Dec 28 2016

Manchester by the Sea: muddling through tragedy

maureen

I don’t usually recommend tear-jerkers because there is enough tragedy to deal with in real life, but Manchester By the Sea is so honest, so real, and so captivating that I think it’s worth the vicarious pain. The performances alone are worth seeing. It’s depiction of grief is profoundly genuine. And it considers three really important questions: Is there a timetable for getting over devastating life experiences? Is not moving on from our heartbreaks selfish? Are there wounds that just won’t heal?

Lee Chandler must confront all his ghosts when he returns home to deal with his older brother’s death and make provisions for his nephew. Lee is a withdrawn janitor with painful past while his nephew Patrick is a self-centered teen hockey player with two girlfriends and a terrible rock band. The back and forth between Lee and his nephew offers moments of dark humor that pain frequently creates. Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges give fantastic, truthful performances. Really, everyone playing the main characters gave spot on performances that made the film feel so real.

Lee’s story unfolds in a series of flashbacks and conversations with people from his small Massachusetts hometown. Most of them either can’t understand how he hasn’t moved on from the past or can’t stop judging him for what happened in the past. We’ve all known people who seem to take a long time to recover from grief and/or guilt, and some that never seem to. I don’t want to give this movie away, so, even with the spoiler alert, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Manchester By the Sea is full of real people muddling through life’s hard experiences. The story builds to that expected character arc and abruptly ends mid-muddle. Because that’s the way real-life stories are. We don’t all resolve at the same time. Not every experience comes with closure. This story isn’t about closure, it’s about love. In spite of their imperfect processing of devastating events, these characters love each other.

Back to the questions. Is there a timetable for getting over devastating life experiences? I was personally affected by this movie because I think I rush this process. This movie made me pause and ask whether people like Lee hide from people like me. I realized that I can’t possible know what it takes to get over something I haven’t experienced. Nor can I know what it’s like to be someone other than myself getting over something I have experienced. So, thanks, author and director Kenneth Lonergan, for the instructive parable. I might never tell anyone to “get over it” again. At least about anything important.

Is refusing to move on selfish? Lee’s pain isolates him from people who care about him. Lee’s pain prevents him from having the relationship with his nephew that his nephew needs from him. Lee knows this but, I think for him, moving on feels selfish. For Lee to move on minimizes the loss he’s experienced and the guilt he feels he owes. Holding onto it makes it remain important. Lee doesn’t know how to process the importance of what happened in the past without allowing it to define him in the present and future.

Are there wounds that just won’t heal? Well, Frodo had to leave Middle Earth to get relief. Maybe Lee can’t survive in Manchester, at least as he is now. The film seems to build a false expectation that all this misery might be be miraculously lifted by letting go, opening up, changing attitudes, or doing something else. But the ending suggests that resolution is not that simple.

One would hope that our relationships with God define us more than the core memories and climactic experiences in our life stories. Nevertheless we all walk around with unresolved pieces of our stories. Faith is not an instant cure for heartbreak or recovery. Forgiveness does not always result in an instant lifting of guilt feelings. God applies His healing balm to our open wounds, over time, often through relationships with others, and later, to our scars. But sometimes our wounds close very slowly, and trying to put a timeline on closure only pours salt on the wound. Manchester By the Sea reminded me that love is patient and kind. We contribute to healing not by trying to “fix” each other or to rush whatever we are processing to resolution, but by loving each other in the unresolved middle of our muddles.


Sep 24 2010

Anger in The Ref

maureen

Often marriage offers a comfort level that can make taking one another for granted or taking advantage of one another standard practice. Anger and resentment builds when one or both members feels undervalued. We may also resent it if we feel our spouses want more or demand more than we are able to give. We may end up feeling trapped in our most intimate relationship. When the seven deadly were first named anger was called wrath. As opposed to the occasional episode of anger that is a reaction to a specific event, a wrath is a general disposition of malice, fury, vengeance or bitterness.

Lloyd and Caroline Chausseur in the movie The Ref are experiencing these emotions. Bickering has become a way of life. The title character, Gus, kidnaps the Chausseurs after a bungled burglary in order to hide out at their house but instead finds himself “reffing” this dysfunctional family on Christmas Eve. He describes the experience as “the fifth ring of hell.” Exasperated he gives them an ultimatum “Married people without guns – for instance – you – DO NOT get to yell. Why? NO GUNS! No guns, no yelling.” But even the gun cannot keep them from arguing. Continue reading


Apr 24 2010

Vengeance and Compassion in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and How the Book of Leviticus Fits In

maureen

SPOILERS:  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a truly satisfying murder mystery with a complex plot, unrelenting violence, and unique characters.  This is a bleak film that explores how people get psychologically twisted and whether a history of past abuse should be a consideration in how harshly we judge them. It is not for the squeamish with scenes of graphic sex and violence.

Mikael, an unjustly discredited investigative journalist, is tapped by an elderly corporate magnate, Henrick Vanger, to investigate a decades old family mystery. The cover story is that Mikael is writing a Vanger family history. Lisbeth is a goth hacker with body piercings and, yes, a dragon tattoo who is contracted by Henrick’s nephew Martin through some computer connections at Vanger Corporation to keep tabs on Mikael’s research. Without this girl with the dragon tattoo the story would be just another murder mystery, but Lisbeth bring the noir to this detective story.

While the murder plot is complex the psychological exploration is even more compelling. Lisbeth is smart, independent, and very damaged. Lisbeth is unwilling to let go of her anger. It seems to be the force that’s holding her together. But this anger isn’t uncontrolled rage but focused, almost detached vengeance. She finds power in revenge. 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


Mar 6 2010

Comparison and Contrast Between A Serious Man and The Book of Job Plus Schrodinger’s Paradox Just for Fun

maureen

A Serious Man poses some questions of Biblical proportion: What does God want from me? Are the bad things that happen some sort of a sign? Am I righteous? What have I done to deserve this agony?

Larry, a physics professor who teaches the theory of uncertainty, begins to live it. According to Schrödinger’s Cat Paradox, which appears among the physics equations on the board in Larry’s classroom, a cat is placed in a box with a flask which may or may not break and emit radioactive poison. According to quantum physics as long as we don’t check to see what happened to the cat there is a superposition of states in which the cat exists in every possible state simultaneously. In other words, until you open the box and look the cat is both alive and dead – a quantum system that is a mixture of states.

The simultaneous car accidents in which one man lives and one man dies sort of echo this theme of alive and dead, as does the story of the Dybbuk at the beginning of the film. The two scenes in the synagogue juxtapose a funeral followed by a bar mitzvah. Larry does seem a bit like the cat in the box being acted upon rather than acting, uncertain whether he is spiritually dead or alive. Larry has no context for answers, only questions, confusion, and pain. Continue reading


Feb 27 2010

Paradise Falls Up in Pixar’s Academy Award-Nominated Movie

maureen



Spoiler alert: This movie is way too good to miss. If you haven’t seen it, this post does give some of it away so you might want to see it first.

Up begins as a childhood romance between two dreamers that blossoms into a happy marriage.  The wordless montage of Carl and Ellie’s life together is emotionally breathtaking. In a few moments we see how time and circumstances edge out a dream they’ve shared since childhood. It captures the way relationships spark and settle. We see how important this couple is to one another and how much their shared dream figures in their relationship. This just might be one of the loveliest bits of film I’ve ever seen. The fact that it’s animated just made it more universal.

Ellie’s scrapbook, which Carl reverences but never opens, details their childhood plans to move their clubhouse to Paradise Falls, South America. When they were children he promised to help her. Their shared love of adventure and admiration for explorer Charles Muntz brings them together as children. Even after Muntz is discredited they continue to believe in him and dream of visiting Paradise Falls some day.

For Carl their South American adventure is a catalyst for hope. From time to time they make plans which fall through and the dream finally dies with Ellie. He feels he’s failed her because they never made that trip. Continue reading


Jan 19 2010

Characters, Symbolism, and Sin in The Book of Eli

maureen

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


Nov 23 2009

Top 10 Movie Prayers

maureen

Here are 10 of my favorite film prayers and what they’ve taught me. Sometimes touching, sometimes irreverent, prayer in movies reflects the gamut of our attitudes toward God and what we expect from him. The 7 Deadly Sins can even come into play when we are trying to pray.

1. Shenandoah The dad in this old movie returns one of the most prideful prayers of thanks I’ve ever heard. This attitude represents the hubris of “self-sufficiency.” Introducing God into the equation changes the impact of words like “deserve” and “earn.”  God really is the source of provision for everything I have and deserves my thanks.

Continue reading


Oct 31 2009

My Top 7 Funny Scary Movies

maureen

I think it’s fun to be scared but it’s even more fun to laugh and be scared at the same time. Maybe comedy horror is good mad science. A good scare is just what I need to get my adrenalin pumping, and then add some humor and the endorphins kick in.  Happy Halloween.

Favorite Monster Movie: Young Frankenstein is an old Mel Brooks classic. Shot in black and white, it parodies those really, really old Frankenstein movies. It’s full of quotable lines and physical gags. Continue reading


Oct 24 2009

To Help or Not to Help: Homelessness and Sloth

maureen

Somebody’s Baby just wrecked me. The song  from Jon Foreman’s Winter EP tells the story of a homeless girl. Foreman is the frontman for the band Switchfoot but his solo project has more of an acoustic, experimental, indie feel. The use of strings in this song was compelling. It reminded me of another piece about homelessness that features strings, the movie The Soloist.

Both works reminded me that every homeless person has a different story. It is likely that somebody is worried about this person. And it is certain that this person is someone God loves dearly and wants to redeem. Continue reading


Sep 30 2009

Hope and despair in District 9

maureen

I finally saw District 9. An alien ship hovers, inoperable, above South Africa. After 28 years of conflict the ship’s inhabitants and their descendants have been rounded up and placed behind fences in slum-like conditions, where violence and crime are rampant. Over time the aliens became desperate, hopeless and violent.  The situation serves as an allegory for South Africa’s period of apartheid. But it also raises bigger questions. Wikus, a white South African government official, is sent into the settlement to inform the inhabitants that they are being moved. Unlike many of his co-workers he avoids hurting the aliens unnecessarily. He does not really see them as intelligent beings until he begins to stand in their shoes. In a search of a home he is exposed to an alien technology that causes him to begin to transform into an alien. Continue reading


Aug 12 2009

Julie and Julia Overcome the “Spell of the Typical”

maureen

Change in our lives often serves as catalyst for self-evaluation. In Julie & Julia, Julie is turning thirty. She and her husband move to an economical apartment in Queens. Having failed to achieve the level of success most of her college friends seem to enjoy, Julie is slogging away at her unfulfilling government job. She has allowed the rejection of a half written novel to deter her from pursuing her passion for writing. Julie realizes she needs to “break the spell of the typical” in her life. (Thank you Mutemath for such a fitting phrase.)

Julie decides to try blogging and, since she loves to cook, decides to cook through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blog about it. Julia Child began cooking in France as a result of a similar desire to find something fulfilling to do. When Julia’s husband asked her, “What is it that you really love to do?” She responded “Eat,” and that led her to cooking school… Julie & Julia chronicles the journeys of Julie Powell and Julia Child as each woman discovers what it means to find her passion. Continue reading


Jul 25 2009

Sinema7 book update

maureen

The book Sinema7 is written, it is currently under review and in the process of being published. Ordering information will be posted here. Maureen is currently working on a small group study guide to go along with the book.  It will include references for movie clips in each chapter – we trust it will be a fun and meaningful tool to study the seven.


Jul 24 2009

Tom Riddle: Boy Megalomaniac

maureen

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Lord Voldemort, speaking through Quirrill, declares that “there is no good and evil, there is only power and those too weak to seek it.” As we meet the young Tom Riddle in the latest installment Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince we see a child so caught up in his special power that he denies a moral order larger than himself. In an interview J.K. Rowling, writer of the Harry Potter books, compares Voldemort to paranoid megalomaniacs like Hitler and Stalin. Megalomaniacs exhibit an obsession with his or her importance and power that psychologists also call “delusions of grandeur”.

Tom Riddle reinvents himself as Lord Voldemort, relying on his hatred and pride to gather power. Whether the magic he employs is good or evil is immaterial to him. In fact he becomes convinced that he will amass greater power employing the Dark Arts. Pride motivates and enables evil. Voldemort, fueled by his evil pride, has complete disregard for the pain of others and may actually find his sense of power enhanced by inflicting pain. This is Voldemort’s M.O. As the young Tom Riddle pride shields him from revealing any vulnerability he may feel. Continue reading


Jul 10 2009

Apocalypto’s Black Hole of Pride

maureen

I finally got around to watching Apocalypto. Early in the movie a village elder tells a myth about man’s restless hunger for power and autonomy. His story concludes that “man has a hole inside him that will make him take and take until the world has no more to give.”

The Mayan city is a lurid demonstration of how this can play out in a society. Humans are sacrificed in a carnival-like atmosphere at a pyramid temple erected as a monument to the power and grandeur of their civilization.  Pompous Mayan royalty pile up more and more bodies in their attempt to appease an angry god and retain power over a people they care nothing about. Continue reading


Jun 25 2009

Frost/Nixon and the pride of insecurity

maureen

There is what we think of ourselves, there is what others think of us, and then there is what we think others think of us. Frost/Nixon reveals a man obsessed about what others think of him. In the interview with David Frost Richard Nixon describes the two of them as “scrambling our way up in undignified fashion.”
Nixon seems to suffer both from feelings of inferiority and from resentment toward those who may think of him as inferior. Even after serving a term as president of the United States Nixon feels that “the well born” look down on him. He feels the needs to prove himself and “make ’em choke on our continued success. Our continued headlines! Our continued awards! And power! And glory!” Continue reading

May 28 2009

Pride and wonder in Angels and Demons

maureen

Angels and Demons HD trailer

Had Angels and Demons been about a couple of likable characters running all over Rome trying to prevent the murder of some Cardinals it would have been enjoyable. It was a good mystery with some great action and nice plot twists. Two other elements fascinated me as well: the tension between science and religion and the “God Particle.”

The hubris of both religion and science were touched upon. In this corner we have the Catholic church with a history including the (fictional) public murder of the Illuminati for “a warning to others to stop questioning church ruling on scientific matters.” And in this corner we have the 21st century scientific community who push the envelope by creating a large amount of dangerous anti-matter in hopes of solving the energy crisis and, oh by the way, simulating the moment of creation. While much of the movie dwelt on the moral compromises of the church bent to suppressing science,  the Carmerlengo delivers a compelling soliloquy on the hubris of science and the motive of the church to protect faith. His insanity does not negate some of his points. Continue reading


May 4 2009

Pride in Outbreak

maureen

Produced in 1995 the movie Outbreak is a timely diversion as the Swine Flu epidemic sweeps the nation (not). It’s sort of a conspiracy meets disaster flick in which the greatest fears of movie’s epidemiologists are realized when a deadly virus mutates and goes airborne. There is a squirmy scene in which someone sneezes in a movie theatre and we watch the infection float through the air into the mouth of another person. Soon an entire town is infected. The CDC and the military descend upon a town to assess the situation and try to eradicate the virus.

This movie shows how an event like a possible pandemic can become a political football. Decisions about how to handle the outbreak, what to tell the public, how to handle the media, and what the political repercussions might be all reveal the hubris of leadership. Before the virus spreads the Centers for Disease Control weighs the cost of a special alert. It comes down to whether it’s worth the money and the embarrassment of being wrong. Continue reading


Apr 6 2009

Anger and love in Gran Torino

maureen

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS

Gran Torino follows an older man’s journey out of isolation. Walt Kowalski is angry and emotionally disconnected. Retired from Ford, Walt is part of a dying breed of men who worked one job in manufacturing. At his wife’s funeral Walt stands stiffly in his suit,  confused by his grandchildren’s attire. The kids have no idea in which war he fought or why he served. His snarliness, ethnic slurs and stoic demeanor make him an embarrassment to his sons. His cultural values are holdovers from the 1950’s. He carries prejudices. He is the sort of person we might call culturally irrelevant. 

His children are stereotypes of white, upper middle class culture. Sons Steve and Mitch and daughter-in law Karen seem more interested in relegating him to a retirement community and getting their hands on the house.  Granddaughter Ashley is interested in his Gran Torino but not in him. Grandsons Daniel, David and Josh find him sort of amusing and are interested in his war service but he’s not willing to discuss that with them. He seems content to be left alone with his dog and his bitterness.

Continue reading


Mar 13 2009

Amazement takes a little humility

maureen

Everything’s Amazing, Nobody’s Happy YouTube Link

Commedian Louis CK did some comedic commentary on Conan O’Brein’s show recently about amazement and what he calls a generation of spoiled idiots. He contends that people who fly, instead of complaining about delays and inconveniences, should recognize the amazing fact that “You’re sitting in a chair, in the sky…” and can arrive at a destination in six hours on a journey that once took months. Instead stories of flying usually include complaints about the wait and the inconvenience. Continue reading


Feb 27 2009

Gluttony gets giggles in Paul Blaurt: Mall Cop

maureen

Last week while everyone else was watching Academy Award nominated movies I went to see Paul Blaurt: Mall Cop. It’s basically a formulaic comedy featuring an overweight mall security officer.  While many critics proclaimed the jokes tired and recycled, they made me laugh, again.  Sometimes it’s nice to go to a movie and just laugh without having to be smart or in on the joke. It also struck me that a very large (excuse the pun) part of this movie hinged on Paul’s weight problem. Continue reading


Jan 30 2009

Greed and blessing in Slumdog Millionaire

maureen

Warning : Spoilers. Don’t read this if you haven’t seen the movie and are one of those people who don’t want to know what happens.

Slumdog Millionaire follows two brothers who make very different choices as they grapple with escaping from the hopelessness and poverty of Mumbai’s slum. For Salim money means hope. For Jamal it is his love for childhood friend Latika that drives him forward.

At the beginning of the movie Jamal and Salim flee an angry mob. Jamal’s concern extends to Latika who is also running. Salim fears that Latika will be a drain on them and resists helping her. Throughout the movie Jamal’s consistent love and concern for Latika contrasts with Salim’s willingness to treat her like a resource, using her when she adds value and rejecting her when she causes complications. Eventually Latika becomes a symbol of hope for Jamal. Finding her and loving her becomes his life’s cause. Continue reading


Oct 18 2008

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


Oct 18 2008

Gluttony in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

maureen

Gluttony is one sin that can be rather difficult to hide. While I suppose there may be some thin people who overeat the results of this particular sin are largely, sometimes very largely, evident. Thomas Aquinas defined it as “inordinate desire not regulated by reason.”

In What’s Eating Gilbert Grape the title character feels trapped. Gilbert lives in a small town with few opportunities but can not leave because he is needed at home to help take care of his mentally challenged younger brother Arnie. His mother Bonnie is extremely obese and cannot take care of the family or the house. Most of the time she sits on the sofa eating and watching TV. Continue reading


Oct 18 2008

Greed in Millions

maureen

We can pay off all our debts. We can take a vacation. We can improve the lives of our families and friends. We can fill the gas tank. We can start a trust for our children. We can stay home and pursue something we love to do. We can weather an economic downturn. We can now afford to be charitable. We are certain we would be responsible and worthy stewards should a bag of money land in our laps.

Millions presents yet another story of finding a large sum of ill-gotten cash. Money literally falls from the sky into the hands of young Anthony and Damian. Britain is in the process of adopting the Euro so the fortune, which is in British Pounds, must be spent quickly before the country converts to Euros. Continue reading


Oct 17 2008

Sloth in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

maureen

Dante categorized sloth as “insufficient love” while he grouped lust, gluttony and greed as “excessive love” and wrath, envy and pride as “misdirected love.”  Sometimes this “insufficient love” reflects an unwillingness to place anyone or anything above our own comfort.  In other cases it may reflect an insufficient love of self reflected in low self-worth and insecurity.

In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off three friends skip school to have a day of fun in Chicago.  Ferris is optimistic and completely secure in his parent’s love and in his own abilities to engage the world.  His neurotic friend Cameron worries about everything. He believes that he is not a priority to his father. Cameron feels insecure, inadequate, and powerless and it makes it seem pointless to get out there and live life.

Continue reading


Oct 17 2008

Envy in The Big Kahuna

maureen

What we have looks pretty good until we see someone else with something better. Aristotle defined envy in his Rhetoric “as the pain caused by the good fortune of others.”  In The Big Kahuna Larry is in excruciating pain when Bob gets a lucky break but fails to capitalize on it. Often envy involves more than just wanting to possess something; it extends to having negative feelings towards the person who has what we want.

Three salesmen are at a convention to sell lubricants. They prepare a party in their hospitality suite in hopes that Mr. Fuller, a possible client, will come to  their party. Larry and Phil are experienced salesmen who have been in the business for some time while Bob is at his first convention. Making contact with Mr. Fuller is critical to their mission at the convention. Continue reading


Oct 17 2008

Pride in The Devil Wears Prada

maureen

Vanity is one of the most recognizable forms of pride. We want everyone to notice our possessions, our accomplishments, or our appearance. We may also believe that we are better than other people, at least in certain areas. We may become so arrogant that we actually believe that we are as knowledgeable, capable, beautiful and important as we want people to think that we are.

People who receive lots of admiration or hold lots of power can develop an inflated sense of their own importance. Miranda Priestly, the boss in The Devil Wears Prada determines what clothing and which models will appear in her very influential Runway magazine. She believes that she, and she alone, decides what people will buy and wear. She treats those around her with disdain, dismissing major designers with a purse of her lips, calling models “fat,” and treating her staff disrespectfully. Protagonist Andrea comes into the job because Miranda decides to take a chance and “hire the smart, fat girl.” She is called “fat” a number of times throughout the movie. Everyone in the movie has a fixation about weight, and dropping a dress size is the ultimate affirmation of self-worth. Andrea’s co-worker Emily declares that she’s “one stomach flu away from reaching my goal weight,” while size six Andrea is told by Nigel, the office designer, that size six is “the new fourteen.”   Continue reading