Steven Spielberg: A Life In Movies

I picked this book up a few months ago because I’ll be watching Saving Private Ryan in the Fall with a film discussion group I’m starting with my job.

I read the reviews of the book online and many of them said, essentially, “She gets the big picture right, but she misses some of the details.” For example, she says Saving Private Ryan won the Oscar for Best Picture. Actually, it was beat by Shakespeare In Love. She also talks about a Road Runner cartoon in one of his movies and how the Road Runner continues to get blown up, fall off cliffs, get hit with anvils, etc… I don’t know what Road Runner cartoon she was watching, but that sounds more like Wile E. Coyote to me.

Aside from that, I have really enjoyed the book and it’s made me want to go through Speilberg’s list of movies one by one. Certainly it’s not the first time I’ve seen many of these movies, he has plenty of classics under his belt (and Jurassic Park is my all-time favorite movie) but there are plenty I haven’t seen and I am really interested in putting these movies in context with is life.

This will be a long term project, one that I will chronicle here on the blog, and I’m really looking forward to it.

You’re welcome to join me. The first movie is Duel from 1971.

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Bard the Troll #2

Yes, I realize it says number 2 and I haven’t posted number 1 yet. Number 1 is almost ready, but this felt more timely.

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The Real Problem of Evil

I’m not sure why this has been on my mind the past few days, but it has. “The problem of evil” is a philosophical argument against the existence of God that is both all loving and all powerful. Basically, it goes like this:

If God is all loving and all powerful, he would get rid of all evil because he wants to (his love) and he can (his power). But there is evil so either, he is not all loving (he can get rid of evil but chooses not to) or he isn’t all powerful (he wants to get rid of evil but can’t).

This is definitely a hard question to answer, especially in our current culture where evil is showcased online on a daily basis. Shootings, human trafficking, politics, scandals, natural disasters, the list goes on and it quickly become overwhelming. It’s natural to wonder, “Where is God and why won’t he do something about all of this?”

But imagine for a moment what would happen if God did get rid of all evil. Don’t think to the big issues like those above, think about your own life. If God got rid of all the evil right now, how much of you would be left? How much of me would be left?

Ok, let’s define some terms here, because perhaps you just caught that I implied that you and I are evil. So, what is ‘evil?’

When we think of evil people, we think of people like Hitler. People who are so beyond anything redeemable. Am I suggesting that you or I are like Hitler? No, not really.

What would God have to do to get rid of all evil? He would have to get rid of everything, from the smallest thing to the biggest thing, that goes against what is good. If even the smallest bad thing is left, evil can still happen.

So God has to get rid of even the smallest inking of evil, which comes back to us. How much of us would be left if God were to get rid of all evil? I can look at my own life and see how much ‘evil’ is in it. I yell at my kid. I get impatient with my wife. I think only about myself far more than I should. I’ve lied. I’ve cheated. I’ve stolen. I’ve been lazy when I should have been working. I’ve worked when I should have rested. I’ve treated people as if they were objects, things to be used rather than image bearers of a holy God.

Does this put me on the level of Hitler? No and I don’t think you are there either but the reality is, I am quite capable of doing what is not right so I still have to ask myself, what would be left of me if God decided to get rid of all evil, of everything that wasn’t good?

Now, as a Christian, I don’t have to worry about this because everything I’ve done wrong and everything I will do wrong has been covered by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Maybe this is why God hasn’t dealt with evil yet. Maybe he’s waiting for more of us to reconcile ourselves with him. He doesn’t want to destroy us and he knows that by destroying evil and everything not good, he would have to destroy us as well.

Jesus seemed to think this was the case. I read this in Matthew 13 this morning:

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,  but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” (v.24-30)

For now God is letting the good and the bad grow together, but one day he will deal with it.

Those are my thoughts. Why do you think God hasn’t dealt with the problem of evil?

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Narnian Prophesy

We’ve been reading through The Chronicles of Narnia with our daughter this year. We’re on the second book, Prince Caspian, and I read this passage yesterday:

“I-I left it too late,” said Susan, in an embarrassed voice. “I was so afraid it might be, you know-one of our kind of bears, a talking bear.” She hated killing things.

“That’s the trouble of it,” said Trumpkin, “when most of the beasts have gone enemy and gone dumb, but there are still some of the other kind left. You never know, and you daren’t wait to see.”

“Poor old Bruin,” said Susan. “You don’t think he was?”

“Not he,” said the Dwarf. “I saw the face and I heard the snarl. He only wanted Little Girl for his breakfast.”…

Lucy shuddered and nodded. When they had sat down she said: “Such a horrible idea has come into my head, Su.”

“What’s that?”

“Wouldn’t it be dreadful if some day in our own world, at home, men started growing wild inside, like the animals here, and still looked like men, so that you’d never know which were which?”

“We’ve got enough to bother about hear and now in Narnia,” said the practical Susan, “without imagining things like that.”

Airline workers willing to abuse passengers. Nobody on the plane willing to give up their own seat so this atrocity would stop. A man live streaming a murder. A president who thinks it’s ok to treat women like pieces of meat. Hundreds of kids, girls and boys, being kidnapped every day and sold into slavery.

And that’s not even mentioning the times the wild animal in myself rears up. When I yell at my kid. When I am short with my wife. When I am nothing but selfish and have no bothers for anyone else.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid we don’t have to imagine such things.

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Happy 50th Anniversary, Pirates of the Caribbean!

No, not the movies, the attraction they’re based on. Pirates of the Caribbean celebrated its 50th anniversary at Disneyland last Saturday so I thought it would be a great time to rewatch the movies, partly because it’s been awhile since I’ve watched any of them and partly to see if my opinions of them have changed.

In general, my opinions didn’t change but I did make some observations that I hadn’t before.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl – In terms of live action movies, Disney hasn’t made a huge mark on cinematic history (animation is another story, of course). There are classic Disney live action movies, like The Love Bug, The Absent-Minded Professor, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and The Parent Trap but there are only two that, in my opinion, transcend being good Disney movies to being good movies. The first is Mary Poppins and the second one is Curse of the Black Pearl. I realize it hasn’t really stood the test of time yet, so I could be wrong, but I’m convinced it will be in the list of the greats years from now.

Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End – I put these two together because, honestly, that’s how best to look at them. They tell one complete story and that story is incredibly convoluted. What I love about these movies is they bring rich layers of mythology to the franchise, much like the Star Wars prequels and I love Davy Jones as a villain. But, also like the prequels, the strength they have in the bigger, world building picture is matched by their weakness in the smaller, plot and character picture. I don’t hate these movies, but neither do I desire to watch them often.

On Stranger Tides – Ian McShane as Blackbeard and bringing in mermaids to the mythology are the best things about this movie. Everything else feels like a caricature of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It’s almost a great Pirates movie but something always feels off. There is an over the topness to the other movies, but this one goes even farther. In the others, we watch Jack stumble his way to victory and wonder if he’s incredibly lucky or if he actually plans things out this way. In this movie, we watch him plan out his elaborate escape at the beginning of the movie and it feels like someone has pulled the curtain, revealing the man behind it.

All of that said, I love the ride and I am hesitantly optimistic about the new movie coming out this summer.

What do you think about the Pirates of the Caribbean movies?

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St. Patrick’s Day

From Saint Patrick by Jonathan Rogers

“Before the Irish, no people had ever submitted to the Christian gospel who had not first submitted to Roman rule. The Irish were a fierce people. They had never bowed to the yoke of a foreign ruler. Why, then, did they yield to a bishop?

One of the Patrick legends may give a clue. Patrick came upon two brothers whose quarrel over their inheritance had just turned into a swordfight. Moved by ‘pity of these unpitying men’ (a most Patrician sentiment), Patrick froze the two brothers in mid-blow. Thus immobilized, the men had no choice but to listen to the gospel of peace as presented by the saint. Having heard his speech, the quarrelsome brothers ‘returned unto the mutual kindness of brotherly love,’ received Patrick’s blessing, and together decided to build a church where once they had tried to kill one another.

Ireland was a violent place, where brother fought brother – or, in any case, tribe fought neighboring tribe – as a way of life. Patrick brought to the Irish a whole new way of living, of seeing the world and their fellow men. He came wielding no earthly power. Such institutional authority as he had would have meant nothing to the Irish. They paused long enough to listen – and they heard a gospel that made sense to them. They saw in Patrick’s person – in his very presence among them – that forgiveness was possible, that hardship need not result in bitterness – and that the meek just might inherit the earth after all.” pages 101-102

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Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee

There is a world where all emotions have been genetically removed from our brains…except fear. Fear keeps everyone in line but it also means everyone is little more than walking corpses.

Into this world comes the ability for a few to experience the full range of emotions. To become alive again.

“‘The Day of Rebirth,’ the old man quietly said at last.

‘Ah, he speaks,’ she said. ‘I had begun to wonder if you were the same manic man I met in the dungeon.’

‘You do realize there hasn’t been a real Rebirth yet.’

‘So say insurgent heretics.’

‘That we are all dead,’ he continued. ‘That at this very moment you and I stand here, hardly more than breathing corpses.’

She unfolded her arms and walked to a small table that held a silver pot of hot tea. ‘And here I was worried you’d gone mad.’

‘Oh, I’m quite mad, I assure you. I have been for a while. Try carrying the truth that the world is dead around with you for nearly a century. To be one of the last of your kind. Too much to say, so much to talk about. Only yourself to talk to. It’ll make you mad.’

She poured the steaming liquid into a porcelain cup. It’s twin sat on the small table nearest the keeper, already to bed and untouched. ‘And yet you believe that I am the one who is mad,’ she said. ‘That in reality you are among the few sane still living.’

‘No, not living.’

She took a sip without tasting it, and then abruptly set the cup down.

‘Peace has reigned for hundreds of years. The Age of Chaos was filled with so much war and pain. Why would you even dream of returning to such a state?’

‘Only corpses rest in peace.’

‘Then leave us dead! Let the living crave what I already have. The world is at peace!’

‘A corpse may rest in peace, but make no mistake, it has no life. No true humanity. No true love or joy, not even true peace, any more than a rock has peace.’

‘And no anguish or ambition or greed or all of the pain that comes with your kind of love.'” pg274-275

What do you think? What does true peace cost?

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