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A serious nail biter
Snitch is set in a post-divorce era. A son (Jason), somewhat rebellious, is suckered by a mate who, gaining brownie points for the DEA, tricks him into receiving illegal drugs. Jason in turn is offered a deal: sucker others in the drug's network and you'll get time off jail. He is basically an innocent, doesn't know anyone to be in the network, and won't sucker in the innocent as he was. His father (John), a successful businessman, offers to help the DEA for his son's early release. This requires contacting the local drug's network, and this (in eventum) requires bribing an employee and reformed criminal (Daniel). Daniel likes his boss and advises him to stay away from drugs, but Daniel finally yields to the temptation of serious money if he helps John make a contact: Daniel's family is very hard up and John seems serious.
Daniel knows a nasty (Malik), who gives John a drug's job. The DEA could have gotten a good arrest out of that, and honoured their deal to release Jason early, but decide that John's success as a courier can help them nail a bigger fish in a strong drug's cartel (El Topo). It soon turns out that John's second trip will be a one-way trip, leading to his murder in Mexico: the DEA is morally divided. John, put in the picture, redraws the plan to give himself a fighting chance of survival. At this stage Daniel understands John's family motivations, and himself a family man, helps John's plans. Without going further, suffice to say it's a nail biter, and (to my ears) F-word free. A gritty film, showing real courage and concern for others, as well as dirty tricks within the DEA, where motivations are mixed. Was left hoping the cartel's snitch would get her comeuppance. Would have loved Cordell Walker to have shown up and spared me my fingernails, too.
Eien no 0 (2013)
Cheering for the enemy
A very interesting film, interposing current with WW2 scenes, Kentaro, a grandson (simplified) researching his biological grandfather (Miyabe) who flew as a Kamikaze yet some had branded a coward. The twists become more complex, as a complex life is drawn, and a number who had known Miyabe, even a converted enemy, lived to fight for him after the war. I found it heart warming, until (about 2hr, 16min in), a US naval officer showed just how dishonourable the US side apparently was by screaming the F-word that's the only place such shame comes into the film. A bitter taste after the film ended. I would not have watched (nor would again) had I had the head's up beforehand, and grade it as close to a zero as the IMDb allows. I cannot recommend that nihilism, though the film otherwise was exemplary.
God's Not Dead (2014)
Very interesting though a little insular
Overall, an interesting mix of argument, relationships, and good music. Jeffrey Radisson, the Philosophy professor, makes an interesting point that many militant atheists are in fact converts from an emotional letdown attributed to theism. The "why would a supreme being let my mother die in pain?" confusion, based on the curious idea that such a being, if real, would be more interventionalist, therefore cannot be real. It's a judgement call. The idea comes across that "I hate God" implicitly affirms the concept, God, denied by atheismemotion & creed can conflict: one can of course remain a theist and hate, if not God, at least their concept of God. But how much hate hides under cover of atheism? It also presents well, militant atheism's anti pro-choice credentials, as seeking to out-jeer theism, the "shame on you" line of New Atheism. Some good points are given by Josh, not to prove God's existence, but to prove the legitimacy of debate. A number of relational situations are examined: is standing up for unpopular belief justified (Josh Wheaton; Ayisha)? Is it smart for Christian & Anti-Christian to pair up (Jeffrey, Mina)? Is the irony not sad yet understandable that a godly Muslim and loving father (IMO heaven bound) casts out a godly daughter who's become a Christian?
My main problems were with some Christian assumptions. Eg, the leader of Newsboys (a Christian group) prays to 'God', descending into the term, 'lord', ending up with the idea that God is Jesus, and that request should be to him. IMO that's antibiblical. I was also disappointed that when Radisson is dying after a hit and run, Dave, a pastor, seems to me to say that God was in the hit, aiming for Radisson to become a Christian in order to gain eternity. That's not my soteriology: I think eternity has a mortal dimension (Christianity) and a postmortem (heaven), the latter not being the exclusive preserve of Christians. I hoped to see another philosopher return to his podium another Justin Martyr: Christianity is the best philosophy. Annoyingly, the Newsboys (probably good people) also speak about their god (I would reject all types of god) and sing that he is alive (if he is life (transcendent), he can neither be alive nor dieboth spatial-temporal concepts). Overall, a bit too insular Evangelicalism for my Evangelical comfort, but with some good argument, music, and relational snippets. And free from of lot of the tripe generally served up.
An ex-RAF gentleman pilot (Denant) has casual speech with a girl in a park, a girl of the night. As he leaves, a heavy handed police detective attempts to roughly arrest the girl, and Denant turns back to politely intervene, a "there's no need for that". The detective is a petty tyrant, out to make his bust of a poor working girl, though she had only been on the bench, not on the game. The two men tusslethe long arm of the law and the stronger arm of the righteous gentleman. The law falls, Denant stays righteous and is sent down for his pains.
Soon he breaks out and goes on the run, as a righteous matter of principle. He falls in with Dora, a daughter of a well respected family, whose family has fallen financially, and she is engaged for lucre not love. Stretching credulity, she very readily casts in her lot with him, defying the injustice of the law, and committing ever more until she's dropped her intended, exchanging lucre for love.
For Denant's part, he comes to accept that human justice is imperfect, and if you don't like it it might be better to lump it. Some reviewer has strangely suggested that God's direct voice features. That misses a big point: at most, it's God's indirect voice through a church leader, who philosophises that hearing God's voice is often difficult, even for Christians, in a fallen world. In short, moral decisions aren't always perfecteven as in chess several different moves according to objective rules can be good, and a seeming good move might be ill-judged. Should the church leader, as a law-abider, turn Denant in, or as a God-abider should he conceal Denant who has claimed sanctuary? What sanctuary remains in the world? Should Denant willingly suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? The film is explorative.
Its conclusion is clear about some decisions, but not clear about some conclusions, such as whether recapture will lead to extended jail time, or possibly a retrial, especially if a missing witness were to come forward. The imperfection of human justice, the futility of opposing it, the individual's freedom of choice even under Big Brother (sorry David & Teresa, lol), what it means to be human, all are looked at in this play.
Source Code (2011)
Abusing the viewer
The story has the interesting idea of someone able to plug into someone else's dying memory pattern, yet able to restructure their interaction with the event that had caused the other's death. Here, it's Colter Stevens who is plugged in, as attempts are made to locate who had planted the fatal bomb, in order to prevent the bomber from an even greater attack. Army Captain Stevens, thinking that he's in a simulation, is quite prepared to assault anyone in that simulation, but each time he fails, he learns a little more. He even learns that he is (I guess) at death's door - or perhaps as suggested in That Hideous Strength, his brain alone survived death. Whatever, I will never know, as at point 41.25 he yelled the f-word. In my books, at that point he assaulted me - I value marriage. So abused, I left the film with a nasty taste in my mouth. I'd give it zero rating if possible.
A Slide in Philosophy
I was morally disappointed by Sherlock. I have read Sherlock Holmes many times, and although wary of updates, throughout Sherlock (I speak only of episode 1) I enjoyed clever ways in which the authentic Holmes has been mined for data. Eg Sherlock updates the watch from Watson's postmortal brother, to a mobile of Watson's mortal sister. And the term, Rache, thought by the police in the authentic setting (Study in Scarlet) to mean Rachel, is switched to Rachel as the intended clue, not the intended blind. Clever twists, and plenty of clever new deduction. Sherlock & Watson seem to me pretty close to the real deals although covering up Watson's questionable killing (Watson would fail the Men in Black test) might reflect the moral drop between C19 & C21 setting the postmodern factor of Relativism.
From the start of 'Sherlock', Relativism was apparent. In today's Correctivist dominion, homosexuality must be post-Wolfenden and actively celebrated, or else. Anyone thinking the concept, same sex marriage, to be an oxymoron, must be name-called 'moron' and shouted down: the emperor is not naked, or we're all nudists here. Sherlock reflects Relativism, and needlessly hammers in the nails. Mrs Watson must fancy that Watson might be a homosexual lover of Holmes, as some café manager assumes. Watson himself asks Sherlock if he has a boyfriend, saying it's fine if he does Relativism. Watson's sister has, if 'homosexual marriage' is a valid concept (in which case marriage is merely a human construct of convenience and no god sanctifies it there is no sanctity), 'divorced' the woman she lived with. Presumably divorce is equally fine, and marriage a state contract, not a covenant involving God as The Beatles sung, Back in the USSR. Relativism assumes we create truth, so logically it cannot condemn crime any more than it can commend the law each individual has their own 'bag of truth'. If logically consistent, 'Sherlock' must equally praise Moriarty and Sherlock. In fact, since praise, like censure, assumes an absolute, Relativism should neither commend nor condemn, for there is no right and wrong, simply, while convenient, 'human rights', at the whim of whoever gets monopoly power.
This is my disappointment with Sherlock. It's not the homosexualism thing - let those who choose that enjoy, whether morally right or wrong. It's the bigger picture, the propaganda of Relativism, which as C S Lewis wrote in The Abolition of Man, if ultimately pursued has only one logical end, the destruction of humanity. If there is no absolute by which we judge and are judged, there is no moral reason why one with the power should not end all human life, as Alister MacLean's The Satan Bug so cleverly scripted. I fear that Sherlock reflects and therefore reinforces that philosophy: film is propaganda.
A Christian Perspective
I love a good Sci-Fi. This has some twists. So far as plot goes, there are three main persons/positions. Kevin Anjanette (black detective); Bill Templar (white Defence Agency boss); Moon based Alien (aka She). It covers issues of division (black/white; human/alien) and harmony (black/white; human/alien), something like opposing magnets stabilised by the gyroscopic effect of spinning. I write from hindsight. Templar is an undercover alien, send by She to see what we're like. She is peaceful, but unbeknown to her, Templar has decided that we warrant annihilation we offend his intelligence. How can he get his peaceful race to wipe us out? Easy. Though he can't openly get real proof about his alien people being hidden on the dark side of the moon, he'll set up false images, plant them in an unmanned lunar probe, then unearth the pictures, and get Earth to nuke the aliens. He knows such an attack would provoke a counter-attack, destroying humanity. He's a loose gun, and he has an alien or so on earth who are in league with him. Twice, the fact that he's concocted evidence is discovered by his staff and he seeks to silence them. The second informant survives to spill the beans, and Templar goes to Plan B, which includes leaking his hoax images to the public to force the Pentagon's hand, and sacrificing one of his alien colleagues. He must get earth to attack She, in order for She to destroy Earth. Anjanette is putting the pieces together, while the proud Templar is getting ever closer to success. It's suspenseful. We're made aware that aliens, on earth, need inhalers of nitrogen: our air gets up their noses. We keep seeing inhalers coming out, and every asthma sufferer becomes a suspect! Paranoia. Earth, at least the USA, launches a pre-emptive missile to destroy the aliens. Templar warns She of the launch remember he hopes She will then make a pre-emptive or retaliatory strike, destroying humanity. Finally Anjanette defeats him, and begs the aliens for grace. He gets the missile attack aborted; She realises that Templar had betrayed her people, and She calls off their attack. Crisis over, Anjanette relaxes in boyish company, cracking beers and watching dirty wrestling. That's the humanity thing where guys crack each others' skulls with chairs, and audience ratings go up. Templar's widow is there, watching. She excuses herself, goes to the bathroom, and from a hidden compartment takes out an inhaler... This begs the question: if this is what the human race is like, did Templar not have the right idea? It's hard at times to see us from God's perspective, yet all humans are in his image (Gen.9:6). And when we look at the new covenant, we can see that that Image was a wonderful shadow of God's true, alēthinos, Image, which was his one-of-a-kind son, and that we, born in the shadow Image, enter into Christ's Image if we enter into Christ (the Imago Christi). No alien can boast a higher destiny that being in that Image. From scull-cracking kids to true children of God that's what C S Lewis called the true invasion. And if we meet aliens, "even if they have shells or tusks" (C S Lewis), I suspect some will also be in the Imago Christi, our brothers & sisters. Them we should walk with, even as Christian whites could march with Dr Martin Luther King, even if humans call us traitors.
I began to watch, wanly hoping for a decent martial arts action flick. The idea of post-hypnotic control is interestingly scary, and a fifth column composed of national patriots is engaging interaction. But my rule of thumb is to switch off the moment an F-word is wrongly used. As a word for marital sex it's fine, but as a contempt word, precisely because of its core human relationship association, it undermines individuals who speak it and those who hear it - verbal abuse that can batter the mind and undermine us. So, no matter how exciting the film might be, off it's gone, leaving a trace of filth in my gullet. I weep for Seagal.
The Snow Walker (2003)
Good death is primary, survival secondary
The Snow Walker (2003), is ostensibly a film about survival. In fact it's about changing life, not keeping it. There are four characters, and named extras. Two characters are Westernism & Inuitism, as worldviews, and two are Charlie & Kanaalaq, representatives of those worldviews. The clever beginning is of Inuits seeing a figure, like a cross, coming towards them, which the clever ending shows to be Charlie with his backpack) already one with them: they mesh. Going back three months, the Western Yellowknife bar shows both contempt for the apparently inferior Inuits, and that Charlie is a fornicator. Later, after flying into the Arctic tundra, he agrees, for a high price, to fly a dying girl (Kanaalaq) to a Western hospital, but, due to a mechanical problem, their flight crashes, in the tundra wilderness. His response is of futile rage; she keeps her poise and begins to fish. The story moves from his belief in his control, to her being his redemption, physically & spiritually. Bit by bit he moves from seeing her as an ID tag & baggage, to seeing her as a named person, friend, and fellow human being with meaningful re-orientation to teach. They both look beyond cultures. Bit by bit Westernism falls off him: his plane goes, his radio (communications) goes, his coat & boots, go, his matches go. Even his Cokes. She even laughs at this 32 y.o. fornicator for not being married: Westernism might think it funny to marry! His SOS has surely meant his Soul needed saving. He hates his helplessness and previous war life; she, with beauty of soul, draws from the earth, and they physically survive. But, deeper, spirituality is implied. A snowy owl (uppik) appears just before Kanaalaq appears to Charlie's rescue, and appears, only to fly away, after Kanaalaq's supposed death. Kanaalaq had prepared Charlie for her death, a subject she approached without great fear. (In 'Anna Karenina' (8.8), Levin also got past the question of death, to the question of life: purposeful, yes, but is it meaningful?) Charlie's redemption is delayed, as he backtracks to his wrecked plane to await reintegration, but finally he turns his back on that route, and they head north to community. En route she wanders away to die and to help him survive: a good death. The film soon arrives at its beginning: he has arrived from Westernism to Inuitism. We could relate this to Aravis changing from Calormen to Archenlander, and in the deeper journey gaining a foothold in Aslan's country ('The Horse & His Boy': C S Lewis). A sub-theme, worked into this journey, is of Westernism seeking to reclaim Charlie. Once it realises he seems lost to it, it searches ever more intently, until giving up. As one if its people said, "Charlie Halliday is dead": true. Another (Estelle), laments that "all of us are just alone in this world": while Charlie was discovering that with Kanaalaq he's not alone. Ironically, the funeral ovation (Shepherd) prophesied that Charlie had "touched the face of God." He'd certainly gotten nearer, even giving up his mercenary payment, which he'd been given to rescue Kanaalaq, as he buries it in deference to her Inuit beliefs. In time-frames, we have seen a bud open into flower. One can feel that by turning to her people, he had returned to his people.
Silent Night (2002)
Seeing the other side
Silent Night dramatises a search for humanity, with a hint that the spiritual (though mixed with pagan singing to a Christmas Tree) is the key. Honouring hospitality, even under duress, is a big theme. I enjoy war movies, especially when the themes of common humanity & pathos come into play. The German accents should have been better, and native German speakers would have helped. But still, it's nice to relax to a reflective war film, devoid of immoral language, that asks anthropological questions. It is far from blood and gore, nor is it some feminist fantasy of woman putting man to shame, though it is about a mother who bravely laments to her country's soldiers that their fight has been misconceived. For their part they respect her the more for her bravery, and feel the truth of her politically incorrect words but should she be shot? The last character introduced, Capt. Dietrich, aligned to Hitler, levelled his gun... There are some early cringe views of a wounded leg (let the squeamish cover their eyes), and the wounded man soon shrieks in pain as the wound is cauterised (let the squeamish cover their ears). He later gives the opportunity to test how strongly the German leutnant links honour to his sworn word, which in turn shows Pvt. Rassi how the 'other side' can also suffer human tragedies of the heart. Rassi repents of some callousness. Yet the story concludes on the theme that some callousness is a must in war perhaps is in life if "war is but the aggravation of the normal human condition". Honour to one's country, or even humanity, is not the highest duty, but it is a duty, and both sides, American & German, having welcomed the other during a brief Christmas respite between their lines, nevertheless rightly return to their lines, with a nice twist or two.