Posted in Life, Movies

Free Porn…and the consequences

The episode of Friends when Joey and Chandler find free porn on their TV bothers me, but it also reveals some truths about pornography. The two are afraid to turn off the TV because they are afraid the porn will disappear. Firstly this shows how addictive porn can be. This is not the only time the characters demonstrate their addiction to pornography. Just episodes before, Monica entices her friends to come hang out at her apartment by offering cookies and, you guessed it, porn. It’s sad how easily people are drawn to this distortion of God’s creation, but it’s scary how prevalent and addicting the habit is. The episode closes with Joey and Chandler turning off their television set. They are relieved to hear silence, but immediately they must turn the TV back on to see if they still the have free porn. It is addictive.

Secondly, the show reveals the effect porn has on the viewer. Towards the end of the episode, Chandler reveals to Joey that he was disappointed that the woman at the bank didn’t immediately want to have sex with him. Joey had a similar experience. Porn, and the habit of watching it, distorts reality. God created sex, so sex in and of itself is not bad, but God created sex for marriage. Pornography makes that sacred moment seem like a cheap side show. It could be likened to serving filet mignon at McDonalds .

Lastly, I want to point out that none of the characters have healthy, lasting relationships (aside from Chandler in very late the series). I don’t think that is a coincidence. Their view of relationships and intimacy is distorted by the culture around them, namely in this instance, pornography. While I enjoy the best show’s witty banter and Comic moments, I simply cannot approve of the lifestyles the characters lead. I shake my head and remind myself that they do not know Jesus. Their lives would be so much fuller if they did.

Posted in Movies

I’ve got something Rory Gilmore doesn’t have.

If you know me, you know I enjoy the TV show Gilmore Girls. I’ve seen the original seasons 3 times, and I’m on my second viewing of the remake. Every time I relate just a little more with Rory, so it naturally follows that I wonder if I’ll face some of her same trials.

For the majority of her life, Rory Gilmore got what she wanted. At 32 years old Rory Gilmore has a breakdown because her life seems to be falling apart. She has no job, no home, no prospects, and no marriage. Her mother turns down her idea for a book, and the man she might love is engaged. Basically her life is in a deep rut, and she can’t see the sunlight.
For a brief moment I wondered if I might ever have that same point in life. Life has been pretty good to me so far, so it’s possible that some day everything could come crashing down. The world isn’t very nice at times.

Then I remembered God. Even if everything else around me falls apart, God is still on my side. There’s no need to panic. I can breathe easy because I have something Rory Gilmore doesn’t have.

*I do want to take a slight digression here. As I watch the series, there always come moments when I remember that the Gilmore paradigm is completely different than mine because they don’t have God in their lives. It saddens me if it’s possible to feel sad over the spiritual status of fictional characters. Many of their trials and worries could be overcome if they had a relationship with God. In fact, they might not have had many of the trials if they’d been following God’s will for their lives. The show probably wouldn’t have been as popular, but it would have been much more joyful.

Posted in Movies

A Walk To Remember

A Walk To Remember is one of my favorite movies. It tugs at my heart. The main character, who has a strong-rooted faith in God, befriends and falls for the school’s bad guy. There’s a little secret though that she hasn’t shared, but that I won’t share either. 

I appreciate Jamie’s strong convictions. That purity and faith is what draws Landon to her in the first place. Even after they start dating, she maintains boundaries. He tempts her, but she doesn’t give in to the desire to keep a boyfriend. Yes, Mandy Moore is a pretty lady, but the character’s true beauty lies in the faith that begins in her soul and emanates out her eyes.

Dating a guy who openly doesn’t share her faith does seem like a risky move on Jamie’s part. In her case, she’s able to stand her ground and the guy respects her faith. In other cases though, it could be very easy for the guy to pressure her to stray away from her faith and convictions. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of story either where Landon comes to share her faith.

Overall their relationship is wonderfully set sweet. He pursues her, even after she pushes him away. He respects her father. He listens to her remembers her bucket list; then he starts helping her check it off. He even dances with her under the stars. (Mop my heart up off the floor, please.) Only hope.

Now I know life can’t be like the movies because this movie is a work of fiction, but watching it does give me happy feelings. If you haven’t seen it, check it out, and if you have, watch it again. Then, let me know your thoughts. 

Posted in Book Review, Movies

Owen Meany and Simon Birch

Possibly I was a bit hasty in my post about A Prayer for Owen Meany. I watched the movie version, which is entitled Simon Burch, during the snow storm this week and developed a new appreciation for the novel. I also realized I had missed the most obvious part of the book; Owen is the Jesus figure. The movie makes it visually clear, but there are numerous blatant clues in the book.

  1. Owen prophesies his own death.
  2. He dies while saving others.
  3. He continues to speak to John after his death (a form of resurrection).
  4. His parents claim he was born of a virgin.
  5. He had complete faith in God.

It does fall apart a bit when you consider how many transgressions he had while alive, but no one can actually BE Jesus.

simonbirch1

Now that I’ve made that discovery, it’s time to talk about the movie separate from the book. Simon Birch, as a stand alone movie, is a feel-good film about a young boy and his best friend. It might bring tears to your eyes and it will definitely make you laugh. There are a few sexual references, but nothing too harmful considering the characters are young boys. It’s the kind of movie I would think could spark beneficial conversation about how we should treat people who are different than ourselves. The film also points toward the idea that God has a specific purpose for each of us. That’s very true.

From a technical point of view, the casting supports the characters created by the film, and the filming sets the scenes very well. I was amazed that the film was even able to incorporate visually what I believe is a key symbol in the book–the dollmaker’s dummy, sans iconic red dress–even though the film script does not. All in all, the film does an adequate job of reimagining the story while maintaining some key points of the novel. One point where I was definitely disappointed was in the casting of Owen character, renamed Simon. The movie makes him out to have a physical disability, due to the casting, but in the book, Owen is fully capable; he is simply short and has an odd voice. They do discover in the book the probable medical reason for Owen’s voice, but I don’t think the movie even does the voice justice. The only point when the voice even begins to resemble the voice I hear represented by the novel is when Simon is standing on the bridge saying “I’m sorry.” It’s a small flaw in the film script, but it’s the one that bothered me the most.

owen meany

The film does not disappoint me as an image of a novel because the credits are very clear that this film is only “suggested by” the novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany. From what I can dig up online, John Irving either did not feel that the book could be made into a film properly or that the film was not made properly. Either way, the film slightly changes all of the names, shortens the storyline, creates new scenes, and alters the ending. It doesn’t bother me though because I’m with Irving: the book cannot be made into a movie without being a disappointment. The book is intricate and fascinating, and the more research I do online, the more I want to re-read the book. So much detail is woven into the 600 pages. For example, I was reading online about one possible theme being that sports are idealized too much in America. The argument makes sense from what I remember of the novel, but I definitely did not catch that when I was reading. So, long story short, you may be hearing more about Owen Meany. For now, I’ll tease you with the opening line, which Irving thinks may be his best. The entire story really is there.

I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.

 

 

Posted in Movies

Where is the joy in Joy?

Joy (2015) is anything but a joyous story nor does it tell the audience where to find real joy. In fact, if I were going to chart the plot progression it would look something like this:

Joy Plot

I don’t want to spoil the plot since the movie came out only a week ago, but you should just know that this movie is not about a woman who finds joy. She is simply called Joy. She starts in the dumps with a dumpy job, a needy (and kooky) family, and an ex-husband living in her basement. Then she gets and idea but things just keep going down-hill in her endeavors to get the idea anywhere. Then she gets a break for a very brief moment, only to get shot down again. She falls farther and farther until she finally picks herself up, demands respect, uncovers fraud, and skyrockets into success. It leaves the movie with a happy feeling, but you’re unsure whether it will remain happy or she’ll plummet again. It’s definitely happiness that it ends on not joy because joy is enduring despite the circumstances.

Surprisingly, though, I appreciated the thoughtfulness of the story, even though I couldn’t predict what was going to happen next. The entire movie I tried to figure out what the meaning behind it was because it just seemed that she kept trying and kept meeting huge metal walls which had brick and every other substance that is tremendously difficult to break through when you don’t have enough money to buy a hammer much less a wrecking crane. The movie seems to be saying that with hard work, determination, and the faith of at least one other person, a person can accomplish her dreams. And never give up. I left the theater with a skip in my step feeling like a could conquer the world. (It’s a good thing I have cruise control on my car or who knows how fast I would have sped home.) That emotional high was only an emotional high though. Just like happiness, it won’t last unless it’s backed by something outside of myself.

The major aspect missing from this movie was Jesus. As my good friend said, “I just kept waiting for Jesus to show up.” If Joy had shown a little faith in anyone but herself, it would have made for a very powerful story. I know that God can work the kind of miracles portrayed on that screen. All of the opportunities Joy received were orchestrated by God; she just didn’t realize it. Even though her family downed on her most of the time, God was always on her side. The “God figure” in the movie was her Mimi who kept telling her that she was made to create great things. The writers messed up when they killed off the Mimi character though and left Joy to believe that she and she herself had created her empire.

I appreciated the empowerment the movie was trying to create, but character-wise, it was a bit flat. Joy was determined and forceful. The daughter always believed in her. The half-sister whom I thought was her comrade in the childhood scenes grew up to be her nemesis of sorts. Her father was a people-pleaser. Her mother was lazy and a bit unrealistic. Her ex-husband oddly stuck with her. A character I wish had been explored more deeply was her best friend. If it wasn’t going to be about a faith in God, it could have been a great best friend movie, but the best friend shows up once in the middle of the night, they reminisce, and then she speaks up a few other times. Her real shining moment is when she makes the phone call on the show, but other than that the producers don’t play into that potentially powerful plot point. I guess they just wanted to maintain the idea that Joy does it all herself.

It’s a movie that left me with an emotional high, but it’s not one that I will probably rave about and want to watch again and again in order to feel inspired. The reason I would watch it again was to view it more critically as a piece of art rather than a story.

The good thing is though that it reminded me where my real joy lies–in God. I came home and as I was getting ready to write this I saw a verse on my wall that I’ve been memorizing. It says, “faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NLT). This faith is not a faith in one’s own abilities but a faith in God’s power and ability. I know this because the chapter goes on to reference several people throughout history who had faith in God and were successful. That’s my suggestion if you want to watch this movie. Remember that joy comes from having faith in God who gives strength to those who believe.

Posted in Movies

The Director of My Life

Why is it that in movies people always seem to know the right thing to say or do?  Why do guys and girls know exactly how to interact with each other?  How are there always happy endings?

Okay. I just finished watching a sad movie that ended all happy.  I get the sad part of the movie, but where’s the happy ending for me?

I really love watching movies because they give me hope that good things do happen and that there are happy endings for people and situations.

Then I come out of movie world and remember it’s fiction, there’s someone (lots of someones) writing and directing the story.  It becomes less hopeful, because it’s not real.  So I go back to living my life and trying to find my place.

This time though I finished the movie and had some of these same thoughts.  Instead of shutting it all off and going back to life I took it a bit farther.  I let myself write some of these complaints down, and once again a revelation came.  God reminded me that there is someone orchestrating real life, just like in the movies.

God is writing and orchestrating my life. He knows what’s going to happen.  He has a happy ending planned for me: the day that we get to meet face to face!  He has it all under control.  He’s feeding me the lines one by one, much like a director might coach an actor through a scene during rehearsal (okay I’m thinking of stage productions here because I know very little about movie sets).  I have to choose to listen to his coaching and follow it.

The cool part?  In a movie or a play, if the actor does not follow the director’s coaching and messes up too much, she gets fired.  In life, if I mess up or don’t follow every stage direction, God forgives.  Yes I should keep trying to follow the directions and the coaching, but I’m not going to get fired.  God loves me.  He has perfect plans for me.  There is a happy ending and I believe a happy life along the way.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Posted in Class, Movies, Music

Good Conversations

The semester is quickly (too quickly) coming to a close.  The classes I have had this semester have been enjoyable for the most part, and I am going to miss some of my professors.  I’m also going to really miss my friends over the summer, although I have some awesome plans for the summer.  There is one class in particular that I have enjoyed that covered theology as it is represented in films.  We watched some great films like As Good As It Gets, Cool Hand Luke, Benny and Joon, and To Kill A Mockingbird.  Most recently we watched The Third Miracle and my discussion group started discussing prayer.  We asked questions about what can be prayed for and how to pray.  The professor, who is incredibly intelligent, was in the group as well.  He made the distinction between praying for something and praying to see how God is already working and for the ability to join in.  For example, I could pray for someone to be healed or I could pray for the wisdom to know how God is working in that situation.  That reminds me of this song by Brandon Heath:

The other day I was having a conversation with a friend-acquaintance about God’s will and just God in general.  I wasn’t having the greatest day, and without having to know what was bothering me he just started talking about Jesus.  It was good and uplifting.  At one point he said that when he is feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, he starts praying.  He doesn’t complain to God but instead starts thanking God for what He blesses this friend with.  That reminds me of a quote by Jason Gray: “I think we are tempted to imagine it’s our circumstances that determine our quality of life or our joy but in truth I believe it’s gratitude that makes our lives sweet.  We may not be able to change our circumstances but we are empowered to nurture our grateful heart.”  That is good advice and I’ve seen it work.

Overall, I’ve just had some good conversations recently.