Tag: religion


HIgher Ground

August 26th, 2011 — 6:27am

**

Higher Ground-sp  Vera Farmiga for her directing debut chose a movie in which she also starred and one that had a background with which she apparently was quite familiar. Having grown up in a fundamentalist community herself, she knew exactly what she was doing when she took on the story written by Carolyn Briggs and Tim Metcalf. It shows two generations of a family steeped in a Christian congregation led by Pastor Bill (Norbet Leo Butz) that prayed and sang to Jesus and all seemed happy and content no matter what happened to them. There certainly was lot of singing and praying on screen. Corrine Walker  (Farmiga) is swept along with this unbending faith as she marries her teenage sweetheart (John Hawkes) whose happy religious contentment is even greater than hers. All the lovely children in the family seem angelic as they are brought along in the fold. Being a believer in this community means more than just praying to God and Jesus. It also means that women have s subservient role and even in their declarations of faith that should never even suggest that they are lecturing or teaching the men.  Subtle doubts in Corrine are exacerbated as her friend develops a brain tumor but she obviously tries to keep her faith. When she begins to doubt, she has to encounter what erupts in her husband.  She can understand the faith that others maintain but will she be able to keep her own? Part of any success of an Independent film such as this one is the propensity of the audience to identify with characters in the film. That will be a stretch for many of modern day Americans even those with a religious tilt. In the end, the theme of doubt may not be even palatable with the hardcore religious groups to bring them into the movie theatres for this one.  (2011)

1 comment » | 2 Stars, Drama

Babette’s Feast

August 16th, 2011 — 8:01pm

**

Babette’s Feast- nf-  Somebody mentioned to us that we should catch this 1987 Oscar winner for the best foreign that year. While there was a great scene of the preparation of a French meal , this was not a great feast  for us.  Two sisters live in a remote Danish town. They are the daughter of a minister who has captivated the small group of people who live there and follow his religious teachings even  after he has passed on. The sisters Phillippa   (Hanna Stesgaard) and Marina (Viveke Hastrup) each pass up the opportunity to fall in love with a dashing military officer and opera singer respectively and continue to live in their cloistered community.  A persecuted French women comes to live with them as their cook for 14 years until circumstances lead her to prepare them all a wonderful French meal with wine and all the trimmings. The underlying theme is the spirituality or religiosity that allows them to all  hold on to their values and believe they ultimately will be rewarded.  To us it is ultimately a sad commentary on missed opportunities for relationships, love and realizing your full potential as a person. We didn’t find it moving , although the characters were mildly interesting and the acting and direction under Gabriel Axel was top notch. We obviously have missed something here. As we noted it was chosen best foreign film and we usually find that there are some great films made outside the US. (1987)

Comment » | 2 Stars, Drama, Foreign

Salvation Boulevard

July 12th, 2011 — 7:06pm

***

Salvation Boulevard-sp   If you are not part of it – what could be a better subject for satire than a big Texas like Evangelical Church? Director and co-writer George Ratliff did just this thing and interestingly enough he told us that the previews are doing well in the midst of the bible belt. In addition to a well-written story with some good comedy and many surprise twists, this film project pulled together a great cast who created the zany characters who are up on the screen for 95 minutes. Dan Day (Pierce Brosnan) the church leader who is on the verge of building his Christian City on the Hill with a medical school, a law school and everything else when something happens that make him respond in not the most holy manner. Carl Vandermeer (Greg Kinnear), a former Deadhead (follower of the Grateful Dead) has settled into a clean life as a family man and a regular church goer  when he gets tested and then can’t believe he had been a follower of the good Dan Day. His journey is the heart of the film and the center of most of the comedic moments. Then there is his wife Gwen (Jennifer Connelly) who is hilarious as the dyed in the wool follower of Dan Day and his movement as well as being a weird artist. Honey Foster (Marisa Tomei) is a security guard with a heart of gold and she herself is former Deadhead who still likes to smoke her pipe. Ed Harris gets into the character of Dr. Paul Blaylock who in many people’s opinion ( but not the Evangelical crowd ) would be the voice of reason, but he gets a bullet in his head which does slow him down. Most people in the theatre seemed to have had a good time. There were a lot of laughs and the satire was as expected but the story was not predictable. So a good time was had, but it probably won’t be very memorable.  (2011)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy

Life of Brian (Monty Python)

March 25th, 2011 — 4:12am

***

Life of  Brian ( Monty Python) nf – Every once an awhile we get a hankering to see an old movie that people always talk about but we have not seen.  This time we chose this comedy classic that was made 31 years ago and more recently we heard some folks even older than we reminiscing about what a funny film this was. Now we realize that we can’t judge it by contemporary standards. Satire always is at its best when the events that it is making fun of have recently happened. This movie however, is ridiculing events that happened more than 2000 years ago! It was unique in film making at the time as it attempted to  take on religious history and show absolutely no reverence for either Christians or Jews. I don’t recall if any groups boycotted the film but you can see how that might happen.  Ironically, if you turned on today’s news reports and you didn’t know when this film was made you might also think that it was  trying to be a satire of the struggling factions in the middle east taking on their despotic powerful leaders in 2011. The movie opens as Brian ( Graham Chapman ) is a new born child in the stable next door to where Jesus was born and the 3 Wise Men almost mistake him for the Messiah as they came bearing gifts. Brian grows up to join one of the three waring factions which are pitted against the powerful Romans. His buddies in his particular group are the other stars of the movie (John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Ifle and Michael Palin) and everyone had a British accent. Incidentally, all the stars including the director Terry Jones play multiple parts in the movie. The physical setting (filmed apparently in Tunisia) and the costumes are very realistic which makes all the satire and humor come off so well. Once you allow yourself to go with the flow and put aside your respect for human life and people’s religious beliefs, you might find yourself getting some good laughs. Women feel that it is not fair to their sex that they are not allowed to go to a stoning so they wear fake beards so they can participate. There is an argument about people having big noses. People mistake Brian for the Jesus like leader  because they didn’t understand what he was saying and they are willing to follow him anywhere. There is a great musical number sung during a mass crucifixion. If you think you can handle these events, you might enjoy this movie and appreciate why it is a classic.  (1979)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy

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