Film Capsules August 2015

Click onto the title to see the full review.

 The Stanford Prison Experiment

Rated R. Matthew 7:12; Romans 7:14-15

This fact-based cautionary tale of a psychological experiment gone awry turns out to be as thrilling and as horrifying as most supernatural horror films. In the summer of 1971 the Navy commissioned the head of Stamford U.’s psychology department to study the effects of imprisonment upon those captive and those guarding them. The 24 paid student volunteers are randomly assigned as prisoners and guards. Before the first day had ended the guards were abusing their authority, and most of the “prisoners” were accepting their mistreatment—until…


Mr. Holmes

Rated PG. Genesis 2:18a; Ecclesiastes 4:9

You have never seen the famed Bakers Street detective played before as Ian McKellan plays him in Bill Condon’s morality tale exploring the need of even the most rational person for companionship. Holmes is 93 years old, returning from a visit to Japan to his rural English home where a housekeeper and her young son take care of him. The friendship between the old rationalist is a delight to see—and proves helpful in finding the solution to the detective’s one unsolved crime involving a woman and her husband dating back to just after the Second World War.


Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet

Rated PG. Proverbs 2:1-5.

This animated version of the popular collection of philosophical/religious poem can be enjoyed by young and old, the gorgeous animation appealing to the senses of all, and older viewers enjoying again listening to 8 of the book’s 26 poems, made all the more appealing by the warm voice of Liam Neeson. Actress Salma Hayek produced and lends her voice to the film, with Roger Allers (The Lion King) directing and 8 other world renowned animators creating visuals for the 8 poems. Opening soon in our region, this is a “not to be missed” film!


Irrational Man

Rated PG. Isaiah 5:20-21.

In this film that reminded me of Crimes and Misdemeanors Woody Allen is in fine form again in a film set in a small Rhode Island college. A popular philosophy professor has joined the faculty, drawing the attention of both women professors and students. Said prof, once having been a social activist coming to the aid of the oppressed in several countries, is now down on life because nothing seems changed. His lectures on the Existentialist philosophers are popular, but his personal life is a shambles…but when he discovers that a certain corrupt judge is threatening a poor mother and he decides to commit “the perfect murder” to remove him, he rediscovers the joys of life. The unexpected developments raise the question of whether or not this almost cynical filmmaker believes whether or not there is moral arc to the universe.


Batkid Begins

Rated PG. Matthew 18:5

This documentary will bring a tear or two to your eyes as you watch the citizens of San Francisco, from thousands of local citizens to the police chief and mayor and media stars, turn out to make a special day for a small boy battling leukemia, all the incredible arrangements made by the head of the regional Make a Wish Foundation.



Rated PG. Proverbs 14:22.

This prequel to the two Despicable Me films takes us back to the beginning of Earth when the little creatures called Minions arose to seek out and serve the most evil creature alive, beginning with Tyrannosaurus Rex to Egyptians, Dracula, Napoleon, their own ineptness always leading to the downfall of their master. Three of them in the modern world come to New York, then a VillainCon in Orlando where they attach themselves to the world’s first female Super Villain, who takes them to London to steal the crown and jewels of the Queen. A hilarious reversal of values spoof with laughs for young and old.



Rated PG-13. Mark 10:31.

In this parable of “the last shall be first” three buddies and a former enemy join forces to save the world from an invasion by aliens who got the wrong impression from a NASA deep space voyage. The scientists back in the 1980s had included various items to represent our civilization, including current video games such Pac-Man and Space Invaders. Seems the aliens mistook the games as a challenge to go to war. Goofy but fun.


Ricki and the Flash

Rated R. Luke 15:17a; 1 Corinthians 16:14

Meryl Streep is a delight as the Prodigal Mother who years earlier had left her husband and three children because her urge to produce rock music was stronger than her maternal instincts. She flies back from the West Coast when her grown daughter tried to commit suicide, discovering upon arrival that one of her two sons is planning a wedding to which she has not been invited. Lots of amusing as well as heart wrenching moments that lead to an Easter-like development and a reconciliation as bittersweet as the one in the other Streep film with a similar plot, Kramer Vs. Kramer.


Ant Man

Rated PG-13. Psalm 34:18

The origin of this Marvel superhero involves a heart-warming father-little daughter tale in which the just out of prison father has difficulty finding and holding a job—until the scientist who has developed a secret shrinking serum invites him to become Ant-Man, who must go up against an industrialist who wants to use the serum to develop an unbeatable army of tiny super soldiers.


Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation

Rated R. Psalm 34:21.

Consider this the cinematic version of one of those super energy drinks or an over two-hour roller coaster ride. There is a plot and some human interaction as our Tom Cruise super hero (well almost, and he does also eschew tights, tall boots, and a cape), assisted by some faithful friends, endures all kinds of perils in order to thwart an evil organization so secret that he cannot prove its existence to the head of the CIA, who wants to shut down Cruise’s division.

On Video

These left our art house theaters all too soon, but should soon be available on video.

 Testament of Youth

Rated PG-13. Proverbs 25:21

This 5-star film left the art house circuit before I could get the word out. Based on the memoir of the great English peace activist Vera Brittain, it recounts her experience as a WW 1 nurse who lost her brother and her lover in battle, thus arriving at her strong desire to work for peace. This beautifully produced and acted period drama deserves more attention that it received while in the all too few theaters that showed it.


Infinitely Polar Bear

Rated R. Psalm 38:11; Romans 7:19

A Boston bi-polar father has to take care of his two daughters when his almost ready to leave him wife decides to enroll in an 18 month MBA course in NYC so she can get a decent job that will support all of them. High drama and low (slightly) comedy at times, this film has us rooting for a tormented man who wants to do the right thing but whose good intentions are too frequently sabotaged by his illness.


The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared

Rated R. Psalm 59:1-4

If you liked Forest Gump you should enjoy this spoof in which the elderly resident climbs out a window and sets out on a journey pursued by a policeman and some thugs, the latter because he accidentally came into possession of a suitcase full of their drug moment. He picks up companions along the way, and also has memories of his colorful past. These include his befriending General Franco, Joseph Stalin, Robert Oppenheimer, Harry Truman, and Einstein (Herbert, not Albert). Crazy and fun, the antics even involving the death of a murderous thug by a pet elephant.

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