Dec 1 2012

Emmanuel and the 7 Deadly Sins in Christmas movies

maureen

Pride makes Clark Griswold do stupid things in Christmas Vacation. In fact, pride is a driving motivation for Clark in all the Vacation movies. His gloriously ridiculous light show, buying things for his family before he has the money and hiding his fears and problems from his family reveal the pressure he feels to measure up to the man he thinks he is supposed to be. When he finds out about his bonus Clark feels devalued by his boss and is devastated, not only that he might disappoint his family, but that in disappointing them he might lose their love and respect. Christmas Vacation is a reminder that love and worth are not determined by deliverables.

In The Nightmare Before Christmas Jack Skellington envies Santa and wants his job. Bored with his own role as king of Halloweentown, when Jack discovers Christmastown he finds it so much more appealing that he tries to turn Halloweentown into another Christmastown. Eventually Jack recognizes that he can take the imspiration and renewed energy that he found in Christmastown and bring that to the work he is meant to do. Continue reading


Aug 9 2010

Sex, Lies, and Don Draper in Mad Men

maureen

He presents a slick, appealing image but Don Draper is a man on the run. He’s escaping his past by taking on a new identity. His carefully constructed persona earns him admiration in the first seasons. At work he is known for his creativity, good looks, and integrity.

Advertising presents an idealized image of a life that can only be attained by purchasing the product being sold. Advertising creates discontent with real life. It plays on envy and pride to create a desire to mold a life that matches the image presented in the ad, and to purchase whatever products necessary to prop up that image. Mad Men’s creator Matthew Weiner chose advertising as a subject, he said, because “it’s a great way to talk about the image we have of ourselves, versus who we really are.”

Don Draper is the personification of a man who is reaching for the image. He doesn’t think he can attain it as himself, Richard Whitman, so he becomes someone else. For awhile he succeeds in selling himself as the person he wants people to believe that he is. Even after his charade is discovered by a few people he manages to dodge consequences. He’s tried to compartmentalize his life, presenting himself as a successful, creative advertising executive and charming family man while feeding his alienation with lies, sex, and alcohol. But he can’t maintain the persona 24/7. While the excessive drinking is accepted cultural behavior in 1960’s New York for Don it’s more than social. Don’s lost and hurting so he self-medicates with gluttony (alcohol) and lust.

Just as he does at the office, Don is carrying on a charade at home. He is the image of affluent, upper-middle class America in the sixties. But his relationship with his wife Betty is based on lies. He’s married her and given her a name that is not even his own. He cheats on her. He carries on the social pretenses of the lifestyle but he’s not really engaged. Don’s personal emotional space isn’t just wide, it’s a chasm. Even with Betty. Continue reading


Apr 9 2010

The Catholic Church, Priests, Pride, and Sexual Abuse in Doubt

maureen

I’m reposting my reflections on Doubt. It came to mind because of the current Penn State situation. In Doubt there is no eyewitness, only suspicion. Powerful men at Penn State – Joe Paterno, Tim Curley, Gary Schultz and Graham Spanier, are all told by a graduate assistant, an eyewitness, that he’d seen Sandusky naked in the showers molesting a young boy. They tell the graduate assistant they’ve taken away Sandusky’s keys and reported the incident to The Second Mile, a youth charity Sandusky founded in 1977. Apparently he was caught before in 1998 and questioned by police but the district attorney did not file charges. The frightening reality is that, like Sr. James in Doubt, there is a tendency to deflect suspicion and even ignore facts, “so you can have simplicity back.”

 

 

CONTAINS SPOILERS. Is Father Flynn a child molester? Young Sr. (Sister) James, played by Amy Adams, sees some indications that the progressive young priest may have an inappropriate relationship with one of her students, an altar boy, but is reluctant to believe it. Sr. Aloysius, an austere older nun not only believes it, she seems to want to believe it.

The Catholic Church’s most recent controversy involving alleged child molestation by priests reminded me of Doubt, the 2008 movie that starred Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Set in the Bronx in the 1964, Doubt centers around the question of Father Flynn’s guilt or innocence. It also probes into how far “the benefit of the doubt” should extend, and gets into the motives behind willingness to believe or disbelieve.

When Sr. James brings her concerns to her superior Sr. Aloysius pursues the matter. She calls Father Flynn’s former parish where the priests vouch for him, but another nun also has suspicions. We never hear definite proof of guilt but we also are presented with doubt about his innocence. Like many religious people of her generation, Sr. Aloysius sees it as her calling as to ferret out and punish wrongdoing. She is willing to be severe, to be disliked, and to confront anyone she believes is doing anything remotely “wrong.” Her judgmental attitude leaves no room in her life for compassion or doubt. She relies on certainty to justify herself. Continue reading


Mar 19 2010

Love, Lust, and Traveling Light in Up In the Air

maureen

CONTAINS SPOILERS

Ryan Bingham has an empty backpack. In fact, when he’s not doing his day job as a traveling employment separation specialist (he fires people for hire), he’s an aspiring motivational speaker.  He asks his audience, “What’s In Your Backpack?” Ryan believes that not only do our material possessions weigh us down, but our relationships as well. He urges others to free themselves from all life’s baggage, including human baggage. Ryan lives in a converted hotel room, owns what fits in his suitcase, and spends most of his life flying from place to place. His immediate life’s goal is to reach 10 million airline miles.

In a hotel bar he meets Alex, who also travels for her job. They trade road warrior stories and get turned on by comparing traveler’s perks. They enter an uncommitted, casual relationship in which they meet when it’s convenient. They are unashamedly in lust and find one another’s detachment incredibly sexy. Continue reading


Feb 1 2010

Lost TV Characters and the Seven Deadly Sins—Will Season 6 Change How We See Them?

maureen

(Other Sinema7 blog posts about Lost are available at http://sinema7.net/tag/lost/)

Lost starts Tuesday. Hopefully some of the questions that have built up over the last five years will be resolved. I recently came across this article from 2008: Get Lost in the Seven Deadly Sins by Amelie Rosseau, on the Lost Media fan site.

And here is a YouTube video called The Seven Deadly Sins of Lost:

I agreed with many of the assessments in these. I think each of the characters, like most of us, have more than one sin that motivates his or her choices. Here is my take on which characters seem to be driven by which sins:

Pride – Benjamin Linus &  Charles Whitmore are in a power struggle for the island. Pride is probably the besetting sin of leadership and power. When someone thinks they know what’s best for other people and is willing to lie, manipulate, and maybe even kill to further his own agenda that’s driven by pride. Jack is prideful, but not even close to being in Ben and Charles’ league. After years of feeling rejected and victimized Locke’s ego has to be stroked by feeling special and chosen. Juliet is just a bit sanctimonious about being right, and she’s pretty sure that she’s right on just about everything. It is ultimately Eko’s pride that drives his unwillingness to repent of his sins which apparently leads to death by smoke monster.

Envy – Jin’s insecurity pushes him toward envy. Charlie struggles with the same sort of thing. He’s jealous for Claire’s attention. He’s trying so hard to restore his image and wants so desperately to be a hero that he tags along with those that might be considered leaders hoping to be identified with them. Continue reading


Dec 5 2009

Tiger’s Transgressions: Why Do Men Cheat?

maureen

Tiger’s Transgressions isn’t a movie yet but I’ll bet somebody at the  Lifetime or Oxygen channels  is probably working on a script. After allegations of multiple affairs became public, golf icon Tiger Woods stood in front of a press conference and said, “I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings.”

Tiger Woods is just the latest celebrity linked to controversial extra-marital affairs. Here are 7 more peccadilloes of the rich and famous:

  • David Letterman apologized on his TV talk show for embarrassing his staff and hurting his wife after having an affair with a staffer.
  • Mel Gibson’s wife of 28 years divorced him and 6 months later he had a child with another woman.
  • Brad Pitt hooked up with Angelina Jolie while still married to Jennifer Aniston.
  • Bill Clinton denied his affair with Monica Lewinsky saying “I did not have sex with that woman.”
  • Hugh Grant was caught with a less-than-model-beautiful prostitute while married to Liz Hurley.
  • Jimmy Swaggart lost his TV ministry and let down thousands of followers when his visits to prostitutes was discovered.
  • JFK had an affair with Marilyn Monroe. Continue reading

Nov 4 2009

This Is It Michael Jackson’s Human Nature

maureen

Michael Jackson was an incredibly talented musician. With forty plus years of experience Michael really understood the concept of entertainment. This Is It is a glimpse into rehearsals for his upcoming show, mixed with clips of footage from music videos that were also being shot. He was acutely aware of every detail of music and movement in his show. He had a vision for how the whole thing should look and sound, and seemed to be involved in every aspect. He not only connected with his music and with his audience, but acted as a conduit that connected his music to his audience. It was impossible to walk away from a Michael Jackson performance without humming one of his tunes.

I’ve been playing Thriller a lot since he died. After watching This Is It, I came out humming Human Nature. “If they say, why, why? Tell ’em that is human nature Why, why does he do me that way? I like livin’ this way, I like lovin’ this way…” Just as he was gifted with music, Michael was also afflicted with the ravages of sin. Human Nature seems like his explanation for the various controversies that surrounded him: discord and violence within the Jackson family; the controversy concerning allegations of child sexual abuse; conjecture about multiple cosmetic surgeries; financial mismanagement (he earned $500 million dollars in his lifetime, yet his home Neverland Ranch was in foreclosure). Michael seemed to have struggled with human nature. Continue reading


Feb 12 2009

My Top 10 Most Romantic Movie Lines

maureen

1. “You… complete me.”-Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise), Jerry Maguire (1996)

2. “As you wish” – Westley (Carey Elwes) in The Princess Bride (1987)

3. “Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn’t know this either, love don’t make things nice–it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die…” – Ronny Cammareri (Nicolas Cage), Moonstruck (1987)

4. “I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone.” – Arwen  (Liv Tyler) in The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

5. ”I used to live like Robinson Crusoe — I mean, shipwrecked among eight million people. And then one day I saw a footprint in the sand and there you were. It’s a wonderful thing, dinner for two.” – C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon)  The Apartment’ (1960)

6. ”You make me want to be a better man.” Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) in ‘As Good as It Gets’ (1997)

7. ”You want the moon? Just say the word, and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey, that’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon.” – George Bailey (James Stewart) It’s a Wonderful Life’ (1946)

8.  “It’s my favorite time of day, driving you.”
“It is the saddest part of my day, leaving you.” – Jamie and Aurelia (Colin Firth and Lucia Moniz) in Love Actually (2003)

9. “I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle in your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. – Harry (Billy Crystal) When Harry Met Sally(1989)

10. “I am no one special. Just a common man with common thoughts. I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but in one respect I’ve succeeded as gloriously as anyone who ever lived. I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul and for me that has always been enough.” – Duke (James Garner) in The Notebook (2004)

What are your favorites?


Dec 18 2008

The Seven Deadly Sins at Christmas – Part One

maureen

Gluttony – Holiday Stuffing

Everywhere we turn at Christmas there is food. It’s possible to graze all day every day between Thanksgiving and New Years’. We turn to Paula “a stick of butter” Deen and Rachel “Yum-O” Ray to help us whip up something delicious. It’s fun to sit around and watch TV cooks whip up something delicious then go into the kitchen and pull out all the stops, imagining ourselves as The Next Food Network Star.

At Christmas people bring food to work. Every get-together involves eating and drinking along with the merriment. If we don’t try every dish someone is likely to have hurt feelings. If we can’t think of anything else to give at Christmas we offer a tin of sweets or basket of meat, cheese or chocolate. There is candy in our stockings and candy hanging from our Christmas trees.

Continue reading


Oct 18 2008

The Themes of Love and Lust in Moonstruck

maureen

“Why do men cheat?” is a subplot in Moonstruck. Rose poses the question to several men throughout the movie and the answer at which she arrives is that it is “Because they fear death.” Many of us enter middle age and are struck by the idea that life might end and we’ve missed out of something by choosing to enter into a life-long relationship with someone.

Rose’s husband Cosmo is cheating on her. Rose’s brother Raymond remembers being awakened by a big full moon and looking out the window to see Cosmo looking longingly up Rose’s window. He calls that kind of moon, “Cosmo’s moon.”  In the movie the moon is back but Cosmo’s sense of romance with Rose is gone and he is trying to find it elsewhere. Rose knows he’s having an affair and tries to understand why. Continue reading