Posts Tagged ‘movies’

1. Amazon had The Miracle of the White Stallions DVD on sale for $8.49, so I snagged a copy. The last time I looked, the sale price was still in effect, but you had to wait for restocking to get one. It’s as much about outwitting Nazis, and about a formerly free people chafing under oppression, as it is about the famous horses. It’s from 1963. Well worth a watch. It’s rated G, but I’d suggest parents watch it first, so they’re ready if a kid picks up on the talk of concentration camps and other war related stuff.

2. While I was at it, I ordered Justin Morgan Had A Horse, also from Disney’s good old days. It’s not on sale, sorry. But it is a fun, cheerful, film. Like The Miracle of the White Stallions, it’s based on a true story, in this case, the founding of the first American horse breed. I suspect this one has a wee bit more artistic license in it than the other one, but, then, it would probably have to. The other film was based on events in living memory, which were documented by the people involved. Both films were made before the PC crowd started cramping storylines. Good stories, both.

3. Once upon a few years ago, I noticed that many old cookbooks had ‘pancake’ recipes that were fancy ways of using leftovers. They mixed just all sorts of stuff in batter, and cooked away, sometimes as side dishes, sometimes as main dishes. Veggies, meat, fruit, whatever; sometimes spicy, sometimes bland. Since then, I’ve had great fun making up my own recipes. Perhaps recipes is the wrong word for those times I just use what’s on hand. A few weeks back, I had some cooked pumpkin I needed to use up, but didn’t feel like making a pie. So I put in all the ingredients except eggs for pumpkin pie filling – just as if I was making a pie – and mixed that with two batches of pancake batter (which provided all the eggs I figured I needed). Then I adjusted with more flour and water for better consistency, and a little extra oil so it wouldn’t stick, and wound up with pumpkin pie pancakes. They were pretty good, and kept well in the freezer. As to that last point, that pancakes freeze well is one of the things I like about them. Very handy, that.

4. I’m rereading The Pilgrim’s Progress, both parts. If you only read about Christian’s pilgrimage, you’ll have a lively read, but do try and get your hands on the second part, which follows the pilgrimage of his wife and children. I’m not sure but that it might be impossible to understand early American history if you haven’t read these books. Seriously. Bunyan and other nonconformist writers both reflect the age, and helped shape it.

5. I’m starting to feel bad that I didn’t send out physical Christmas cards this year. I’ve received a few, and it’s such a treat. Then I look at the price tag on the back, and factor in postage, and figure I have a good excuse. But, still, it’s such a treat to get them. Maybe next year…

6. Like quite a few other women in this part of the country, I don’t even own a pair of pants anymore. This would be neither here nor there, except that this time of year I hear silly objections about dresses being too cold to wear in winter. Obviously not, since women have been doing it for thousands of years. If you’re wearing a dress long enough to be modest, that helps. Layers help even more. For slips, it’s perfectly all right to make your own from flannel or something else sensible, or to wear a t-shirt dress as a slip. Yes, even with sleeves; there’s no reason an underdress can’t have sleeves. And, uhm, ladies, long underwear can be worn under dresses. Really. For that matter, dresses of a proper weight and sensible cut can be warmer than pants, just like mittens can be warmer than gloves.

7. Merry Christmas. (I’m a Christian. I can say that.)

(7 Quick Takes Friday is hosted by Conversion Diary. Why not pop on over and check out some other blogs?)

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Wow. A missionary decided to show the movie Courageous to tribes in Malawi, even though her intended audience didn’t speak English. So, what happened? Read on.

Part 1

Part 2

The Resolution

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The pre-release buzz for this indie film has brought to my attention a war that I don’t remember hearing about before – and it happened only 90 years ago, in a neighboring country, with staggering loss of life. I’m a bit embarrassed that it took a movie to put the Cristeros on my radar screen, but I guess I’m not surprised, given the approach to ‘history’ that reigned in the public schools and college that I attended, which simultaneously disdained religious belief, while polishing the brass for bloody communist and socialist experiments.

I’d like to know more. I’d also like to see some oral history projects launched in the United States, while people who are only one generation removed from the conflict are still alive to tell the stories their parents and grandparents told them. We have lots of immigrants from Mexico. Surely many of them have family stories to share.

As for the movie, here’s a bit of commentary from people who saw early cuts. And here’s the official website. The film opens in theaters June 1.

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From Mr. Smith and The Ides of March, by Robinson O’Brien-Bours:

While both Clooney’s and Capra’s films depict a political system rife with corruption, there is a hugely important difference between the two. Clooney’s dark and pessimistic tale brings no closure to it, and no hope; one leaves the theater with a bitter sense of disappointment and cynical contempt for our political process. It is a tragedy where everyone loses, much like the tale of Julius Caesar that the title alludes to.

Mr. Smith, though, has a far different, more lasting, and more important tone. It depicts one decent and determined common man, surrounded by petty bunch of political thugs, who nonetheless makes a difference. This is not to say that its title character, Jefferson Smith, is alone in his feelings–the people support him, and there are even members of the Senate who likely support him as well, but are yet complicit with the villains through their silence. Smith still wins in the end, though.

Perhaps this is too idealistic. Perhaps the cynical transformation of Gosling’s Stephen Myers is closer to the real thing than the determined support for lost causes exhibited by Stewart’s Smith. If that is the case, though, then the fault is not with our system of government, but with us. We are the government.

Many Americans over the past few years seem to see our country through the same jaded vision of The Ides of March, and are tired of it. Perhaps, then, now is the perfect time to revisit the 1939 classic, which came out just in time for Nazis, Soviets, and Fascists to all ban it for its dangerous idea. When Hitler banned American movies in France, one Parisian theater played Mr. Smith nonstop for the month leading up to the ban. Tyrants are threatened by the idea that individuals have power; mortified by the possibility that one single person has the power to change the world. The reason they fear this is because it is true: good men, armed by the truth and common decency, can do more to change the world than all the armies and propaganda of tyranny and corruption in the world combined. It just takes hard determination in face of the harshest adversity.

Read the whole thing.

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This snippet of John Wayne monologue from “The Alamo” has a pointed way of describing what happens to a man when he decides to do wrong.

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I was listening to a Christian radio show, and the host, Jim Harris of Heritage Bible Church in Boise, Idaho, was using a dramatic rescue mission from the 1990s to illustrate. The story was about a Cuban pilot who defected in his MIG to the US. He tried to get his family sent to him, but failed at that – and so he went back to Cuba in a borrowed small plane, and picked up his wife and sons, and escaped Cuba a second time.

I thought I’d go find out more about the story, and googled. I found this three-page New York Times article that filled in some of the details. But. Nary a mention of Orestes Lorenzo Perez’s Christian faith, his prayers before the flight, the mystery woman, or the pilot’s conviction that God was with him on the journey.

For that, go to “The Surpassing Value” from 11/21/10. The story ends the sermon, which is on Philippians 3:7-14.

Harris mentions that the tale is told in a book called Standing Tall. (I haven’t tracked that down yet, there being a thicket of books titled Standing Tall.) [Update: I am told the author is Steve Farrar. Standing Tall: How a Man Can Protect His Family appears to have been published in 1994, and updated in 2006. At Amazon, there is currently a pre-order option for a Kindle edition.]

There is also a book called Wings of the Morning – The Flights of Oresto Lorenzo, St. Martin’s Press (1994). It appears to be an English translation of a book written in Spanish. I found this Cele Eifert review at Amazon interesting:

I read this book right after it was published. This book offers great insight into the development of Cuban pilots and their association with the Russians. It describes the transformation of a top-notch Cuban Mig pilot into someone who would eventually become so disillusioned that he decided his only option was to defect.
I was lucky enough to have met and befriended Orestes before he rescued his family. Then after his family got here, I met his wife and sons. We have not been in touch for a few years.
I always told Orestes that his book would be a good movie and he agreed but he said that in his talks with interested movie studios, they wanted to stray too far from the actual story so that is why it would likely always remain “just” a book.

Hmmm. Does anyone know how to get hold of the folks who made Bella? Seriously.

Or, who else? Kendrick brothers? Or?

There are more top-flight Christian filmmakers these days than a few years ago. Surely someone could pick this up and run with it, and do a faithful job?

Added: This article is also about the rescue flight: 100 Minutes to Freedom.

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… but doesn’t know quite how to deal with it. For instance, they start off telling of a movie currently in production about “a spoiled young American who goes on a partying trip to India and gets pulled into the search for a little girl who was sold to human traffickers. The film was partly shot in India and centers around Dalits, the so-called “untouchables” on the lowest rung of the traditional caste system.” The profits from the film are earmarked to help the Dalits. You would think liberals would be falling over themselves to praise a project that aims to selflessly help some of the most oppressed and poverty-struck people on Earth, and that champions a fight against modern day slave traders. But here the praise is muted, and countered by people who just really aren’t sure churches should be in the movie making ‘business,’ regardless of intentions. And then there are those who just wish silly old “conservative” Christians “would look more closely for spiritual themes in Hollywood’s movies”. Because, you know, sometimes they’re hidden in there. (OK, sometimes they are. See this BreakPoint list of recommended films, for starters. Not that I agree with all their recommendations or thumbnail summaries, but, hey, it’s their list…)

On the upside, at PBS, there is some actual reporting mixed in with the hand wringing; for instance, that Fireproof was the highest grossing independent film of 2008. And, although the reporter ‘balances’ the story by talking to people with strange, hypothetical concerns (one of my favorites was the gentleman who frets that if these movies are too successful, a genre will spring up, which will somehow then cause the films to be cut off from the mainstream…), on the upside, a handful of people working on church productions were allowed to have their say, and successful movies were given their due, if perhaps grudgingly.

There did seem to be undue concern, I thought, about these films not being done in Hollywood by the entrenched film industry. To which, I say: let the best movies win.

Years ago, my husband and I were driving to a nearby city to pick up business supplies, and midway there we saw a long, and I mean long, line of people outside a shopping center complex: all ages, families, singles, richer, poorer. Amazing. We stopped to investigate, and traced it to a movie theater. The film that had drawn the attention was Driving Miss Daisy. We hadn’t heard of it, but since we were on a shopping expedition, and not keeping an appointment, and had some wiggle room as far as time went, we blocked out the time to see the movie. Chatting with people in line, some were back for the second or third time to see it. Others were there because friends had suggested it. We really liked it, too. Is it a classic? Maybe. Maybe not. But it is a good movie, head and shoulders above the trashy amusement so often delivered by Hollywood in recent decades.

For that matter, as I remember it, it was a nice mix of musement and amusement. And don’t tell me that musement isn’t a word. I don’t care. Muse means to think. A-muse means to not think. (Literally. It means that. Atypical means not typical. Amoral means not moral. Amuse means to not engage your mind.) Driving Miss Daisy was a film that not only entertained, it asked you, politely but firmly, to consider a few things carefully. Musement. Definitely.

Please understand. I can understand that some people might not like the movies being produced by churches. That’s fine. Before I became a Christian I rather deplored Christian themed movies myself, and these days there are some sorts of Christian films I don’t think much of, either. We all have our tastes.

Please understand. I can understand how people who make their living making films might feel undercut by films being made largely by volunteers, as so many of these church films are. I have a love-hate relationship with ebooks; whatever I may think about their merits (and, frankly, I really like ebooks), I am afraid they might spell the death of the already beleaguered brick and mortar bookstore industry. I also know of previously robust traditional publishers who are sweating, not sure yet how, or if, they can stay afloat in an age of ebooks and print-on-demand technologies that have unleashed self-publishing on a scale never before seen. I used to laugh at stories about buggy whip makers resenting the rise of the automobile. I no longer laugh. But I don’t wish we didn’t have cars. And I also don’t wish that we only had films made by Hollywood.

On Facebook yesterday, at the page of a Hollywood insider who professes to be Christian, I stumbled across a conversation where participants were coming undone over the movies discussed in the PBS article. That’s where I found the link, actually. (I have long since stopped looking to PBS for much in the way of useful information.) And I do mean undone. The opening salvo, from a guest, was “Trying to figure out if this is yet another example of yeast congealing… instead of leavening the lump.” The hostess came back with, “This is yeast hating itself and its place in the cosmos and rebelliously deciding that it wants to be something else entirely.” To which the man who had launched the opening salvo said, “Ah, yeast committing suicide rather than being a martyr. What a waste.”

What a waste, indeed. But not the movies they are deriding, some of which have brought cheer and joy and inspiration and, dare I say it, musement, to many.

If I remember right, St. Augustine had experience with people acting like this, and described them better than I ever could. I was skimming The City of God this morning, looking for the precise quote or two I wanted, but so far am falling short. I came across a reference to one of the banes of the Greeks being that they loved contention more than truth. That sort of fits, perhaps. But what I wanted was the part where he talks about the literati who love wordplay so much that they wildly applauded ‘wit’ if it struck them as original, and lost pretty much all correspondence with reality along the way.

Anyway, it struck me as sad, and sorry, and nasty, what they were saying. And I wonder if it says more about them than they mean for it to. “We are the gatekeepers! You can’t have anything happen outside our gates!” Perhaps? I don’t know. It also reminds me of girls who don’t get invited to the prom, and respond by sneering at the very idea of proms. Sour grapes, you know. But I don’t know. I can’t translate stuff about yeast supposedly hating its supposed place in the cosmos. I’m not really sure I want to. Do I? And how it fits into a story about people who are, as it happens, trying to make movies not leavened with the ungodly yeast that’s taken over so much of the movie industry, just beats me.

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Micheal Flaherty, president of Walden Media, had a few things to say about movies, literature, history and prayer at a luncheon following following the National Prayer Breakfast this year.

Key words: William Wilberforce, Philip Yancey, Dorothy Day, Malcolm Muggeridge, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Soviet Union, revival, It’s a Wonderful Life, Frank Capra, Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, Fiddler on the Roof, Charlotte’s Web, Narnia, C.S. Lewis, Amazing Grace, John Newton, slave trade, abolition.

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