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.

Zootopia

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.

Deadpool

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 visualparabls.org later for reviews of them.

 Allegiant

Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

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

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