“Crossing Over” is an
important film, if for no other reason than it dares to directly
address the “elephant in the room” issue:
Ford plays Max Brogan, one of those “storm trooper” agents who
raid factories to catch (literally) illegal immigrants, detain them,
arrest them, and ship them back where they came from.
But Brogan’s got a problem:
he’s developed a conscience.
When a hapless Hispanic sweatshop worker begs him to help her
(oh, and he speaks Spanish, too), because her little boy is at an
apartment nearby, he finally, sleeplessly, reluctantly, sheepishly,
tries to find the boy and help him.
His partner, Hamid (Cliff Curtis) is of Iranian descent, and
his family, even while in the process of becoming naturalized
citizens, bring their traditional values with them, where his (single
adult) sister’s intimate relationship with a co-worker is considered
as “bringing shame” on the family.
(A concept now considered foreign to contemporary American
culture.) A Muslim
schoolgirl (Summer Bishil) dares to present a position paper in class
questioning whether the 9/11 terrorists were making a point the only
way left available to them, much to the open derision, and overt
racism, of her classmates. A
young Jewish man (Jim Sturgess) who is secretly an atheist, still
manages to find a work permit by working in an orthodox school,
teaching Hebrew songs to children.
Not so fortunate is a n aspiring actress from
(Alice Eve) who runs into an unscrupulous immigration officer (Ray
Liotta) who demands her personal services, while his wife (Ashley
Judd) tries to persuade him to adopt an African girl left homeless by
the relentless violence there. As
in “Gran Torino,” the Asian boy (Justin Chon) is heavily recruited
by a gang of wannabe thugs…..well, you get the picture.
It’s a violent, chaotic, mishmash out there.
Sometimes these characters intersect, and at other times they
pitiably fail to connect. But
this brutally honest film will generate much discussion about the real
immigration issues in this country, which are as many and varied as
the people who inhabit this great land.
The basic issue is whether you really desire a rainbow or a
Crossing over into the territory
of the magical flimflam, we have “The Great Buck Howard,” starring
John Malkovich as the seedy “mentalist” with the big ego, the
small but loyal following, and the personal assistant (Colin Hanks)
who can’t quite decide whether the magic show is real or fake, but
figures that in the end it doesn’t matter, it still entertains and
amazes. Kind of like a
faith healer. Tom Hanks
takes a highly ironic turn as Colin’s Dad, disappointed that his son
dropped out of law school and doesn’t show any more ambition than to
follow around this showbiz relic.
Good casting, strange story well-told.
Crossing over into schoolgirl
whimsy, “Phoebe In Wonderland” is about a very unique, creative
little girl named Phoebe (Elle Fanning) who doesn’t know she has
Tourette’s Syndrome, and neither do her exasperated parents
(Felicity Huffman and Bill Pullman).
Sympathetic drama teacher (Patricia Clarkson) to the rescue.
Phoebe is cast in the role of
, when her very life is like
in Wonderland, and we agonize along with her, in her clashes with a
school determined to make all children into little rule-keeping
automatons, with all the liveliness and imagination squeezed out of
them. We hope that
something inside Phoebe doesn’t die with all the stifling
We can only hope that for all our artistically-inclined
children and grandchildren.
Questions For Discussion:
What’s the best way to encourage
creativity in children? What’s
the best way to stifle it?
In regard to immigration, do you envision
a rainbow or a melting pot?
Do you believe in magic?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor,
Grace Presbyterian Church,