Film · Loneliness · Longing · Love · Movie Review · Movies · Uncategorized

Eighth Grade – Review

EG_final-onlineBo Burnham’s directorial debut Eighth Grade is the most uncomfortable, real and important movie of the summer. The film follows Kayla Day as eighth grade comes to a close and life is on the brink of another titanic shift from middle school to high school. What follows is an intimate look at the life of kids today, who must navigate the digital deluge all while trying to figure out who they are and who they’ll be.

All Too Real

Eighth Grade is a raw movie. It offers an uncompromising and unflattering look at the state of adolescence in the United States in the 2010s. These are the children of the digital revolution, with iDevices in their hands before they can walk. For them there has never been a moment without some form of entertainment at their fingertips. Constantly inundated with images and messages, their perceptions of reality are filtered through Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook. The struggle to be “cool”, with its ever-changing standard, is real. The digital domain is pervasive, so that even when these kids are hanging out with each other, it’s usually half-heartedly, lest they miss something coming in from the never-ending stream of social media conscientiousness. It’s a lonely way to live, constantly being reminded that you’re never going to be good enough, skinny enough, funny, hip or cool enough.

It’s said that information is power, yet this generation has all the information of the world in the palm of their hands but lacks the wisdom or experience to use it well. They know way to much, way too early and are in turn forced to think about and deal with things they are just not mature enough to handle. This 24/7 marination in pop culture  makes it difficult for anything else to impact them on the same level. How can parents hope to have anywhere close to the same influence when time is not on their side? The movie does not have many answers, but it does shine a light on something parents are going to have to start addressing as the film shows just how harmful these devices of unlimited potential can be on children.

Unconditional Love

Throughout the film Kayla makes YouTube videos. They are little vignettes of advice on all the things she portrays herself to be an expert on, yet the rest of the film shows she’s anything but. She’s constantly being told that she should be all of these different things through social media and, consequently, she is lost. She has no idea who she is or wants to be beyond what she’s told is “cool”. So each day she works to earn the friendship and respect of others based on what she thinks people want. It’s exhausting for her.

Throughout the film, the one person who’s tried to truly interact with Kayla has been her father. He tries to talk to her and get to know who she is, but she constantly rejects his help and love until the end of the film. When Kayla finds herself at the end of her rope, she finally asks for her father’s help to burn something in the back yard. As they sit there, watching her sixth grade time capsule burn, he asks her what they are doing. She answers that she’s burning her hopes and dreams. She then asks him if he is sad to have her as a daughter. It’s a powerful moment as he begins to tell her how much joy she brings him, how unconditionally she is loved and that he’s always been honored to have her as his daughter. In that moment she climbs into his lap and is held in the arms of love. This moment brings a change in Kayla. She lets go of her videos and the need to be “cool”. It’s almost as if her father’s words of acceptance have nestled into her heart and freed her from the need to earn the acceptance of others.

There is a bit of beautiful Biblical truth in this scene. Isaiah reminds us that all of us, like sheep have gone astray, we’ve searched for everything under the sun to fulfill us and make us whole. Yet there is only one thing that can and because of this God has laid on Christ, the sin of us all, to allow us the opportunity, like prodigals to run back into his arms. Kayla’s rejection of “cool” and acceptance of love brings to mind Psalm 139, we are wonderfully made by a heavenly Father to be something unique, fully known and fully loved by the creator of the universe. Truth and reality are not defined by the forever-changing concept of “cool” but by God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever and his love never ends.

Conclusion

If you are someone that works with youth, if you are a parent, if you have children this age or will have, this movie is one you should see. In fact, if you have children this age, you should see this movie with them and talk about it together. This is an important film that takes seriously the ways in which our changing world is impacting the coming generations. It’s painful to watch sometimes, but ultimately rewarding. Eighth Grade is rated 4.5 out of 5.

 

Books · Catching Fire · Christianity · Dating · Doctor Who · Faith · Family · Film · Harry Potter · Love · Movies · Sex · The Hunger Games · Tim Challies

Owl Post 12-4-13

Owl Post: 2-3-2012

In Defense of Katniss Everdeen:

risa-rodils-catching-fireCatching Fire, the second film in The Hunger Games trilogy, has set theater records, and like its predecessor, it’s an impressive, gritty film. Suzanne Collins wrote a gripping series of young-adult novels, and the film adaptations have been well cast and well directed, especially the choice of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, the film’s star and protagonist. Lawrence manages to easily embody both Katniss’s tenacity and also her youthful ignorance at the high-stakes politics of her situation.

Why Harry Potter is Great Literature:

harry-potter-series-books-7I enjoy spending time with people who appreciate great literature. The number of my friends who are intimate with Dante or Tolkien or Austen is, as Oscar Wilde would say with a wink, “considerably above the proper average that statistics have laid down for our guidance.” My book-loving church regularly ships in world-class English professors to give lectures and field the usual round of questions about Peter Jackson’s interpretation of Aragorn and Faramir.

And I’ve noticed that in these circles, it’s often a faux pas to admit that I, like nearly every other Millennial in America, own extremely well-loved copies of all seven Harry Potter books. And I would lose all credibility with many of these people if I suggested offhand that I think the Potter books are in the tradition of the great English novels, deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence, and are easily the most morally and socially insightful works of fantasy published in this generation.

The Real Truth about ‘Boring’ Men:

10298738-silhouette-of-a-man-on-a-mountainSo not every guy proposes with lip syncingrolling cameras, and a choreographed entourage.

Yeah —  so what if  your Dad didn’t?

He just pulled that beat-up Volkswagon Rabbit of his over in front of Murray Reesor’s hundred acre farm right there where Grey Township meets Elma Township, pulled out a little red velvet box, and whispered it in the snowy dark: “Marry me?”

How Doctor Who Survived 50 Years:

Untitled-1When it started in 1963, Doctor Who should not have succeeded. A committee created it, to fill a time slot. It had a small budget. The BBC intended for it to be a children’s educational show focusing on science and history. Oh, and it debuted the night after John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

And yet it worked, as seen in the incredible hype preceding Saturday’s 50th anniversary special—an extra-long, star-filled special called “The Day of the Doctor.”

Gospel-Centered Sex?

I recently read an article from a prominent blogger on the subject of the new “gospel-centered” emphasis in books. He commented on various books that applied the gospel to every area of life from the ivory towers of theology, to the mom caught up in the chaos of home and family. One quote at the end of his blog got me thinking: There is not yet a “Gospel-Centered Sex” book; however, it is probably on the way and may well be very helpful! If a couple consistently applies the implications of the gospel to the marriage bed, they will inevitably have a healthier marriage.”

How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home:

Every Imperfect and Normal Family wants their kids to turn out right. So, we establish goals for character development and try to create an environment where our kids can mature. Church, school, sports teams, family relationships… each of these provides a context where our kids can learn to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Too many times, (Christian) parents have it as their goal to make their kids good and moral. It is as if the entire purpose of their family’s spiritual life is to shape their children into law-abiding citizens who stay out of trouble. The only problem with this goal is that it runs in stark contrast to what the Bible teaches. The gospel is not about making bad people moral, but about making dead people alive. If we teach morality without the transforming power of the gospel and the necessity of a life fully surrendered to God’s will, then we are raising moral pagans.

Stopping An Affair Before It Begins:

At one time or another, most of us witnessed the devastation that comes through infidelity in marriage. We have seen marriages stretched almost to the breaking point and we have seen marriages destroyed by an unfaithful husband or unfaithful wife.

Affairs do not begin with sex. Falling into bed with a man who is not your husband or a woman who is not your wife is simply one step in a long chain of events, one decision in a long series of poor decisions.

J.J. Abrams at TED in 2007: The Mystery Box

Family · Film · Love · Movie Trailers · Movies · Uncategorized

About Time – Review

MV5BMTA1ODUzMDA3NzFeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDgxMTYxNTk@._V1_Richard Curtis has created some of the most memorable romantic movies of the last fifteen years, including Notting Hill  and Love Actually. What has set his films apart from being another of Hollywood’s run-of-the-mill romantic movies has been the heart and emotional core of the characters. The people in his films don’t feel like caricatures but people you might meet in everyday life. There is emotional weight behind his films that resonates with the experiences we all have throughout our lives and About Time is no exception. With a story that involves time travel there is an opportunity for the film to quickly become lost in its own premise and lose sight of reality, yet it never does. Curtis uses this story element to accentuate the very essence of life, love, family and what it means to be human.

Fathers and Sons:

This summer has been littered with films about father/son relationships; from Man of Steel, Star Trek Into Darkness on the blockbuster side, to smaller films such as The Way Way Back  and The Spectacular NowEach one of these films has had something to say about fatherhood and it’s importance, by either showing the problems that come from the lack of good fathers or the benefit that loving fathers have on their sons.

About_Time_800cAbout Time is very much a love letter to the father/son relationship. The movie centers around Tim who is told on his 21st birthday that the men in his family are able to travel back in time and relive any event they want, as many times as they would like. What follows is a beautiful story of a man learning what it means to be human and live with the choices we make, one moment at a time. Guided lovingly by his father, Tim navigates the waters of life and time travel. Tim’s father tells him to use his gift on the important things in life, not money or power but on relationships (or as his dad has done, he has used it to be able to read as many books as he wants, several times if he wants, what a gift!). At its core the movie is a celebration of what truly matters in life, the relationships in our families and with the friends we make along the journey.

One of the beauties of the film is its celebration of family. The majority of movies today seem to glamorize the broken or dysfunctional family, yet as anyone who has one of these families can tell you, it is nothing be celebrated. About Time portrays family with all its faults and at the same time reminds us that family has been the bedrock of society since people have existed for a reason. Being know and loved is what gives life it’s meaning. Family is supposed to be the place where that is learned and nurtured. Curtis does not shy away from sentimentality and neither should he. By showing us of the ideal, he has gifted our cynical society with the reminder that there is something better and more worthy to pursue.

Conclusion:

It has been a long time since a movie this unabashedly sentimental and heartfelt has been in the theaters. Do yourself a favor and seek it out, you won’t regret it. Life really is a collection of moments, happening to us every second we are alive, About Time reminds us to make the most of all of them, not just the mountain tops but everything in between as well .

Christianity · Love · Movie Review · Movies

The Tale of Two Loves – Anna Karenina Movie Review

Joe Wright’s new interpretation of Leo Tolsty’s epic Anna Karenina is an audacious spectacle and a worth adaptation. He uses a very unique visual style in the film, placing almost everything on a theater stage. The lives of Imperial Russia are constantly being watched in the big cities and everything that happens is just a performance for the those watching. In doing the film this way, Wright is able to add character clues in the visual style which helps him flesh them out. The book my be 900 pages, but the film can only fit in so much story, so this style allows for more character study without elongating the film. This movie is a visual treat and well worth the price of admission.

There are two main stories in the film and they are the antithesis of each other; there is the love of Levin and Kitty contrasted with the “love” of Anna and Vronsky. The story of Anna and Vronsky is what happens when we allow our carnal natures to run wild and get lost in a sea of obsession and selfishness. Anna has many times that she can say no to this temptation and yet she harbors it in her heart, nourishing her desire until she cannot do anything by give in to the monster she has been feeding. It happens to all people. There are things that look so enticing and yet we know them to be wrong, destructive or unwise. But instead of banishing such ideas or running from them, we give in. Obsession takes over and what would once have seemed impossible to be apart of has become the very thing are engaging in with all our might. Anna and Vronsky’s “love” is an idol that they must serve and it leaves them insecure about their place in this world and with each other. Anna especially can never be reassured enough that she is fully loved and accepted. Her deceit, selfishness and obsession have left her empty and like so many of us, she just looks for more of what is not working to satisfy her. Her desire is insatiable because she is drinking from the wrong well.

Her moment of realization and awakening comes as she sits at the opera house she can see the way people look at her and treat her. She is the laugh of the town, seen as a fool. There is always a moment where our choices reach up and finally slap us in the face and we can see clearly what we have become. It is in that moment that we have the choice to continue down the road of destruction or to turn around and find a new path. Anna decides that the only course of action is to follow the rabbit hole as far as it goes. It leads her to morpheme and death. She becomes the embodiment of the Proverb, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

The desolation of this story is contrasted with the beauty that is Levin and Kitty. She rebuffs his early proposal, swept up in the bonds of infatuation with Vronsky. Levin is heartbroken and returns to his country home, yet try as he might, his love for Kitty is never extinguished. For all the talk of love in this movie, their’s it the most pure. They do not love the selfish idea of love, but the person. They both commit themselves to more that fleeting pleasures and mere sexual desire; longing for the promise of mutual care and support. Love in the end is not for personal gain but the betterment of another.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13 ESV