Sep 7 2015

Elliot and Angela’s identity crises in Mr. Robot

maureen

Mr. RobotMr. Robot offers about as unreliable a narrator as you can find. Early in the season Elliot seems part Robin Hood hero, part tech wizard on a mission to take down EvilCorp as a member of F Society. His occasional departures from reality seem attributable to his drug habit. But as the season progresses it becomes clear that Elliot is suffering from some sort of mental disorder. Dissociative identity disorder, aka multiple personalities, according to the show’s creator, Sam Esmail.  

Late in the season the audience discovers that Mr. Robot isn’t real. Whatever happened in Elliot’s childhood to trigger this disorder, he doesn’t feel like himself and can’t fulfill his role as avenging hero, the purpose that defines him, unless he is able to interact with this other ego. 

Throughout the course of the season Elliot alternately rejects and searches for Mr. Robot. Mr. Robot tells him “You’re losing it kid. I’m only supposed to be your prophet. You’re supposed to be my god.” Elliot is too confused and damaged to be able to assume control of his own identity all the time.

Early in he season Elliot argues with Mr. Robot when Elliot refuses to participate in something that will result in deaths, and Mr. Robot tells him that “This is war. People will die.” There are some things Elliot can’t see himself doing but believes need to be done, so Elliot needs Mr. Robot in order to carry them out. Elliot doesn’t want to be god of his own identity. When he awakens to street celebrations after three days in Tyrell’s SUV Elliot is unable to remember “saving the world” from Evil Corp. And so he finds them. Not only Mr. Robot, but his mother, and his younger self who tells him that he will never be free of them, and at this point Elliot seems resigned to that.

Most of the story takes place from Elliot’s perspective, and the audience eventually realizes that his perspective is not reality. At about this point some story lines diverge so that we see Angela’s viewpoint, and the point of view here does not seem clouded by the unreliable narrator, but in a more traditional sense Angela seems uncertain of who she is as well. She waffles a lot. She doesn’t seem to be able to fully commit to a course of action or position. Initially Angela struggles between her desire for EvilCorp to pay for her mother’s death and her own climb up the corporate ladder at AllSafe. Her resolve against EvilCorp grows until she understands the effect going after EvilCorp will have on AllSafe. Then she decides to confront EvilCorp exec Colby, who she holds responsible for her mother’s death. He ends up hiring her to work in the very corporation she tried to take down.

After Colby’s suicide and F Society’s hack, Price’s blatant hubris seems to appall Angela, but then she does exactly what Price tells her to do. Angela needs money so she may simply be accepting the defeated view that personal survival is steeped in moral compromise and necessary alliances with evil. But there is a suggestion at the end of the last show that another Angela is emerging. Perhaps she is experiencing something akin to a spiritual or moral rather than a mental break. At the very least she seems to feel the temptation to draw her identity from this more aggressive, hard-edged Angela.

The people who seem to know who they are and what they are about are Elliot’s sister Darlene and Phillip Price, the head of EvilCorp. While F Society’s attack wreaks havoc on the average technology-dependent business and its own executive commits suicide, EvilCorp’s head honcho Phillip Price throws a party and declares EvilCorp untouchable. He is utterly convinced of his own power. He seems to interpret the reluctance in others to take charge or declare certainty as his right to dominate them. And on top of all that, we discover that Whiterose, leader of the Dark Army, who seemed to be an F Society ally, and Price are collaborators, implying that the same people who always make the rules are still making them in spite of F Society’s attempted financial revolution.

Darlene knows what she wants to do and why. She has a plan and a goal.  The hack takes down the financial conglomerate. After using an animal shelter incinerator to burn evidence, F Society releases the dogs scheduled to be destroyed and turns them out in to the street to fend for themselves. What will those dancing in the street do tomorrow? With her goal realized Darlene seems to feel anticlimactic emptiness. A big question this season leaves hanging is what will people do with freedom, and who is really free?

 


Oct 12 2014

Looking at Gone Girl through a Johari Window

maureen


SPOILER ALERT:

Gone Girl reminded me of the Johari window. JohariWindowThe idea is that there are four panes in every relationship that adjust in size through the course of the relationship. As we get to know someone the open pane grows. The hidden pane shrinks as that person chooses to disclose things about himself. Over time spent together we gain insights into that person and earn the right to speak share our insights about him so that through knowing us his hidden pane gets smaller. One would expect that the open pane would grow very large in a marriage relationship.

Applying this model to Nick and Amy Dunne’s relationship is disturbing because Amy’s hidden and unknown panes are so large. Everything Amy thinks she knows about herself is informed by something in her hidden window. According to most psychologists sociopaths know that they are sociopaths. They are very good at hiding this from other people and often come off as charming. They are also great manipulators. Amy carefully controls what Nick thinks is her open self. She also uses her relationship with him to manipulate him both through what he’s revealed to her through the open pane in his relationship with her and through what she knows about him that he doesn’t know about himself. Rather than using that information to enhance and heal their relationship, Amy uses it to manipulate Nick into taking the fall for her murder.

Nick illustrates that we don’t have to be sociopaths to seek to manipulate others’ views of who we want them to think we are. Nick tries to control his open and hidden windows with Amy because of his affair, but next to Amy, Nick is a rank amateur at manipulation. He’s not really built for it anyway. Giving him a twin sister is an interesting choice because twins tend to have an empathetic connection that lets them into one another’s blind and hidden selves. Margo may not know the details but she senses when Nick is not open and honest with her, and the more open Nick is with her the greater clarity he seems to have. To a great extent this empathy is the key to successfully tracking Amy’s moves. Continue reading


Jun 29 2014

X Men: Days of Future Past

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SPOILERS

X-Men: Days of Future Past  has some continuity problems, but I enjoyed it. Good fight scenes. Good character development. Great casting.  The X-Men saga deals with themes like good and evil, control and power, and intentions and consequences. Days of Future Past provides a 20/20 hindsight on how these themes have played out in earlier X-Men movies. There was a lot going on in the plot that may be lost on those who haven’t seen at least some of the previous X-Men movies.

Time travel movies like this usually hinge on the idea that certain events drive change in history. A perfect storm of creativity, innovation, discovery, and technology bring about leaps in learning, communication, and industry such as the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, and the Information Age. Perfect storms of ambition, animosity, and greed, along with natural disasters, have historically pushed nations, and at times the entire world, into war or economic depression. Days of Future Past brings us to that culminating moment in X-world when the government, reacting to the perceived threat they present, build big robots and send them out to kill all the mutants. Continue reading


Mar 10 2014

The dark territory of True Detective

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HBO-True-DetectiveCAUTION: SPOILERS.

True to form the last episode of True Detective called Form and Void features the dark and grisly conclusion to a bleak, dark series about two homicide detectives unraveling a ritual murder in South Louisiana. Errol, the incestuous, Cary-Grant obsessed witch king makes an utterly creepy grindhouse villain. Previous episodes offer up a series of tantalizing possible suspects and co-conspirators, including Cohle himself. The Tuttles come off as redneck Illuminati with a long reach and powerful resources. The story ends with many of these loose ends still flapping, but Cohle and Hart’s journey resolves, and that’s the real heart of the story.

True Detective‘s mysterious King in Yellow references a Robert Chambers story about a play that elicits madness and despair in those who see it. The story Cohle and Hart live as they work their case contains enough bizarre evil to induce similar responses. Cohle’s philosophic nature and nihilistic outlook make him particularly vulnerable to emotional and spiritual damage. Hart’s proclivities run to the more standard tropes TV cops use to cope. He cheats on his wife, drinks too much, and is disconnected from his children. Hart ends up in a place something like despair in which he’s lost his family and left his job after exposure to yet another urban legend horror, the baby in the microwave.

Cohle and Hart’s determination to close the case appears to be part-destiny and part obsession. In spite of a serious rift between them, when Cohle shows Hart the horror inducing videotape of one the victims, he’s in. This tape is used to induce former cop Steve Geraci. While immediate exposure to the tape loosens his tongue, Steve does not seem permanently traumatized by his experience, displaying the same self-interest after they finish with him that he has before. He tells them Sheriff Childress is the one who closed the case. Interviews in previous episodes suggest that Errol might be a Childress and possibly an illegitimate child of one of the Tuttles.

After making arrangements to unveil their evidence should they not come out alive, Cohle and Hart follow their leads to Errol’s house. Earlier the episode treats us to scenes of Errol’s Psycho-Louisiana-style domestic bliss. Cohle and Hart’s journey lead them into the heart of Carcosa where the evil is as thick as hot, humid swamp air. Continue reading


Jul 25 2013

Pacific Rim was conflict on an intimately enormous scale

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Pacific Rim is another of the many apocalyptic movies out this summer. I was intrigued by the science in this movie, but mostly I enjoyed the action and the wholesale destruction that makes this a summer blockbuster. Because Guillermo Del Toro directed the visual style is artistically interesting. Since Pacific Rim is a summer blockbuster and not Pan’s Labyrinth his themes aren’t too ponderous but I found a few to ponder nonetheless.

Much of the action takes place in Asia with obvious tributes to Japanese monster movies, especially Godzilla. The name, Kaiju is a reference to the stable of monsters from Japanese film. Del Toro says that Goya’s painting The Colossus and George Bellows‘ boxing paintings were also inspirations for the look of the film. There is an intimacy in boxing and wrestling that is not present in other types of combat. Their weapons are their own bodies. For me, this idea of internal, intimate engagement was the most intriguing theme. Continue reading


Jul 3 2013

World War Z and my top 10 Films of the Zombie Apocalypse

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I love me some zombie apocalypse and World War Z was both action packed and thoughtful. The basic premise of the quintessential  zombie movie is intact and well executed: kill zombies and try not to become one, but World War Z also offers an insightful look at how solutions are discovered and applied. Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a husband and father who is asked by surviving members of the UN to leave his family behind and apply his considerable skills to solving the problem of finding a cure for a virus spreading across the globe, a virus that turns its victims into zombies. His trek takes him to several places around the world where those in charge are trying to figure out how to manage the epidemic and protect as many people as possible. He encounters the fallibility and sometime hubris of political, social, and scientific entities making life-and-death decisions for other people. In an environment where mistakes are costly, Gerry’s ability to pay attention, notice details, and make connections in the midst of chaos and horror may be his greatest strength. It doesn’t hurt to have quick reaction time either. We may not be in a zombie apocalypse but acquiring this same skill set as Gerry could serve us well as we navigate the pace, unpredictability and dangers of modern life.

I am interested in reading the book. Apparently it covers a lot more than the movie and includes what happens after the pandemic. World War Z is definitely in my top 10 Zombie Apocalypse movies:

1. 28 Days Later. Directed by Danny Boyle this is a really great apocalypse survival film. While the zombies aren’t technically dead they possess enough zombie-like characteristics to count. As a zombie movie, this film was a trendsetter. With a few exceptions, before 28 Days Later zombies were pretty slow. Giving them speed made them so much more frightening. The vision presented in 28 Days Later of society and government reaction to the zombie virus is nearly as frightening as the virus itself. The acting in this was really good, especially Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, and Naomi Harris. Continue reading


May 3 2013

Criterion: Rashomon and the moral ambiguity of humanity

maureen

May 3

Rashomon, a 1950 Japanese film by director Akira Kurosawa, is a favorite of directors and a film school staple. A samurai and his wife are attacked on the road by a bandit who rapes the wife and allegedly kills the husband. There are four witnesses to the murder, the three people involved and a woodcutter who witnessed it in secret. They each give differing accounts. Everybody lies, even the spirit of the deceased samurai and the supposedly disinterested woodcutter.

The story takes place several centuries ago and is told as the woodcutter, a priest, and a ragged stranger take refuge from the rain at the dilapidated city gatehouse called Rashomon. The priest and woodcutter had testified at the trial of the bandit. The priest had found the wife hiding in his temple and woodcutter had testified to finding the body, not to witnessing the crime.  The action switches between the telling of the story at the gate, the forest where the attack took place, and the open air court. If the conflicting stories of the wife and bandit weren’t interesting enough, through a medium, the samurai also testifies. The woodcutter insists that a spirit can lie because he, too had witnessed the murder and knew what happened. His testimony is suspect in the eyes of the stranger because he suspects that the woodcutter stole an expensive dagger, the missing murder weapon in the wife’s story, from the scene of the crime.  Continue reading


Mar 5 2013

The Mayhem guy, John McClane and A Good Day to Die Hard

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I thought the Allstate Super Bowl commercial that casts Mayhem as the influence of evil was genius.Mayhem doesn’t just weave his way through History, he also impacts individuals, wreaking havoc in minivans and suburban neighborhoods as well as on battlefields. He is a first-third world problem.

After seeing the latest Die Hard installment it occurred to me that John McClane must be one of Mayhem’s favorite targets.  Through five movies over twenty-five years Mayhem has followed around John McClane. At times John has seemed like a willing participant in this chaos, but most of the time, especially in the earlier movies, he’s cast as a guy who winds up in the wrong place at the wrong time more times than any odds of coincidence can stretch. Continue reading


Dec 25 2012

The Hobbits’ Bilbo Baggins gives me courage

maureen

In The Lord of the Rings Bilbo warns Frodo that “it’s a dangerous business going out your front door.” In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure it’s also a dangerous business answering your front door. Gandalf sends thirteen dwarves to Bilbo’s home having told them that Bilbo is right for the job of the burglar.

Gandalf offers a couple of reasons for choosing Bilbo to take this adventure. The first is practical: Bilbo is small and light on his feet. Though he has never burgled anything, nor does he have the disposition of a burglar or an adventurer, Gandalf sees beyond who Bilbo appears to be and appreciates who he is and recognizes who he may become. But Gandalf’s choice of burglar was unexpected for the dwarves and, perhaps, a bit disappointing. Continue reading


Jul 24 2012

My The Dark Knight Rises Review

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SPOILER ALERT

The Dark Knight Rises was a credible end to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. On the whole it was a great movie and I liked it a lot. Certain elements were incredibly well done and really satisfying. Even the storytelling choices that I didn’t like made sense. I can’t say they were bad choices, just that I wanted something else.

What I liked best:

1. Catwoman. She is a character who speaks to the present rather than operating entirely off her back story. This makes her decisions much fresher. She is a beautiful picture of the battle between the new man and the old man. She seeks transformation on her own terms but struggles with the actual journey. Catwoman’s transformation and story arc are perfectly played. Continue reading


Jul 15 2012

Breaking Bad Season 5: Is Walter the new Gus?

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TRAILER CONTAINS SPOILERS:

Season 5 of Breaking Bad airs tonight. So far Breaking Bad has chronicled Walt’s downward spiral, from the moment he becomes a meth cook with motives that he can justify to himself as understandable and admirable, to the final show in season 4 in which Walt seems to have become the very person he once saw as a necessary evil. Gradually, over four seasons,Walt’s desperation and fear have been replaced with the same pride, cunning, and aggression that has elevated his boss Gus Fring to executive status in the drug trade. Continue reading


Jul 11 2012

Linklater’s Comedy Bernie Raises Serious Questions about Grace, Mercy, and Justice

maureen

CAUTION: LOTS OF SPOILERS

In his latest movie, Bernie, Richard Linklater pulls back the “pine curtain” and takes an affectionate look at how the small East Texas town of Carthage responded to a shocking murder in the late nineties. Bernie Tiede, a mild-mannered funeral director/Sunday School teacher/leading citizen, kills Marjorie Nugent, a rich 81-year-old widow known as the “meanest woman in town.” The town is split on the extent of judgment or mercy Bernie deserves.  Continue reading


Jul 3 2012

Captain America, Mayberry, and Independence Day

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 R.I.P. Andy Griffith.

Griffith  is most remembered for his role as Sherriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry. Andy Taylor spoke with reason and restraint, humor and compassion. His reactionary deputy Barney Fife was always ready to “Nip it in the bud.” Everything was a crisis and every wrongdoer was a villain for Barney. Andy’s calm response was usually to “have a talk with them.” A talk with Andy led to a better understanding of oneself and one’s responsibility to one’s neighbors.

In the Bible Jesus describes the apostle Bartholomew as a man with no guile.  It was a compliment. Andy Taylor was a man with no guile. He was wise and perceptive but never insidious or sly. Captain America in Marvel’s Avengers communicates the same sort of sincerity. Continue reading


Jun 26 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter seriously serious?

maureen

SPOILER ALERT

Not since Snakes on a Plane has the title of a movie made we want to see it as much as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I got what I expected. I’m not saying I wasn’t entertained. I was. The historical details like Lincoln’s mother dying or his job as a shopkeeper lend enough historical accuracy that it actually makes it harder to suspend disbelief. Suspension of disbelief has no power over this movie. It takes a silver bullet through the brain of reason. Once that’s done, it’s a decent ride.

The vampires are the dark, devouring, bloodsucking villains they are supposed to be. No romance here, just scary bad guys who have the advantage of thousands of years experience in fighting and manipulation. Abe Lincoln is believable in appearance and personality. He reacts in much the way one would expect Abe Lincoln to react if he were confronted with vampires. Abe’s sidekicks are decent.The stage was set for an awesome girl fight but Mary Lincoln was as bland as a hospital diet. That was disappointing. Continue reading


Jul 15 2011

The theme of death in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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CONTAINS SPOILERS. Since he was marked by Voldemort as a baby it’s been clear that Voldemort’s defeat rests on Harry Potter’s shoulders. The prophecy states that “neither can live while the other survives.” Harry’s  already made the choice between what is right and what is easy. His decision to face Voldemort is not “if” but “when” and “how.”

Along with good vs. evil, and the burden of being “the one,”  death is a looming theme. Dumbledore paints death as a great adventure. Voldemort fears it and seeks to power over it. Throughout the series and especially in this last installment beloved characters die heroic deaths in the battle against Voldemort. Loved ones grieve their loss. This is the nature of death.

In the first movie Harry gazes into The Mirror of Erised (desire backwards) and he sees his dead parents. Quirrell/Voldemort is mistaken or lying when he tells Harry he can bring them back in exchange for the Sorcerer’s Stone. The Sorcerer’s Stone offers fortune and immortality but it’s the Resurrection Stone that brings back the dead. Since he loves no one, the only person Voldemort would care to resurrect is himself; it is immortality of the Sorcerer’s Stone that Voldemort is after but it is destroyed in the first movie.

In an attempt to gain immortality to go with his quest for absolute power Voldemort tears apart his own soul and commits murders to create horcruxes to house the pieces of his shattered soul. Fear of death motivates a few wizards to choose life as ghosts. Nearly Headless Nick tells Harry “I know nothing of the secrets of death, for I chose my feeble imitation of life.” A ghost is merely an imprint of a departed soul, but having splintered his own this is no longer a possibility for Voldemort. Continue reading


Apr 7 2011

Redemption in The Wire

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I just finished all five seasons of The Wire on DVD.  The Wire is an astounding artistic achievement and devastating social commentary. I think its going to take  several blog posts to discuss it’s effect on me. As profound as it is profane, fans of Dickens, Shakespeare, Classical Dramas, or the Bible will find echoes of those literary themes and characters in The Wire. It deals with big themes like power, compromise, deception, and redemption in the lives of broken people in a broken society. Baltimore is full of the social ills that plague modern society.

The beginning credits run to Tom Waits’ song Way Down in the Hole. Lyrics about about holding on to Jesus, avoiding temptation, and keeping the devil “way down in the hole” are sung against a backdrop of flawed characters and gritty street life. Many reviewers have identified the City of Baltimore as the main character in The Wire. The 2nd  and 3rd chapters of The Revelation of John call out churches in particular cities for sinful behavior, compromise, and sins of omission in light of the evils in each of those cities. Just as in the cities described in the Biblical Revelation, the devil is on the loose in Baltimore and its institutions are unable to stem the tide of evil. Season one establishes the police and drug cultures and carries their stories throughout all five seasons of the series. Different artists sing the theme song as subsequent seasons explore corruption and temptation in different city institutions: season two- unions; season three- city hall; season four- schools; and season five- the media. Continue reading


Dec 28 2010

Pride and Temptation in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

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I enjoyed the movie Voyage of the Dawn Treader for the story it told. Dawn Treader is my favorite of the Narnia books so, of course, I was disappointed when my favorite parts didn’t make the screen. I do understand that telling a story like this one on screen will look different than telling it as a written narrative. Making the story a quest for swords and a battle against a defined and visible evil made it an easier story to tell. However I do think the movie failed to give the audience enough credit.

Having to struggle with temptation, distinguish good from evil and admit our faults is something everyone faces. Some of the best movies I’ve seen deal with internal struggles like this. The characters’ internal struggles with pride were evident enough without using green smoke as a visual cue for temptation and evil. It would be nice if green smoke showed up so we could know that evil is in the process of tempting or deceiving us. But we don’t. We face struggles without visual cues. We take internal voyages toward internal change and personal resolution. This is really the heart of the book and the place where I think the movie missed its mark. Continue reading


Jul 26 2010

Totems, Symbols, and Reconciliation in Inception

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Spoiler Alert – Inception was an intellectually stimulating and engaging combination of sci-fi action movie, ensemble piece about corporate espionage, and an introspective drama about guilt, loss, and reconciliation. The premise of extracting and planting ideas in the subconscious through dreams and the idea of group dreaming was a fresh approach.

Inception seemed to invite the audience into it’s multi-layered dream and keep us there until the very end. Though the dreamers in the movie were the architects and very intentional in their dreams, watching Inception felt more like having a real dream.  It felt off kilter and sometimes confused and very in the moment.

Real dreams, the ones that come to us as we sleep, the ones we don’t control, allow us to unravel our mental, emotional, and spiritual knots. We need to dream in order to remain sane. Even though we don’t remember all of our dreams or understand the ones we do remember, our dreams allow us our sub-conscious minds to reorder and reinterpret our lives.  We don’t have to know what happens in our dreams in order for them to heal us.

Perhaps the movie, like a dream, is meant to be personal and individual. There are lots of ways to look at the ending. It felt a bit like waking up in the middle of a dream. We each will draw individual conclusions and interpretations in order to try to make sense of it. Like the dreamers in the movie, each member of the audience brings a collection of beliefs and ideas to interpreting Inception. Continue reading

May 25 2010

The Themes and Theology of Redemption and Interdependence in the End of LOST

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Of the contest between good and evil Carleton Cuse said that he and Damon Lindelof wanted to “make if feel different than in other big mythological tales…there is that sort of fundamental conflict between good and evil. And what we feel is really interesting about Lost is that the central way that plays out is… within each character their own struggle to find – win the battle good versus evil is the thing that fascinates us most as storytellers.”  So after all the complicated plot lines, the science, the references and clues, ultimately Lost was about relationships and redemption.  I sort of understood the idea of the sideways as a kind of Purgatory, but for some characters that redemption arc came through experiences on the Island itself, while for others it came in one of the flashes (back or sideways).  Beyond the redemption theme, what strikes me is that nobody does it alone.

What I found most interesting about LOST is the interdependence that is part of the mythology. In the final episode, the reunions between the couples were intense and sweet. I’m glad Cuse and Lindelof were brave enough to chick-flick it. It was a bold move.

Throughout the series there has been a science vs. faith tension and the last episode clearly took a more philosophical bent. I’m still sort of hung up on the quantum theory aspects of LOST, specifically symmetry, pairs, and the concept of interdependence.  We are used to the idea of independent, individual redemption.  In the Lost universe moving through the process seems to need to occur in groups. Even when one character seems to have a specific quest or purpose it often takes more than one to accomplish it.  In some cases everyone needs to be together; and within the group each person seems to have a specific person who is his or her constant. Continue reading


May 15 2010

O Sleeper On The Epic Battle Between Good and Evil

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My son told me that O Sleeper’s Vices like Vipers reminds him of my Sinema7 book, so I took a look at the band. I’m not really in the hardcore/metalcore demographic and I definitely had to read the lyrics because I’m not used to screamed lyrics. Honestly, the depth of emotion and gut wrenching delivery reminded me a lot of opera. It has an epic feel. Much of their music is about the battle between God and Satan or good and evil. I found myself reflecting on the epic nature of Christianity.

O Sleeper’s most recent album is based on the culminating battle between God and Satan described in the Book of Revelation. In the title song, Son of the Morning, Satan spews out his hatred for God and contempt for Christ, calling him the “weak forgiver” and telling God “you’re wasting power on grace.” God replies “If you could see like me you’d see you haven’t won anything.” There is a back and forth between screamed and clean lyrics, cacophony and melody that represent the conversation between Satan and God. Throughout the album Satan declares his intention to thwart the work of Christ, to assault those God loves and to amass power by turning them away from God. God’s power and defeat of Satan culminates in The Finisher with God’s graphic promise to Satan that he will “cut off your horns.”

The songs between these bookends describe Satan’s attempts to win the hearts and souls of men and man’s battle with temptation. In the third song, In All Honesty, Satan crows “I’m forever stalking the streets for the next one. I’ve found I can run faster than guilt…” The anguished cry of a man in Satan’s grip “I wish I could be so much more than me” and God’s response, “you could be the one who pleases me…because I can reach through anything.” The intensity of the music matches the intensity of the ideas expressed. It’s sort of hard to imagine “Bring out your dead” in Commissioned by Kings sung to Contemporary Christian instrumentation and American Idol-ish vocal stylings. Continue reading


Jan 19 2010

Characters, Symbolism, and Sin in The Book of Eli

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Spoiler alert – Eli is ready to kill and ready to die to protect the book he believes he’s been charged by God to carry west. In this apocalyptic world Eli’s Bible might the last one known to exist. Apparently the Bible played some part in a war that resulted in nuclear holocaust thirty years earlier, which led to an attempt to destroy all known copies.

Eli doesn’t know what he expects to find when he gets there, he just knows that his part is to carry to book. He brings it out and reads it every night, but otherwise keeps it hidden from sight. The care and reverence with which he treats the Bible as he carries it reminds me of the Biblical accounts of the Israelites transporting the Ark of the Covenant.

The Book of Eli made me think about the power of the Bible and how it is used. It also left me with some questions about Eli, his mission, and the characters he encountered along the way. Perhaps I’m completely off, but the names of the characters seemed to carry some significance for me.

A glimpse into Eli’s pack reveals a K-mart employee name-tag with the name “Eli.” Like Noah, David, or one of the Apostles, Eli is an ordinary guy who God seems to have called to do something extraordinary. On one hand Eli believes he is divinely appointed, divinely led, and divinely protected. On the other he’s a sort of Samurai / western hero with mad self-defense skills. I sort of wondered whether Eli’s skills are divinely inspired or whether he’s developed his unique abilities to sense danger due to years on the road. Whatever the case it seemed to me that Eli is heavy on violence and may have failed to explore other communication options. Continue reading


Jan 2 2010

Bye-bye in 2009 Celebrity Deaths and Why We Care

maureen

This week I’ve seen several lists of celebrities who died in 2009. There have been some tribute segments on TV shows. All this has made me think about who I’ll miss and why I care at all. I guess when a celebrity dies it’s like losing a little slice of Americana. It is not that a celebrity death is more important, only that it has the potential to impact a lot of people at one time. Our shared enjoyment of entertainment provided by these people connects us to one another and creates cultural common ground.

The 10 celebs that died in 2009 who made my world sweeter:

  1. John Hughes directed some of my favorite flicks. I wish he hadn’t stopped making movies.
  2. Michael Jackson sang some great songs that still keep me dancing.
  3. Dom DeLuise made me laugh for as long as I can remember. His Caesar in History of the World Part I was hilarious.
  4. Brittany Murphy entertained me daily in King of the Hill. I’m going to miss the show as well as the lady. I really loved her in Clueless, too.
  5. Les Paul impacted the music I listen to in so many ways.
  6. David Carradine: Kung Fu, enough said.
  7. Larry Gelbart wrote brilliant scripts for M*A*S*H which was my favorite TV show in the 70’s.
  8. Paul Harvey made me think about a lot of stuff that I probably would have ignored if he hadn’t been on the radio.
  9. Farrah Fawcett inspired my hairstyle when I was 16.
  10. Patrick Swayze made me cry in Ghost (and I don’t cry at many movies).

For some reason all this makes me think about the song, American Pie. Writer, Don McLean said, “You will find many interpretations of my lyrics but none of them by me… sorry to leave you all on your own like this but long ago I realized that songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence.” Now, I am not going to try and interpret American Pie, but I think it’s an example of how one person can be profoundly affected by the death of another even without knowing that person. American Pie demonstrates how powerfully connected we can feel to celebrities. Continue reading