Sep 24 2010

Anger in The Ref


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

Aug 21 2010

Top 10 Movie Teachers and the Theme of Sloth


John Keating in Dead Poets Society – Sloth demands nothing. It encourages conformity and accepts mediocrity. Keating doesn’t just encourage his students to read and write poetry, but to commit to its passion. While fiction may tell a story, poetry is a snapshot of the emotion and passion that drives the story. Keating encourages his students to stop going through the motions and seize the day.

Jamie Escalante in Stand and Deliver – Sloth make excuses. We may compare ourselves with others. We may conclude that our ethnic, economic or academic challenges are the factors that stand in the way of success. Escalante will have none of this. He challenges his students to do the work and equips his students with the skills necessary to compete. Escalante shows his students that they have the power to change their circumstances rather than resenting those who seem to have it easier.

Apr 22 2010

On Earth Day, Disaster Movies Remind Us That Nature is Bigger Than We Are


Its Earth Day so I thought it might be fun to celebrate movies in which the earth dominates. So far this month we’ve experienced a couple of earthquakes, a volcano, and a meteor. Not very friendly, Mother Earth. Disaster movies usually involves hysterics, heroics, loved ones in danger, someone bucking the system, the official who won’t believe it’s happening, and at least half of an all-star cast dying one by one. Usually some high profile American icon is destroyed. I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen the Statue of Liberty and the White House pillaged by the forces of nature. If the special effects are good that’s a plus, but in the older disaster flicks bad special effects just adds to the cheesy charm.

I only included movies on this list in which nature is the true aggressor. I love zombies, giant mutant creatures, genetically engineered mayhem, dystopias, alien invasions, etc. but that’s fodder for another list. I also left off those movies in which the natural disaster is linked to environmental irresponsibility on the part of mankind. Though many disaster movies try to give mankind some credit for causing the disaster, the focus of this list is the power of nature. This isn’t a preferential ranking. The first 3 movies deal with geological disasters, the next 2 deal with meteors, then the rest are weather-related disasters.

1. Volcano was basically Tommy Lee Jones vs. lava. This movie had everything a disaster movie should have: clever repartee, the smart scientist who sees it coming, selfless acts of courage, familiar icons exploding, L.A. in shambles, and prejudice almost eradicated by the need to pull together and survive. Without this movie our family might never have found the LeBrea tar pits on our last visit to L.A. Someone remembered the line “They down on Wilshire!” and we found them with ease. Continue reading

Jan 15 2009

24 : Needs Redemption


Jack Bauer is back to prove, once again, that following the rules of bureaucracy is an ineffective method of saving the world. In the set up movie 24:Redemption Jack tries to reinvent himself teaching in a school in Africa. Jack quickly becomes involved in saving schoolchildren from genocide in fictional Sangala which sets up this season’s bad guy, the evil Juma. The movie ends with Jack sacrificing himself to save lives even though that choice leads to his capture and return to the U.S. to face a Senate subcommittee investigating the now defunct CTU.

Season 7 begins with Jack answering questions about his actions while a CTU agent:

Senator: “Mr. Bauer, did you torture Mr. Haddad?”

Jack: “Senator, Abraham Hadadd had targeted a bus carrying 45 people, 10 of which were children. I stopped that attack from happening. Don’t expect me to regret the decisions that I have made because sir, the truth is, I don’t.” Continue reading

Oct 18 2008

The Themes of Love and Lust in Moonstruck


“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

The Theme of Gluttony in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape


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

The Theme of Greed in Millions


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

The Theme of Sloth in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


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

The Theme of Pride in The Devil Wears Prada


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