Film Capsules September 2016

Click onto a film title to see the long review. Most of the reviews with discussion questions are in the September issue of Visual Parables, available for sale at (Films marked with a star will be in the October VP.)

Southside With You

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 24 min. Proverbs 31:8-9. Matthew 7:1-2.

Even were this not about the future President and First Lady of the U.S. this would be a perfect date film. The director/writer’s fictional account is based on the true story of Michelle Robinson and Barak Obama’s first day spent together when she was his supervisor at a prestigious law firm at which he was interning. She accepts his invitation to go to a meeting of the community organization where he has been serving as a volunteer. Part of the humor stems from her repetition of “This is not a date”—she is worried about the work rule forbidding members of the firm to date. If you liked Before Sunrise, you will enjoy this, a film in which the young adults talk about ideas, values, and family histories, rather than going somewhere to strip off their clothes and engage in sex, as in so many so-called romances.

 Sully *

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 35 min. Ecclesiastes 9:12.

If all you know about US Airlines Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger is that he landed his giant plane safely on the frigid surface of the Hudson River in 2009, then you know just half of the story. Indeed, actually just four minutes or so, the duration of the time between the take-off, the collision with the birds, and the descent onto the river. “Sully” and his loyal co-pilot Jeff Skiles had to endure relentless examinations by the National Transportation Board that was convinced they had made the wrong decision and should have returned to the airport.

 The Innocents *

Original Title: Agnus Dei

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 55 min. Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28 (RSV).

If you liked the Polish film about a Catholic novitiate discovering that she was born Jewish, you will love this true story set in a Polish convent just after World War Two. A French Red Cross intern becomes deeply involved in delivering the babies of a group of nuns raped by Russian soldiers. Sworn to secrecy this non-believing Communist befriends the independent-minded Sister Maria, both of them having a hard time with the rigid Abbess who fears that the shame belongs to those raped, rather than to the rapists. The story begins in darkness, but by the end the compassion of the two friends bring light and love to the fore.

A Tale of Love and Darkness *

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 35 min. Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Proverbs 17:22; Proverbs 18:14. (Hebrew with English subtitles)

Natalie Portman’s first film as a director (and writer) is based on the memoir of one of Israel’s most famous writers, Amos Oz. As the only child of Fania and Arieh Klausner, he lived in Jerusalem where both sets of his grandparents also resided. Set during the troubled days of the British Mandate and the birth of Israel, the boy also observes he troubles of his parents, his father a not very successful writer, and his brilliant mother falling deeper and deeper into depression tha ended in suicide when Amos was 12. Each shaped the boy, the father’s love for words and literature, and his mother’s love for and skill in story telling.


Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours 5 min. Leviticus 19:18.

Do we really need a remake of General Lew Wallace’s popular 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ when we have the incredibly popular 1959 epic? Maybe not, though my doubts were laid aside by the radical revision of the ending in this shorter version. This time Messala becomes a changed man, rather than dying cursing his rival, providing a note of reconciliation so essential the gospel. Jesus is also much more prominent, the crucifixion scene, during which Christ forgives his tormentors, especially being crucial to Ben-Hur’s transformation from a man bent on vengeance to one able to forgive.

 Kubo and the Two Strings

Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 41 min. Zechariah 4:6. Mark 14:9.

This beautiful stop-motion fairy tale looks like it is another wonderful Japanese import, but it actually was made in Portland Oregon. Kubo is a boy living with his mentally troubled widowed mother in a cave close to a village in ancient Japan. He earns their keep at the village by singing stories accompanied while playing his three-string instrument. He is the most popular entertainer due to his mother’s magic, by which he brings his origami papers to life as samurai warriors and monsters. When threatened by his two spectral aunts and the evil grandfather who killed his father, the boy sets forth on a quest. Adults will love the beauty of the animation and the plot which has Kubo setting aside his sword and armor. Parents of young children might want to see the film first because of some dark and violent scenes—but the film is so good that they should not mind seeing it twice.

Captain Fantastic

Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 58 min. Proverbs 4:1-2 & 22:6.

Ben, the survivalist son-in-law raising six children in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest clashes with the father of his wife when the family journeys to Arizona to attend her funeral in defiance of the grandfather’s wishes. Ben and his wife, who was so troubled that she committed suicide, wanted to remove their children from what they regarded was a corrupt materialistic society. Their life together is put at risk when their grandfather sues for custody on the grounds of child abuse. The film gradually reveals a darker side to what at first seems to be an idyllic existence, though the ending waffles a bit. A good film, made all the better by the fine acting of Viggo Mortensen and the young actors playing the children. Some good child-raising issues are raised.

 The Light Between Oceans

Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours 13 min. Psalm 119:1-3

This story of two kinds of love—to possess vs. to sacrifice—reminds me of some of the bittersweet films of the Forties. A lighthouse on a lonely island off the coast of Australia is tended by Tom, who woos the local Isabel. They would have been happy on the island but for Isabel’s two miscarriages. When they find in a drifting lifeboat a baby with its dead father, Isabel convinces her reluctant husband to take down one of the small grave markers and keep this female child as their own. Her family and their friends on shore celebrate their good fortune, but will Tom be able to lay aside his conscience that tells him they have made the wrong decision, especially when they meet the grieving widow and mother of “their” child?

Pete’s Dragon

Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 42 min.

Unusual in that it is vastly superior, this remake of Disney’s 1977 version is a wonderful family film that celebrates interspecies friendship, family, and the beauty and preciousness of Nature (especially that of the Pacific Northwest). The highest compliment I can pay it and director David Lowery is that the two child actors seem to have been directed by Steven Spielberg. If you loved E.T., this is a must see film.


Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 54 min. Romans 12:2.

A Jewish student whose father runs a kosher butcher shop in Newark is the proverbial fish out of water when he accepts a scholarship to a small Christian college in Ohio. He goes there partly to escape from his domineering parents, only to find that the college Dean is even more so, seeking to make the free thinking boy fit in. A non-penetrating sexual encounter is frank, but not graphic, just as in the Philip Roth novel the film is based on. There is an almost O. Henry ending that suggests that in the society of the Fifties refusing to fit in can be deadly.

 Don’t Think Twice

Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 32 min. Proverbs 27:17

A Manhattan improv group has garnered a small following, but not enough for financial security. Then they are told they will have to move out of their theater because a developer is buying it. When of them becomes a cast member of a popular weekend TV show, the other five members have mixed reactions—happy for their friend’s success, but also jealousy. This dramedy is one of the best films of the summer, providing insight into what makes us laugh and why. Don’t think twice about seeing this film—just go and enjoy yourself!


Rated R. Running time: 1 hour min. Isaiah 13:11.

Two Czech partisans in December 1941 parachute into their country, sent by their government-in-exile to assassinate the brutal Nazi ruler in Prague, Reinhard Heydrich. Step by step we follow them as they link up to the underground, find room and board with a family, choose two young women to pose as their girlfriends to cover their movements about the city as they study Heydrich’s routine. Although there is plenty of gunfire when they confront him, the real battle comes some months later when the Nazis track them to the church where they are hiding. Like many war films, this one raises some ethical issues.

War Dogs

Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 54 min. Isaiah 5:20 (RSV).

A young man comes close to losing his soul when a friend from his boyhood takes him into his lucrative scheme of arms dealing made possible by the Pentagon’s open contracting practice during the Bush presidency. Their unsavory business takes them to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia, some of these trips proving to be very dangerous. The film is often funny, but also serious in raising ethical questions.


Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 24 min.

Showing only at the Mariemont Theaters, this British film is about an elderly kosher baker who, having lost his carefully trained apprentice, in desperation hires the son of his cleaning lady. Immigrants from Darfur, both are Muslims, so how is an observant Jew and a devout Muslim to get along, especially when the boy has a connection with a drug seller? And what happens when the boy accidentally spills some of his cannabis into the dough? Both funny and at times serious, this interfaith tale is highly enjoyable.

 Phantom Boy

Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 24 min.

Showing at the Esquire Theaters, this French fantasy film shows how beautiful flat, 2D animation can be. A boy in a hospital undergoing chemotherapy discovers that he can leave his body for a limited time and fly around in and beyond the hospital. Discovering a cop with a leg injury confining him to a wheelchair, he teams up with the officer and a female journalist to combat a super villain threatening chaos to NYC if the Mayor does not pay him a billion dollars by a certain time. If you like the older Batman or Dick Tracy comic adventures, this will provide a lot of escapist enjoyment.


Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 51 min. Hebrews 13:5a.

What might be regarded as a feminist version of Wall Street suggests that women, no matter how good at their work, still must deal with the infamous “glass ceiling.” Banker Naomi Bishop, who loves money as much as Gordon Gekko, is in charge of a team seeking to win from a tech firm the lucrative contract to underwrite its upcoming IPO. The story has many twists and turns, including a former classmate, now a federal attorney, investigating inside trading at Naomi’s bank, plus an affair with a hedge funder at her bank who might be using her for his own profit. The film’s characters are not very admirable, but the story raises plenty of ethical issues for discussion.

Florence Foster Jenkins

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 51 min. Romans 12:3

The story of New York society’s grand dame of the title could easily be made into a farce. This was a woman aspiring to be a concert singer, even at Carnegie Hall. However. she could not carry a tune or acquire the right rhythm. However, British filmmaker Stephen Frears likes this deluded woman too much to subject her to such a fate. And so did her husband and many of her peers, the former especially seeking to protect her from the ridicule and laughter of strangers. Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant are a delight playing this highly unorthodox couple of the first part of the 20th century.


September 11

French producer Alain Brigand asked 11 directors from around the world to make a film exactly 11 minutes, 9 frames, and 1 frame in length. Just 3 take place in this country (New York City), with most showing the reaction to the disaster. Some of the other countries are  Bosnia, Israel, Japan, Iran, Burkino Faso—United Kingdom’s Ken Loach’s film is perhaps the most interesting and biting.

Film Capsules August 2016

To see a longer review, click onto the titles that are highlighted.

 Hell or High Water

Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 42 min. Proverbs 6:30-31; Romans 6:23.

This crime thriller is outstanding due to the excellent cast and its story grounded in the on-going financial crisis in which banks are foreclosing on property owners unable to meet their mortgage payments. In West Texas two financially strapped brothers raise funds by robbing banks of their smaller, untraceable currency, but only from the branches of the chain about to foreclose on them. Two Texas Rangers, the senior one played by a crusty Jeff Bridges, are close on their heels.

Hunt For the Wilderpeople

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 41 min. Luke 15:3-6.

This wilderness adventure from New Zealand is about a 12 year-old orphaned boy taken in by a kind-hearted woman despite the lack of support by her grizzly old husband. When she dies suddenly, and the husband announces that the boy will be sent back to Child Welfare, the boy runs away into the mountains, and the old man goes after him. The Child Welfare officer, thinking the boy has been kidnapped, initiates a manhunt. During the ensuing pursuit, with the national media picking up the story, the man and boy experience many funny and tender moments. At the climax, the pair is pursued even by an armored carrier and a row of army tanks!

Star Trek Beyond

Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours. Psalm 8:4-8.

Here we go again, with the youthful version of the crew we have come to love, venturing forth “ to boldly go where no man has gone before.” This time they are led into a trap on a distant planet by a villain with such a grudge against the Federation that he plots to destroy it by seizing an ancient artifact aboard the Enterprise that is the key to vast power. The film is well balanced between awesome special effects and the human banter among the crew.

The Infiltrator

Rated R. Running time: 2 hour 7 min. Psalm 7:9; Psalm 101:4; Proverbs 4:27.

This is a suspenseful, nail-biting true story of how a trio of US Customs agents infiltrated the cartel headed by Columbia’s Pablo Escobar by posing as unscrupulous financiers offering the drug smugglers a safe way to launder the hundreds of millions of dollars they rake in. Set largely in southern Florida, the story shows the courage and ingenuity of the agents as they at times narrowly avoid being exposed. A perfect film for fans of crime movies, the film also shows the price in his family relationships his dangerous work costs him.

Café Society

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 36 min. Ecclesiastes 1:1.

Woody Allen’s annual film takes us to the West Coast where the Manhattan nephew of a major talent agent seeks help from his uncle. The nephew and agent fall in love with the same girl, and…Back in New York the nephew finds his calling when he becomes manager of his brother’s nightclub. Trouble is, the older brother is a gangster using the nightclub as a front. Although not up to the standards of his classical period, this is still far better than most of the so-called comedies now showing.

The Secret Life of Pets

Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 27 min. Hebrews 13:16.

Ever wonder what your sweet pooch does when you’re gone? This tell-all animated film reveals that they have a far richer life than we can imagine. The action movies from an apartment out into the streets when a dog named Max is upset that his mistress has brought home the big slobbery Duke. When the feuding pair are locked out of the apartment and lost in the streets, they have to flee not only Animal Control officers, but also a murderous gang led by a fierce bunny that hate humans and their pets because they were abandoned by their owners.


Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 36 min. Job 16:6-7; Romans 5:3-5.

This heart-warming documentary is made up of home video, NFL game clips, and specially shot interviews with New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason, his wife Michel, and numerous members of his family, athletes, friends, and even Pearl Jam members. When the famous player comes down with ASL (Lous Gehrig’s Disease), he decides to leave a documentary behind for the child that his pregnant wife will deliver. Still surviving, Steve Gleason is seen with the infant growing to kindergarten age while he declines into infantile dependency. What a powerful testimony to the human spirit!

Central Intelligence

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 47 min. Proverbs 21:21.

A mildly funny and moving buddy story that teams up Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart. Back in high school Hart’s character had come to the aid of the then plump and bullied Johnson character. 20 years later Johnson, now a beefed-up CIA operative needs Hart’s financial and computer skills to defeat a scheming financier and clear himself from charges that he is a rogue agent.

The Purge: Election Year

Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 45 min. Psalm 58:1-4.

After seeing the first in this film trilogy, I skipped the second, and took in this 3rd entry because of the subtitle. The premise that our nation would ever have allowed the setting up of an annual night when murder and mayhem are allowed so as to purge society of its violence still seems preposterous. If you can forget the ridiculous premise, there is plenty of fast-paced street action that will keep you munching away heedlessly on your popcorn. This time the setting is Washington D C where a woman U.S. Senator, running for President on a platform calling for the end of The Purge, has been tagged for assassination.


Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 50 min. Psalm 137:4; Deuteronomy 24:17.

This timely film about the plight of immigrants shows that this is a worldwide concern, the setting being a vast grubby public housing project near Paris. A former Tamil Tiger has assumed the titular name of a dead man in order to secure a visa so he can flee Sri Lanka following the conclusion of the violent civil war on the island. He partners with a widow and an orphaned girl to form a fake family. Life in the project turns out to be as dangerous as what they had left behind, this due to the drug gang that seems to be beyond the concern of the police.


Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 30 min. Ecclesiastes 1:1-5; 11.

In most dog-centered films our little dog would have transformed the lives of the characters in the four vignettes that make up this tale. However, this is not an adult fantasy, but a tale of four troubled folk bound only by their sad state of being and their fleeting possession of the little dog. A boy raised by unfit parents who threaten to crush his spirit; a veterinarian assistant hooked up with a loser of a traveling companion; a film school teacher despised by his young students and given the run-around by his agents out in Hollywood concerning his script; and an old woman nearing death and visited by her estranged granddaughter and worthless boyfriend, interested only is wheedling some money from her.

Swiss Army Man

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 47 min. Genesis 2:18a; Proverbs 4:9-12.

Be warned that this wacky tale that could be seen as a companion film to Tom Hanks’ Castaway, is one long fart joke. A despairing guy castaway on an island is about to hang himself when he spots a figure washed up on the shore. Though expired, the bodily gasses animate the body, and our castaway’s imagination takes over—he mounts the body and is propelled by the stream of gasses as if he were on a jet ski, eventually reaching the mainland where some bizarre events ensue. I guess a twitching body is better than a sports ball for companionship. Be happy that the film techies never developed Smellovision.


Film Capsules July 2016

T o read a longer review, click onto the film title.

 The Free State of Jones

Rated R. Running time: 2 hours 19 min. Psalm 10:12; Galatians 6:7.

Based on a little known episode of the Civil War, this is the story of a Mississippi white farmer who deserted the Confederate Army because he was disillusioned by a new law permitting plantation owners with 20 or more slaves to keep one or more of their sons home. Joining with runaway slaves and poor white farmers, he sallied forth from their swamp headquarters to fight successfully against the Confederates, forming in Jones County “The Free State of Jones. A fascinating true story of men discovering equality while fighting for justice.

 Me Before You

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 50 min. I Corinthians 13:4-5.

In an English small town a waitress named Lou is hired by a wealthy noblewoman to provide day care for her paraplegic son Will. Once an energetic and rising star in business, Will now sits morosely in his wheelchair waiting to die. Lou, whose wild assortment of garish skirts, blouses and tights, reflect her irrepressible attitude, struggles to instill in her charge the will to live. It is a memorable love story that will raise some important questions about death and dying.

The Legend of Tarzan

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 44 min. Psalm 10:2-3; Matthew 23:25.

Forget all those early pigeon English-talking ape-man adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Lord of the Jungle. In this one Lord Greystroke has been living with Jane in his English mansion when he is lured back to the Congo. The film blends some actual history in the person of Samuel Jackson George Washington Williams, a real crusader for freedom who did go to the Congo late in the 19th century and began the public campaign against Belgium’s King Leopold II’s brutal exploitation of the natives.

Our Kind of Traitor

Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 46 min. Proverbs 20:6.

Much like the couple in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, an ordinary English couple become involved in international intrigue when the man accepts a boisterous Russian’s invitation to join his party for a drink. The Russian handles the money for a ruthless mob boss about to eliminate him, and so uses the Englishman to contact British Intelligence to make a deal—exchange of information that implicates dozens of Western politicians for sanctuary for his family. But what if those to whom the Intelligence agents report are among those the Russian mob have paid off? Minus the usual car chases and crazy, unbelievable fights of the average summer thriller, this seems made for adults rather than adolescents.

Central Intelligence

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 47 min. Proverbs 21:21.

Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart take a lame brain plot and get us to laugh and laugh as the odd couple struggle to keep a step of Johnson’s fellow CIA agents who think he has gone rogue. Hart’s character, highly successful in high school, is now an accountant with a humdrum job. Because 20 years ago he came to Johnson’s aid during a humiliating moment, now drastically changed from the fat, bullied slob, Johnson contacts him because he needs Hart’s computer/accounting skills to gain the information he needs on some bad guys. A fun romp that will make you forget your own troubles for a while.

The Purge: Election Year

Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 45 min. Psalm 58:1-4.

This third installment in what seemed to me to be an improbable develop finds the action shifting to Washington D.C. as the annual Purge is about to begin. A U.S. Senator running for President on a campaign pledged to end The Purge finds herself forced out of her fortress of a film into the wildly dangerous streets. Not to worry, for the hero from the 2nd film (which I avoided) is on hand, and so are the characters of the second storyline, a black storeowner and his Mexican immigrant assistant. Has some good moments, but the premise still seems unlikely.

Now You See Me 2

If you like magic and illusionist stunts, you should be somewhat amused by this sequel involving a group of professional magicians calling themselves the Four Horseman. They are joined by a woman expert in manipulating playing cards as they travel from New York to Macao in their struggle to prevent a corrupt CEO’s plot to steal information from the millions who will be using his new Internet program. So many scenes are so totally unbelievable that I found myself not caring whether they succeeded or not.

On DVD or Streaming Video

 America’s Dream

TV Movie. Running time: 1 hour 22 min. Story segment: c. 30 min. Psalm 9:9; Luke 9:25; Romans 12:2.

I concentrated on the middle story of this 3-story anthology of dramatizations by Richard Wright’ John Hendrik Clarke, and Maya Angelou. While studying Third World depictions of Christ for my D. Min. thesis, I had been impressed by Clarke’s “The Boy Who Painted Christ Black” and had written the author for permission to use a quote from it. Although changed somewhat from the original, it is still a good freedom-themed tale of what happens when a boy artist gives his favorite teacher his painting. It is Georgia, the year is 1948, and the black principal, having been promised a promotion due to his subservience, is well aware of what the white district superintendent will think of such a work should he see it.


Not Rated. Running time: 1 hour 30 min. Jer 1:1-8.

This is a pretty good depiction of the life of the lamenting prophet called to denounce his people and urge them to surrender while the Babylonians were laying siege to Jerusalem. It would have been better had a fictional love story not been inserted, but many of the incidents from the narrative parts of the Biblical book are dramatized. You preachers who know that the O.T. Lections for August and September are from this Book, might want to check out my review, as well as the August issue of Visual Parables that suggests four clips from the film to use. Part of The Bible Series, this and most of the other films (especially Abraham¸which stars the great Richard Harris as the Patriarch) in the series should be in your church library.


Rated R. Partly in Japanese with English subtitles. Running time: 3 hours 5 min. Jeremiah 9:21; Revelation 6:8.

This Canadian-Japanese production, made as a TV miniseries, provides a marvelous, even-handed depiction of the events leading up to and immediately following the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Using newsreels, photos, dramatizations, and interviews of actual participants and eyewitnesses, the two directors make us feel as if we too were in the rooms in Washington and Tokyo listening in to the debates and plans of the politicians and the military officers. The scenes switch back and forth between Washington, Tokyo, Potsdam, and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, providing most of us non-professional historians with a myriad of facts—and both sides of the controversy as to whether or not the A-bomb should be used are well presented. We learn of two little known incidents: one of Stalin’s putting off for weeks any response to the request for negotiations by the peace faction of the Japanese government, as well as the attempted coup of the No Surrender fanatics when Emperor Hirohito decides to surrender.

Film Capsules April 2016

Eye in the Sky

Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 42 min. Matthew 10:28-30.

This is a fascinating exploration of the ethics of our nation’s engagement in drone warfare to fight terrorists. Helen Mirren plays a British-USA-Kenyan team that has been tracking down a Brit married to a Somali terrorist for six years. Thanks to a high altitude drone equipped with hellfire missiles and a pair of tiny drones, one of which has entered a house in Kenya where the pair are meeting with other jihadists, it appears that they can order ground troops to capture the pair. Then they notice in the next room two terrorists being armed with suicide vests, and they decide the mission must be changed to kill. Time is of the essence. However a little girl selling bread just outside the compound would be killed, so there begins a round of debates involving officials all the way up the chain of command to cabinet ministers. A good film to pair with Good Kill for a group to explore this controversial issue.


Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 48 min. Isaiah 11:6

In this fable Isaiah’s vision of harmony is partially realized in that predator and prey animals have agreed to live and work together, hence the title. But when Judy, a little bunny, seeks to follow her dream to leave the carrot farm in Bunny Burrows and become a cop in the big city, we see that prejudice and greed still persist beneath the surface. A wonderful film for young and old, this gorgeously animated film offers an opportunity for young and old to explore not only the theme of perseverance, but also of prejudice and racial profiling as well!

My Big Fat Wedding 2

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 32 min. 1 Corinthians 13:4a

It is not the daughter Toula’s wedding this time that is the subject of this sequel, but that of her own parents, Gus and Maria. The latter have discovered that the priest back in Greece failed to sign their marriage license. O course, complications arise when the pair have a falling out, threatening their new big fat wedding ceremony. And their granddaughter Paris wants to escape from the Greek cocoon by attending a college far away from Chicago and her Greek neighborhood. A nice bit of fluff, always entertaining.

The Jungle Book

Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 45 min. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

This remake of the 1967 version of Kipling’s fables is truly a wonder to behold.

The appealing young actor playing the wolf-raised orphan Mowgli blends in seamlessly with the realistic computer-generated animals, some of whom are friendly to the mancub, and others out to kill, eat or use him for selfish reasons. With a couple of songs brought over from the earlier version, this is a film that will delight young and old. Not since Avatar have I been so captivated by a 3-D film!

Hello, My Name is Doris

Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 35 min. Song of Solomon 8:6b.

Sally Field is the main reason to watch this office romance story of a shy woman in her sixties in pursuit of a man young enough to be her son. Funny and poignant, it also deals with issues of the fallout when one sibling is left with the daunting task of sacrificing her own happiness to care for an ailing parent, and also of friendship strained when one criticizes the other for inappropriate behavior. One issue that is not addressed is an unethical use of FaceBook, which the film glosses over. Still, well worth your time– Tyne Daly as Doris’s friend is an added attraction.

Embrace of the Serpent

(Original Title: El abrazo de la serpiente )

Rated R. Running time: 2 hours 5 min. Jeremiah 31:15; Hebrews 13:2.

This mystical film of culture clash traces the travels on the Amazon of two scientists, one in the early 20th Century, and the other decades later. Both are seeking a rare medicinal flower, and both employ the somewhat hostile shaman Karamakate to guide them to their destination. Actually, the latter emerges as the most important of the three. He seeks to lead them away from their materialism and see reality in a new way. The themes of colonialism, greed, and their resulting damage to the forest run throughout.

The Young Messiah

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 48 min. Luke 2:52.

Only Luke and Matthew provide information on Jesus’ childhood, so a hundred or so years after the four gospels various writers added some miracle stories allegedly performed by the young Messiah in Egypt. Ann Rice used these in her wonderfully imaginative novel upon which this film is based. The filmmakers fail to capture the book’s mystical wonder of the child gradually becoming aware of his divine powers and origin, but the film is still worth seeing. The young actor playing Jesus is excellent, as is the one playing a Roman soldier affected by the lad. (This latter plot device ought to sound familiar to those who have watched other Jesus films, going all the way back to Quo Vadis? and The Robe.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 52 min. Ecclesiastes 1:1-3.

Seeking a break from her New York humdrum news desk job and lukewarm romance, Kim Baker volunteers to go to Afghanistan to replace a veteran journalist sent to cover the new war in Iraq. This “based on a true story” shows her ups and downs as, like a fish out of water, she learns the cultural values of an alien land and struggles, mostly in vain, to get her reports of “the forgotten war” before the American public.

10 Cloverfield Lane

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 43 min. Micah 7:5a.

This combination of the horror and the apocalyptic genres certainly keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. A young woman whose car is hit wakes up to find that she has been taken to a bunker where she is chained to a wall. Her captor claims he has saved her from a poisonous gas that has wiped out humanity. Then a third man appears, much younger. What is she to believe, that the older man is her rescuer or her captor? This highly suspenseful film is not for young children or the faint-hearted.

On Video

These films left local heaters far too soon.

 Knight of Cups

Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 58 min. Luke 15:13,17a.

This sort-of-Prodigal Son film, like most of director/writer Terrence Malick’s films (see Tree of Life and To the Wonder), lacks a narrative structure in that it consists of a series of voice-overs during scenes of characters engaged in conversations, parties, and love-making. The main character is a screenwriter who has disappointed his father because of the son’s surrender to the hedonistic Hollywood lifestyle. Beautifully photographed, the film is difficult to understand, but worth the effort, the director providing us with a profoundly Christian meditation similar in theme to John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, quoted in the film.

Eddy the Eagle

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 48 min. Luke 18:4-5; Matthew 20:16.

This Olympics-set film about Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards would have been dismissed as a Hollywood fantasy comedy were it not “based on a true story.” Eddie is a Brit epitomizing the ultimate outsider in the sports world—he is an aspiring athlete with almost no athletic talent. Yet he wants to join the British Olympics team at Calgary in the ski jump event. How he manages to achieve this crazy dream makes him the poster child for Perseverance—and I do mean spelled with a capital P.


Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 48 min. Ecclesiastes 2:22-24a; Zechariah 4:6.

While not a fan of the superhero genre, I took in this film because of the many reports of its dark humor. Haven’t laughed nearly as much in a long time. While deploring the easy acceptance of so-called redemptive violence, I enjoyed the escapist experience about the origin of a superhero, but be forewarned that the violence almost reaches the level (or depth) of a Quentin Tarantino film.

The Witch

Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 32 min. Exodus 22:18; Deuteronomy 18:9-11; Psalm 21:8-10; 1 John 4:8 (All KJV because it fits the film’s time period)

This dark, mystical tale will remind you of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in that the charge of witchcraft arises. A Puritan family with four children in 1630 is exiled from the town because of the strident heretical views of the father. At the edge of a dark forest they find a distant place to begin again, but encounter a series of events that induce suspicion and guilt that threaten to tear the family apart. When the infant, while in the charge of the oldest daughter, disappears, is it because, as her twin siblings claim, she is a witch? Or did wolves snatch him away? The ending might leave you shaken and wondering. Quite a cautionary film about how religion mixed with fear and superstition can become a destructive force!

Below are films that I have seen, but have not had time to review yet.

Check back at later for reviews of them.


Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours 31 min.

Film Capsules February 2016

To see a longer review with the full Scripture text, click onto the film title.. Churches are welcome to reprint any or all of the reviews in their newsletters or in what would otherwise be a blank space in a Sunday bulletin.

 At Theaters

 The Finest Hours

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 57 min. Psalm 89:9; Titus 1:7b-9a.

This thrilling sea adventure, with its Churchillian title, is based on the “impossible” Coast Guard rescue of over 30 sailors stranded on a split-in-two tanker near Cape Cod during a furious storm in 1952. It can also be viewed and used as an excellent study in leadership, there being two in the film that contributed to the rescue mission’s success: the Coastguardsman whose skill and perseverance prevailed over those who wanted to turn their small craft back because of the 70-foot waves; and aboard the doomed ship, the chief engineer who prevented the crew from drowning in the lifeboat they wanted to flee in, and then whose ingenuity resulted in a plan to keep their broken vessel afloat just long enough for the rescuers to find them. Go ahead at the climax and give in to the strong urge to applaud and/or cheer, just like in Rocky—only this film is based on a true story.



Arabic with English Subtitles. Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 40 min. Hebrews 13:2

This excellent Jordanian film, a candidate for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, takes place in 1916 at about the same time as the Arab uprising described in Lawrence of Arabia. The title is the name of a young Bedouin boy who has to grow up quickly or die when marauders kill the party he is a part of. Led by his older brother, and consisting of a British officer and his guide, the group had been searching for an old well near the railroad controlled by the Ottoman Empire. The film is also the story of unwelcome change because the railroad has disrupted the Bedouins’ means of livelihood, guiding pilgrims through the desert to Mecca. I love this kind of film that drops us down into the midst of an unfamiliar land and culture!



Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 30 min. Proverbs 17:22.

Charlie Kaufman, who gave us Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, wrote and directed this stop-motion animated film about a motivational speaker who has run out of motivation. The story takes place in Cincinnati, but don’t expect to see any familiar sites, the action unfolding in an airliner, taxicab, toy store, and mostly in a hotel. Nor will you recognize the Fregoli Hotel—unless you’re real smart (I did not) and know that this is, according to Wikipedia, “A disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that different people are in fact the same person.” This “same person” delusion is well conveyed by having the same actor voice every character, woman or man, except for the protagonist and the woman he meets who draws him out of his funk. Be forewarned that there is a sex scene that pushes the “R” rating to the limit. A quirky film that will not appeal to many, it is worth the time of those who seek films that challenge the mind and heart.


13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Rated R. Running time: 2 hour 24 min. Psalm 91:5

This film, allegedly telling what happened during the terrorist attack on two US compounds in Benghazi, Libya, is very controversial because at least two of the CIA staff members who were there say the author of the book the film is based on misrepresents the facts about a rescue team being held back. Others also question the timing of the film’s release, charging it is meant to embarrass Hilary Clinton and her Presidential campaign, even though she is not actually mentioned in it. Regardless of the above, it is a thrilling combat film, though one that will tend to reinforce the views of anti-Muslim super patriot who wrap themselves in Old Glory.


Streaming Video or DVD

 Sin Hombre

Rated R. Running time: Deuteronomy 24:19-22; Matthew 25:35.

Those who want to see the ordeals that many illegal migrants from Central America undergo will relish this powerful film. Sayra is a Honduran teenager with her father and uncle riding atop a freight train as it heads north to the U.S. El Casper is a member of a Mexican gang, along with his younger friend Smiley, whose initiation into membership involves his killing a captured rival gang member. However, during a robbery attempt of the Hondurans Casper prevents the gang’s chieftain from raping the Sayra by killing him. Now a marked man, Casper joins her in heading north. Knowing that his time is short before the gang alerts others along the way of his act, the pair become romantically involved. Eschewing sentimentality, the filmmakers thrust us deep into the lives of those whom too many Americans write off with the faceless label of Illegals.”


Blood Done Sign My Name

Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours 8 min. Hebrews 11:32-38 & 12:1-2; Isaiah 5:20; Isaiah 11:6.

Thank Goodness for DVD, this powerful true story social justice film having gone nowhere at the box office when it was first released. Based on the memoir by Duke University Professor Timothy B. Tyson, the film follows two men in the small town of Oxford NC in 1970 when the murder of a black veteran just returned from Vietnam disrupts the town. The author is the son of liberal white minister Vernon Tyson whose preaching of equality lands him in hot water with some of his parishioners. Ben Chavis has been teaching high school English and running a diner that is the center of black social life. Propelled by the fiery speeches of Civil Rights activist Golden Frinks, sent to town by Ralph Abernathy, Chavis will lead an economic boycott of the white-owned stores to end the Jim Crow laws. And years later he will become the youngest president of the N.A.C.C.P.


American Gun

Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 34 min. Lamentations 1:12; Luke 19:41-42.

Although the filmmakers would probably not be welcomed into the NRA, their film is not a strident attack on gun ownership and abuse, but a series of vignettes showing the impact of guns upon seven people across America. The first story, taking place in an Oregon town where three years earlier two teenagers had massacred a number of fellow students at their high school, involves the mother of one of the murderers and her younger son who, because of family financial difficulties, has to return to the high school where the crime took place. It also involves the police officer who was the first responder, dealing with the ugly belief held by many that he should have been able to have stopped the killings. In Chicago a burnt out black principal of a ghetto high school struggles with both family and student issues. When he catches one of his high achieving students hiding a gun just outside the school’s metal detector, he threatens the boy with expulsion, even though the unloaded weapon was used by the student to scare off any thug threatening him at his dangerous place of work. Last of all, in Charlottesville VA a depressed female University of VA student, working in her grandfather’s gun shop, decides to take gun lessons when her best friend is nearly raped at a drunken party. The filmmakers offer no solutions, pro or anti gun, but do offer plenty of food for thought on an important and complex issue that especially plagues America.

Dr. Edward McNulty, editor/reviewer of


Film Capsules January 2016

To read the full reviews click onto a film title. Feel free to use any or all in a newsletter, the only requirement being that the source be acknowledged as (c) Ed McNulty, Visual Parables.


PG-13. Running time: 2 hours 4 min. Proverbs 4:9-13. Proverbs 31:8-9; Isaiah 29:15

Nigerian-American Dr. Bennet Omalo discovers through an autopsy and series of tests that Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster’s early death was caused by a series of concussions suffered throughout his career. Assuming that the NFL would accept his findings and take measures to protect its players, Dr. Omalo is taken aback when the NFL officials refuse to meet with him and mount a savage campaign to discredit him as a know-nothing quack. Thus he is forced to take up the mantle of prophet and fight back. People of faith will like the fact that he is shown as a devout Christian, as is the woman who eventually becomes his wife and chief supporter.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours 15 min. Isaiah 45:7; Isaiah 33:15.

Director J.J. Abrams has won old fans to return to the science fiction series, as well as drawing new ones, by basing his plot on the 1977 Star Wars: A New Hope. Old characters are back, and new ones introduced—and again we have a father-son disconnect and the Jedi religion that honors and uses the Force, the spiritual power that binds everything in the universe together. This is a good film for youth groups to see and discuss, especially if their leaders are well versed in the original trilogy. How is the Jedi religion similar to but also very different from the faith of our fathers (and mothers)?



Rated R. Running time: 2 hours 10 min. Ecclesiastes 7:8-12.

The delightful irony of the title is that the two main characters, marvelously played by Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel, are two octogenarians vacationing at a luxurious spa in the Swiss Alps. There are plenty of youthful bodies around them in the large pool and steam bath, many of them naked, at which they enjoy staring. Caine is a composer whom an emissary from the British Queen is trying to lure out of retirement to conduct his music for Prince Philip’s birthday, whereas Keitel’s film director is trying to make one last film to make up for his recent string of flops. Issues of aging, youth, creativity, success, father-daughter relationships, and much more, are explored in fascinating, often surrealistic detail, in this spiritual exploration that is filled with Fellini touches. And I think you will love David Lang’s lovely song that the Prince wants to hear conducted live—if it does not win a Best Song Oscar, then Hollywood has a tin ear. (You don’t have to take my word for this. Listen to it on YouTube at



Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours 3 min. Proverbs 4:9-13.

Who knew of the dramatic story of Joy Mangano, the housewife inventor of the popular Miracle Mop, until this film came along? Part bio film, part screwball comedy centered on the head of a dysfunctional family, the film lives up to its title, leaving viewers with a good role model for their daughters. Joy Mangano, the calm eye of the storm amidst her hurricane of a family, overcomes both the obstacles in getting her product, invented to solve a problem in her daily clean-up chores, to market and in battling powerful interests who try to steal her invention.


In The Heart of the Sea

Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours 2 min. Psalm 107:23; Psalm 69:1.

This back-story to Herman Melville’s great novel Moby Dick, takes us back 30 years prior to the publishing of his novel. The author journeys to Nantucket to interview one of the last survivors of the whaling ship The Essex to uncover the facts of the ship’s destruction, allegedly by a giant whale. The man, weighed down by years of guilt, refuses to talk at first. When he finally does open up, we understand why he is reluctant. Filled with great scenes of the ship and whales, this is a powerful story of rivalry, survival, and guilt.



Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 58 min.: Romans 12:2a

Because it is a lesbian story, this will not be for everyone, but the filmmakers bring out what is universal in all love stories, whether “straight” or not—the desire of two people to be able to live together in loving commitment. Set in the 1950s when a gay or lesbian was still regarded by the law as a criminal if engaged in “deviant” sexual behavior, and even the scientific community regarded such persons as sick, this is the story of a Manhattan store clerk sought out by a wealthy woman who has become emotionally disengaged from her hapless husband. The film shows well the barriers separating the two at the time—public disapproval and threat of the wife’s being separated forever from her daughter when her distraught husband invokes a morals’ clause embedded in the marriage laws of the time.



Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours 13 min. Proverbs 23:22

Sylvester Stallone deserves the awards nominations he has been receiving for his reprisal of his role of Rocky Balboa in this the 7th film of the franchise. Although I hate boxing as a sport, it being the one in which the goal is to so injure an opponent so that he cannot continue to fight, the sport has engendered some of the most dramatic David vs. Goliath tales to be found on the screen. With its surrogate father-son, handing over the mantle to a new generation, and near-impossible odds themes, you will probably find yourself cheering and wiping your eyes, especially at the end when he again mounts the steps of Philadelphia’s Art Museum, though a bit more slowly this time.


Streaming Video/DVD

 Beast of No Nation

Not Rated. Running time: 2 hours 17 min. Proverbs 4:17. Amos 3:10; Luke 17:2

This fact-based film is the first fictional feature distributed by Netflix. In sometimes shocking detail it puts a human face on those reports you have read and seen about the boy soldiers of West Africa, forced by war lords into fighting for their causes. Narrated by 13 year-old Agu, member of a Christian family, the story follows the downward spiral of his life as, in an unnamed nation plagued with a civil war, government troops slaughter the older members of his family when they think they are spies. He flees into the jungle, only to be picked up boy soldiers of the Commandment. The latter takes a liking to the prisoner, mentoring him in some unsavory ways, including forcing the boy to butcher a pleading prisoner. Not just film “entertainment,” this is important viewing to make us aware of the plight of far too many children today.


The Liberator

Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 59 min. Isaiah 1:17.

Partially financed by the Venezuelan government, this made for TV epic traces the career of the man given in the 19th Century the title of Liberator, Simon Bolivar. Starting out as a wealthy plantation owner, Bolivar emerges slowly as a young man tutored in the ideas of Jefferson and the Enlightenment, with its views of liberty and equality for all. However, it is not until later in his life when he encounters in Europe the tyranny of Napoleon, that he joins the rebellion against Spanish rule in his native land. The battle scenes and period detail show that this was a big budget film, one that is both entertaining and, for us Yankees who know little more than the name of its subject, enlightening as well. There has been much debate as to Bolivar’s end—did he die of illness, or was he assassinated? Thus the ending of this film is debatable.

Film Capsules December 2015

Click on a title to see the longer review on Visual Parables’ website—I especially encourage you to do this for Spotlight. I have also seen the new Star Wars film, plus the excellent films Brooklyn, Concussion, and In the Heart of the Sea, but have not had time to finish reviewing them. They will be posted by the end of the year.


Rated R. Running time: 2 hours 8 min. John 3:20; Luke 17:2; Proverbs 31:8.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Lord Acton

One of the best films of the year, this is not only the story of how an investigative team from the Boston Globe dug up the evidence proving that Cardinal Law and his staff were protecting pedophile priest from the law, but also a study of the corruption that power can bring to those who wield it. Even the church is not immune, its leaders all too often enjoying the perks of power and thus lashing out at anyone that might expose their clay feet. This true story is told from the standpoint of the reporters. For another good film that tells the same story from the standpoint of one of the lawyers featured in the film, see the cable film Our Fathers.


Rated R. Running time: 2 hours 4 min. Isaiah 5:20.

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Attributed to George Santayana

Dalton Trumbo was the highest paid scriptwriter in Hollywood until in 1947 he and 9 other screenwriters refused to answer questions from the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Known as the Hollywood Ten, all are sentenced to jail for Contempt of Congress. After his release Trumbo manages to get around the blacklist by writing under a pseudo name, his script for Roman Holiday even winning an Oscar. An inspiring tribute to a man who would not let the vicious forces of reaction beat him.

The Revenant

Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours 7 min. Job 14:14; Psalm 41:8.

Based on the life of fur trapper and frontiersman Hugh Glass, this tale of treachery, survival, and prejudice will be too bloody for some, especially the trapper’s mauling by a grizzly mother that leaves nothing to the imagination. Leonardo DiCaprio is certain to be nominated for a Best Actor Award for his depiction of a man who, fueld by the thirst for vengeance refuses to lay down and die when reason tells him there is no hope. There is a brief interlude of grace and even levity when a friendly Native American saves him from starvation, the two for a while traveling together—but then a new tragedy strikes. The director of last ywear’s triumph Birdman again brings us an unforgettable film of courage and leaving vengeance to—well, sort of the Lord.

The 33

Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours 7 min. Jonah 2:1-2; Psalm 34:19; Proverbs 10:2.

When 33 miners in Chile are trapped deep in the earth the company is ready to write them off until the new Minister of Mines persuades the President to intervene. Top drillers work around the clock while the miners cope with surviving on food intended to keep them alive for just a few days. A great parable of perseverance, courage and faith.

 By the Sea

Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 28 min. Proverbs 17:22.

This is like one of those old Italian movies of the 60s—nothing much happens outwardly, the focus being inward. Angela Jolie-Pitt directs as well as plays opposite her husband Brad Pitt in this story of a marriage dissolving until the couple checks into an almost empty small hotel by the sea. The arrival of a young honey mooning couple whom the jaded pair can spy on through a hole in the wall that separates their rooms starts to stir things up.

The Peanuts Movie

Rated G. Running time: 1 hour 28 min. Job 12:5a; Galatians 5:22-23.

I loved this update to my favorite comic strip in that for once Charlie Brown, seemingly the eternal put-upon victim, actually comes out on top—and in the parallel Snoopy & the Red Baron story our canine aviator wins the heart of Fifi, also a canine aviator—or given the imaginary WW 1 times, should I write, aviatrix?

 The Danish Girl

Rated R. Running time: 2 hours. 1 Corinthians 13:7-8.

This based on a true story of transgender pioneer Einar/Lili Elbe will not be for everyone. Einar and Gerda Wegener are both Danish artists in the 1920s when Einar slowly becomes convinced he is a woman born in a man’s body. Gerda supports him in this process, still loving and supporting him/her as he seeks a doctor who will understand rather than seek to institutionalize him/her. Lots of heartache and tragedy as the two separate and Lili emerges into a hostile world.


Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours 28 min. Psalm 7:14-16.

For me this was one of the more enjoyable Bond films with 007 confronting his past and even reconsidering his “license to kill” at one point. As always there are beautiful women and colorful locations—Mexico City during a Day of the Dead celebration; London; Rome; the Austrian Alps; and the desert of North Africa.

 Mocking Jay Part 2

Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours 17 min. Micah 2:1; Luke 1:51-52

In this final film of the series Katniss Everdeen continues to grow in insight and compassion. Unwilling just to serve as the symbol of the rebellion against dictator Snow by making speeches and propaganda videos, she manages to slip away and join a fighting unit. Even Peter, who had tried to strangle her in the previous film because of Snow’s brainwashing him, is part of the unit. However Katnis discovers that for some, including best friend Gale, morality has no place in war, and that the leader of the rebels might also have clay feet.

 The Letters

Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 54 min. Job 23:3; Psalm 22:1-3.

This biographical film is based on the letters that Mother Teresa wrote to her spiritual mentors over a 50-year period. They reveal that for most of her life she was wracked with doubt, seldom feeling the presence of God despite her great mission of ministering to the poor and rejected. The major events—from her leaving the cloistered convent in Calcutta to teaching and ministering to the homeless and the dying to her founding her own order and her eventual reception of the Nobel Peace prize—are dramatized effectively, with British actress Juliet Stevenson excellent as the anguished Albanian nun.


Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 46 min. Ecclesiastes 4:1; Ephesians 6:12 (RSV).

“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”

Mohandas K. Gandhi

The story of the struggle for women to gain the right to vote in Great Britain is told through the life of a fictional woman named Maude rather than one of the historical leaders—though Meryl Streep does make an all to brief an appearance as Emmeline Pankhurst. Like so many forgotten foot soldiers of the struggle, Maude pays a high price for her involvement, losing her unsympathetic husband and custody of her only child. This power film makes a good companion to the America-set iron Jawed Angels about two feminists who dared to picket the White House in order to persuade the reluctant Woodrow Wilson to support a Constitutional amendment giving American women the right to vote.


Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 58 min. Hosea 13:8; John 15:13.

Kidnapped when she was a teenager and confined to a soundproofed shed 10 by 10 feet where her abductor rapes her every day, this film continues far beyond the usual rescue and return home. When she and her little Jack emerge from their long captivity Jack has to adapt to a world far more immense than he had imagined, and Ma must cope with family, the curious world represented by a crowd of reporters, and her own feeling of guilt and helplessness. A powerful tale of survival, one perhaps even more difficult amidst so-called freedom than it was during their captivity.