Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Due South (1994-1999)   Leave a comment

Title Card

Above:  The Title Card for Due South

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Among the ironies of my life is that, although I have not had satellite or cable television service for years, I have watched more quality television programming on DVDs after giving up those services since than when I had them.  During my days prior to cutting the cord I watched perhaps one episode of Due South.  Now that I can, time permitting, arrange for binge watching due to the fact that I possess the complete series set, I have come to appreciate the series fully.

Due South aired from 1994 to 1999.  It started as a stand-alone television movie for CBS, which made the series.  The network broadcast the show for two seasons, cancelling it at the end of each season.  Star Paul Gross doubled as then Executive Producer during the third season (or, depending on how one counts, the third and fourth seasons), when the show was a joint Canadian-British production.  The series, fortunately, left the air without wearing out its welcome.

Third Season 01

Above:  Paul Gross’s Credit from the Third Series Opening Montage

The main character in Due South is Constable Benton Fraser of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).  Fraser is the uber Mountie.  He has an ironclad sense of morality, is polite, can track a suspect across hundreds of kilometers in the wilderness, and has heightened senses of hearing and smell.  In one episode he obtains a crucial clue by smelling the breath of a rat.  By means of that method Fraser learns what the rat had been eating then proceeds to the restaurant where the rodent obtained that food.

The Wild Bunch

Above:  Fraser and Diefenbaker from The Wild Bunch

+++++

All the Queen's Horses 05

Above:  Diefenbaker in All the Queen’s Horses

+++++

Dead Men Don't Throw Rice 03

Above:  Diefenbaker and Fraser in Dead Men Don’t Throw Rice

Fraser’s faithful companion is Diefenbaker, the half-wolf who saved his life prior to the pilot movie.  Diefenbaker, named for Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker (in office 1957-1963), is both loyal and sometimes independent.  Diefenbaker the half-wolf lost his hearing by saving Fraser from freezing cold water.  Fortunately, Diefenbaker reads lips in several languages.

The saga of Due South begins with the murder of Fraser’s father, Sergeant Robert Fraser, also a Mountie,in the frozen northern region of Canada.  Our hero tracks the killer to Chicago and learns that he (the killer) took orders and payment from one of Robert Fraser’s longtime friends and fellow Mounties.  Our hero exposes this fact, thereby becoming persona non grata.  His new assignment is therefore at the Canadian consulate in Chicago.

Call of the Wild 01

Above:  Gordon Pinsent as the Ghost of Robert Fraser in Call of the Wild

+++++

All the Queen's Horses 02

Above:  Leslie Nielsen as Sergeant Duncan “Buck” Frobisher and Gordon Pinsent as the Ghost of Sergeant Robert Fraser in All the Queen’s Horses

Fraser’s father (often listed in credits as “Fraser Sr.”) appears in the series as a ghost after a while.  His comments range the profound to the ridiculous, but father and sun bond post-mortem.  Few mortals perceive Fraser Sr.’s presence.  His former partner, the flatulent Duncan “Buck” Frobisher, and his daughter (also a Mountie) by a woman other than Fraser’s mother are among the the only others who come to my mind.  In the third season (or, depending on how one counts, the third and fourth seasons) Fraser Sr. dwells in a log cabin accessible via the closet in his son’s office at the Canadian consulate.  Only those who can perceive Fraser Sr. can see the cabin.

Victoria's Secret

Above:  Melina Kanakaredes as Victoria Metalf in Victoria’s Secret

Fraser, despite his too-good-to-be-true character, is flesh and blood.  In the two-part Victoria’s Secret from the first season he falls in love with Victoria Metcalf, whom he had arrested years ago and who has recently completed her prison term.  She, alas, has not turned over an honest, new leaf.  Fraser nearly runs off with her.

Second Season

Above:  David Marciano as Detective Raymond Vecchio in the Second Season Opening Montage

Fraser works with Detective Raymond Vecchio during the first two seasons.  These men are opposites; Fraser looks for the best in people, but Vecchio expects the worst.  Vecchio is also a stylish dresser, whereas Fraser has a much simpler wardrobe.

Dead Men Don't Throw Rice 01

Above:  Callum Keith Rennie as Detective Raymond Stanley Kowalski, a.k.a. Raymond Vecchio in Dead Men Don’t Throw Rice

During the last season (or two seasons, depending on how one counts) Fraser works instead with Detective Raymond Stanley Kowalski, whose former wife is, of course, Stella.  Vecchio has gone undercover as a mafia accountant, so Kowalski is working under Vecchio’s name.

Call of the Wild 04

Above:  The Two Rays from Call of the Wild

The two Rays meet in the series finale.

Dead Men Don't Throw Rice 02

Above:  Ramona Milano as Francesca Vecchio in Dead Men Don’t Throw Rice

Raymond Vecchio’s sister Francesca is a fun character.  She is irrepressible, enthusiastic, and sometimes not very helpful or informed.  She mishears “Pavlov’s Dog” as “Pamela’s Dog” and thinks that a snitch is a “sniff.”  She also throws herself at Fraser, but, to her disappointment, never gets for first base.
Call of the Wild 03

Above:  Camilla Scott as Inspector Margaret Thatcher and Ramona Milano as Francesca Vecchio in Call of the Wild

Fraser’s boss from the second season to the end of the series is Inspector Margaret “Meg” Thatcher.  She is a no-nonsense Mountie who starts by seeking to transfer Fraser out of Chicago yet comes to respect him and even to desire him.  This personal relationship does not go far either.
All the Queen's Horses 03
All the Queen's Horses 04

Above:  Inspector Thatcher from All the Queen’s Horses

+++++
Third Season 02

Above:  Camilla Scott’s Credit from the Final Season’s Opening Montage

+++++
Call of the Wild 02

Above:  Inspector Thatcher in Call of the Wild

+++++

Third Season 03

Character names are frequently fun.  Many relate to Canadian, American, or British figures in the realms of sports, politics, or popular culture.  Thus we meet, for example, a reporter named Mackenzie King (for Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King), Inspector Margaret Thatcher (named for the Iron Lady herself), police officers Wilson and Harding Welsh (named for U.S. Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Warren G. Harding), et cetera.  In one of the later episodes we even meet a character named Aaron Gobrah.  Then there are Detectives Jack Huey and Thomas E. Dewey, depicted in the image above.

Due South, which is both serious and funny, runs the gamut of emotions.  The series plays stereotypes of Americans and Canadians for laughs while making legitimate points about goodness, justice, and morality.  It contains ridiculously funny episodes such as All the Queen’s Horses (in which Fraser carries on a conversation with Frobisher on a hijacked train through a toilet) and serious one such as Ladies’ Man, in which Fraser and Kowalski race the clock to save an innocent woman from an execution by the State of Illinois.  (A corrupt law enforcement officer had framed her to cover up his affair and advance his political career.  He maintained the cover-up for eight years, until Fraser and Kowalski exposed it, over initial opposition from other officers of the law.)  In another episode Fraser, undercover, is playing a game of poker.  He is such a naturally honest man that he cannot bluff, but the other players mistake his honesty for bluffing, so he wins every hand.

My only complaint about the complete series set is that the picture quality is like that one would expect from a VHS tape.  That did not prevent me from enjoying the episodes, though.

I recommend the viewing of Due South in a method both legal and ethical.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 28, 2015 COMMON ERA

All images in this post are screen captures I took via the PowerDVD program.

Five Minutes of Heaven (2009)   1 comment

Five-Minutes-of-Heaven-(2009)-5

Above:  James Nesbitt and Liam Neeson from Five Minutes of Heaven

A screen capture which I found in several places on the Internet, including:

http://movies.nytimes.com/2009/08/21/movies/21five.html?_r=0

FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN (2009)

Starring

Liam Neeson as Alistair Little (2008)

James Nesbitt as Joe Griffin (2008)

Mark Ryder as Alistair Little (1975)

Kevin O’Neill as Joe Griffin (1975)

Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel

Rated R

Five Minutes of Heaven is a character movie and a thought provoking story of guilt, forgiveness, and reconciliation set in Northern Ireland.  It is really a two-man drama with supporting characters.  The actors play their roles so well that words are frequently unnecessary to convey the characters’ thoughts; a look into the eyes suffices.

The first part of the movie occurs in 1975.  Alistair Little, a radicalized seventeen-year-old Protestant, wants to kill a Roman Catholic.  It is the thing which his friends and peers tell him is right to do.  Are not Catholics killing Protestants, after all?  So he shoots one James Griffin while the victim watches television at home.  Little does this in front of Griffin’s eleven-year-old brother, Joe, whom the grief-stricken mother blames for not preventing the shooting.

Then the movie skips to 2008, a quieter time in Northern Ireland.  Little, who served a twelve-year prison sentence, has reformed.  He lives alone in a Belfast flat and travels the world to promote nonviolence.  Someone must tell people, he says, that it is not right to kill people because they are different.  Someone should have told him that when he was a young man, he says.  Little, a broken and guilt-racked man, carries the face of the eleven-year-old Joe Griffin with him mentally.  It has been with him every day for thirty-three years.  The burden of it has become almost too heavy to continue to bear.

Griffin, who works in an egg carton factory, is married with two daughters.  As much as Little wants to let go of the events of 1975 and their consequences, Griffin clings to them.  His attitude poisons his family life.  So he is apprehensive and vengeful when the crew of a reality television series asks him to meet Little, who is concerned that this will be too difficult and painful for Griffin.  It is.

I choose not to reveal the entire plot of the movie or its ending, for a good film review should leave much for the viewer to discover firsthand.   But I do choose to focus on the spiritual side of the movie’s content:  the necessity to forgive–at least for one’s own sake–and, if possible, to reconcile.  Friendship might remain impossible after the offense, but the dropping of grudges is crucial.  Also, violence harms not only its intended victim(s) but its perpetrator(s).  What we do to others we do also to ourselves.  Therefore, if we do not act compassionately, we might wind up like Little and Griffin, two emotionally and spiritually scarred men facing the common past which entraps them as they struggle together in the ruins of the scene of a thirty-three-year-old crime.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 18, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MALTBIE DAVENPORT BABCOCK, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ERIK IX OF SWEDEN, KING AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF TAMIHANA TE RAUPARAHA, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Published originally at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

True Grit (2010)   3 comments

Above:  A Screen Capture of Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross and Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn

TRUE GRIT (2010)

Starring

Jeff Bridges as Marshal Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn

Matt Damon as Texas Ranger LaBoeuf

Josh Brolin as Tom Chaney

Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross

Based on the novel by Charles Portis

Music by Carter Burwell

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

Rated PG-13

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

True Grit is a powerful tale of justice, revenge, and mercy, and of the high cost the quest for vengeance exacts on the one who undertakes it.  Along the way the viewer encounters disturbing and unglamourous acts of violence (with the consequences being obvious), a dark cinematographic palate, excellent acting, a soundtrack replete with hymn tunes, and formal and intriguing dialogue almost entirely lacking in contractions.

Mattie Ross, the fourteen-year-old female protagonist, seeks revenge against Tom Chaney, the man who killed her father and fled Arkansas.  Steeped in the Bible and “an eye for an eye” notions of justice, she believes that one must pay for everything in this world; the only free thing is grace.  Mattie hires Rooster Cogburn, a frequently drunk U.S. Marshal known for being mean, to pursue Chaney.  That much constitutes seeking justice through legal means.  But Mattie really seeks revenge.  Convinced that God is looking out for her and noting that she has “a good horse,” Mattie dons her father’s coat and hat, carries his gun, and joins Cogburn and LaBoeuf, a Texas Ranger, on the manhunt.  The lawmen try to dissuade her, but Mattie’s true grit convinces them otherwise and wins their respect for her.

Mattie does not know, however, that her bloodlust will cost her a forearm, alter her personality, and transform her into a cranky spinster.  The decisions we make matter.  Mattie would have done well to leave law enforcement to legal officials.  And she should have left revenge to God.  That is also in the Old Testament.

The actors are wonderful.  Jeff Bridges portrays Cogburn as a gruff yet caring man, the individual who risks all to save Mattie’s life, if not her arm and personality.  Matt Damon’s preening Texas Ranger is the perfect foil to the frequently inarticulate Cogburn.  And Hailee Steinfeld, thirteen years old at the time of filming, spouts complex dialogue convincingly and makes her character the most formidable of all these three.

Carter Burwell’s score quotes old hymns, including “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”  This is especially appropriate for the movie, given that the arms of Rooster Cogburn save her life.  Yet there is more to it than that.  Justice and mercy balance each other.  Mattie’s problem is that she does not understand mercy.  So she acts in such a way that she loses an arm.  In a sense, she had only one arm all along.

I recommend True Grit as a worthwhile meditation on the high cost of violence and revenge.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/strengthen-us-good-lord/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/true-grit-2010/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lyddie (1996)   2 comments

Tanya Allen as Lyddie Worthen

LYDDIE (1996)

Starring

Tanya Allen as Lyddie Worthen

Daniel Mulvihill as Charlie Worthen

Andrea Libman as Rachel Worthen

Patricia Worthen as Ma Worten

Simon James as Luke Stevens

Alan Bratt as Mr. Stevens

Nathaniel DeVeaux as Ezekial

Produced for BBC Children’s International by the BBC and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Distributed on DVD by Feature Films for Families and Bonneville Communications

Based on the novel Lyddie, by Kathereine Paterson

Directed by Stefan Scaini

My tour of the Tanya Allen filmography continues with Lyddie, a movie about a young woman who struggles to reunite her family, which unfortunate circumstances have rent asunder.

The movie opens in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada, in 1860.  Ontario looks amazingly like Lancashire, in England, and parts of Saskatchewan, however, for those were the filming locations.

Although Lyddie would quite easily be G-rated in the United States, scenes of child labor and unsafe working conditions in the textile mill render it better for older children than for younger ones.  This is my parental alert.

Now, for the beginning of the story:

Charlie and Lyddie

The purpose of this post is to peak interest in seeing the movie, not to divulge every important plot detail.

As the movie opens, the Worthen family (sans the father, who left a few months prior in search of mineral wealth) is barely holding out on their small farm.  The mother and four children–from a baby to a late adolescent–are in dire straits.  An aunt and uncle take the mother, the baby, and Rachel the daughter to live with them, leaving Lyddie and Charlie to fend for themselves–until their father returns, they hope.  But the father never returns.

Lyddie and Charlie manage fairly well until they receive word from their young neighbor,

Luke Stevens (pictured above), that their mother has hired them out–Lyddie to an innkeeper and Charlie to the owner of a livery stable.  So Lyddie and Charlie depart for the futures.  Lyddie’s job at the inn is rather short-lived, for the lady who runs the business is a harsh taskmistress.  Lyddie then runs away back to the farm, where she meets…

…Ezekial, an escaped slave preacher from Alabama.  (No, Michele Bachmann, the Founding Fathers of the United States did not work tirelessly until they abolished slavery.  As a teacher of U.S. history, I know my subject.)  Ezekial plans to bring his wife and two children to freedom in Canada.  In the meantime, Lyddie, who has little, gives him shelter, water, and some money she has earned from the sale of a calf.  Ezekial tells Lyddie that education is the key to freedom, prompting her to think about her direction in life.  Our heroine is barely literate, and she needs to earn money to reunite her family, for poverty has split it up.

Ezekial and Lyddie part ways, with Lyddie going to nearby Cornwall, to work in a textile mill, her best option for earning money.

Later, by the way, Lyddie learns that her gift to Ezekial accomplished far more than she could have imagined.

Diana

Lyddie gets a job at the textile mill in Cornwall.  The owner requires his employees to avoid “moral turpitude,” or to risk firing.  He has a narrow definition of moral turpitude, however, for he cares nothing about providing a safe working environment, does not respect the rights of workers to defend their basic rights, and hires children.

Diana, one of Lyddie’s coworkers, improves her literary, introduces her to the world of books, and prompts Lyddie to consider educational opportunities.  Alas, Diana succumbs to a fatal case of cotton lung.  The mill is quite hazardous to the health of employees.

Lyddie and Rachel

Charlie visits Lyddie from time to time, updating her regarding the family.  Ma Worthen, her mind broken by all the stress, enters an asylum.  And Lyddie must assume a parental role relative to Rachel, who gets a job at the mill, but whom Lyddie refuses to permit to reenter the mill after the younger sister becomes ill as a result of the conditions there.

Will Lyddie be able to save enough money to reunite as many members of her family as possible?  Will her path to security run through education or through marriage?  Watch the movie to discover the answer to these and other questions.

The movie’s packaging and special features come with four questions for parents to discuss with children.  Unfortunately, all of these questions concern individual matters, ignoring societal sins.  The movie does not shy away from addressing slavery, child labor, workers’ rights, and unsafe working conditions, but the four questions do.  My problem, then, is with whoever drafted and approved the questions, not with the movie itself.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 26, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen captures I took via PowerDVD.

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/lyddie-1996/

Posted July 26, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Reviews, Tanya Allen Oeuvre

Tagged with ,

Anyone’s Game/Chicks with Sticks (2005)   1 comment

Tanya Allen as Kate Willings, one of the Black Widows

ANYONE’S GAME, A.K.A. CHICKS WITH STICKS (2005)

Starring

Jessalyn Gilsig as Paula Taymore

Andrew Chalmers as Stewart “Stewie” Taymore

Margot Kidder as Edith Taymore

Kevin Kruchkywich as Ross Taymore

Pascale Hutton as Charlene

Michie Mee as Heather Desmond

Chantal Perron as Brigitte

Vanessa Holmes as Brenda

Tanya Allen as Kate

Juliette Marquis as Felicity

Natassia Maltbie as Marcie

Jason Priestley as Steve

Directed by Kari Skogland

1 hour, 38 minutes long

Rated PG in Canada; PG-13 in the United States

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Canadian movies can be very good.  My tour through filmed works of Tanya Allen has brought me across films I would not have watched otherwise, but am glad I did.  Anyone’s Game/Chicks with Sticks is among these.  I have also noticed connections between this movie and others.  For example, Kari Skogland also directed Tanya Allen in White Lies (1998), my review of which is here:  https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/white-lies-1998/.  And Jason Priestley was also in Fancy Dancing (2002), my review of which is here:  https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/fancy-dancing-2002/.

I begin by setting up the story.

Jessalyn Gilsig as Paula Taymore

Paula Taymore is a newly single mother with a hardhat job in the small town of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.  (Calgary and Okotoks substitute for Red Deer as filming locations.)  Being short on money, she evades the washer repo man during the opening credits.  Paula hopes for a promotion and the corresponding 20% raise at work, but this uncertain.  And her alternator is on the fritz. Ross, her brother and a mechanic, has the part but not the time to replace the alternator.

A few years ago, Paula almost made the Olympic hockey team, but events, including an automobile accident involving her son, Stewart, and mother, Edith, pulled her away from the camp.  She still follows the sport religiously, playing it when she can.

One night Ross arranges for Edith, the grandmother, to babysit Stewart so that Paula can play on his local hockey team against another local team, the Chiefs, who lose the game.  At the gathering following the game some knuckle-dragging men make sexist comments about women’s hockey, and Paula accepts the challenge to field a women’s team to play the women’s game against the Chiefs in four weeks.  Ross will keep track of the roster.  And there will be money involved, with men matching any funds the women can raise.

The diverse women’s team, called the Black Widows, consists of, among others, an ex-con and a Ph.D. candidate in women’s studies writing her thesis, “Wicca in the Workplace.”  The Black Widows:

Marcie replaces Charlene:

The end of the movie is never in doubt, as the DVD box art gives it away.  Furthermore, one of the songs in the movie is “Girl Out of the Ordinary.”  In other words, one might as well chant “You go, girl!” while watching this film.

This is an unabashed hockey chick flick.

Michie Mee as Heather Desmond

Heather Desmond is the spunky radio DJ with an urban attitude in rural west Canada.  She encourages Paul’s hockey battle of the sexes.

Margot Kidder as Edith Taymore

Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane in four Christopher Reeve Superman movies, does an excellent job as Paula’s supportive and spunky mother, who plays cards with her grandson and becomes the den mother to the Black Widows.

Mother and Son

Stewart “Stewie” Taymore, who is in the Second Grade, is actually one of the two most mature males in the movie.  (Most of the others spend time speculating foolishly about the menstrual cycles of the Black Widows.)  The relationship between Paula and her son is quite endearing.

Steve and Paula

Jason Priestley’s Steve is the other mature male.  He, also a single parent, has something in common with Paula:  his daughter and Stewart have the same teacher.  So Steve and Paula meet at school, between parent-teacher conferences.  These two fall in love.  But, more importantly, Steve has both the time and ability to replace her alternator.

Anyone’s Game/Chicks with Sticks contains both dramatic and comedic moments.  It is predictable, yes, but good and harmless viewing.

You go, girls!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 23, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen captures I took using the PowerDVD program.

Of Gods and Men (2010)   2 comments

The Algerian Helicopter Gunship and the Monastic Chapel

(All images in this post are screen captures I took via the PowerDVD program and a rented disc.)

OF GODS AND MEN (2010)

Starring

Lambert Wilson as Christian

Michael Lonsdale as Luc

Olivier Rabourdin as Christophe

Philippe Laudenbach as Celestin

Jacques Herlin as Amedee

Loic Pichon as Jean-Pierre

Xavier Maly as Michel

Jean-Marie Frin as Paul

Olivier Perrier as Bruno

Directed by Xavier Beauvois

French with English Subtitles

Rated PG-13 in the United States

2 hours, 2 minutes long

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

In 1996, fundamentalist Islamic terrorists kidnapped a group of French Trappist monks in Algeria.  The precise circumstances of these men’s death remains uncertain, but their demise apparently involved beheading.  The terrorists did not abduct all members of the religious community.  This fact, I presume, explains how we know what happened until the kidnapping.  Of Gods and Men is the story of the Trappist monks.

Early Morning Prayer

The movie opens in 1995.  The monks form a community in and of themselves.  They support each other, pray and worship together, and even argue among themselves.  But they do more than pray and garden, not that those are bad activities.

Brother Luc, the Doctor

Brother Luc, a doctor, tends to patients most days.  Some days, he sees up to 150 people from the adjacent village, in fact.  He cannot get out much, due to physical infirmity, so the patients come to him.

Brother Luc, the Counselor

Luc also functions as a counselor.

Community Counseling

The monks’ Muslim neighbors turn to them for prayer and advice, which the gentle monks are glad to offer.  Militant, violent fundamentalists have become active in the area, much to the disapproval of the villagers.  The monks are, in fact, integral to the village, for they also attend family functions and other social events there.   Here we see Brother Christian, abbot of the monastery, and a fellow monk speaking with some village elders.

Turning to God and Each Other

The monks are in great danger from both the terrorists and the Algerian military.  The monastics have a way out, for they can transfer to another monastery.  But, if they do this, what will become of the impoverished villagers next door? And, if they stay, the monks risk martyrdom.

Inner Peace

We already know how the story ends.  So the real drama lies in the journey.  How do the monks make peace with the real possibility of violent death for their faith?  And by which paths do those who initially supported leaving come to agree to remain in harm’s way?

The journey of faith can be a difficult one, depending on circumstances.  One IMDb reviewer, while praising the movie, wrote that the monks were not saints, as if saints are perfect.  I propose that the monks were saints, warts and all.  They struggled, some more than others, but concluded that, if the path of following Christ leads to their martyrdom, so be it.  I harbor serious doubts whether I would have made the same decision.

Brother Christian, who died, left behind a written final testimony.  Here is the English translation:

Should it ever befall me, and it could happen today, to be a victim of the terrorism swallowing up all foreigners here, I would like my community, my church, my family, to remember that my life was given to God and to his country. That the Unique Master of all life was no stranger to this brutal departure. And that my death is the same as so many other violent ones, consigned to the apathy of oblivion. I’ve lived enough to know, I am complicit in the evil that, alas, prevails over the world and the evil that will smite me blindly. I could never desire such a death. I could never feel gladdened that these people I love be accused randomly of my murder. I know the contempt felt for the people here, indiscriminately. And I know how Islam is distorted by a certain Islamism. This country, and Islam, for me are something different. They’re a body and a soul. My death, of course, will quickly vindicate those who call me naïve or idealistic, but they must know that I will be freed of a burning curiosity and, God willing, will immerse my gaze in the Father’s and contemplate with him his children of Islam as he sees them. This thank you which encompasses my entire life includes you, of course, friends of yesterday and today, and you too, friend of last minute, who knew not what you were doing. Yes, to you as well I address this thank you and this farewell which you envisaged. May we meet again, happy thieves in Paradise, if it pleases God the Father of us both. Amen. Insha’Allah.

I invite you, O reader, to spend two quality hours with this movie.  May it deepen your faith, or perhaps help you find it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 9, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EARL WARREN, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/of-gods-and-men-2010/

Posted July 9, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Reviews, Saints of the 1990s

Tagged with ,

Passion Fish (1992)   1 comment

Two Friends in a Boat

All images are screen captures I took via PowerDVD.

PASSION FISH (1992)

Starring

Mary McDonnell as May-Alice Culhane

Alfre Woodard as Chantelle

David Straitharn as Rennie

Directed by John Sayles

2 hours, 15 minutes long

Rated R

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A really good movie is a great joy.  Passion Fish is such a film, one, true to my standard method in these movie review posts, I will not summarize plot point by plot point.  My goal, rather, is to interest people enough to watch it.

May-Alice, Waking Up Paralyzed

May-Alice Culhane was a successful soap opera actress.  One day, however, she was stepping out of a New York City taxi cab when another cab hit her, paralyzing her below the waist.  It was a freak accident.  Now May-Alice is embittered, screaming curse words at the television set in her hospital room.

Her acting career over, May-Alice returns to Louisiana, her home state, where she has an old family house located near a bayou.  There she feels sorry for herself, drinks too much, and drives away nurse after nurse.  Her reputation at the agency is as a “bitch on wheels.”

Chantelle

Then Chantelle, who is at least as damaged and vulnerable as May-Alice, comes along.  Chantelle needs this job. She has even lied on a job application, hiding the fact that, until a month previously, she had a daily cocaine habit.  She is clean now, but she has to resist the urge to use the drug every day.  It is hard, but she succeeds.  And so Chantelle is the perfect person to confront May-Alice, who drowns her sorrows with alcohol.

Chantelle has other issues, too, but I leave them to you, O reader, to discover by watching the movie.

These two women help each other heal emotionally and find second chances.  And Chantelle, through her tough love, helps May-Alice physically.

Rennie

Also helping May-Alice is Rennie, whom she knew as a child.  Rennie, a carpenter, builds a ramp for the old family house.  He also knows how to repair boat engines and takes May-Alice and Chantelle out for trips on the bayou.  He is the apostate, relatively speaking, in his family.  His wife and children are fun-damn-mentalists who won’t watch television or listen to the radio, and who sing only religious songs.  (Zydeco is the Devil’s music, they think.)  They pray for him a lot, he says.  He is a good and kind man, as his actions prove.

Ti-Marie and Precious

There are also some light moments.  For example, Ti-Marie and Precious, who knew May-Alice in school, visit, much to May-Alice’s irritation.  These are the most annoying and over-the-top people in the movie. They are also racists, for they complain about the perceived changes in attitudes (no longer subservient) among local African Americans since the Civil Rights Movement.  When not making racist comments, they reminisce with May-Alice and insult each other’s choice in husbands.

There is also a hilarious scene in which some soap opera actresses visit.  One of these actresses has taken over May-Alice’s role, Scarlet.  Despite the fact that the character had a hysterectomy some years previously, she is now pregnant by a space alien named Zondar, played by May-Alice’s former husband.  That could happen in a soap opera.

Passion Fish is a life-affirming story about discovering that, despite how bad events may seem or be, good can come out of them.  Beyond that, this good may be better than one’s former life.  Mary McDonnell deserved her 1992 nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role, losing the Oscar to Emma Thompson, for Howard’s End.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 2, 2011 COMMON ERA

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/passion-fish-1992/

Posted July 2, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Reviews

Tagged with