Walk the Line with Reese Witherspoon and Juaquin Pheonix. They both give superb performances. The music is their own and it is as good as Cash and Carter themselves. The main story, however, is not the music, it is of Johnny Cash and June Carter's torturous romance. He was married with four children but on the road with Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, plus the band. June Carter was the only woman with them. Johnny had listen to her music from childhood and when he met her it was instant attraction. She was married with two children, then divorced and married again, and then divorced. It was at this point that Johnny was arrested for having non-perscription amphetimines. He and his wife had a fight over June and she divorces him. Johnny now pursues June and she continues to resist him because of his use of drugs. Finally he reaches bottom, and June rescues him with her love and spirituality. Two things are emphasized in this movie: first, Johnny was always seeking his father's approval; second, men are more psychologically dependent on women then women are on men. I think both are true. I give this movie a four star rating.
Sin City with Bruce Willis, Clive Owen and Rutger Hauer. A surrealistic movie that is almost all special effects. Postmodern in worldview. There is no good or bad, eventhough the story is nothing but a constant series of sado-masochism. The cops, bishop, senator, are all corrupt. Prostitutes are the good guys. The only crime seems to be sexual abuse of women and children, but we are not told why that is wrong. People with heads cut off come back to life and talk. At one point the Clive Owen character brings the severed head of a teenager pedophile and places it on the open Bible of a bishop. The movie is filled with parodies of the church, gov't, medicine, police. One of the psychopathic killers wears a gold cross. Ironically, a cop (Bruce Willis) who rescues a 11 year old girl from the pedophile, (who is the son of a senator), is chaged with molesting the little girl. The court is rigged and he is placed in prison until he falsely admits the he did it, then he is set free. What a twisted judicial system. One psychopath has been killing prostitutes and mounting their heads on the wall like trophy animals. He cooks their bodies and eats them. Another psychopath who is protecting prostitutes finds him and cuts off his arms and legs while he is still alive and then lets his wolf eat him alive. This movie is a mix of Pulp Fiction, The Matrix, Natural Born Killers hightened to the tenth power. It portrays a city were all Christian virtues have vanished (maybe due to rulings by the Supreme Court). This film is significant for Christians to be aware of because: 1) it grossed 28 mil the first weekend, 2) it is the future trend of movie making, 3) it graphically shows what a society will be like when all moral absolutes have been rejected. This is the future if our society continues to drift toward moral relativism. Filmed in black and white for dramatic affect.
Collateral with Tom Cruise as a hit man hired by the drug cartel to kill 5 witnesses in a Federal trial. He hires a cabbie in LA to drive him around to the places where his victims live or work. Criuses character is post-modern in the sense that he has no sense of right and wrong. His discussions with the cabbie about why he murders for money are convincing. One principle of Francis Schaeffer's apologetic was to push the unbeliever to the edge by showing him where his presuppositions ultimate lead. The cabbie uses this approach with the hit man and the tables turn. Not too violent and crude language not excessive. Worth watching to see where postmodernism is taking our society.
About Schmidt with Jack Nicholson playing the part of a CPA who retires from a company he has been loyal to all his worklife. He has fulfilled the American dream: nice house, married daughter, motor home, and loving wife. It all unravels on him after his wife suddenly dies. The house is empty, his company gets along well without him, his daughter's life is chaos and has no time for him, he discovers that his wife has been unfaithful with his best friend, and the motor home is one of 300,000 in the camp grounds. He realizes that his life has no meaning for anyone, even himself. However, just before his wife died he began sending money to support an orphaned child in Africa. His letters to the young African are theraputic because he unloads all his burdens in the writing. There are some very funny and sad scenes in this story. A real twist comes in the end that makes this movie worth watching. A story that is all too true for many Americans.
American Beauty with Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening. This movie upset many people, but a close friend who has lived in California for the last 15 years said that it portrays how people there actually think and live. Everyone, except the homosexuals who live down the street from this disfunctional family, is twisted and perverted. Lust, drug pushing, adultery, corporate corruption, and murder are all in this movie. A shocker to realize that this movie is more truth than fiction. Definitely not light entertainment or a feel good movie, but one that shows the need of the Gospel in the lives of these desperately lost (both morally and philosophically) people.
The End of the Affair is a story by Graham Green. William Faulkner said it was one of the best stories he had ever read. It is set in London during the Blitz of WWII. A wife (Julianne Moore) is having an affair with her husband's friend. She is ridden with guilt because of her Christian background. The film only tells half the story. Read the book to get the full impact.
The War of the Roses with Danny DeVito, Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner. A story which graphically depicts the break down of a marriage. Romance as a young couple gradually turns into hatred. Douglas portrays a man climbing the corporate ladder and ignoring his wife and belittling her at social events. She starts her own business of catering to get out from under his control. He becomes so angry that he stands on his chair and pees on the Thanksgiving dinner. He then accidentally kills her cat, but she reacts by killing his dog and cooking it for his dinner. Danny DeVito is relating this story to a young man who is thinking about getting a divorce. A very relevant subject since 40% of marriages end in divorce. As a marriage counselor for ten years I saw some cases that were this bad. I will not tell the ending of this movie. A powerful statement how, if a couple does not know how to forgive one another, they will destroy one another.
Good Will Hunting with Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Robin Williams. A young man who is a math genius, working as a night janitor, solves a math equation placed on the board by a university math prof. Even though he brilliant at math, he was physically and emotionally abused by alcoholic dad, and is in emotional turmoil. A psych prof (Williams) and a girl friend helps him work through his issues.
Dead Poets Society Based on a true incident. A young teacher in a private academy throws out standard classroom instruction to make important points about life, and suffers the consequences.
Fisher King A professor (Robin Williams)experiences tragedy beyond his capacity to handle and becomes psychotic. A radio shock-jock (Jeff Bridges) who is responsible for this incident fortuitously becomes involved with the professor. It is a story of the search for grace that heals human brokenness.
Nuts A prostitute (Barbara Striesand) is on trial for killing a client. During the trial (Richard Dryfus plays the lawyer) the fact comes out that she was sexually abused by her father (Carl Maulden) is made known. This story is psychologically true. When I worked a as therapist on a hospital psych unit, I learned that most women who are sexually abused while teenagers either become prostitutes or intentionally get fat as adults. Almost all the women on the sex abuse unit were overweight, and some of them told me that they did it so that men would not be interested in dating them. Those who become prostitutes do so because they learned too early the sexual power that women have over men. It becomes a means of getting back at men by controlling them. They do not have sex for the pleasure of it or just for the money, but out of their hatred for men, they use it to have power of them.
Fatal Attraction Michael Douglas and Glenn Close star in this story of an unfaithful husband who becomes involved with a woman at the office. Very intense. Every husband who is thinking about 'fooling around' needs to see what the consequences can be. As a psych therapist on a hospital unit for three years I can assure the viewer that there are cases like the one portrayed in this movie.
Sophie's Choice William Styron wrote this story about a woman who lived in an apartment below him in New York City after WW2. Meryl Streep plays the part of this young mother who faced the choice on the railway platform at a Nazi concentration camp. She begs the Nazi officer to spare her children, he replies, "Alright, you can choose one," knowing the other would go to its death. The effect of that moment changes her for the rest of her life. The psychological fallout devastates her. With all the war in Bosnia and Afganistan and the starvation in Africa, many mothers still face the same choice.
Looking for Mr. Goodbar A young school teacher (Diane Keeton) practices her sexual addiction at night in bars. Her father, a staunch religious man (George C. Scott), comes to the city to find her and bring her home. He finds her, but she is unwilling to leave her life of self destruction.
Of Human Bondage Made in the '30's with Trevor Howard and Betty Davis. A young man studies to become a doctor and meets a waitress. He has low self-esteem because of a club foot, which in turn affects his choice of women. Two other women, an older rich lady who mothers him, and a young, pure girl from the country, are rejected by him for the prostitute waitress. It all changes, however, after his club foot is corrected. Their is much wisdom in this story. Too bad that young men who are dating will not sit down and watch this and discuss it with his father.
Fried Green Tomatoes A house wife (Kathy Bates)struggles to break a codependent relationship with her slob of a husband. An older woman (Jessica Tandy) tells her own life journey. In spite of the implied lesbianism between her character and the other young woman, the story has redeeming value. I saw many codependent women while in practice as a marriage counselor. Codependency can be defined as letting someone set you up to take responsibility for their failures. Mothers are often drawn into this by their teenage sons and then those young men go out and practice it on the girls they date and eventually marry.
Clean and Sober Michael Keeton stars as a young man trying to get away from the police because his girlfriend overdosed. He goes to an alcohol and drug treatment center because of its confidentiality policy. The denial used by alcoholics and drug addicts that is portrary in this movie is realistic. A must see movie for anyone who has a family member or friend who is not clean and sober
Skin Deep John Ritter plays a writer who is a sex addict and loses his wife. In addition, his alcoholism has destroyed his writing career. The psychiatrist who treats him for both addictions uses an unconventional approach to therapy that is effective in producing a cure. One of the problems I found with therapy is that addicts are taught to admit their addictions, almost to the point of being proud of it, as well as the concept that they are never completely cured. I believe it is possible for a person who is addicted to break with it and live free from the desire for the substance.
Falling Down A man (Michael Douglas)who fought in Korea, was an engineer, loses his job, his wife divorces him, goes over the edge and uses violence to make his statement about America changing into something he does not like or understand. For example, Hispanic gangs have taken over his neighborhood in LA. Douglas' character tries to take it back. Since most of southern California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico are now more hispanic than Anglo, this story is relevant. Anglos are moving to Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington state to get away from this hispanic subculture, rather than fight back. The same thing has happened with blacks in most of America's major cities. Whites move to the suburbs to get away from the crime that always follows these minorities. It is not a matter of racism, it is a matter of different values. This movie portrayus Hispanics as socially immature and cannot be reasoned with, loud, and have a defiant attitude. Robert Duvall is a detective who is assigned to catch Douglas. The ending is sad.
Planes,Trains,and Automobiles John Candy and Steve Martin play two business men who are leaving New York and trying to make it home for Thanksgiving. They are thrown together by providence and have to make the best of the situation. Nothing works right for them. Martin becomes frustrated with Candy and wants to leave him behind. When he finds out what the real situation with Candy is, he shows true compassion. This movie is a hoot and will make you laugh until you cry. True friendship is the theme of the movie.
Breaking the Waves A story of a young women's intimacy with God in prayer and her physical intimacy with her husband and how the two intimacies are intertwined. A critique on the church of Scotland for exercising discipline when the young wife commits adultery because her husband is injured and cannot perform sexually. In essence, she sacrifices herself because she thinks it will restore him to health.
Moll Flanders An over looked classic about a woman (Stocker Channing)who triumphs in terrible adversity. The story is set in the early 1800s in England. Morgan Freeman plays the part of a servant who finds the son to tell him about his mother and the estate he has inherited. Providence is a large part of this story.
Madam Bovary A woman's romantic fantasies destroy her marriage to a doctor who has given her a comfortable life. This movie is full of wisdom, in that, most women have romantic fantasies that are generated by love songs, sappy movies (Sleepless In Seattle and a hundred others), and silly talk at school. Have you noticed how the word "cute" rather than "intelligent" is used by girls to describe boys? This romantic myth causes a problem in marriage. Many girls cannot face the reality of living with an immature, lustful, self-centered man, which most young husbands are.
These next four movies are so psychologically intense, and possibly demonic that I caution people about viewing them. One should have on his spiritual armor and be mentally mature before watching these films. Natural Born Killers Micky (Woody Harldson) and Mallory are a young couple who kill her dad (who sexually abused her) and go on the road, randomly killing along the way. They are finally caught and escape. Many Christians denounced this movie as promoting violence, because they did not understand that it was a clever parody on America's way of life and its judicial system. I think it makes a powerful statement about our society. Pulp Fiction A story that is circular rather than linear (a character will be killed early in the story and appear later). You must see it to understand what I mean by that. Another parody on our violent society.Kalifornia A man (Brad Pitt) and his young wife go on a killing rampage. A statement about the indescriminate killing in America. Silence of the Lambs A psychopathic killer (Anthony Hopkins) plays psychological games with a naive FBI agent (Jodi Foster). A very frightening story.
Now for four of Woody Allen films that will make you feel that you have been psychoanalyzed. Match Point written and directed by WA is a BBC film with British actors. WA is obcessed with the philosophical issue of finding meaning and purpose in life and this movie reflects it. The phrase "it is better to be lucky than good" is the theme that is played out in the story. Many twists so that it is impossible to predict were the plot is going. As in all WA films the relationships of the characters prove to be complex. A moral dilemma is the climax of the story and it is dramatic. Like a European film, the plot unfolds gradually but is building to a sudden and powerful moment. No crude language or front on nudity that might offend. Not for casual viewing. Crimes and Misdemeanors A comparative study of a man who murders his mistress and a husband who is cheating on his wife. True guilt is experienced by both men. Zeilig A mid-aged man changes identity depending on whomever he is with. A clever story about the loss of identity in modern society. The Purple Rose of Cairo A young woman goes to the movies every day, and if drawn into the story as well as the actors coming off the screen to interact in her world. What is fantasy and reality in our daily lives? That is the question explored in this film.
The Edge Anthony Hopkins plays the part of a rich man who has realized that everyone around him is using him for his wealth. The setting of the movie is in the Alaskan wilderness. A plane crash strands four of the men and the meaning of life becomes the issue among them as they try to evade a grizzly that is stalking them. Wisdom can be gained from this movie.
Dancing at Lughuasa (pronounced Loonasee) is the story of five sisters, one played by Meryl Streep, who live in rural Ireland just before WWII. Each sister has an issue. Their brother (Michael Gambon) who is a Roman Catholic missionary returns from Africa were he has absorbed African animistic religion. The loneliness and drudgery of life is overwhelming for these sisters. They want to celebrate life but are restrained by their strict Roman Catholic beliefs. The coming of WW2 breaks up their family.