I was recently asked to write the feature article in Metropolis Magazine for their Star Wars issue all about the upcoming movie The Force Awakens, which also includes an interview with Daisy Ridley. Here it is.
When one of the longest running and most revered movie franchises releases a new film it’s no question that expectations are going to be high as fans eagerly anticipate what is next for their favorite character, a Bond movie is no exception, especially with a name like SPECTRE and the possibilities brings.
In this episode of The 602 Club host M is joined by OO agents John Champion and Norman Lao talk about SPECTRE. We discuss our first impressions, continuing Bond, it’s all connected, an interesting question, under siege, new characters, Bond in love, the one ring, theme and music, if their were too many spy movies this year, mission evaluation, rankings and listener feedback.
There are few icons that find themselves still going as strongly as James Bond after being in pop culture for over 50 years. His stock skyrocketed on his 50th anniversary with the release of the 23rd film in the series. Bolstered by Sam Mendes as director, Roger Deakins as director of photography and a theme song by Adele that became a monster hit in it’s own right, Skyfall has become one of the most beloved movies in the James Bond saga.
In this episode of The 602 Club host Matthew Rushing is joined by 00 agents John Champion and Norman Lao to talk about Skyfall. We discuss continuing Bond, the 50th anniversary, the shadows, new characters, an enemy that was once on the inside, the music and theme, wrapping up with our ratings.
Listen here or on iTunes.
Steve Jobs is an enigma. A man with a vision for technology that was as much a work of art as it was functional, he buffeted the system and became one of the leaders of the personal computing age. In the new film Steve Jobs, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin tell his story, framed by his biggest product launches, the Macintosh, NEXT and the iMac. Before each launch everything that can go wrong does as technical issues, unexpected people and bitter arguments threaten to destroy what Jobs is trying to build. It’s a fascinating look at a man who has shaped the look and feel of the future.
Searching for Control
Jobs is a man who is driven, beyond anything else, for control. Growing up knowing that he’d been intended for a family that decided against adopting him profoundly impacted Steve. His desire for controlling everything in his life, including his creations, was forged in the fire of feeling unloveable and unwanted. He takes his quest for control a step further than most people as he lives most of his life within what became known as the “Steve Jobs distortion field”. If Steve thought something was a certain way, that was the way it was.
The film’s version of Jobs offers a clear example of the way we as humans deal with the world around us. We work so hard to control everything. We do this because, like Jobs, we don’t want to be hurt or disappointed. If we can control things, we can find some kind of comfort in knowing and preparing for what will happen to us. If we can keep people at a distance by manipulating or dominating our relationships, we can reduce the likelihood of being wounded or emotionally shattered. Jobs spends most of his life doing his best to make it look as if he cares nothing for what people think of him, when the reality is, that like the rest of us, it means more than it should. It is evident in every conversation that Jobs has with people that he’s working so hard to be above others, to be untouchable. Before the launch of the NEXT, he and Woz have an argument in the orchestra pit, and Jobs tells Woz that what he does is play the orchestra, as a conductor. The metaphor could not be any clearer. Jobs has tried to place himself out of reach emotionally from anyone by creating the world as he wants to see it, the same way the conductor creates the sound of the symphony.
The compulsion for control is something that has been ingrained in humanity since our first act of defiance in wrestling it from someone else. A fruit was taken and eaten to give us that which we were not meant to have, and the control we were promised has never materialized. It is why Jesus implores us with these words,
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:24-28 ESV).
It is when we realize that it is not we who are in control that we are then finally free to be who we were meant to be. Sadly it’s a peace Jobs would never find in this life.
This is a thought provoking and moving film. The acting is superb as Michael Fassbender dominates the screen from scene one. Kate Winslet is a force to be reckoned with as Joanna Hoffman, one of the few people able to stand up to Jobs in his life. This movie is worth seeing, and more than once, to take in its themes and the shear magnitude of who Jobs was and what he was able to accomplish in spite of his failings as a person. It’s rated 4 and a half iMacs out of 5.
There have been numerous adaptations of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan since his original play in 1904 and novel in 1911. From silent film, to animation, to live action with a real boy, the story of Peter has captivated and enthralled people for generations. Now, Joe Wright, director of Pride & Prejudice as well as Atonement has joined with producer Greg Berlanti to bring us the prequel to Peter Pan, a time when Pan learns who he is and Hook is a friend.
Greed Destroys Neverland
One of the clearest themes of Pan is the way in which greed and obsessive love destroys the things we hold dear. Blackbeard is determined to hold on to his love Mary and to live forever. This leads him to hold Mary as a prisoner on his ship while at the same time destroying the faerie kingdom in search of their pixum (fossilized pixel dust) which has the ability to rejuvenate one’s life, enabling them to live as long as they are supplied with pixum. This madness leads him to stealing young boys from the WWII era world and bringing them to Neverland to mine for the pixum he is so desperate for. Not only is the faerie kingdom his victim but Neverland itself, as it is slowly being mined into extinction for one man’s greed.
Blackbeard, like Anakin in Star Wars is so obsessively holding on to Mary that it drives her away from him. She’s saved by the faerie prince and their love creates a son, Peter, who is prophesied to bring an end to the terror of Blackbeard. It is Blackbeard’s greed that leads him to hold on so tightly to Mary and his life yet brings utter ruin instead.
Love is Sacrifice
It is a beautiful thing to see represented on the screen the idea of sacrificial love. Mary, sacrifices herself to protect her son and the faerie kingdom. Hook is willing to sacrifice himself for Tiger Lilley and Peter while Peter realizes that it’s not about being “the chosen one”, it’s about being willing to fight and die for something bigger than himself. In the end Peter will get most everything that Blackbeard is fighting so perilously for, life of eternal youth and the love of Mary. Neither of which come though greed but though true love, sacrificial love. A powerful message indeed.
Pan is a good movie that never transcends to great. The beginning in the orphanage with the evil nuns is an overplayed trope that I find annoying. Also, the scenes at the mine don’t work as well for me, but once the film moves out into Neverland I’m hooked. One of my criteria’s for a good Peter Pan film is that Neverland feel timeless and for the most part Wright’s Neverland has that feeling. Bright, imaginative and yet tethered to yesteryear in a comforting fashion. On top of all this, Levi Miller is absolutely astounding as Peter. The most difficult thing to do is cast young talent who can truly carry a film and he has charisma in spades. The surrounding cast is great, with Adeel Akhtar’s Smee frequently stealing scenes with his delivery. In the end Pan is no where near as dismal as it’s Rotten Tomatoes score of 21%, it’s exactly what I expected, fun and enjoyable yet with surprising themes. Pan is rated 3 and a half mermaids out of 5.
The Intern is the new movie by writer and director Nancy Meyers. It follows widower Ben Whittaker, played by Robert De Niro, who finds that retirement is just not fulfilling without some sense of purpose or feeling needed. So he applies for a senior intern program at a local internet company run by Jules Ostin, played by Anne Hathaway, who created the company just a year before and is now a sensation. The movie is charming and full of poignant themes.
The Purpose of Age
Sadly in America, those of retirement age are seen as past their prime in more ways than one. It’s as though you reach 65 and you’re no longer of use to the rest of the world. The Intern wonderfully shows just how beneficial age is, for with it come experience and wisdom that cannot be replicated without the request years. The retired generation have spent their lives working, supporting families, running companies and gaining knowledge that should be respected, tapped into and revered for the treasure it truly is. Ben’s hard work and years of maturity begin to show their quality and rub off on those around him. It’s a reminder to young and old that retirement does not equal pointlessness or purposelessness, it’s just an opportunity to affect others with the time you have left.
Purpose is something that every human being needs to feel they have, no matter what part of life they find themselves in. Ben struggles with the futility of his activities in retirement and lack of connection with others. Life is meant to be lived with purpose and in community with others and Ben is able to find that in the internship program. He integrates himself into the culture, impacting it for the better thought being himself sharing his worldly sophistication. The sage wisdom he is able to offer those around him is invaluable, making him indispensable personally and professionally.
The Art of Manhood
Look and learn, boys, because this is what cool is. How in one generation have men gone from guys like Jack Nicholson and Harrison Ford to…? -Jules Ostin
One of the biggest themes in the movie is the lamentation over the loss of manhood in boys today. Jules asks if maybe when girls were taking part of “Take your daughter to work” days and being encouraged to be they’re best, if boys got forgotten. Now obviously, girls being encouraged to be all they can be is important, but it does seem that boys have been lost in the shuffle. Boys, like girls, need to be nurtured and encouraged to grow and excel. We live in a world where boys don’t seem to become men, they just become larger boys, who now have to worry about shaving. Obsessed with Xbox achievements and porn, the art of manhood is slowly dying.
It shouldn’t be surprising. With so many boys growing up without a strong male role model in their life, they are left to trying to discern for themselves what it means to be a man. As boys look around, there is not much help in the media or popular culture. Long gone are the days of John Wayne and Ronald Reagan where men acted like men and treated others with respect. Now we are awash in narcissistic man/boys who promote the thug life or slackerism. Boys need men to help show them the way to manhood, to model for them what it looks like and the ways to effectively live it out.
This is the beauty of The Intern. Ben shows though is actions the legitimacy of manhood in the world today and the reason it’s needed. And on top of that, he clearly illustrates that chivalry and respect for women are not only compatible but something desperately needed. It’s a call to arms for men everywhere to act like men, respect women and be their for others. Not only are older men needed, they are essential in passing on what it means to be a man to the next generation.
The Intern is not a perfect movie, the ending is a bit abrupt but the themes in the movie are too important to miss. It’s well worth your time, so find a friend, see it with your grandparents or parents and be reminded of the importance of all generations.
The single greatest travesty of our time is that people think there is something more important than protecting the most helpless among us, the unborn. If you do not star there, you cannot say you respect life. All life has to be respected from beginning to end. If someone is willing to sacrifice the most helpless among us on the alter of convenience, what else will they be able to sacrifice. David in Psalms reminds us why we protect the unborn, because it is not some parasite or collection of cells it is God own creation,
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
(Psalm 139:13-16 ESV)
And we reflect His image.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
(Genesis 1:26 ESV)
How you deal with the most helpless among us shows where your character lies and what your moral standard is built on. Ours is build on the author of all creation. Jesus calls us to take care of the needy,
‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40 ESV)
There is none that is more in need than the unborn. Now this means we, the family of God, have a responsibility to care for the mothers who find themselves in this position. We need to be the ones they know they can run to for help because our arms are open to all that are in need. Love has to be our heart and what guides our actions. We should not be judging them but loving them, they need someone to walk beside them and help them make the most difficult decisions of their life knowing that they will be supported throughout the entire pregnancy as well as in raising their child if they decide to not give it up for adoption.
Christ’s words also call us to care for those in need, whoever they are. We are called to generosity and open arms. We must care for people from birth to death, physically, mentally, spiritually, in a word, holistically.
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17 ESV)
Here is our call believers, here is our mission, to support those in need from the unborn to the elderly and everyone in between. Forgive me Lord for failing at this for so long and give me the strength to take up the work you’ve left for us to do. Fight the good fight, run the race remembering,
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39 ESV)