Film Capsules November 2015

Click onto a film title to see the full review.

Labyrinth of Lies

Rated R. Running time: 2 hours 4 min. Jeremiah 2:22; Ezekiel 22:4; Proverbs 31:8-9;

This German film is a legal thriller based on the true story of the first trials of ordinary Nazis who had escaped prosecution after World War 2. Once the top Nazi leaders were tried and punished at the Nuremberg Trials, most Germans wanted to forget the past and get on with their lives. Because the ex-Nazis never spoke of their former lives to their children, a new generation was growing up ignorant of the crimes of their parents. In the Fifties when a former inmate of Auschwitz saw a guard teaching children, he told his journalist friend, who took the information to the local prosecutor’s office. No one wanted to investigate the case until a newly hired assistant agreed to take it up, thus launching a daunting search that his superiors resisted. The trials marked a turning point for the German people, enabling them to come to terms with their dreadful past.

The Martian

Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours 24 min. Psalm 8:3-8.

You will be rooting all the way as the divergent members of NASA work their tails off to solve the myriad obstacles in bringing home astronaut Mark Watney (wonderfully played by Matt Damon), stranded alone on Mars. If you are ever marooned in a hostile environment, he is the one you would choose as your comanpion, as we see him coming up with ingenious means of producing oxygen and cutivating food on a planet that offers little of either.

Steve Jobs

Rated R. Running time: 2 hours 2 min. Psalm 8:3-6

This is a warts and all portrait of the Apple co-founder that raises the question of can a great man also be a good man. Detailing the back stage machinations at three introductions of a new product over a number of years, the film shows Jobs commanding his staff and arguing with his former lover over financial support and the recognition that he is the father of her daughter. The last scene shows the emergence of the human jobs from the cold, machine-like genius.

Miss You Already

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 58 min. Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 27:9 (NIV); 1 Corinthians 15:26.

This is a touching story of two lifelong friends facing twin crises together, actually finding more comfort and support from each other than from their husbands. When Milly faces cancer, her long infertile friend Jess puts on hold her good news that she is at last pregnant. No film has gone into the mundane routines of dealing with cancer as this film does. Although cancer and death are front and central, the film is really about friendship and its sustaining power. There are tears but just as many laughs in this enjoyable film.

Our Brand Is Crisis

Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 47 min. Proverbs 26:28.

Sadly we are exporting our political dirty tricks as well as more wholesome products, as this film based on a true story shows. Sandra Bullock’s “Calamity” Jane Bodine is lured out of her retirement to put some sizzle into the campaign of an uncharismatic candidate for the presidency of Bolivia. Once she controls her altitude sickness, Jane convinces her client that dirty tricks against opponents work, and thus he too must use them. She faces a rival American campaign manager who is just as low down as she, but the eventual results surprise them both. This cynical tale is definitely no Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, though the lame ending tries to make us believe Jane has left the dark side.

Truth

Rated R. Running time: 2 hours 1 min. Jeremiah 26:7-9; John 18:28;

“Truth forever on the scaffold; wrong forever on the throne.“

James Russell Lowell, “The Present Crisis”

“In war, truth is the first casualty.”

Aeschylus, Greek tragic dramatist.

During the summer of 2004 CBS news producer Mary Mapes, working with Sixties Minutes’ Dan Rather assembles a team to investigate the rumors that President Bush might have dodged service in the Vietnam War by using his family’s political influence to gain a slot in the Texas Air National Guard, and then did not complete his required service. They think they have the goods but when right wing bloggers claim the documents are forgeries and their two chief sources recant their earlier testimony, the CBS brass revoke their support, eventually terminating both. Are Mapes and Rather journalist martyrs or victims of their political views obscuring and fact-checking sloppiness their search for the truth? This is a very sobering true story, open to divergent interpretations depending on where you stand in regard to President Bush.

Meet the Patels

Rated PG. Running time: 1 hours 28 min. Proverbs 31:10-11.

This highly entertaining documentary follows the far-flung travels of the almost 30 year-old Ravi Patel as he agrees to follow his parents urging to search for a suitable bride. Blending the traditions of their native Indian arranged marriage with that of American dating, Ravi and family travel to India, Canada, and various cities in the United States in their quest. The film is a tribute to his family and their love and openness when he makes a decision not entirely to their liking.

Showing at the Esquire Theaters.

Best of Enemies

Rated R. Running time: 1 hours 28 min. Proverbs 24:17-18.

This documentary is filled with scenes from 1968 when ABC invited conservative writer William F. Buckley and gender-bending author Gore Vidale to a series of ten programs debating and commenting upon the proceedings of the Republican and the Democratic National Conventions. The two hated each other so much that there were far more insults exchanged than insight given concerning the Conventions. ABC was far behind the other two networks at the time, but soon found their ratings soaring because of the pair’s erudite but vicious exchanges. The debates brought an alternative to the long practiced “objective” reporting of the news, which we can now see nightly on Fox News and MSNBC.

Coming Home

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 49 min. 1 Corinthians 13:4 & 7; Galatians 5:22-23a.

China’s famed director Zhang Yimou,’s film is about a mother whose teenaged daughter has swallowed the Commuist line, and thus informs on her father when he has escaped from a political prison and tries to make contact with her mother. She suffers a head injury during his arrest, so that years later when he is feed, she does not recognize him. Even worst, she thinks he is the man who tortured him during his first arrest. How is he ever to reach her mind and heart? What happens is unexpected, serving us up with a parable of the love and patience that the apostle Paul writes about in his Letter to the Galatians.

99 Homes

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 52 min. Proverbs 22:16; Luke 17:33

The story of a family suddenly given 20 minutes to vacate their house when a speculator buys his foreclosed mortgage from a bank was repeated thousands of times during the recent recession. This story of a single father living with his mother and young son, all pushed out with their furniture sitting on the awn, is a heart-tugger. When the father’s construction and organization skills land him a job with the heartless man who evicted him, the film also becomes a tug of war for his soul.

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