Movie REviews REviews by scripture reviews by alphabet
About the CRitic links
     


                                    Wrestling, Wrangling, & Saving
 
The first is a dark, brooding kind of two-man play, jousting antagonists throughout, the battle of wits and witty repartee.  The second is animated, lighthearted, and aimed at children.  The third is a strident social commentary thinly disguised as a movie. Yet, in all three, there is an undercurrent of desperate striving, and each features the irony of unintended consequences.
“Sleuth” stars Michael Caine and Jude Law, and it feels much like Caine’s previous work in “Deathtrap” (with Christopher Reeves).  But here, the third party never enters the stage.  Caine is the rich playwright who is being cuckolded by Law.  The young paramour has come to ask the old curmudgeon for a formal divorce (because the law there seems to be that one can merely withhold permission, up to five years after a separation).  The aggrieved husband is not going to cooperate so easily; first he must play a few mind games with the young homewrecker before him.  But our mean-spirited lover has a few tricks of his own, as well.  Their verbal sparring is interspersed with a very physical kind of grappling intimacy, like Jacob wrestling with the angel (Genesis 32).  Only may very well walk away limping, and the other may very well disappear.
In Bee Movie, Jerry Seinfeld plays the worker bee who graduates from school with glee, only to discover that he is immediately shuffled off to his (brief) life working in the big honey factory.  He thinks there must be more to life than that, even for a bee.  When he escapes outside the hive, he makes contact with a human, which is strictly forbidden.  Renee Zellwegger lends her voice to the young woman who is first frightened, then fascinated, then bemused.  She becomes such an advocate that she helps him sue for control of their destiny, that is, the honey that the hive produces.  They win the battle, but lose the war.  The unintended consequence is that the plant and floral life all begin to suffer, for lack of, you know, the birds and bees thing.  It sounds more serious than it is.  The legendary sitcom comedian is full of puns, one-liners, subtle inferences, and punch lines, which many adults will enjoy, right along with their children.  It’s cute, it’s fun, and we get to save the world with no real bloodshed.  This one might well play in church nurseries for years to come.
“Bella” will play in gatherings of Christians that are strongly anti-abortion.   Except that it presents the case not in a bellicose way, but in the guise of a love story.  Jose (Eduardo Verastegui) is a cook at his brother Manny’s restaurant where Nina (Tammy Blanchard) waits on tables.  She finds herself in a family way, and suffers from morning sickness; she’s fired for her tardiness, and Jose can’t help but spend some time with her trying to be supportive, even though he’s risking the wrath of his brother (Manny Perez) by his own unexcused absences.  After we start caring about the love story between Jose and Nina, we discover the extenuating circumstances:  Manny is adopted, Jose is still grieving over being the driver in a tragic accident where a little girl ran in front of his car, Nina doesn’t seem to have any support, friend or family, but Jose enjoys a large, loving, but hovering (Catholic) family.  Jose is so desperate to talk Nina out of her plans for abortion that he actually offers to keep the baby himself (perhaps to “make up for” the life of the girl in the fatal accident?), and the sense we get is that anything, anything is better than abortion.  Well, of course, there are many folks on the opposite side of this issue who could also tell you lots of stories.  But this film is a relatively painless, though somewhat slow-moving, way to hear one side of the story.
 
Questions For Discussion:
1)      What has been your personal experience with the abortion issue?  Is it something you have changed your mind about?
2)      Have you ever been involved in a terrible accident that was your fault?  Do you still feel the guilt?
3)      Have you ever assisted in the disaffection of a married person?  Do you still feel the guilt?
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas