Movie REviews REviews by scripture reviews by alphabet
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“Martian Child” is one of those heart-warming movies, where you know exactly where it’s going the whole time, but you enjoy getting there, anyway.  John Cusack plays David, a young widower who tries adopting a socially awkward little boy named Dennis (Bobby Coleman) who says he’s from Mars.  David’s sister Liz (Cusack’s real-life sister Joan) is something less than supportive, but his almost-girlfriend Harlee (Amanda Peet) helps everyone adjust to each other, and overcome the many emotional obstacles.  Satisfying, even without any suspense. 


“In Bruges”:  Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Farrell) play two British hit men (one English, one Irish) sent by their boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes) for a little R & R in Bruges, Belgium.  Ken seems to be a gentle middle-aged man just enjoying the sights like any tourist, but Ray, younger and much more impatient and tightly wound, can’t wait to leave, until he meets a striking woman named Chloe (Clemence Poesy), and now he is suddenly more interested in staying a while.  But all is not as tranquil as it appears, as the past begins to catch up to them all.  Ray is dealing with enormous guilt about a “hit” on a priest gone bad (not because of the hapless priest, whose offense remains mysterious, but because of the unintended collateral damage).  So our main characters find themselves in old cathedrals discussing the afterlife, divine retribution, and other seemingly sublime theological topics, especially for a couple of murderers for hire.  Throw in some other very odd sequences, like doing drugs with a racist dwarf, and a fistfight involving both male and female patrons in a swanky restaurant, and you have this really quirky adult story with an ironic sense of humor, and somehow the tight script and the first-class actors hold it all together.  But a genteel person might walk away wondering what planet these people inhabit.


“Untraceable”:  Even more difficult to watch than “In Bruges,” because of the torture scenes.  Jennifer Marsh ( Diane Lane ) is an FBI agent specializing in cyberspace crimes, but even she is unprepared for the horrific new website, “”  First a kitten, and then seemingly random human victims, are tortured in “real time,” faster as more people “hit” the website.  The anonymous criminal is smart enough to make his links untraceable, and cruel enough to torture his victims until they die, the unblinking camera recording every painful moment for any blogger who wants to log on, and comment.  We are not surprised that despite pleas from authorities, the computer-savvy public is utterly fascinated, and visit the website in increasing numbers, becoming accomplices by their very participation.  Yes, this is a wry commentary on a culture increasingly jaded by personal violence, practically conscienceless when it comes to computer usage (because of easy anonymity), and quite willing to collectively rubberneck the car wreck, hoping to catch some titillating glimpse of gore.  But the gut-wrenching presentation makes this the kind of film where children of all ages ought to be banned, even from renting it, and adults need to be wary of publicity which might generate a “real life” copycat.


“Rambo”:  Sylvester Stallone reprises his one-man army role, but “violent” doesn’t even begin to characterize it.  Rambo now captains a small river boat in Thailand , dabbling in motor repair and snake handling, featuring the unsmiling visage, the tough-guy swagger, and the 1,000-yard stare.  A small group of well-meaning church folk ask him to take them upriver to Burma , embroiled in a genocidal civil war.  He initially refuses, and eventually relents, but soon regrets it, as our naive little group of do-gooders is immediately captured and carried into captivity.  Here’s the strangest part---the Pastor of the church then arrives to ask for Rambo’s help again, because the church has hired some mercenary soldiers to rescue the stranded parishioners!  So Rambo gets to slay multitudes again, overcoming the violent with more violence.  The church people are all stubbornly naïve, failing to heed the repeated safety warnings, and then once they’re in trouble, are either helpless ninnies or pious hypocrites who, after preaching the importance of non-violence, happily pick up weapons and join the fray with the mercenaries.  The maiming and slaughter of innocents is simply horrific, and couldn’t possibly be enjoyed by anyone with even a modicum of sensibility or any vestige of civility.  Keep this one from the kids, as well.  In fact, just send this movie to Mars.  It couldn’t possibly do any good, and may very well do harm.


Questions For Discussion:

1)      Where are the world’s current locales for ongoing genocide?  What would a constructive intervention look like?

2)      What’s your observation about the adoption of older children?  Has it worked out well for everybody?  Should single adults be eligible to adopt? Regardless of their sexual orientation?

3)       Have you ever clicked in to a website where you chose to remain anonymous?  What are the potential consequences of wholesale anonymity?


Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas