Mona Lisa Smile

Katherine Watson: Julia Roberts
Betty Warren: Kirsten Dunst
Joan Brandwyn: Julia Stiles
Giselle Levy: Maggie Gyllenhaal
Constance Baker: Ginnifer Goodwin
Bill Dunbar: Dominic West
Amanda: Juliet Stevenson
Paul Moore: John Slattery
Nancy Abbey: Marcia Gay Harden

Columbia Pictures presents a film directed by Mike Newell. Written by Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal. Running time: 117 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for sexual content and thematic issues).

Central Theme
The feminist path is complicated and both traditional and non-traditional choices are not always what they appear to be. Ultimately each woman must decide what is “good” for her.

In 1953, a time when women’s roles were rigidly defined, novice art history professor Katherine Watson (Roberts) begins teaching at the prestigious all-female Wellesley College, which despite its academic reputation is an environment where success is measured by how well the students marry. Encouraging these women to strive for a more enlightened future, Watson challenges the administration and inspires her students to look beyond the image of what is, and consider the possibilities of what could be. — ‚© Columbia Pictures.

In an Introduction to Art class Katherine asks the basic questions: what is art? what is good art? who decides? She pushes her students to consider each work of art¢â‚¬¦to get beneath the surface¢â‚¬¦and to realize there is no right or wrong answer. The film takes the same position on the issues facing feminists in the 50’s but does so in a caricature-ish way. Exploring the era is a good idea¢â‚¬¦but to do so in a superficial way does not advance the discussion of the important issues, a particular disappointment given the number of young women in the audience. It is interesting to note that at no point did the film take the easy shot, “blame it on religion or the Bible.” Also, the music played as school begins and ends is “LIft Thine Eyes, Oh Lift Thine Eyes to the Mountains, Whence Cometh My Help” from Felix Mendelssohn’s “Elijah,” which he drew directly from Psalm 121. Undoubtedly it is simply another example of film using “sacred music” in the exploratrion of “secular” themes, but in this case raises and important issue the film does not examine at all–what is God’s place in shaping the role of a woman (and man for that matter)? The Pslamist said, “I lift up my eyes to the hills from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

Beliefs num
–The expectation that women will marry and raise children is a stultifying tradition that needs to be challenged.
–The choice to marry is a legitimate one if done for the right reasons.
–Many women do not have to choose between marriage and career-they can have both.
–Future scholars will look back at our age and will marvel at our superficial lives as evidenced in paint-by-number, mindless TV game shows and appliances that promise happiness for the “lady of the house.”

Questions Worth Discussing num
–What are the artistic merits of this film?
–What elements common to human experience did you resonate with in this film?
–What elements in word, deed, theme or behavior created a dissonance with who you are or want to be spiritually?
–What does this film tell us about who God is? Who humans are? What we are seeking in life?
–Have the recent changes in women’s roles brought greater happiness and fulfillment?
–How should men and women make decisions about career and family expectations before and after marriage?
–What place does God play in shaping the role of a waomn?

Provocative Quotes byline
–It was alleged that she made up in brains what she lacked in pedigree.
==Narrator Betty.
–Who knocks at the door of learning?
==President Carr to students at year’s beginning.
–Just because something is ancient doesn’t mean it is primitive.
–I love Lucy, even if she is a communist.
–Is it any good? There is no right answer. What is Art? What makes it good or bad? Who decides?
–They’ve got their man—they’re wishing for babies.
==After Katherine asks about the baby buggies in a parade.
–You can bake your cake and eat it, too
–The trick to surviving Wellesley is never getting noticed.
==Bill to Katherine.
–A few years from now your sole responsibility will be caring for your husband and children.
–You want to know something funny? Lenny’s not dead technically¢â‚¬¦He’s married and has kids¢â‚¬¦and a mortgage.
–You are not required to write a paper, you are not even required to like it¢â‚¬¦you ARE required to consider it.
==Students complaining at the uncrated Jackson Pollack.
–I’ve been getting some calls about your teaching methods¢â‚¬¦they’re unconventional¢â‚¬¦We’re traditionalists.
==Dean to Katherine.
–You are this close to getting everything you wanted¢â‚¬¦ and this close to losing it.
==Betty to Joan after showing her new washer dryer and learning Joan has been accepted at Yale.
–Life without you just isn’t life. I love you so much I would move to this icebox if you wanted me to.
==Paul declaring his intentions.
–Van Gogh in a box. Paint by number. Look what we’ve done to a
refused to compromise to popular tastes.
–Come to class or I’ll fail you¢â‚¬¦Are you threatening me? I thought that was my job.
==Katherine Watson.
–If you fail me, there will be consequences¢â‚¬¦I’m educating you.
== Betty Warren.
–I thought I was headed to a place that would turn out tomorrow’s leaders, not their wives.
==Katherine Watson.
–Why not get married as A Freshman. That way you could graduate without actually attending any classes.
–What will future scholars see when they study us? I give up. You win. The smartest women in the country¢â‚¬¦I didn’t realize that by demanding excellence I would be challenging the roles you were born to fulfill.
–A perfect ruse¢â‚¬¦a finishing school masquerading as a college.
==Katherine to President Carr
–You made me believe he was hiding me. Why couldn’t you let me by happy.
–I just wanted you to understand you could do both.
==Katherine to Joan about being a wife and law student.
–You’re the one who said I could do anything I wanted.
==Joan to Katherine.
–You didn’t come to Wellesley to help people find their way. I think you came to Wellesley to help people find YOUR way.
–Look at this mother¢â‚¬¦(Mona Lisa Photo). She’s smiling. Do you think she’s happy? She looks happy. Let me tell you something. Not everything is as it seems.
==Betty to Mother.
–Lift your eyes, Oh Lift your eyes, to the mountain, whence cometh your help.
==Psalm based sacred music in background.
–Not all those who wander are aimless; not those who seek truth, beyond definition, beyond image.
==Narrator (Betty of Katherine’s decision about whether or not to return to Wellesley.
–Mona Lisa Smile depicts the beginning of choice for women. We thought it was time to get people talking about this issue and how women have choices today.
== says Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, coproducer of the film.
–This is the kind of school which actually offers classes in deportment, grooming and table setting, and the teacher of those classes, Nancy Abbey (Marcia Gay Harden) takes them so seriously that we begin to understand the system that produced Cathy Whitaker, Julianne Moore’s showpiece wife in last year’s “Far From Heaven.”
==Roger Ebert.
–A strangely mixed blessing filled with glossy production values and vibrant supporting performances but suffers mightily from a lack of credibility and the grinding predictability of its plot.
==William Arnold, SEATTLE-PI.
–Sadly, the predictability factor of Mona is simply off the charts — you can almost recite the dialogue before it rolls off the students’ well-developed palates, and the course it follows is a well-rutted road.
==John Anderson, NEWSDAY
–I lift up my eyes to the hills from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.‚ He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.‚ The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. ‚ The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. ‚ The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. ‚ The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.
==Psalm 121: 1-8.

Posted in Movies, Staublog in December 20, 2003 by | No Comments »

Cheaper By the Dozen

Tom Baker: Steve Martin
Kate Baker: Bonnie Hunt
Nora Baker: Piper Perabo
Hank: Ashton Kutcher
Lorraine: Hilary Duff

20th Century Fox presents a film directed by Shawn Levy. Written by Craig Titley, Joel Cohen, Sam Harper and Alec Sokolow. Based on the book by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. Running time: 98 minutes. Rated PG (for language and some thematic elements)

Central Theme
Family IS the big dream and nothing much matters if we don’t build happy, healthy families.

In modern America, where the average family has 1.87 children, Tom Baker (Steve Martin) and wife Kate (Bonnie Hunt) have decided that life is better if not cheaper by the dozen.

The Bakers live in a small Illinois town where Tom coaches the local college football team. The family’s day-to-day life is marked by equal parts love and chaos-pet-frog-landing-in-the-breakfast eggs type of chaos.

When Tom is offered his dream job coaching a squad at a large university he and Kate uproot the family, much to the displeasure of all 12 children. At the same time, Kate learns that her memoirs are about to be published. Her agent whisks her away to New York to promote the book, leaving Tom home alone to handle the increasingly unhappy and hectic household, as well as his demanding new job.

With all hell breaking loose at home, Kate on the road, and Tom’s job on the line, the Baker family ultimately chooses not to have it all, but to love what they do have.
‚© 20th Century Fox

This movie values the family and for that message we can be grateful, but the plot is predictable and unrealistic and the performances are uninspired. The movie teaches good character but the characters are for the most part undeveloped and not believable. This COULD have been a great family film but it never quite gets there. It seems that Hollywood writers and producers are basing “family” movies on Hollywood version of families (sitcoms) instead of real-life typical families which don’t reflect authenticity makes you wonder if they have any actual experience with family, a subject matter they want to exploit but don’t understand.

Beliefs num
–Family is more important than career.
–Family takes time and energy and sacrifice.
–It is difficult to balance a demanding career with the demands of family.
–You can’t have it ALL, so you have to decide what matters most.
–Family matters most.
–Big families are fun and chaotic.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–What are the artistic merits of this film?
–What elements common to human experience did you resonate with in this film?
–What elements in word, deed, theme or behavior created a dissonance with who you are or want to be spiritually?
–What does this film tell us about who God is? Who humans are? What we are seeking in life?
–Is family the big dream?
–How did your parents balance career and family? What did you learn from that? How will you pull it off yourself?
–Is a big family a good idea?
–Are Kate and Tom “good “ parents? What makes a good parent?

Provocative Quotes byline
–As much as we wanted our big careers, we wanted our big family more.
–Chill or be chilled.
==Tom to one of the kids.
–They’re finally calling ME. (Asking them to follow him in this move)¢â‚¬¦If you DO we will be a stronger and happier family.
–I’m so glad I found someone whose dreams are as big as mine.
==Yearbook entry Tom to Kate.
–Thanks for ruining my life.
==Charlie to Dad.
–Day 14 on the alien planet.
==Kids reacting to new school and snooty neighborhood.
–In Milford (?) we were a family¢â‚¬¦now we’re a support system? A family is a support system.
–This is the moneymaker. I’m not that good an actor. This is how I get the jobs. I know that. I’m man enough to admit it.
==Hank about his face.
–I know you live near me now¢â‚¬¦but I have my OWN life¢â‚¬¦not ours. Mine!
==Nora finding her independence threatened by family obligations.
–You want to help me in the kitchen? Look at Grandmas’ picture? Say the rosary? Bake a pie?
==Kate to oldest daughter who is rebelling.
–You soaked his underwear in meat… funny, but wrong.
==Tom Baker to kids.
–Soak his underwear in meat. How do they come up with that? If I could only harness that ingenuity and make it into something constructive.
==Tom to Kate.
–If there’s no book tour there’s no book!
==Kate’s agent.
–He DIED on Easter¢â‚¬¦He was RAISED on Easter.
==Sorting out significance of Easter during a family photo shoot.
–You’re in over your head mister!
==Lamp repairman to Tom.
–That’s just not an option right now. I’ve got a big job. A job that I love.
==Tom putting work ahead of family.
–This is your shot. Your moment not theirs. I just don’t want you to blow it.
==Tom’s boss.
–What family? Since we moved here everybody has been looking out for number one¢â‚¬¦especially you and mom. I don’t have to stay here and pay the price for your life choices.
==Oldest son to Tom.
–Yes I have problems with that. This family is G-rated.
==Nora allows her boyfriend to sleep over.
–What can I say? You didn’t pick the best time to have a career.
==Tom to Kate.
–You do not want to come down here. It’s the farthest thing from a happy family.
==Oprah’s line crew warning her off.
–I knew one of your kids would turn up on a milk carton.
==Snooty neighbor when Mark runs away.
–Family IS the big dream¢â‚¬¦if I screw up my kids¢â‚¬¦nothing will matter much.
==Tom puts his career in perspective.
–Twelve¢â‚¬¦the number of times I’m happy each day there is such a thing as family.
–The unspoken assumption was that the father was the center of authority, he knew best, and his wife was his loyal co-pilot. We know now that this model is a case of sexist chauvinism. Gilbreth’s view of fathers is long out of date, and American men survive in the movies only as examples of incompetence, unrealistic ambition and foolish pride. Gene Siskel once started a list of movies with fathers in them, to demonstrate that Hollywood preferred whenever possible to have single mothers and avoid fathers altogether. If there had to be a father, he was (a) in a comedy, the butt of the joke, and (b) in a drama, a child abuser, an alcoholic, an adulterer, an abandoner of families, or preferably, all of the above. At some point during a half-century of Hollywood fathering, “father knows best” was replaced by shut your “pie hole.”
==Roger Ebert compares father’s role in the original Cheaper by the Dozen to this one.

Posted in Movies, Staublog in December 14, 2003 by | No Comments »

Something’s Gotta Give

Harry Sanborn: Jack Nicholson
Erica Barry: Diane Keaton
Marin Barry: Amanda Peet
Julian Mercer: Keanu Reeves
Aunt Zoe: Frances McDormand
Leo: Jon Favreau

Columbia Pictures presents a film written and directed by Nancy Meyers. Running time: 124 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for sexual content, brief nudity and strong language).

Central Theme
Men and women are made for loving, intimate, committed relationships; accept no substitutes.

Academy Award‚® winners Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton and Frances McDormand star with Keanu Reeves and Amanda Peet in a sophisticated romantic comedy from writer/director Nancy Meyers (What Women Want, The Parent Trap), which proves that in matters of the heart, you can expect the unexpected.

Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson) is a perennial playboy with a libido much younger than his years. During what was to have been a romantic weekend with his latest infatuation, Marin (Amanda Peet), at her mother’s Hamptons beach house, Harry develops chest pains. He winds up being nursed by Marin’s reluctant mother, Erica Barry (Diane Keaton) — a successful, divorced New York playwright. In the process, Harry develops more heart pangs — the romantic kind — for Erica, an age appropriate woman whom he finds beguiling.

However, some habits die hard. When Harry hesitates, his charming thirty-something doctor (Keanu Reeves) steps in and starts to pursue Erica. And Harry, who has always had the world on a string, finds his life unraveling.‚© Sony.

Harry and Erica are both successful career people who have managed to distance themselves from the pain of relationships, Harry through a series of flings with younger women, Erica through obsession with her writing. As the story unfolds they begin to sense they are “soul mates” and each becomes vulnerable, claiming that something is happening that has never happened before. The resulting transformation brings both to a willingness to risk, because the potential pain is outweighed by the promise of a richer, fuller life.

The story functions as a manifesto FOR committed relationships and as a sad commentary on the pain inflicted by physical intimacy without relationship, and on the consequences of impermanence resulting from divorce. It also explores the fears and possibilities of ageing, especially in light of Harry’s “brush with immortality.” Harry is a man of great insights and complete obtuseness at the same time.

Beliefs num
–Fate rules our lives.
–There are no accidents.
–Somewhere out there is your soul mate.
–Physical intimacy without emotional commitment is a cop-out and a defense mechanism

Questions Worth Discussing num
–What are the artistic merits of this film?
–What elements common to human experience did you resonate with in this film?
–What elements in word, deed, theme or behavior created a dissonance with who you are or want to be spiritually?
–What does this film tell us about who God is? Who humans are? What we are seeking in life?
–What place does fate play in our life?
–Is there a soul mate out there for each person?
–What is the impact of physical intimacy without relational commitment?

Provocative Quotes byline
–Some say I’m an expert on the younger woman… since I’ve been dating them for 40 years.
–Boys lie,
==Message on feminist Aunt Zoe’s T-shirt.
–What does it mean, he owns ten different companies? He can’t commit.
==Erica interpreting Harry’s success.
–Even unconscious he’s a lech.
==Erica on Harry’s behavior in the hospital gown.
–You know what Freud said. There are no accidents.
–You know I’ve never seen a woman that age naked¢â‚¬¦we’re not all Doctors Julian.
–After a heart attack the rule of thumb is¢â‚¬¦if you can climb a fliught of stairs¢â‚¬¦you can have sex,
==Julian to Harry.
–The truth is it goes b y fast doesn’t it?
==Erica to Harry about looking back on life.
–Like a blink of an eye.
==Harry back to Erica.
–Like to travel light.
==Harry explains why he dates younger women and won’t commit.
–Everybody is out but old¢â‚¬¦old¢â‚¬¦old¢â‚¬¦old¢â‚¬¦old Harry.
==Harry lonely on a Friday night.
–When something happens that has never happened before don’t you at least want to find out what it is?
==Harry to Erica.
–I can’t decide whether you hate me or you’re the only guy who really gets me.
–I don’t hate you.
–He’s soulful when you don’t expect it.
==Marin to mom.
–Our fate is to be friends.
==Harry to Marin.
–I figured I was sort of closed up for business.
–Erica you know I’m not good at being monogamous, right?
==Erica after having sex with Harry.
–I don’t know how to do this¢â‚¬¦be intimate without being intimate.
==Erica to Harry.
–At one point I even thought¢â‚¬¦soul mates.
==Harry reflecting on the evening with Erica.
–I’d like to try sleeping with you.
==Harry, who never sleeps with flings, to Erica.
–Erica. You are a woman to love.
==What does that mean?
–I love yah. You’re not like anybody.
==Harry to Erica.
–This is why I date the wrong guys. The wrong guy can’t get me unglued like this.
–Here’s the thing. I really like you¢â‚¬¦I love you like you.
–I have never lied to you¢â‚¬¦I’ve always told some version of the truth.
–Do you know what this is? This is heartbreak.
==Erica to Harry after seeing him at restaurant with a young woman.
–I miss y¢â‚¬¦
==Harry can’t finish this instant message sentence to Erica.
–You don’t really believe that stuff you say do you? You can’t outwit getting hurt.
–I let someone in and had the time of my life.
==Erica to Marin about love.
–Schmucks are people too you know.
–Erica, they’re ready to do the hospital ¢â‚¬Ëœdo you take Viagra’ scene.
==Assistant to Erica.
–Why is it that you broads want all or nothing?
–I want you to think of a visual image that gives you a feeling of peace and serenity.
==Doctor to Harry in ER.
–I realized I was giving closure to a generation of women.
==Harry who has gone back to seek peace with the women he bedded.
–To the forces of destiny that brought the three of us together.
==Julian in Paris.
–If that’s true my life just got made.
==Harry in Paris about Julian’s observation.
–I finally got what t is all about. I’m 63 years old and I’m in love for the first time in my life.
–You’ve got to learn how to fall before you learn how to fly.
==Paul Simon lyrics.
–Harry, shocked by his sudden brush with mortality, finds that for the first time in his life he needs someone he can actually talk with in the middle of the night.
==Roger Ebert.

Posted in Movies, Staublog in December 12, 2003 by | No Comments »

Cold Mountain

Inman: Jude Law
Ada: Nicole Kidman
Ruby: Renee Zellweger
Rev. Monroe: Donald Sutherland
Veasey: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Sara: Natalie Portman
Junior: Giovanni Ribisi
Teague Ray Winstone

Miramax presents a film written and directed by Anthony Minghella. Based on the book by Charles Frazier. Running time: 155 minutes. Rated R (for violence and sexuality). Opening Thursday at local theaters.

Central Theme
Life is a journey and choosing what we live for and how we live is the reward of the journey.

Directed by Academy Award‚®-winner Anthony Minghella (“The English Patient”, “The Talented Mr. Ripley”) and based on Charles Frazier’s best-selling Civil War novel of the same name, COLD MOUNTAIN tells the story of Inman (JUDE LAW), a wounded confederate soldier who is on a perilous journey home to his mountain community, hoping to reunite with his pre-war sweetheart, Ada (NICOLE KIDMAN). In his absence, Ada struggles to survive, and revive her father’s farm with the help of intrepid young drifter Ruby (RENEE ZELLWEGER). — ‚© Miramax Films

A moving film marked by great cinematic artistry, remarkable use of light and darkness, compelling yet understated and restrained performances, A pacing that itself conveyed the sense of a different time and place.

A reminder of an age when people still believed God was part of daily life¢â‚¬¦and prayer was worth it even in, especially in the darkest hour. However it was also a day of hypocrisy as portrayed by Rev. Veasey a womanizing, self-serving, duplicitous fundamentalist pastor. It was also a day of convention and propriety among people striving for decency in their romantic pursuits. This, in part, explains why the depth of love, commitment, loyalty and chastity of Inman and Ada seems so otherworldly today.

There is clearly a sense of naivety and futility of the Civil War and young men who fought it. As Inman’s young pursuer said, “I’ll tell you what I’ve got on my side¢â‚¬¦the confidence of youth.” In war as in life, some things never change.

Beliefs num
–Love is more powerful than hate.
–Unrealized love can be as powerful as realized love.
–There are people and places worth returning to and fighting for.
–The blood of those in the past paid for the life we enjoy.
–There will be a reckoning, a judgment in which good and evil deeds will be accounted for.
–We cannot change the past, or restore what is lost, but we can learn from it.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–What are the artistic merits of this film?
–What elements common to human experience did you resonate with in this film?
–What elements in word, deed, theme or behavior created a dissonance with who you are or want to be spiritually?
–What does this film tell us about who God is? Who humans are? What we are seeking in life?
–What sustained Inman and Ada while they were apart?
–Could such a relationship survive today?
–How did this movie affect your attitude about war?
–What enabled Inman to resist the temptation posed by Sara?

Provocative Quotes byline
–ATTENTION: WE make every effort to assure the accuracy of provocative quotes. If you find an inaccurate quote please report it with the correction by using the link at the end of the quotes section. Thanks.
–I fear this war; this awful war will have changed us beyond all reckoning.
–My congregation is still disputing the size of the windows.
==Rev. Monroe to builders of the church.
–Play me something sweet¢â‚¬¦like a girl’s waiting for me.
==Oakley on deathbed.
–Our home is always open at any time to all of you.
==Rev. Monroe.
–This doesn’t come out right¢â‚¬¦if it was OK to stand without the words.
==Inman awkward with words to Ada.
–Inman. It is three years and I remember your name.
==Ada letter to injured Inman.
–I imagine God is weary of being called down on both sides of an argument.
==Inman about the war.
–WHOEEY. We got our war¢â‚¬¦It’s about time.
==Young men outside church when war is declared.
–But then who’ll be waiting for you?
==Ada doesn’t want to leave Cold Mountain.
–I brought you this book¢â‚¬¦and this (photo). I’m not smiling in it. I don’t know how to do that¢â‚¬¦hold a smile.
==Ada to Inman.
–We’ll be back in a month.
==Exuberant young men off to war.
–I lost your mother after 22 months of marriage. It was enough to last a lifetime.
==Rev. Monroe to Ada about her brief romance.
–I would have followed you anywhere¢â‚¬¦to Mongolia.
==Ada to father, an indication of her loyalty.
–Are you alive? I pray to God you are.
==As her father sits slumped in a chair outside in the rain.
–He ain’t coming back. You must know that in your heart. Look at me. I’m not nothing.
–If you are fighting, stop fighting. If you are marching, stop marching. Come back to me¢â‚¬¦come back to me is my request.
==Ada’s letter to Inman.
–Any soldier found deserting is guilty of treason and will be shot. Anyone who takes in a deserter is guilty of treason and will be shot.
==Edict the day Inman runs from the hospital.
–Yesterday I saw you walking back to me.
==Ada to Inman after looking in a mirror in the well.
–Let’s put him in a pot.
==Ruby after killing the rooster with her bare hands.
–Thank you. I was going to do a grievous wrong.
==Rev. Veasey who was about to kill the slave girl he impregnated.
–I count the number of words that have passed between us, Inman and me — not very many. But I think about it.
–Ruby, this fence may be the first thing I ever did that might produce a result.
==Ada whose Father prepared her for a life of the mind, but not for life.
–She’s the place I’m heading. But I hardly know her. I just can’t seem to get back to her.
–I’ll go. I love someone. I love someone very much.
==Inman lying in bed with Sara and resisting temptation.
–My love where are you? With no hope of reaching you I write to you¢â‚¬¦as I have always done.
==Ada to Inman.
–Isn’t there some religion where you say, “I marry you” three times and you are married? Inman, I marry you, I marry you, I marry you.
–I’ll be with you by nightfall.
==Inman to Ada.
–I tell you what I got on my side, the confidence of youth.
==Inman’s young pursuer.
–There will be a reckoning when this war is over, there will be a reckoning.
–A reckoning is for your world not mine.
–What we lost will never be returned to us. The land will not heal too much blood. All we can do is learn from the past and make peace with it.
–If you saw us this Easter¢â‚¬¦you would know that every step of your journey is worth it
–For good friends, good food, good family, for all your blessings dear Lord we thank you.
==Ada prayer at Easter meal.

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  • Posted in Movies, Staublog in December 12, 2003 by | No Comments »


    Buddy: Will Ferrell
    Walter: James Caan
    Santa Claus: Edward Asner
    Papa Elf: Bob Newhart
    Emily: Mary Steenburgen
    Michael: Daniel Tay
    Jovie: Zooey Deschanel
    New Line Cinema presents a film directed by Jon Favreau. Written by David Berenbaum. Running time: 95 minutes. Rated PG (for some mild rude humor and language).

    Central Theme
    Goodness, innocence, sweetness are irresistible and will be triumphant even in this cynical world.

    One Christmas Eve, a long time ago, a small baby at an orphanage crawled into Santa’s bag of toys, only to go undetected and accidentally carried back to Santa’s workshop in the North Pole. Though he was quickly taken under the wing of a surrogate father and raised to be an elf, as he grows to be three sizes larger than everyone else, it becomes clear that Buddy (Will Ferrell) will never truly fit into the elf world. What he needs is to find his real family. This holiday season, Buddy decides to find his true place in the world and sets off for New York City to track down his roots.

    Although Buddy experiences a world he never knew existed, he quickly learns that life in the big city is not all ice skating and sugarplums, and he finds himself as much an outsider there as back in the North Pole. Buddy seeks out his real father, Walter (James Caan), a workaholic publisher of children’s books with a place on Santa’s “naughty” list. Walter doesn’t believe Buddy is who or what he says he is; in fact, the only thing Walter believes in with any certainty is the bottom line. Buddy also discovers a new mom (Mary Steenburgen), and learns he has a ten-year-old half-brother (Daniel Tay) who doesn’t believe in Christmas or elves or Santa. In fact, everyone seems to have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas.

    With the holiday season fast approaching, Buddy takes it upon himself and his earnest elf ways to win over his family, realize his destiny and, ultimately, save Christmas for New York and the world.‚© New Live Cinema.

    This silly, feel good movie works because it is simple visually and artistically and is populated with engaging characters practicing their craft well. The low-tech visuals are almost stunning in the contrast with today’s typical fare. Will Ferrell pulls off his misplaced human schtick with a sincerity that does not break character or imply he is in on a joke about his character. He is a straight-ahead goof and it works. The adults cooperate by falling in love with him instead of having him institutionalized!

    A wonderful ensemble cast that appeals to adults and younger kids not easy to do. One of the producers, Todd Komarnicki, is a Wheaton College grad and takes issue with Christian reviewers complaining about leaving Christ out of Christmas. He argues this story has integrity that it would lose f the Jesus story was attached ( “like an extras appendage”). He also argues that the story of Jesus stands on its own merit and should not be subsumed in or combined with other artistic pieces.

    The NT description of love (1 Corinthians 13) bears an uncanny resemblance to Buddy, especially in his hopefulness demonstrated towards his dad. The movie also underscores Buddy’s childlike optimism and hopefulness. Remember, Jesus said if we don’t become as little children we will not enter the kingdom of God.

    Beliefs num
    –Innocence triumphs over darkness.
    –Love and kindness prevail.
    –Under the hard exterior of today’s cynic, is a warm-hearted person yearning to get free.
    –Play is good.
    –Faith powers Santa’s sleigh.
    –Once kindness reaches critical mass, the world will be a better place.
    –Sarficing your interests for others is a good thing.

    Questions Worth Discussing num
    –What are the artistic merits of this film?
    –What elements common to human experience did you resonate with in this film?
    –What elements in word, deed, theme or behavior created a dissonance with who you are or want to be spiritually?
    –What does this film tell us about who God is? Who humans are? What we are seeking in life?
    –Do you truly think an innocent person can survive in today’s cynical world.
    –Is there a problem with a “holiday movie” that does not mention Jesus? (Is there a problem with a holiday movie that does not mention Jesus? If you think that about Elf, what about LOTR?).

    Provocative Quotes byline
    –ATTENTION: WE make every effort to assure the accuracy of provocative quotes. If you find an inaccurate quote please send corrections to
    –If he hasn’t figured out he is human by now. I don’ think he ever will.
    ==About Buddy,
    –Your father is on the naughty list.
    ==uddy to Michael.
    –I don’t belong anywhere.
    –The Clausometer just dropped down to zero. There’s just no Christmas spirit anymore.
    –Christmas spirit is about believing not seeing.
    –The best way to spread christmas cheer is to sing loud for all to hear.
    ==Buddy and Jovie.
    –Not if they tell the truth! One of the things that is beautiful about a good fairy tale is that it reflects the truth. The truth that Elf reflects is about giving and innocence and learning to live sacrificially to put others first. That’s the story of Christmas. It reflects the truth of Christmas. We have a savior who was a storyteller, I think there is great value in story. Jesus almost never said exactly what his thought was straight out. He was always couching it in metaphor and simile, so that people would think to engage them and to engage their imagination, to see the context in which they were living. Story does that. I think it’s a very powerful tool. Certainly, like any tool, it can be misused, but I think Elf is a really strong example of a beautiful fairy tale that by its nature ends up reflecting the truth. The writer didn’t set out to reflect the gospel. But, in telling a beautiful fairy tale from his own heart and in reflecting a lot of Christmas movies that he had loved, he wound up reflecting the gospel.
    ==Todd Komarnicki, producer of ELF on criticism’s that it leaves Christ out of Christmas, CT online November 13, 2003.
    –Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way. Love is not irritable or resentful. Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing. Love rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things. Love believes all things. Love hopes all things. Love endures all things. Love never ends.
    ==1 Corinthians 13
    –The thing that makes Buddy the adult “elf” stand out in New York City is his radical goodness. He is variously described by the movie’s characters, actors and makers as, “pure as the driven snow,” “child-like,” “innocent,” “naive,” and “magical.” In many ways, said star Will Farrell in pre-release interviews, Buddy demonstrates that ignorance (of the ways of the world) can truly be bliss. Mary Steenburgen, who plays Buddy’s step-mother, puts it another way: Buddy shows us that we “are all capable of being magical.” So why aren’t we magical? In Manhattan a few weeks ago, Steenburgen offered an answer: natural human cynicism and the everyday cares of life drag us down. Or, as Jesus put it in one of his parables, the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke out the magic in us like thorns and weeds in a garden.
    ==Gregory Wright Review at

    Posted in Movies, Staublog in November 21, 2003 by | No Comments »

    Love, Actually

    Prime Minister: Hugh Grant
    Daniel: Liam Neeson
    Karen: Emma Thompson
    Sarah: Laura Linney
    Juliet: Keira Knightley
    Natalie: Martine McCutcheon
    Billy Mack: Bill Nighy
    Rufus: Rowan Atkinson
    Jamie: Colin Firth
    U.S. President: Billy Bob Thornton
    Harry: Alan Rickman

    Universal Pictures presents a film written and directed by Richard Curtis. Running time: 129 minutes. Rated R (for sexuality, nudity and language).

    Central Theme
    Love is all around and it takes many forms: loyal friendship, familial, sacrificial, selfless, erotic, marital and more. For evidence visit the arrival gate at any local airport.

    General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed ¢€œ but I don’t see that ¢€œ seems to me that love is everywhere. Igniting laughter, wreaking havoc, breaking hearts, daring commitments, forcing choices, catapulting spirits, forging inroads, creating risks ecstatic, exciting, unexpected, unwelcome, inconvenient, inexplicable, inelegant, unequalled.

    Love actually is all around.

    From the new bachelor Prime Minister (HUGH GRANT) instantly falling in love with a refreshingly real member of the staff (MARTINE McCUTCHEON) moments after entering 10 Downing Street¢â‚¬¦ To a writer (COLIN FIRTH) escaping to the south of France to nurse his re-broken heart who finds love in a lake¢â‚¬¦ From a comfortably married woman (EMMA THOMPSON) suspecting that her husband (ALAN RICKMAN) is slipping away¢â‚¬¦ To a new bride (KEIRA KNIGHTLEY) mistaking the distance of her husband’s best friend for something it’s not¢â‚¬¦ From a schoolboy seeking to win the attention of the most unattainable girl in school¢â‚¬¦ To a widowed stepfather (LIAM NEESON) trying to connect with a son he suddenly barely knows¢â‚¬¦ From a lovelorn junior manager (LAURA LINNEY) seizing a chance with her long-tended, unspoken office crush¢â‚¬¦ To an aging “seen it all, remember very little of it” rock star (BILL NIGHY) jonesing for an end-of-career comeback in his own uncompromising way¢â‚¬¦

    Love, the equal-opportunity mischief-maker, is causing chaos for all. These London lives and loves collide, mingle and climax on Christmas Eve again and again and again with romantic, hilarious and bittersweet consequences for anyone lucky (or unlucky) enough to be under love’s spell.

    Acclaimed screenwriter RICHARD CURTIS (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary) now steps behind the camera for his directorial debut on his latest project, Love Actually the ultimate romantic comedy that weaves together a spectacular number of love affairs into one amazing story. Curtis is re-teamed with producers DUNCAN KENWORTHY and Working Title’s TIM BEVAN and ERIC FELLNER the filmmakers responsible for some of the most popular looks at modern love in all its guises, including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’s Diary. The powerhouse cast brought together for this look at love and laughter also includes ROWAN ATKINSON, ANDREW LINCOLN, MARTIN FREEMAN, KRIS MARSHALL, THOMAS SANGSTER, JOANNA PAGE, LUCIA MONIZ, BILLY BOB THORNTON and many others. ‚© Universal Studios.

    I’m not sure most people would be thinking “C.S. Lewis” when leaving this flick, but his exploration of “four loves” is fleshed out with real life characters who layer upon layer remind us of the messiness, texture and variety of love. The story summary advise you that the film interacts with a diversity of characters and their grappling with love and the lack thereof in there lives. Some will be “put off” by the “nude body double” relationship, but even that one is demonstrating the stupidity and superficiality of sex without deeper relational bonds, and in a delicious irony the young man and woman marry before they “shag.” The rawness and profanity of some of the characters is partly a British reality, but in a Xmas movie it actually reminds us that in the incarnation Jesus came to love such as these. Follow the prolific use of popular culture references as a common language of the culture and as a “replacement” for religion. Religion is present as the “place” for weddings and funerals, but at both events sacred music is displaced by “All you need is love” and by the Bay City Rollers. “Bye-Bye Baby.”

    If an important measure of a movie is to provoke thought about stuff that matters, this one meets the test. It is a sprawling exploration of a subject at the heart of the Christian faith that deals with the human need for love, exposing but failing to reflect on, our ultimate need for God, because after all, God is love.

    Beliefs num
    –Love is all around.
    –It takes many forms.
    –There is more love than hate in the world.
    –Love offers life’s greatest joy and pain.
    –Love is the great societal leveler and is not a respecter of class or caste.
    –Love will make you and undo you.

    Questions Worth Discussing num
    –What are the artistic merits of this film?
    –What elements common to human experience did you resonate with in this film?
    –What elements in word, deed, theme or behavior created a dissonance with who you are or want to be spiritually?
    –What does this film tell us about who God is? Who humans are? What we are seeking in life?
    –What kinds of love have you experience in life?
    –Is there more love than hate in the world?
    –What did Jesus mean when he commanded his disciples to love on e another?
    –Of the characters in this movie-whose love do you most respect?
    –If you made this movie, would you add an exploration of God’s love? If so, how would you do it?

    Provocative Quotes byline
    –When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love¢â‚¬¦ If you look for it, I think you’ll find that, Love, actually, is all around us.
    ==Prime Minister.
    –Yep, solid gold shit.
    ==Manager to Billy Mack who has abandoned ¢â‚¬Ëœart’ for a Xmas bestselling bid.
    –Alone again, naturally.
    ==Jamie in France after wife’s infidelity.
    –Its just a ridiculous waste and now it’s going to waste Sam’s life as well.
    ==Daniel about Sam’s mother’s death.
    –Tell her that you love her. You’ve got nothing to lose, and you’ll always regret it if you don’t.
    ==Daniel to step-son Sam.
    –Mia’s very pretty. Be careful there.
    ==Karen to Harry.
    –True love lasts a lifetime.
    –We’ve never got friendly. I just wanted to say I hope that can change. I’m nice, I really am, apart from my terrible taste in pie. And it would be great if we could be friends.
    ==Juliet to husband’s best friend Mark.
    –I’ll just be around the mistletoe, hoping to be kissed¢â‚¬¦It’s for you. It’s all for you Sir¢â‚¬¦I thought I made it clear last night. When it comes to me you can have anything you want.
    ==Mia tempting boss.
    –I’m on Shag Highway heading West!
    ==Colin, Wisconsin bound.
    –He’s a Christian!
    ==Three girls in the bar when Colin says, “Praise the Lord” after there offer of a place to stay.
    –Christmas is the time to be with the people you love. And without knowing it, I’ve spent most of my adult life with a chubby employee! When I was young, I was greedy and foolish, and now I’m left with no one. Wrinkled and alone. Come on let’s get pissed and watch porn.
    ==Billy Mack explaining to manager why he left Elton John’s party.
    –With any luck by next year. I’ll be going out with one of these girls. . Merry Christmas .
    ==Mark’s poster board message to Juliet.
    –OK. The truth is… I’m in love. The truth is I’m in love and there’s nothing I can do about it, and it just keeps getting worse¢â‚¬¦She’s going back to America and that’s the end of my life as I know it.
    ==Sam, Daniel’s step-son.
    –Aren’t you a bit young to be in love? Oh, OK, right. Well, I can’t deny it. I’m a little relieved. Well, you know – I thought it might be something worse. Oh. Yeah, you’re right. Total agony.
    ==Daniel relieved Sam’s problem is love, until Sam reminds him there is nothing worse then the total agony of being in love.
    –How about ask him for a drink, and then maybe after twenty minutes casually slip into the conversation the fact that you love him totally and would like to marry him and have lots of sex and babies.
    ==Harry advice to Sarah.
    –Will it make him better? Tyhen maybe you don’t answer it?
    ==Sarah’s co-worker whose passion is interrupted by her brother’s calls.
    –You mean there was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?
    –Kids, this is a message from your Uncle Billy. Don’t buy drugs. Wait until you’re a rock star, and they give them to you for free!
    ==Bill Mack.
    –WE may be a small country, but we’re a great one. We are a nation of… Harry Potter!
    ==Prime Minister on British pride when snubbed by President of US.
    –Hello, David. Oh, shit, I can’t believe I just did that. Oh and now I’ve gone and said “shit” – twice. (Well, at least you didn’t say “fuck”, right? Prime Minister) I just knew that I was going to fuck up my first day.
    ==Natalie to Prime Minster on her first day.
    –It’s my favorite time of day, driving you.
    –It is the saddest part of my day, leaving you.
    ==Aurelia in Portuguese.
    –Girls love musicians, don’t they? Even the really weird ones get girlfriends. ..She doesn’t even know my name. And even if she did she’d despise me. She’s the coolest girl in school and everyone worships her because she’s heaven.
    ==Sam plotting with Daniel.
    –American girls would seriously dig me with my cute British accent. I am Colin. God of Sex. I’m just on the wrong continent, that’s all.
    ==Colin’s plan for ¢â‚¬Ëœlove life’ center on US girls.
    –All I want for Xmas is you.
    ==A chaste and innocent end to the “body double’s” first date.
    –I’m very busy and important: how can I help you?
    ==Prime Minster to his sister.
    –Yes. To continue your emotional education.
    ==Harry when Karen is surprised to receive Joni Mitchell CD instead of necklace.
    –If you were in my position what would you do? Would you stay, knowing that life would be a bit worse? or would you cut and run? You’ve made a fool of me.
    ==Karen to husband about his infidelity?
    –Tell her you love her. I never told your mother enough I should have told her everyday.
    ==Daniel to Sam.
    –God only knows what I’d be without you.
    ==Music ending film.
    — The movie’s only flaw is also a virtue: It’s jammed with characters, stories, warmth and laughs, until at times Curtis seems to be working from a checklist of obligatory movie love situations and doesn’t want to leave anything out. At 129 minutes, it feels a little like a gourmet meal that turns into a hot-dog eating contest.
    I once had ballpoints printed up with the message, No good movie is too long. No bad movie is short enough. “Love Actually” is too long. But don’t let that stop you.
    ==Roger Ebert.

    Posted in Movies, Staublog in November 7, 2003 by | No Comments »

    Experts on God

    The greatest of these is love. What are the practical implications of Jesus saying that love is the primary way to identify his disciples, and the Apostle Paul elevating love as the Christian’s greatest aspiration, even above knowledge? Ironically I gained some insight into this through a piece of well-crafted fiction, explained by a widely respected scholar, at an event emphasizing the intellectual robustness and credibility of our faith.

    This weekend I moderated a panel at the C.S. Lewis Foundation Faculty Forum. ( It was an exhilarating event focused in the issues of Academic Freedom and Religious Expression. Dr. Dennis O’Brien, President Emeritus and Professor of Philosophy, University of Rochester and Bucknell University was one of the keynote speakers. In a brilliant paper titled “Ex Corde Universitatis: From the Heart of the University,” O’Brien argued persuasively for an understanding of an epistemology of the religious tradition, one he felt could take a stand along the naturalistic and artistic epistemologies currently at use in the academic community.

    Tucked away in his paper was a story he used to illustrate a knowledge about God that transcends and differs from the intellectual, theological knowledge often offered by religious academics. I quote from O’Brien’s paper as follows.

    [In my projected 35 volume Collected Works, I would at this point launch an extended metaphysical excursus on theological epistemology. However, a morning lecture should conclude on the same morning that it started, so I want to take a radical short cut by looking directly at the problem of witchcraft and its presumed partner, theo-craft. The notion of “craft” assumes that one can be better or worse at some recognizable task. The problem with witch-craft is that we think there is no craft. There is no Hogwarts Academy for the training of wizards. Harry Potter has passed his Owl levels and may look forward to the NEWT level: the expert wizard level. But there really are no experts in witching and wizarding. If there is a genuine theo-craft in contrast to witch-craft, there should be experts on God.

    “An Expert on God” happens to be the title of a short story by John L’Hereux, a faculty member at Stanford. At the conclusion of the story a disbelieving priest chances upon a deadly auto crash on a lonely road. Reverting to his official role, he manages to rip open the car and anoint the teenage driver.

    “He began to pray, aloud, which struck him as foolish: to be holding a dying boy in his arms and reciting rote prayers about our father in heaven…What could he do? What could he say at such a moment? What would God do at such a moment, if there was a God?

    His doubts became a certainty and he said, “It doesn’t matter,” but it did matter and he knew it. What could anyone say to this crushed, dying thing, he wondered. What would God say if he cared as much as I? …at once the priest, faithless, unrepentant, gave up his prayers and bent to him and whispered, fierce and burning, “I love you,” and continued until there was no breath, “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

    L’Hereux’s title is marvelously ironic. The priest is “disbelieving,” he is “faithless and unrepentant,” he gives up his prayers. In sum, this priest is anything but a believer in the conventional sense, an “expert” brandishing a doctrine. Yet, of course, he is “an expert on God.” Was it foolish, did it matter? In the end he knows that it matters, he knows that he must hold this “crushed, dying thing” and whisper, “fierce and burning,” “I love you.”]

    Jesus story of the Good Samaritan is about an unbeliever (from the Jews perspective) who understood the loving nature of God better than believers. It is an important cautionary tale, because though I define the Culturally Savvy Christian as a believer and an “expert on God,” with Paul I confirm that if the CSC does not have love, he or she has nothing. Unfortunately, the idea of “expert on God” as currently defined in evangelical apologetics, almost always refers to intellectual knowledge (which Paul warns can ¢â‚¬Ëœpuff up’) and is seldom measured by the essential quality of love, which Jesus says is an ultimate test of whether or not one is a disciple. Jesus demonstrated in life and teaching that most people will be loved into the kingdom not “out-knowledged” into the kingdom. People need to hear God loves you in our words and deeds.

    ‚© CRS Communications, Dick Staub 2003

    Posted in Movies, Staublog in October 13, 2003 by | No Comments »

    Mystic River

    Jimmy: Sean Penn
    Dave: Tim Robbins
    Sean: Kevin Bacon
    Celeste: Marcia Gay Harden
    Patty: Sarah Silverman
    Annabeth: Laura Linney
    Katie: Emmy Rossum

    Warner Bros. presents a film directed by Clint Eastwood. Written by Brian Helgeland, based on the novel by Dennis Lehane. Running time: 137 minutes. Rated R (for language and violence).

    Central Theme
    Without redemption your past is your future;but where can you find redemption in this life?

    When they were kids growing up together in a rough section of Boston, Jimmy Markum (SEAN PENN), Dave Boyle (TIM ROBBINS) and Sean Devine (KEVIN BACON) spent their days playing stickball on the street, the way most boys did in their blue-collar neighborhood of East Buckingham. Nothing much ever happened in their neighborhood. That is, until Dave was forced to take the ride that would change all of their lives forever.

    Twenty-five years later, the three find themselves thrust back together by another life altering event – the murder of Jimmy’s 19-year-old daughter. Now a cop, Sean is assigned to the case and he and his partner (LAURENCE FISHBURNE) are charged with unraveling the seemingly senseless crime. They must also stay one step ahead of Jimmy, a man driven by an all consuming rage to find his daughter’s killer.

    Connected to the crime by a series of circumstances, Dave is forced to confront the demons of his own past. Demons that threaten to destroy his marriage and any hope he may have for a future. As the investigation tightens around these three friends, an ominous story unfolds that revolves around friendship, family and innocence lost too soon.‚© Warner Brothers.

    Mystic River is a tight and brooding exploration of sin, guilt, pain, loyalties, revenge, remorse and injustice, playing the present against the secrets and suspicions of the past. Stellar performances. A masterfully paced script probes the disturbing grimness of life in a fallen world.

    The first communion of one daughter is juxtaposed on the discovery of the other daughter’s dead body. The confession of the real killer is juxtaposed on the exacting of perceived, but incorrect justice of the suspected killer. One wife justifies her husband’s evil deeds while another fails to defend and even accuses her innocent husband. Jimmie feels God is watching hims commit evil deeds, but this God does not seem to take action. One of the ‘molestors’ is wearing a ring with a cross. This has prompted some ‘cheap shot’ complaints. Eastwood seems attracted to stories that beg for justice and find it slow in coming, if at all. Eastwood seems to be saying that without God’s intervention, or a more effective criminal justice system, it is inevitable that humans will take the law into their own hands.

    Beliefs num
    –God is there and will exact justice, but is silent and when will judgment right the wrongs?
    –Religion provides structure for life, but is not necessarily useful when it comes to the things that matter most.
    –Incomplete information can lead to injustice.
    –Revenge is not sweet
    –Pity the tortured soul, bearing burdens of an abused childhood past.
    –One small moment can change a life for better or worse

    Questions Worth Discussing num
    –What are the artistic merits of this film?
    –What elements common to human experience did you resonate with in this film?
    –What elements in word, deed, theme or behavior created a dissonance with who you are or want to be spiritually?
    –What does this film tell us about who God is? Who humans are? What we are seeking in life?
    –Where is God when injustices take place?
    –Without God’s administration of justice, or an effective criminal justice system, where are people to turn for justice?
    –What, if anything, does our universal longing for justice indicate about the existence of God? What is the origin of this longing?

    Provocative Quotes byline
    –I know in my soul I contributed to your death. But I don’t know how.
    ==Jimmy about daughter.
    –You ever think how one little thing can change your whole life? What if you and I had got into that car instead of Dave?
    –You know what I think about? Vampires. Maybe one day you wake up and you forget what it is like to be human. Maybe then it’s OK.
    –I’m going to find him. I’m going to find him before the police do. I’m gonna find him and I’m gonna kill him.
    ==Sean to dead daughter at morgue.
    –The whole time I could feel God lookin’ down on me.
    ==Jimmy about his first murder.
    –God said you owed another marker, and he came to collect.
    ==Sean (Bacon)
    –We bury our sins. We wash them clean.
    ==Movie Poster
    –The movie is about more than the simple question of guilt. It is about pain spiraling down through the decades, about unspoken secrets and unvoiced suspicions. And it is very much about the private loyalties of husbands and wives.
    ==Roger Ebert
    –‘God said you owed another marker, and he came to collect.’ This grim theology is as close as anyone comes to faith, but Mr. Eastwood’s understanding of the universe, and of human nature, is if anything even more pessimistic. The evil of murderers and child molesters represents a fundamental imbalance in the order of things that neither the forces of law and order nor the impulse toward vengeance can rectify.
    ==A.O. Scott, NYT reviewer on Clint Eatwood’s theology in
    Mystic River, NYT October 3, 2003.
    –I am a second generation Bostonian, and although I am not religious I can assure you all that Catholicism is a HUGE part of life in the Boston area. I think the communion scene was a touching and important addition to the film providing juxtaposition between the beauty and sactity of the community’s values and the same community’s lust for justice (these small Boston neighborhoods are notorious for their distrust and dislike of the police and their implicit sanctioning of street justice). The only aspect of the film that I felt went over the top in terms of religion was the inclusion of the religious ring on the hand of one of the molestors. I thought that was a little over the top (espiecially in light of the recent abuse within the church) and uneseccary and distracting to the message of the film. bulletin board.

    Posted in Movies, Staublog in October 7, 2003 by | No Comments »

    Reality TV Versus Real Life

    In a society that produces and watches a show like “Jack Ass,” and calls it entertainment, we shouldn’t expect thoughtful discernment on the part of today’s viewers, but for those who know the reality behind the reality TV, it turns out reality TV is not so entertaining after all. And for the follower of Jesus it seems obvious there are better uses of our time. Let me mention a few examples that appeared in this week’s news.

    1) If you know the real people in reality TV you are no longer entertained.

    2) The reality behind reality TV isn’t really entertaining at all.

    3) When ¢â‚¬Ëœreal’ reality breaks through it is not actually amusing.

    [They’re calling it ”a journey into uncharted waters.”

    No, the quote doesn’t refer to the American military’s continued presence in Iraq or the historically hysterical recall effort in California.

    The remark originated with ABC executives, who announced that the popular TV sitcom 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter will continue this season, despite the untimely Sept. 11 death of its 54-year-old star, John Ritter.

    At a news conference, Lloyd Braun, chairman of ABC Entertainment Television Group, said, ”Future episodes will take viewers into the Hennessy household as they experience the loss of a beloved father and construct a new life.” USA Today on decision to proceed after John Ritter’s death.]

    There is nothing wrong with being entertained. Everyone needs a break from life’s everyday stresses and strains. Most societies have accomplished this through artistic creations that represent the foibles of hapless and frazzled humans as they face life’s daily curveballs. We cannot ¢â‚¬Ëœhelp’ or ¢â‚¬Ëœimprove’ the situations of fictional representations, we can only laugh, cry and learn from them.

    People in reality TV, on the other hand, are not representations. They are REAL people who usually really NEED help! Allowing these “real people” to become our form of entertainment seduces us into believing we are simply spectators of human pain and stupidity. Jesus has called us to be active participants in the lives of people around us–to roll up our sleeves, to bear burdens, to inspire each other to our highest and best.

    Wasting time passively and vicariously watching humans who need help is a poor substitute for helping actual people in need. If reality TV is absorbing your life, turn off the TV, volunteer for a local agency (or your church), or simply get involved in your neighborhood or your own family. Walk out your front door and you’ll find ALL the real people AND reality you could possibly desire.

    ‚© CRS Communications, Dick Staub 2003

    Posted in Movies, Staublog in October 1, 2003 by | No Comments »

    Master and Commander:The Far Side of the World

    Capt. Jack Aubrey: Russell Crowe
    Dr. Stephen Maturin: Paul Bettany
    Lord Blakeney: Max Pirkis
    Barrett Bonden: Billy Boyd
    Lt. Thomas Pullings: James D’Arcy
    Mr. Hogg: Mark Lewis Jones
    Marine Capt. Howard: Chris Larkin
    Mr. Higgins: Richard McCabe
    Mr. Allen Robert Pugh

    Twentieth Century Fox/Universal/Miramax presents a film directed by Peter Weir. Written by Weir and John Collee. Based on the novels by Patrick O’Brian. Running time: 139 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for intense battle sequences, related images and brief language).

    Central Theme
    In war, living purposefully requires a cause bigger than oneself and a submission of personal ambition to that cause, all personal plans become subject to the requests of service.

    H.M.S. Surprise,
    28 guns.
    197 souls
    Coast of Brazil, April 1805

    “¢â‚¬¦ Intercept French Privateer, Acheron ¢â‚¬¦ you will sink, burn or take her a prize”

    MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD stars Academy Award‚® winner Russell Crowe (“Gladiator”), with three-time Oscar‚® nominee Peter Weir directing. Crowe is “Lucky” Jack Aubrey, who pits his crew of the H.M.S. Surprise against a much better armed and ruthless enemy, in a chase that takes him to the far side of the world. Rising newcomer Paul Bettany (“A Beautiful Mind”) plays the ship’s surgeon, Dr. Stephen Maturin. The film is based upon the acclaimed and best-selling novels by Patrick O’Brian.

    Peter Weir received Academy Award nominations for Best Director for “Witness” and “Dead Poets Society.” Among his many other noteworthy films are “The Truman Show,” “The Year of Living Dangerously,” “Gallipoli” and “The Mosquito Coast.” Russell Crowe, in addition to his Oscar win for “Gladiator,” received Academy Award nominations for “A Beautiful Mind” and “The Insider.” ‚© Twentieth Century Fox/Universal/Miramax.

    There are concurrent battles in this film, the historical tussle of French and British, but what makes Patrick O’Brian’s series work is the battle of wills and ideas concentrated chiefly in Aubrey and Maturin.

    Roger Ebert observes: “The film centers on the spirits of two men, Capt. Jack Aubrey and ship’s surgeon Stephen Maturin. Readers of O’Brian’s 20 novels know them as friends and opposites — Aubrey, the realist, the man of action; Maturin, more intellectual and pensive. Each shares some of the other’s qualities, and their lifelong debate represents two sides of human nature. There’s a moment in “Master and Commander” when Maturin’s hopes of collecting rare biological specimens are dashed by Aubrey’s determination to chase a French warship, and the tension between them at that moment defines their differences.”

    This study of war on the microcosm of a friendship and macro level of nation versus nation, allows O’Brian to tease out the differing ideas, philosophies and values resident in every human struggle. What is the nature and purpose of war? What is at stake? What is true leadership? How does one order one’s personal life around a goal and vision involving others? What is the nature of camaraderie? What ultimate values drive individual and corporate/communal life?

    In addition to the relevance of these reflections in times of war, it is also interesting to reflect on them in light of Jesus and Paul’s recognition of the disciple of Jesus as one involved in a “spiritual war.” In this spiritual war the disciple faces a crafty enemy, must be properly equipped for war (Paul lists the weapons of warfare in Ephesians 6), and must have a total devotion and loyalty to Jesus, recognizing that “I do not command a private yacht.” (Echo of Paul’s ¢â‚¬Ëœyou are not your own you’ve been bought with a price’). When Aubrey rouses the troops with “do you want to see a guillotine in Piccadilly” it raises the issue of the enemy establishing a beachhead on territory belonging to one’s master, Again, some interesting metaphorical territory. The use of “disguise” also reminds one of a spiritual war in which “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

    Beliefs num
    –There is a camaraderie in war.
    –The enemy can be crafty.
    –When overmatched you must employ creative strategies.
    –You can win even when overmatched.
    –In war, complete loyalty to your master is required.
    –In war, personal wishes must yield to the needs of the mission.
    –To the victor goes the spoils.

    Questions Worth Discussing num
    –What are the artistic merits of this film?
    –What elements common to human experience did you resonate with in this film?
    –What elements in word, deed, theme or behavior created a dissonance with who you are or want to be spiritually?
    –What does this film tell us about who God is? Who humans are? What we are seeking in life?

    Provocative Quotes byline
    –ATTENTION: WE make every effort to assure the accuracy of provocative quotes. If you find an inaccurate quote please use report them by using the link at the end of the quotes section. Thanks.
    ==CW Staff.
    –They had the weather gauge, but we had the weather gods.
    –We’re not going home.
    ==After near defeat Aubrey will take on bigger ship, make repairs at sea.
    –To take her? She’s out of our class.
    ==Advisors arguing for not engaging.
    –The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. It’s the devil ship I tell you.
    ==Old crewman (hold fast tattooed on fingers)
    –He’s going to make it. It’s going to sink us.
    ==Captain faces choice of saving one drowning crew member of saving the whole crew.
    –That man was a casualty of war¢â‚¬¦You had to choose between the lesser of two evils.
    == Maturin.
    –It is not a matter of pride. It is a matter of duty, regardless of the cost.
    –Did God make this change? Certainly. But did they change themselves? That is the question.
    == Maturin about evolving of the species on Galapagos.
    –I captain the King’s ship, not a private yacht. I do not have time for your damn hobby sir.
    –Aubrey to Maturin.
    –Do you want to see a guillotine in Piccadilly? Do you want your children growing up and singing the Marseillaise?
    ==Aubrey rallies the troops for battle.
    –I can harness the wind but I am not it’s goddam creator,
    ==Aubrey after days of no wind.
    –Sailors can abide a great deal…but not a Jonah.
    ==Aubrey sees a fear in the crew that they are cursed because there is a Jonah on board.
    –Not all of us become the man we hoped we might be¢â‚¬¦but we are all God’s creatures.
    –Name a shrub after me; something prickly and hard to eradicate.
    ==Aubrey to Maturin as he explores Galapagos.
    –It disguises itself as stick in order to confuse it’s predators.
    == Maturin about an insect, suggesting a combat idea to Aubrey.
    –This ship is England.
    ==Aubrey rallies troops for battle.
    –Subject to the requests of the service.
    ==Audrey’s motto and rule for life.
    –Patrick O’Brian’s prose is magnificent. He’s a writer of the first order. Of course, this was one of the most challenging aspects about adapting his work. When you adapt any book, the words fall out onto the table and you have to replace the prose with images. It has been a great challenge to tell this story visually in a way that does justice to O’Brian’s words.
    ==Peter Wier
    –I surrounded myself with artifacts of the period as I worked on the script ¢€œ swords, belt-buckles, maps, hoping to draw down the muse,” Weir continues. “Music was another aid, as I groped in the dark, trying to find my way back in time.
    ==Peter Wier.
    –That’s what Peter does brilliantly well, as in Witness and The Truman Show. He wanted MASTER AND COMMANDER: The Far Side of the World to create a floating universe.
    ==Co-screenwriter John Collee, on Weir’s consummate ability to create vivid, enclosed worlds.
    –Like the work of David Lean, it achieves the epic without losing sight of the human, and to see it is to be reminded of the way great action movies can rouse and exhilarate us, can affirm life instead of simply dramatizing its destruction.
    ==Roger Ebert

    If you find an inaccurate quote please send corrections to

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