"Deja Vu": The problem with time-travel movies is that the logic always breaks down somewhere. So it is here. We want to root for Denzel Washington, the likable detective, and his impossible romance with Paula Patton, the once-and-future victim, but the time-warp theory gets, well, warped.
"The Pursuit Of Happyness": We've also seen the Dad-struggles-to-raise-his-son-by-himself movie. Because this one is based on a true story, and because Will Smith is playing the primary character with his real-life son, Jaden, this one has a very authentic feel to it. But the screenplay is a slow spiral downward for two hours, followed by a few moments of triumphalism at the end. Yes, we get to walk out relieved, but most of the experience is, well, not one of "happyness."
"Miss Potter": We've all seen and heard the "Peter Rabbit" children's stories. But do we know much about their author, Beatrix Potter? Renee Zellwegger plays the turn-of-the-20th-century British artist who was repressed by a chauvinistic culture and constantly badgered by social-climbing parents to give up her "childish" pursuits and "marry into the right class," but her timeless fables and wistful drawings were simply irrepressible. Helped by an inexperienced but eager young publisher (Ewan McGregor) and befriended by his sister (Emily Watson), our Miss Potter finds the ways and means to be published, and she is an instant success. (Too bad that they left out the real-life part about her local Vicar, Hardwicke Rawnsley, initially encouraging her as a talented teenager.) She utilizes her sudden fortune to rescue rolling farmland from greedy developers, and left her considerable estate to the English people for their continued enjoyment. This is a charming story, well told, of a woman who follows her dreams, conducts herself with dignity even in the face of criticism, values her close relationships, handles adversity with courage, and leaves a generous legacy for future generations. Not only is the primary character one to emulate, the screenplay in this gentle tale contains no nudity, cursing, violence, sex, crashes, or explosions. Attention, genteel churchgoers: you will enjoy this one immensely!
"Home Of The Brave": We've all seen and heard the news accounts of the War in Iraq. But how much do we know of the "after-effect" on our soldiers who serve there? They're all dealing with a heavy sense of loss, an inner rage that can explode into a senseless rampage, and a kind of listlessness with "ordinary" life, after living on the edge for so long, while attempting to re-assimilate to a culture that seems so intentionally oblivious of the carnage there. An enlisted man who lost his best friend in an ambush returns to find that his job is gone, his girlfriend has left, and that he doesn't fit in anymore in his own life. A surgeon (Samuel L. Jackson) who had to perform serial amputations in a field tent is haunted by the horrors he experienced, so he drinks to numb the pain, and becomes alienated from the family who eagerly awaited his return. A young mother (Jessica Biel) who lost her hand while driving a truck over a land mine returns to find herself no longer interested in her boyfriend, and unreasonably irritated with her bewildered son. A big, strong-looking ex-soldier (Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson) is overwhelmed with the guilt of accidentally shooting an unarmed civilian, and is like an emotional time bomb waiting to explode. This film is awkward in many places, perhaps because of the screenplay; perhaps also because this is a still-awkward subject for us. Many pleasure-seeking moviegoers will avoid it, but perhaps it's the movie that "ought" to be seen, because its intentional fictions feel so honest.
Questions For Discussion:
1) How is the "post-traumatic stress disorder" of returning soldiers affected by the politics of the War in which they participated?
2) Do you feel differently toward a struggling single Dad than toward a struggling single Mom?
3) How is God "beyond time"? Do you think that in the coming Kingdom, we will also be "beyond time"?
4) What legacy would you like to leave?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Terrell, Texas