Category Archives: movies

Movie Review: Stardust

With my newfound free time, I’ve been watching teevee and catching up on movies. And as I’m writing this, I’m recalling that I borrowed Stardust from a coworker and have yet to return it. Um. Whoops.

Stardust is based on the novel by Neil Gaiman. Anyone who’s seen Neverwhere or Mirrormask, be not afraid… this is straight-up, major movie studio, logical and fairly linear fantasy fare. Gaiman’s favorite trope to explore is the world-next-door, in this case on the other side of a wall that seperates a sleepy English village from a magical world of mystery and enchantment. Our Intrepid Hero is in love with a fickle girl, and said girl informs him that if he brings her the shooting star they see fall on the other side of the wall, she’ll marry him. But he’s only got one week.

Turns out said star is Claire Daines. And if you eat her heart, you’ll extend your life by a hundred years or so, so there’s some witches after her, and the fairy kingdom is going through a rather bloody seccession fight, and the princes have to get ahold of the giant necklace that just happened to knock the star right out of the sky. So, you know, Stuff Happens and hijinks ensue.

Now, some of y’all have gotten to this point and said to yourselves, “Self, even given Mary Sue’s horrible way of explaining movies, this just doesn’t sound like my cuppa tea.”

Well, let me tell you why you need to see this film: Robert DeNiro. I’m not going to tell you much about his character, but you need. To. See. This. Film. Just. For. Bobby.

And, you know, heartwarming, bla bla bla, good message about finding your true path in life, bla bla bla… BOBBY!

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Film Thoughts: Praying with Lior

On Holy Saturday, I saw a film recommended, oh, golly, somewhere out there in the Blogosphere. It’s called Praying with Lior, and the short description is that it’s a documentary about a boy with Downs Syndrome and his preperations to be Bar Mitzvah.

As with all things, I come to the film with my own prejudices and soapboxes, and let me tell you, every time there was some middle-aged woman on screen talking about how ‘spiritual’ this twelve year old boy was, and how much he helped them daven better through his mere presence, I wanted to punch them in the face.

But that’s me coming from my own belief that you should as much as possible let kids be their own people and not try to hang your own star on their backs.

There is no doubt in my mind that Lior would rather daven than anything else. The difference between Lior’s prayer life and my own? He goes and does it, where he is, and doesn’t let fear, or embarrassment, or, well, anything, really, stop him.

The movie is in my eyes more a movie about a family, one that experienced cancer, death, and the integration of a new parent. Lior is the second youngest, and the older kids are going off to college and beginning to look away from the family home, but also considering their baby brother will not have the same experiences. They fear for him.

And Lior davens away and continually answers the question, “What will you do when you are a man?” with “Drink beer!”

Maybe Lior is closer to HaShem than me. That’s not G-d ‘playing favorites’, that’s me being a slacker. That’s what I took away from those 87 minutes of film — a renewed desire to reassess my priorities and see if I can’t align my life more towards a path of joyful worship.

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The WGA Strike, or Love to the Writers!


I straight up support the Writer’s Guild of America strike, yo. What the studios are trying to do is INSANE!

…you have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?

For the video inclined:

For the wordy among us, an excerpt from the really well written John Rodgers, who writes my favorite comic book, Blue Beetle, and also does some writing for the teevee and the movies.

There is some grumbling among the screen-bloggers of various levels that the strike is being driven by the rich writers who can afford to take some time off work. That the middle class writer will be hosed. This is a bullshit complaint. I keep saying this, over and over again, and will restate it before the end of this post: We are all writing for the box set now. There will be no middle class of writers if we don’t get a good deal on internet downloads, just as there’d be more working writers now if we’d gotten a better deal on DVD/home video back in the day. I have immense amounts of sympathy for young beginning writers who are seeing their first staff jobs evaporate, and for all the below the line people who will suffer when production stops. But we gotta do this now.
Writers: “We want residuals in internet downloads, let’s start at a 2.5% for a negotiating point, an increase in our DVD residuals from .3% to a nominally less pathetic .6%, and a bunch of other bullshit that’s on the table for negotiating purposes.”

Studios: “How about ZERO PERCENT, not only of the new stuff but we also redefine existing residuals so that you won’t get any of those, either? Oh yeah, and here are some other rollbacks, all financially punitive and some actually morally objectionable!”
The Studios’ position on internet streaming is patently ridiculous. It is not “promotional” to show an entire episode, with commercials. Trailers are promotional. Clips are promotional. An entire episode, and again son, pay attention heah, with commercials —

— with commercials —


— is a frikkin’ rerun.

Now, here’s the wild thing: last time there was a major strike was 1988. It went for five months.

But back then, there wasn’t the Internet and crazy, crazy fan communities who do stuff like, oh, send pizza to the picketers with signs that say “You fed our minds, we’d like to return the favor.”

By the by, the pizza folks? Are fans of a show that was CANCELED YEARS AGO. Bwahaha. My fandom so crazay!

Going into reruns is gonna suuuuck. So is the reality shows you just KNOW they’re going to try to fill with. The only way to get it to not-suck is for us consumers to also step up and tell the studios “Start playing nice, we want our shows back!”

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God Can Totally Say ‘No’.

Let me save you some money and time and tell you the secret of The Secret.

Now, I’d vaugely heard about this book/movie/philosophy sweeping the nation, because apparently the publishing company is based here in Oregon, but nothing had really moved me to seek it out. But a coworker was gushing about it to another coworker, and I wandered over to see what was going on.

She lent me her copy of the book, and I handed it back to her five minutes later.

“You don’t want to keep reading it?” She asked, confused.

“Seen it all before,” I said.

That confused the hell out of her. “What do you mean?”

“Where I come from, we call that ‘Name It and Claim It’ Theology.”

Her eyes lit up. I learned after the conversation and a judicious Google search that apparently the pushers of The Secret claim it’s been around for 3,500 years and is the basis of most world religions. Pardon me, my eyes just rolled right out of my head, I’ve got to go catch them. “So your church teaches it, then?”

“Um, not so much,” I said. “My church teaches you can ask God for whatever you want, but that God can totally say ‘No’ to your requests.”

The other coworker bounced back into the awkward silence and started asking about the Secret Society or Secret Group or something, and the confused coworker was more than willing to talk about her experiences with other Secret seekers as I slipped back to my cubicle, feeling a little lost and isolated.


Filed under In Christian Love, meditations, movies

Movie Review: Heart of the Game

Life should be fun. If your life isn’t fun, you should change it. 



Go get this movie right now. Right this instant. You need to see this film.

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To Better Understand Americans

Eileen, bless her heart, reminded me today of my favorite movie monolouge ever. And so I share part of it, because I think this is what people in a lot of places, from Salem to Tallahassee to Nigeria to (oh, is she going there?) Lambeth Palace (She went there!) don’t quite understand about us.

America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the ‘land of the free’.”

I’ve known Bob Rumson for years, and I’ve been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn’t get it.

Well, I was wrong.

Bob’s problem isn’t that he doesn’t get it. Bob’s problem is that he can’t sell it! We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it.

From the movie The American President.

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DaVinci Code vs. Hudson Hawk, and I Don’t Care About Anglican Politics

This is a two-part post, because I’ve got two things I really want to talk about, and they are nowhere near related. So if you don’t care about movies, skip to the asterisks, if you don’t care about Anglican politics, stop reading after the asterisks, and if you are bored already, go learn important life lessons from Ebenezer and Snootch.

So. The DaVinci Code. Didn’t like the book, it was boring. Don’t like Tom Hanks, he’s creepy. Do like Alfred Molina, but he’s not in it enough for me to actually make the effort to see the movie. Instead, I rented Hudson Hawk.

Hudson Hawk, for those of you who have never heard of it, is a comedy from 1991 starring Bruce Willis as a cat burglar just released from jail. He and his partner in crime (Danny Aiello), get caught between the CIA and a multinational corporation’s quest for world domination (the completely insane heads of teh evol corporation are Richard Grant and Sandra Bernhard) using Leonardo Da Vinci’s Maquina de Oro. Since the Vatican owns most of Da Vinci’s stuff, they get involved, too (their rep is played by Andie MacDowell).

Meanwhile, Bruce and Danny sing, stuff blows up, there’s great commentary on the cultural turmoil from the early 90s, and, as a caffeine addict, I can completely understand Bruce’s quest throughout the movie to just get a cappuchino.

Final score: Hudson Hawk 1, DVC 0 — Go rent Hudson Hawk.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Now, on to church politics, and the ramp-up to General Convention 2006. Has anyone noticed that the self-proclaimed Prophets of the Destruction of the Anglican Communion keep pushing back the Day of Doom! farther and farther? They were all certain it was going to be when the Dio.Cal elected a new bishop (and as Fr. Jake pointed out, there are more than three dioceses in CA, mea culpa). But oh, noes, that didn’t happen, so they’re circling GC06 like a pack of vultures. So much hot air is floating around, the Snarkwors and the Nom-Noms are circling their wagons, words are being exchanged, plans are being made for “When It Happens”.

And honestly? I don’t care any more. Split, don’t split, what the flaming ever. If I woke up Sunday and the Anglican Communion was no more, I’d still be heading down to A Certain Church for the celebration of the Eucharist. If I woke up tomorrow and the Anglican Communion was no more, I’d still be heading down to A Certain Church to help feed the hungry coming to our door.

I just want to grab some of the bloggers and pundits and yes, even priests and bishops on both sides of the fence, who are making such a fuss, and gather them in a room, and clap my hands and say, “People, people, PEOPLE! No more frelling talk! There are mouths to feed and hands to hold and graves to dig and tears to wipe away! We’ve got a job to do, now get to work!”


Filed under In Christian Love, me being myself, meditations, movies

Hiding and Seeking

Hiding and Seeking: Faith and Tolerance After the Holocaust was recommended by the Velveteen Rabbi a week or so ago. Being the good little Netflixer with a fascination not only with extremisim but also with Orthodox Judaisim, I popped it to the top of my queue and watched it yesterday.

The plot is this: An Orthodox Jew living in Brooklyn (Menachem Daun) is worried that his sons are cutting themselves and their children off from the non-Jewish world because they see it as nothing more but evil. So he flies down to Jerusalem and confronts them. They admit that, yeah, it’s a good idea to split themselves from non-Jews, because non-Jews are always– ALWAYS! the instigators of bad things. Menachem says, “Fine. We’re going to Poland to see if we can find the people who sheltered your great-grandfather and great-uncle and grandfather from the Nazis, and you’re going to look them in the face.”

At one point, the sons are talking to their grandfather, the one who was sheltered in Poland. They asked him if he would do the same, shelter someone at the risk of his own life. “No,” he says. “It’s too dangerous.” The looks on his grandchildren’s faces are simple incomprehension.

I was hoping that writing this down would help me clear up some of the whirling thoughts brought up by this movie. It hasn’t. At the end of the film, one of the sons grudgingly admits that not all goyim are bad, but he adds the caveat that they are the exception to the rule. I know, from personal experience, that this can sometimes be the spark that leads to a complete conversion, to trying to be a flickering little light to all nations. I’ve also seen this spark extinguished by return to an insulated, homogenized community where the prevailing opinion is one of complete isolation.

This isn’t a problem just with Orthodox Jews building themselves a ghetto. This happens to Christians, too. Forward in Faith and Tridentine Rite Mass people are the first that come to mind, but there are also liberal ghettos, places where they demand that women and homosexuals serve the altar and dismiss anyone who would say otherwise as ‘unChristian’. Brick by brick, this society is encouraging us to build walls between ourselves and other people.

I don’t know what to do about it.
That’s not true.
I can tear down my walls a little bit at a time (it’s tough, I built them of very strong stuff).

But I cannot change everyone’s world. And it’s not my place, it’s not my right, to try and forcibly knock their walls down. I’ve got to worry about mine own ghetto, first.

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