Movie REviews REviews by scripture reviews by alphabet
About the CRitic links
                                                It's Only Make-Believe
"The Jane Austen Book Club":  An ensemble cast of six Californians, who first decide to study the Jane Austen novels together, and then experience their lives starting to resemble the characters in the novels.  It's not completely necessary to be familiar with the Jane Austen works in order to understand the movie, but it would help.  It plays like a classic "chick flick" in the sense that it's all about relationships, there are no car crashes or explosions or computer-generated images or battle scenes or other "action sequences," there's a lot of dialogue and verbal repartee and an emphasis on character development, the primary characters are women, and the men are some combination of clueless, indifferent, absent, and/or desperately needing refinement.  (The biggest crisis for the women is figuring out how to relate to men without feeling superior to them.)  But there is much to commend this film because of its underlying sense of morality, and its studious desire to seek redemption through reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5).  The debate is whether those are attributes that are also found in Jane Austen's works, and like a biblical theology discussion, in order to fully participate you have to quote at least book and character, if not chapter and verse.
"Michael Clayton":  Michael Clayton (George Clooney) is the "fixer" for a giant law firm, bailing people out of jail, managing to keep an embarrassing event under wraps, coaching a manic-depressive who won't take his meds; the kind of thing you need doing, but don't want the high-priced "front men" doing themselves.  Clayton's firm is wrapped up in a huge class-action litigation where the stakes are so high that people involved have been having strange accidents (kind of like "Erin Brockovich" and "Silkwood," except that those were based on a true stories).  Clayton has to keep himself alive long enough to sort out the good guys from the bad, and his initial assumptions aren't always correct.  The kind of movie where you're walking out and scratching your head and asking yourself, "Now what just happened?"
"Stardust":  Well, if you're going to make up a story, anyway, why not get really imaginative right after "once upon a time"?  Let's see, a poor but industrious village boy of questionable origins (Charlie Cox) is interested in a pretty but snooty local girl (Sienna Miller) who wants him to prove his love by fetching a star for her.  But first he must traverse across the magic stone wall to a kind of Never-Never Land that features not Captain Hook but a gay pirate captain (Robert DeNiro) whose ship flaps through the sky, a wicked old witch who disguises herself as a young beauty (Michelle Pfeiffer), proving that looks really are deceiving, a tart-tongued princess in distress (Claire Danes), reminiscent of Princess Leia in "Star Wars," and a band of less-than-noble brothers who, like some power-mad royal family out of the book of II Kings, are constantly at each other's throats, vying over control of the throne.  There's a tongue-in-cheek offhandedness that makes this movie more endearing than unbearably cute, except that the flippancy also distracts the suspension of disbelief, so that it becomes as much farce as adventure.  Oh, well.  It's still fun.  And "happily ever after" has never been so satisfying.
Questions For Discussion:
1)  Do you think that big corporations routinely engage in "dirty tricks"?  What kind?
2)  Do you think that witches exist in reality, or only in folklore?  Which is the case in I Samuel 28?
3)  Do you think that we are ever tempted beyond our capacity to resist? (I Kings 22: 19-23, Job 1: 6-12, I Corinthians 10:13)
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Terrell, Texas