastic performance by Joaquin.  Not all that happens makes sense, particularly during the car chase.  The ending seems a bit under-whelming as well.  The most interesting aspect of the movie was the family relationships as Bobby comes home seeking redemption.  Like Jesus’ story of the Prodigal, the ‘stay-at-home’ brother resents the welcome home the licentious brother receives.  Only time reveals Joseph’s true motivations for the “righteous” life he led.  Funny how we just can’t escape Christ’s teaching, no matter how hard we try.

The movie starts off with more Eva Mendes than I needed to see, and some topless dancers.  After about 5 minutes the nudity is done.  Being a crime drama, there is plenty of bad language.  Though there is plenty of action, it is not graphic- except for a fight in an apartment.

Unfortunately this movie has had much better competition in this genre (American Gangster, The Departed).  We Own the Night doesn’t own the genre, but makes a respectable showing.

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I predict ...

I predict ...

Lack of funding.  They need another $2.8 million to complete the project.

It’s actually a funny interview– what with Steve Taylor and Donald Miller involved.  The target audience of the movie doesn’t have the money to invest.  And those who do have the money have never heard of the book.

I like this part:

Both men say they won’t invest any of their own money into the project.

“Writers don’t make much money anyway,” laughs Miller. “Like Obama says, it’s above my pay grade.”

Angst Personified

Angst Personified

Taylor took out a sizeable loan against his home to help make The Second Chance a few years ago, and says he’ll never do it again.

“I should have called that move The Second Mortgage,” he says. “I made a deal with my wife back then that we’d only use that strategy once.”

Miller and Taylor both say they’re sure the film will get made.

“I’m convinced it’s going to happen,” says Miller.

Asked if there was any chance the project will die, Taylor quipped, “Not unless I die first.” But when pressed for a timetable, he added, “Are you pre- or post-millennial?”

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CavWife and I finally watched Amazing Grace, the biopic on William Wilberforce.  We suffered from some laser issues at times- the in-laws’ DVD player is in decline- which affected our ability to both enjoy it and follow the story line, at times.

I know a bit about Wilberforce, having read one of his books and read a short biography on him.  In preparing a lesson on the slave trade I did some more research on him.  As a result, I was more familiar with him than the other people in the room.  As a result, I was able to fill in some of the gaps in the story line.  The movie clocks in at a hair under 2 hours and it could have easily been longer.  There were some things I wish were in the movie, which focused on his romance/marriage and lengthy battle in Parliament to abolish the slave trade.  It is difficult to tell the story of such a long period of time in a meaningful way in 2 hours or less.

Most of the movie takes place when he meets the woman who will become his wife.  He tells her of how he became involved in the political battle.  The movie follows along to eventual victory.  The time shifts mean you have to pay close attention since Wilburforce doesn’t seem to change much physically.  John Newton, played well by Albert Finney, and the troublesome Clarkson do undergo some physical changes providing clues if you miss the message.

I am a great sinner.  Christ is a great Savior.

"I am a great sinner. Christ is a great Savior."

The movie clearly portrays his evangelical moorings, but doesn’t dwell on them in a way that would make a non-Christian too uncomfortable.  I particularly liked the quick scene with his butler.  Wilberforce explains some strange behavior on God.  “You’ve found God.”  “More like I’ve been found by God.”  I’m not sure about the exact wording, but it reflects the wording of his mentor’s song- “I once was lost, but now I’m found.”  But the movie does not cover his conversion- which was a fairly lengthy process so that is understandable- or that his faith was the impetus and sustaining force in the fight against the slave trade.

One disappointment was the scene in which his best friend died.  His friend lamented that he didn’t have William’s faith.  Wilburforce left it at that rather than offering the promises of the gospel to him.

The movie makes some quick mention of some of his other accomplishments, such as found the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  This too flowed out of his faith.  He saw Christianity as not less, but more than his personal conversion.  His understanding of Christianity was that God transforms us, and society through us.  Wilburforce was so active in living out this vision that his health did suffer greatly.

... no longer belong to God, but belong to man...

... no longer belong to God, but belong to man...

The film does a good job of telling people about part of this great man’s life.  It is a fairly low budget film.  That it is a period piece helps it to feel like something you might see as a mini-series on PBS.  But I wasn’t looking for style points.

It is sad that most people don’t know about this man, and his lengthy struggle to see the slave trade come to an end, and soon thereafter slavery itself.

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