Saturday, May 23, 2015

Jeremiah and God's Call

Reading Jeremiah chapter one, you get to see the moment where God calls him. Everyone loves this passage because it is one of the clearest places in Scripture where we see that God has formed us to be the people we are. He created us for a purpose and a plan that was established before we were conceived. But there are a couple things that tend to get overlooked or forgotten.

First, it is not really Jeremiah’s call. We tend to be very possessive and controlling of “our calling.” No one gets to tell us what we are supposed to do regarding our obedience or God’s plan for our lives. Living on the “mission field” that is something that I see all the more frequently. People who have “surrendered” to the most extreme of callings are often the people most resistant to input. One wonders if God Himself is allowed to have input on what they are supposed to be doing.

Second, Jeremiah is specifically called to speak. This is really the calling that God places on every one of His people. Time and time again God has the plan and He knows what needs to be done. He is also the only one with the power and ability to do what needs to be done. He changes people. He impacts history. All He ever wants from us is submissive obedience and 99% of the time that involves simply talking to those whom He brings into our lives.

Third, Jeremiah—the man created to do the job God intends for him to do—is afraid. He says he can’t do the very thing that God has made him to do. But, it is God’s plan and so he does it. If he had not, God still would have accomplished His purposes, only Jeremiah would have missed out. Then we would have been reading something named after someone else.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Star Trek TOS (Season 2b)

Season 2a—Season 2c

Now reaching the middle of the series’ run, these episodes are all good-not-great.

Episode 8 “I, Mudd”

Summary: The ship is hijacked by an android and taken to a planet of androids run by Harry Mudd. His plan is to use the Enterprise and strand the crew, but the androids have other ideas. Kirk must use his patented logic fighting to take out computers yet again.

Struggle: The “illogical” behavior used by the crew is supremely silly.


This feels like a bit of rehashing. Not only is Mudd back, but also the idea of androids and that idea that Trek loves: humanity without struggles, problems, and error is bad. This idea of Secular Humanism is perplexing. They want to improve humanity, but since we are ultimately flawed, those flaws must somehow be a part of our essential goodness. Where biblical faith sees sin as a problem in need of a solution, humanism sees only imperfections that are somehow a part of our beauty. And yet, they want to solve all the specific “sins” that one can mention: greed, sloth, hatred, etc.

Episode 9 “Metamorphosis”

Summary: The command crew is again taken hostage and to a planet inhabited by a single man, for the second week in a row. This time they are intended to be companions for the man who is sad on his own. He should have died over a century ago, but is maintained and even rejuvenated by an incorporeal—yet female—being who is in love with him. Conveniently, a female character who happens to be dying is there to provide the being with a body the man can love.

Struggle: Trek’s early sexism is on full display in this episode.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hopelessness in "Mad Max: Fury Road" (2015)

I think my experience of this film was clouded by the fact that it was being reviewed so strongly. After all, when I went to see it it was already ranked the 25th best film of all time by IMDB. By the next day it had climbed to 23rd. I do not think it will hold that spot for very long. Reality has to set in eventually

Don’t get me wrong. It is a masterpiece of action. But it is not perfect and it is not better than all save a couple dozen movies ever made.

In spite of all the amazing action choreography and practical effects, and all the amazing cinematography and world-building, it is not a story per say. Instead we get a two hour race/chase populated by cardboard cutouts of characters.

What is amazing here is the world building. In spite of the fact that we do not really get a fully realized story, the world in which this film takes place is. One can infer and deduce much of the backstory and history of the world we are seeing from the many well-placed and precisely-thought-out clues that Miller intersperses into the frenetic action. Things like how Nux’s mouth got to be the way it is or how Furiosa knows the way to the promised land and what her real connection to the brides is are hinted at clearly.

That said, unlike a lot of fantasy worlds that people have invented, no one wants to escape to the land of Mad Max. And that is a problem for the film.

Even though the film is basically a chase, there are messages and social commentary to be found. And not just in the tacked-on, seemingly deep, quote at the end of the film. The evils of religion created by people to control others or the dangers of placing faith in pure, unfounded, untestified hope are played with in this story. “Hope is a mistake,” claims Max. He is right when you are merely hoping for the best in a crazy world and your hope is not based in someone but in pure wish.

Unfortunately, those themes are approached from a dark, nihilistic world where there is no god and no real good either. That is the other problem for the film.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"The Face of an Angel" (2014)

This is the biggest mess of a film that I have seen in a long time. It is pretty much an unredeemable disaster of a movie. And it is a shame because there were clearly some high aspirations.

The film flirts with a meta element, but never embraces it. It is essentially the story of a filmmaker trying to make a film out of the Amanda Knox case. Early on in the film a journalist tells the filmmaker he needs to turn it into a fictional account, because that is the only way he will be able to tell the truth. So, it is no surprise that—although the facts of the case are those of the Knox trial—we are dealing with a “made-up” murder.

Where an interesting choice could have been made comes early on. The producers are talking about actors they could cast in the roles of their characters. Had they actually mentioned the actors who really are ultimately cast, it could have been a way to make this interesting on some level.

Instead we get to see the main character repeatedly fail to write a script as he is too obsessed with: his failed relationship, a deeper truth that he can insert into the film, Dante’s writing, and cocaine. One wonders if the script is an autobiographical account of the actual writer. However, whereas in the film our character fails and is fired, this film actually and inexplicably got greenlit.

Skip this disaster.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"The Cobblestone Corridor" (2015)

Erik Bloomquist has managed to create a delightful tribute to noir with “The Cobblestone Corridor.” In a concise 25 minutes he tells a complete, coherent mystery in the tradition and style of the genre, with a knowing wink that comes off as respectfully funny and not sarcastic or satirical. In fact, my only complaint was that I barely had time to get into the world of this private, elite high school and the story was over. I would gladly return for a meatier, lengthier exploration if he chose to make one. His eye for mese-en-scene and his playful dialogue are great. It looks, however, like I will get to explore another story in the horror genre first, if imdb has their information right.

When this film becomes available it is worth your time.

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