Movie REviews REviews by scripture reviews by alphabet
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                                Being Miserable, And Then….
“Waitress”:  Jenna (Keri Russell) is miserable in her marriage, and her job as a waitress in a small-town café isn’t that great, either, except that her two best friends are the other two waitresses.  She finds herself in a pregnancy that she’s not even sure she wants, and then manages to fall for the new ob/gyn in town.  It sounds like a mess, but somehow there’s a sprightly spirit present here.  The real change in her is when she first lays eyes on that beautiful baby, and suddenly she realizes not only who she is, but who she’s meant to be.  The real tragedy here is that the writer and director (who also played one of the other waitresses in the movie), Adrienne Shelly, was murdered in New York City shortly after the filming was completed.  We will miss her unique voicing of the quiet struggle for personal fulfillment.
“The Bucket List”:  The quiet struggle for personal fulfillment takes us right to the cancer ward, where two men who are rooming together both find out that they’re terminally ill.  Morgan Freeman is Carter, and Jack Nicholson is Edward, and together they make a pretty odd couple:  Carter is a lifelong auto mechanic, a family man, husband of one wife, children and grandchildren around his Thanksgiving table, but never wealthy.  He’s quiet, dignified, and gentle in his demeanor, and people are naturally drawn to him.  Edward is filthy rich, and he’s selfish, mean, obnoxious, and utterly alone. The only one who is around him very much is his personal assistant, whom he pays to be obsequious.  Carter is making his “bucket list,” the list of things he wants to do before he kicks the bucket.  Edward becomes so intrigued that he starts adding to the list, and then they decide to do their end-of-life odyssey together, much to the chagrin of Carter’s wife, who seems to prefer that Carter just hang around hospitals, and expire being miserable.  Carter decides to live it up instead.  And we’re rooting for both of them to have the time of their lives.
“There Will Be Blood”:  Paul Thomas Anderson wrote the screenplay (adapted from an Upton Sinclair novel) and directed this long, intense character study of Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), a prospector who first struck silver at the turn of the century, and then oil.  His protagonist is Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), a Pentecostal preacher who seems to be as insincere as he is inelegant.  With a big ego, too.  Not a happy combination.  Daniel is a completely self-centered nihilist, who hates everybody, but manages to turn on the artificial charm, as well, when he wants something (like the title to someone’s land).  They spend the entire movie at each other’s throats.  By the end, we can’t stand either one of them, because they both start out miserable and then become more so.  And the church has rarely been cast in such an unfavorable light. 
“The Water Horse: Legend Of The Deep:  A winsome little fable about a sad wee Scottish lad named Angus MacMorrow (Alex Etel) who discovers an egg by the seashore which turns out to be the famous Loch Ness dragon.  Lots of “E.T.” kind of humor about hiding the strange creature from Mom (Emily Watson), and then things getting humorously out of hand.  (But this time the “alien being” is composed entirely of computer graphic imaging.)  It’s set in Scotland during World War II, and told in retrospect with a kind of whimsical nostalgia.  Though certain scenes may be intense for very young children, this one will likely become a popular kid’s classic.
“Youth Without Youth”:  By contrast, this film will have very few fans, because it’s so convoluted, and ultimately unsatisfying.  Director Francis Ford Coppola’s first movie in ten years seems to be weighed down with an old man’s preoccupations:  mortality, the sweep of history, and the ineffable beauty of young women, particularly those encountered in one’s youth.  Ah, but what if you could return to your youth by, say, a lightning strike?  Could you enjoy it all over again?  Well, it’s not particularly fun to revisit the Nazi occupation of Europe , but Tim Roth has somehow captured the weirdness of this role, and Alexandra Maria Lara (also memorable in “Der Untergang”) is indeed beautiful to behold.  Too bad the vehicle is so abstract and non-linear that it just can’t get any traction.
Questions For Discussion:
1)      What parts of your youth would you like to live over again?  Would you want to know then what you know now?
2)      What’s your “bucket list”?
3)      When have you seen the church cast in its most unfavorable light?  Most favorable?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas