Your Movie Reporter Spotlights and Sounds-Off
by Phil Boatwright

This month your intrepid movie reporter found three subjects to explore. Let’s see if I can do it in 750 words (the recommended maximum length for internet columns, I’m told).

Invaders from the Internet

So, I get this email from a friend saying she’s in Somalia and has lost her passport. “They” are going to let her back in the country, but she needs some money and she thought of me. That should have told me something. Most of my friends, and now all of you, know that the last person you want to request money from is a freelance writer during a recession. But there I was, starting to reply, asking where I send the money, in my head trying to figure where I would get it. I must credit the Holy Spirit (that still, small voice), for surely it was He who switched me into Sherlock Holmes mode.

My friend’s request didn’t read the way she writes. So, I checked the return email address with hers in my address book. Sure enough, there was a small difference. So, I called my friend, and sure enough, she was in Dallas, Texas, not Somalia. “Elementary.”

Her list of email addresses had somehow been swiped by monsters of the Internet. All day I kept thinking about these rogues who care little that they steal from those in need. Because they are so inventive in their evildoing, I kept reasoning that if they applied the same creative energy to an honest vocation, they’d most likely do very well.

It’s sad when you think of the wonders of the Internet, all that information at the touch of a keyboard, yet even as we write/read, there are those using this wonder for evil purposes. My warning: Pray for safety in all things. When you get into your car, when you step out of the shower, and when you use the World Wide Web. Oh, BTW, if I need money, I’ll call.

God in the Movies

There are several films in theaters, or about to be, containing spiritual themes. They’re outnumbered by movies that do little to nurture the human spirit, but there are some. Click the linked titles for extended reviews.

COURAGEOUS, written by and starring Alex Kindrick, is the fourth release by Sherwood Pictures, the moviemaking ministry of Sherwood Church in Albany, Georgia. The story concerns four cops and their relationships with their families. There’s drama, comedy, action and even a bit of suspense, plus it sends the message of the need for good fathering – and clearly states where to go in order to achieve this honorable goal. (PG-13)

THE HELP. You know a film is good when you think back on it, remembering moments that inspire conscience or tickle the funny bone. What’s more, while it is necessary for laws and education to be used to fight bigotry, THE HELP suggests that it also takes a belief in a Higher Power’s love to patiently battle anger and suspicion. (PG-13)

THE WAY. Though this metaphoric pilgrimage is done from a Catholic perspective, I think anyone, no matter their denominational leanings, will enjoy this pristine picture postcard of Europe and its moving storyline as we see the lead characters coming together and moving toward spiritual healings. (PG-13)

SEVEN DAYS IN UTOPIA captivates with its ethereal suggestion that most accidents aren't really accidents, and its plot purports a need for a Christ-centered life. (G)

THE TREE OF LIFE (new to DVD). With a tip of the hat to Stanley Kubrik’s 2001, this visceral feast is sparked by exquisite imagery that is imaginative and profound, intimate and epic. THE TREE OF LIFE fearlessly examines ethereal questions with a spirituality that is neither pious nor prejudiced. Understand, this film doesn’t proselytize a certain religion. It does, however, what so few films do: it suggests that we become aware of spiritual matters and rely on faith when the conundrums of the day overwhelm. Like any artist attempting profundity, director Terrance Malick provides an atmosphere and sets a mood suitable for examining our own beliefs, thus giving the viewer a renewed desire to share them with others. At least, that is what happened for me. (PG-13)

Beware – Politics In The Movies

George Clooney’s politically-themed IDES OF MARCH opens March 7th, and if you think a conservative, Bible-toting Republican will be the good guy, well, what movies have you been seeing these past four decades?

While our two-party system is the best in the world because it has a checks-and-balances formula that allows the nation’s citizenry a voice, over the years a mix of greed, ego, fear, and the proliferation of Constitutional re-interpreters has turned a near perfect political system into a corruptible machine.  So, we need to be aware, vote intelligently, and pray for our leaders.  And there’s one other thing – beware the leading of the media. Every filmmaker has an agenda. And nearly every filmmaker making political statements in his film is doing so from a decidedly Left of center perspective. Now before I lose my Democrat following (I assume there are some), I’ve got problems with the other side of the aisle, as well. But the same glee shown for the exposing of right-wing bad behavior is never found in movies concerning members of the left side of the aisle.  So, no matter how talented the filmmaker is, be perceptive.

Woops, guess I couldn’t quite make it in 750 words. Next time.