Category Archives: Media

the better 50 Shades of Grey

50 shades of grey

I am not queasy about onscreen exhibition of physical love — within certain parameters. Nor am I against including the passion of love in stories — sex, geez, I mean sex, people1 — when it is necessary to the story. And sometimes, it is front and center.

The upcoming release of the 50 Shades of Grey movie, however, is not one of those. It includes a story about a woman manipulated by a sadist. It involves torture for the sake of torture. It is not about love or finding oneself, or even exploration. It is about exploitation.

It is not romance of any sort.

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On the other hand, there are tasteful displays of sex on screen that intrigue me. One of them is the first one. Yesterday, Time.com featured it and did a write up about it. It is below.

Not only is this artistically done, it is done in such a way as to focus on the woman and her enjoyment. Frankly, it is one of the best “sex scenes” on screen.

Christians aren’t called to dismiss sex, just make it better. When I see people boycotting 50 Shades of Grey, I see a lot of them doing so for the right reasons and that tickles my fancy.

But, friends, draw a line. Don’t dismiss all dramatizations of sex. Some are beneficial to the enterprise.

  1. sexy-sexy time, the deed, “it”, romp time, hump day, the no pants dance, mattress dancing and a lot more.

“Noah” and “Exodus” – movies of Skeptical Faith?

Russell Crowe as NoahThis is not a review. This is a small post dictating some thoughts I have on the two recent major motion pictures re-telling biblical stories. For a review, see here. For my quick review of Noah, see here.

I am currently re-watching Noah with my son. I liked the movie and still do. I think it deals with some unexpected theological themes such as abandonment by the Creator and the merciless love of God.

I watched Exodus: Gods and Kings a few nights ago with several friends of mine. With all of the slants (and in many cases, well-deserved points) out there, mine would matter little. So, I want to draw out a some themes shared between the two movies.

There is a theme in these two movies.

Both allow that God is there. Of course, both also suggest God is really a figment of the main character’s imagination. This is less seen in Noah, but some commentators from the Christian perspective have suggested the portrayal of Noah and God leaves much to the imagination. This theme is played up well in Exodus when only Moses can see God — who is in the shape of an adolescent boy with a temper. Several times, Aaron sees Moses talking to himself, in shouting matches. We are given the chance to believe Moses is certifiable. Shoot, read Ezekiel. He is certifiable.

exodus
I miss my cowl

Both movies question the way God loves his people. Tubalcain best represents this in Noah, especially in his dialogue about being created in the image of God and then abandoned — and then pointing out that God has killed everyone on earth but that family. Shem’s statement to Noah, “I thought you were good!” identified Noah as a mad man, to which Noah responds “He chose me because I could complete the task,” making Noah merely the willing tool of a psychopathic deity.

Exodus has Pharaoh approaching Moses demanding to know what kind of God would kill innocent children. We are supposed to feel anguish for the people of Egypt. How can we not?

This is the skeptical faith in these movies, the cold acceptance — but with question — of a God who loves harshly and not by human standards. The innocent in these movies suffer — not, not just suffer, but are slaughtered wholesale.

One thing Exodus does get right is the theomachy present in the story. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know what I mean.

These, with all of their faults, are movies that much be watched by the Church and dealt with accordingly. These are the movies of the generation who questions. If we prevent their questions, we will prevent their faith.

Thoughts?

Selective #outrage and Hypocrisy; the #CiaReports

Well, call me controversial… I am indeed attempting to resist the temptation of posting political posts, but this is more a begging for reason and sincerity than anything political although I know I will be accused of being a “political unreasonable, mean, heartless right winger”… Well, have the fullest of it, because here it goes:

Human beings are so complex and interesting! Politicians are extra-crisp more complex and interesting except that they are predictable! Of course we should be outraged that some guy is being tortured. But, at least he is, as per our Western standards, a bad guy and I m not going to be all shaken up because someone who contributed to the death of about 3,000 people “has water bubbles coming off his throat”. It is gross and inhumane, but, come on, are you really outraged because of that? How about being outraged drones; about the lies of Obamacare? How about being outraged by being called “stupid” by Mr. Jonathan Gruber, the many times cited by the government as the “A.C.A. (or Obamacare) architect? I am more concerned about a few people I know whose deductible was 1,500.00 and not is five thousand dollars on Obamacare and their monthly payment is also higher. Why? Because they make money and are obligated by the government to pay a tax so one that does not work can have a paper and an illusion of health care! The issue here, however, is not health care, but “selective outrage” which is nothing but hypocrisy!

I can continue till I lose what is left of my teeth from talking: how about the government harassing citizens using the IRS? How about outrage about the government (past and present) supplying weapons to drug cartels thinking that would be a good idea to discover where they commit their heinous crimes?

The CIA report was released on the day Jonathan Gruber, the A.C.A. architect was being confronted by the House on his “Americans are stupid” comments on 5 videos that we know of, exposing the lies told the American people so the A.C.A. would be acceptable. We can fairly be suspicious of the intentions of releasing the report on that day and after a tremendous elections loss and an attempt to “control the agenda”, which has now become a term to replace the terms “smoke screen” and/or “red herring”; huh, let me think: taking the attention away  from an issue that requires reasoning and thinking by bringing an emotional one! After all, Mr. Gruber said it “Americans are stupid!”. Following the “it is not a tax” and now “of course is a tax where one group will pay for the health care of others”, after “you can keep your doctor, your current plan”, after the ” I can’t do it alone because of the Constitution” 24 times also on video, and now (to the Spanish channels) “I never said that I couldn’t do it alone”, and this CIA report, the cheapening of life both in abortion mills and some our neighborhoods, even on the part of a tax greedy government that will not hesitate in hurting its citizens to ensure the collection of said taxes (as in New York), the disregard for the truth, the usurpation of authority, the fibbing ways in which ill-informed Americans are told about very serious issues in their lives, really demonstrate that are are really better than this, we are complicit because of our silence and passiveness, and most of all it points out that ministers, even insignificant ministers like me, are doing a lousy job in pointing out America’s errors simply because of our political preferences, if not for being the very beneficiaries of the lies government tells us. Come on, many ministers signed up for the Affordable Care Act, so how can they preach against the lies the government told them about it?. So, I am somewhat outraged, but not extremely outraged for all of this as such extreme outrage would be actually “selective outrage”. The lies that the government tell us, the drones, “innocent” lives being wasted, killed, secret operations against American Citizens, these are all reasons for real outrage… A mass murderer being thrown against a wall? Oh, please!!!!

As for the work of the CIA I will continue in my attempt not to be a hypocrite, because if one of my children were in a crowded mall where there was a bomb placed by a terrorist and the authorities had him in custody and there was even a slim chance that he would disclose where the bomb is and how to disarm it if pressured, I would want the government to use any means possible to gain such information… We can’t tolerate in ourselves that which we despise on others.

Now call me names… I have both years plugged by my index fingers and am going lah lah lah lah… Not that I don’t want to hear; it is that such name calling is too predictable!

An Uncontrollable Urge to Scorn.

This research considers people who live in the so called Bible Belt as “Conservative Christians” and also “implies” that anyone who identifies themselves as Religious Conservative, really is any or both… So, if I live near gold mines on in a gold mining area, that makes me a nugget!

How  different are these researchers from ISIS when they say that everyone who lives in America, or every American, just by living in America or being in American, or just by living in the West, is an enemy of Islam?

Now, the reason men may resort to internet porn in the Bible Belt is perhaps because there are less whores and promiscuous women there… So, I can also draw unreasonable conclusions judging by the way a geographical area is identified.

Aware that I am disseminating sheer stupidity, and an uncontrollable urge to scorn those who are genuinely Christians, read here

“The hypocrisy common across the conservatives parties and movements is that while demanding the the government stay out of your hospital and your gun cabinet, they are forcing the government into your bedroom.”

Yeah, the hypocrisy, unfortunately, is of the non-conservatives who do not want conservative governments in their bedroom but want conservative governments and everyone else to pay for aids that they use mainly when they are having sex in their bedroom, thus inviting ALL to their bedroom while saying they wish not them to be there… Oh, I forgot, non-conservatives don’t have sex in bedrooms…

Thoughts on ‘Legion’

I recently watched the movie Legion, a 2010 apocalyptic supernatural action movie. In the movie, God has lost his faith in humankind and has sent his angles, led by the Archangel Gabriel, to wipe out humankind. The Archangel Michael “disobeys” God’s command and instead comes to Earth in an attempt to thwart the coming apocalypse. His goal is not to save all of humankind. Rather, Michael’s goal is to save the life of one, unborn child because Michael still has faith in humankind.

On the theological front, he movie itself was not very good and suffers from a serious lack of a basic understanding of the Bible. But then, would a theologically sound movie do well at the box office? Probably not.

The question then remains, should Christians watch movies that distort the biblical narrative? I personally do not have a problem with it. As I was writing my thoughts down, I looked up what others have said about the movie. Pretty much the only thing I could find were negative reviews coming from Conservative or Fundamentalist Christians. Their answer to my question was unsurprising: No, don’t watch this movie. They characterized the movie as blasphemous, heretical, mixing Spiritual symbolism with the demonic and an intentional distortion of the Word.

Aside from one quote at the beginning of the movie, the Bible wasn’t referenced throughout the rest of the movie. In my opinion, the movie did a better job pulling out themes: eschatology, love, sin and faith. The reviews I read picked up on these themes. They also picked up on Michael’s “rebellion”. But it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Michael was not rebellious, but rather passed God’s test. As he states in the movie, Gabriel did what God asked; Michael did what God needed. I guess it’s all in how you interpret the movie. I think that this is a point that other Christian reviewers missed. Throughout the Bible, God regularly tests humans. It’s not too farfetched to think that God would also test the Angels.  Why do I think that it was test? For starters, God rewards Michael at the end of the movie, where as Gabriel, the Angel who “listened” to God was not rewarded.

This was a fun movie to watch. Fun, but not great or even good. The main reason I watched the movie was so I would have a better idea of what was going on in the tv series, Dominion. The show takes place 25 years after the movie.

Transformers 4, the complete destruction of my childhood

Cropped image of shooting for Transformers wit...
Cropped image of shooting for Transformers with the vehicle for Optimus Prime. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are approximately two good things about this movie. One, we get to see the Autobots on the big screen again. As one who grew up watching the cartoons, became devastated when Optimus died, and then found a new love of them when my son started to take notice of the toys — well, I really like see Optimus Prime, the robotic Stoic sage, on the movie screen. The second best thing about this movie is when the credits rolled.

You would think that a movie about giant metal robots from outer space wouldn’t have so many plot holes, but it does. From the lack of mentioning the Witwhickys to the dreaded misuse of fan favorite Bumblebee — to even more ethnic characters serving nothing more than to act their stereotypical parts — this movie franchise has repeated the same tired elements to produced a remarkably long and dull movie. And usually without explaining much of anything. The wooden characters do exactly what we expect. There is not one honest surprise in this movie. Even the humor was little more than recycled B-roll.

I am done with the program-error hindering Bumblebee’s voice. Honestly, it’s been almost a decade — fix the stupid voice program! I am sick of the lack of meaningless villains. I am done with the series.

And who was it that thought John Goodman as the stereotypical American-veteran-of-a-Southeast-Asian-conflict as an Autobot was a good idea? They must have mined Platoon, Hamburger Hill, and Apocalypse Now for every cliche and inflection they could so that Goodman wouldn’t have to actually have a personality.

One of the biggest highlights of the entire movie was when an unfortunately filled movie theater let out a groan when the movie turned into a propaganda piece for the Chinese Government and their continued quest to exert control over Hong Kong in a parental fashion. For no explicit reason, we get cut shots to Beijing where, after a Hong Kong security guard demands (in English) that the central government be called, the Defense Minister states, “We will always defend Hong Kong at all costs.” Thanks, buddy. Didn’t know that. I don’t even really know why it is in the movie except the fact China now bankrolls numerous Hollywood blockbusters.

Overall, this movie is a dud. It is symptomatic of Hollywood’s aversion to anything new. What is lost in dialogue is made up in language surely stretching the almost meaningless PG-13 rating. What we once held dear in our childhood, these characters sustaining us and sometimes impart wisdom when we would not have received any, are destroyed and transformed into propaganda and little more than continued panhandling by inflated movie studios.

#XmenDaysOfFuturePast, a review

Latest X-Men: Days of Future Past Trailer Show...
Latest X-Men: Days of Future Past Trailer Shows Off Storm, The Sentinels And Peter Dinklage) (Photo credit: BagoGames)

I’ve stated this numerous times, in numerous ways, while wearing numerous capes — I am not a Marvel Comics guy. My son is, however. He has left the fold of Star Trek for Star Wars and DC for Marvel. I am trying to be okay with that, but I thought I had raised him better. Nevertheless, I allow him to drag me to the late shows on Thursday to see each and every movie. Well, something like that.

2011’s X-Men: First Class was a surprise hit. I truly enjoyed it because it was for the uninitiated as much as it was for the true believer. Much of the central cast as returned for the sequel-tie-in-reset-reboot of the previous Bryan Singer films. Indeed, Singer, embroiled in a bit of a controversy at the moment, has returned to helm this one. He missed the third X-Men movie, seeing as he was directing the failed relaunch Superman Returns. With him comes the older Professor X, Patrick Stewart (my son thought he looked like Captain Picard), and the older Magneto, as well as Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in a non-cameo rule this time around. Indeed, at times it felt like a sequel to last summer’s The Wolverine.

It was an action movie complete with time travel, superheroes, and philosophical dilemmas. How do we as humans seeks to preserve ourselves amongst a changing society. The storyline, taking place at the end of the Vietnam war, fits neatly into this paradigm of the fear of change. In something familiar to many today in religious circles, the fear of change produces what we might understand as a fundamentalist and legalist reaction to anything “impure” so that what was once a noble endeavor to restore humanity becomes the killer of our species. The only thing that saves us, and the characters, in the end is the saving of a life, even a life so wretched and diseased none of us in the theater would’ve been upset to have seen it snatched away.

There is some language, the (somewhat-)nude Mystique (played by the ever annoying and childish Jennifer Lawrence), heavy amounts of violence, and some adult humor. The cast, except for Jennifer Lawrence who should stick to the Hunger Games, and only the Hunger Games, does a remarkable job of acting like the parts are theirs. James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart are a great, time stretched, couple playing the same person. The former’s younger Prof. X is powerful reminder of sacrifice and love while the latter is able to show exhaustion, fear, and loss. As always, Michael Fassbender’s performance steals the show. If it were possible, he should have his own staged play, as Magneto, where he gives philosophical siliques.

The only thing left is to pre-order my copy.

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