Movie REviews REviews by scripture reviews by alphabet
About the CRitic links
                                   Hunting For Self-Respect
 
"The Hunting "Party":  Sarajevo, the Bosnian civil war of the 90's.  When ethnic cleansing was all the rage, and the U.N. peacekeeping force really was international.  Atrocities were so commonplace that they cased being newsworthy.  America seemed preoccupied with Monica Lewinsky's dry cleaning, and anything ending in dot.com.  A couple of freelance journalists, Simon Hunt (Richard Gere) and "Duck" the camera man (Terence Howard), are earning their career chops on the killing fields, dodging bullets and bodies to capture the gripping action shot.  They hook up with a couple of friendly local women, and love is in the air, mixed in with the cordite and the rubble dust and the desperation.  Then Simon's pregnant girlfriend becomes a civilian casualty, left dead and discarded, like a mangled dog on the side of the road.  It breaks him.  His practiced nonchalance descends into a fuming self-pity; an unsatisfied rage turned in on himself, spiraling down into untreated depression.  On the evening news, he responds disdainfully to a dumb question from the Pretty Boy Anchorman, and his impertinence earns him a quick trip to obscurity, where he now drinks alone.  Meanwhile, his ol' "hunting" buddy has ascended to the cushy, prestigious position of chief cameraman back at the studio in New York.  But five years later, they are destined for one more at-risk assignment, this time on their own:  finding the elusive "fox" who was responsible for so many of the cold-blooded slayings.  Accompanied by a clueless intern (Jesse Eisenberg), they stumble their way through a sullen, devastated countryside, still ravaged by ancient enmities that smolder still.  The final solution is elegant, even if nothing else is in this semi-documentary, laced with "real" characters, but sprinkled with wishful thinking.
 
"Death At A Funeral": Daniel (Matthew MacFadyen) is trying desperately to be elegant as he prepares for his father's funeral, but everything turns to chaos.  This rowdy, raucous, and uproarious British comedy features accidental drug usage, blackmailing from an unexpected gay lover, streaking, and enough deceit and deception to make the snake proud (Genesis 3).  Nothing is reverent (including the reverend), nothing is sacred (especially the reputation of the recently deceased), and viewers are guaranteed to be offended as well as amused.
 
"Lady Chatterley":  Here's another foreign film that will also offend, but entirely without humor.  The French re-make of the D.H. Lawrence novel features a Lady Chatterley (Marina Hands) bored to distraction, living in her staid country estate with her affluent but impotent husband who was badly wounded in the War (World War I).  The servants do most of the work, and she is left to embroider, entertain, or walk in the woods.  We are treated to a lush landscape dripping with the potential of personal drama.  She strikes up a casual acquaintance with the gamekeeper (Jean-Louis Coullo'ch), which awkwardly evolves into an affair that is part loneliness, part journey of sexual discovery, part clumsy intimacy, and part languid, sensuous lovemaking.  We see enough of the principal characters to border on the pornographic.  But after they develop their affection for one another, then what?  Run off together?  End it unwillingly?  Continue the deception until somebody catches them and many people's lives are devastated?  The viewer is caught in the tension of rooting for their happiness, but understanding that not only is this relationship adulterous, there is no good place for it to go.  So instead, we witness a not-so-spontaneous "joie de vivre" that culminates in a nude frolic through the countryside?  Adam and Eve, at least, realized they were naked, and were asha! med, and tried to cover themselves (Genesis 3).  But perhaps there must first be an awareness of sin and shame, which doesn't seem to be apparent here.
 
Questions For Discussion:
1) When is an affair a voyage of self-discovery, and when is it merely adultery?
2) Should the CIA be about eliminating unapprehended war criminals?  Who decides what are criminal acts in a time of war, and what is merely efficient warfare?
3) What unexpected disaster have you witnessed at a funeral?
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Terrell, Texas