Film Capsules May 2015

To see the full review at the Visual Parables site, click onto the title of the film.

 Avengers: Age of Ultron

Rated PG-13. Psalm 82:3; Ecclesiastes 4:9-11.

This superhero epic includes some of the most intricate battle scenes yet filmed, as well as some quiet moments when we see the human side of being a superhero. This means that though they might be “super,” they still are flawed human beings, as especially in the case of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. In a riff on the Frankenstein story, Tony, out to protect humanity, goes against the advice of his colleagues and creates A.I. encased in one of his body armor suits, thus creating Ultron, who breaks away, bent on destroying the human race.

 Ex Machina

Rated R. Genesis 11:4a & 6; Psalm 8:4.

Also about Artificial Intelligence, this features an arrogant billionaire genius who invites for a week his company’s naïve computer wiz to his mansion/laboratory in the middle of Alaska. The young man discovers he is not there for a vacation but to test Ava, a robot with a human face and equipped with A.I. As the three interact we see the dominance in their relationships shifting, until we wonder who is manipulating whom? Turns out this is similar to the Avengers film not only in regard to A.I., but also their sharing the Frankenstein theme, this film leaning more toward the horror than the adventure genre.

 The Age of Adaline

Rated PG-13. Genesis 2:18a; Song of Solomon 8:6-7.

What would it be worth to you, especially if you are a woman, if those potions or medical techniques advertised to take “years off” your appearance could actually stop the aging process itself? Turns out through a freak accident in the Thirties this is what happened to Adaline, but for her it is not a blessing, not, as the years go by, your daughter looks like your grandmother. Adaline has through the years kept secret her status, moving and taking on a new identity every ten years or so. But now she has met a man who persists in wooing he—and it turns out that his father was a part of her past!

 Danny Collins

Rated R. Luke 15:17a; Romans 12:2.

Based on a true story, a young musician 40 years ago peaks too early so that he is imprisoned by his ardent fans who insist that he keeps singing his original hit. When his manager reveals a letter written to him by John Lennon advising him to stay true to his creative instinct and even invites him to call him up when in London, Danny decides to re-invent his career, starting by going to New Jersey to connect with the son from a one-night stand with a groupie whom he has never met. But can he overcome decades of sloth and giving in to his public, as well as win over a son not pleased to see him? One of Al Pacino’s best roles in a long time!

 The Water Diviner

Rated R. 2 Samuel 1:27.

When the water divining Australian farmer Joshua Connor travels to Turkey, he enters into the adventure of a lifetime while searching for what happened to his three sons who fought in the disastrous WW 1 Battle of Gallipoli. A powerful film that marks the directorial debut of star Russell Crowe. Lovers of adventure and romance, bolstered by gorgeous cinemaphotography will relish this epic.

 Woman in Gold

PG-13. Proverbs 21:15. Luke 18:5. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

This “based on a true story” film follows the long uphill struggle of an American lawyer and his Austrian-American client for justice. Helen Mirren is her usual magnificent self as an 80+ year-old Jewish widow who hires a young lawyer to retrieve the portrait of her beloved aunt that the Nazis had stolen along with a number of other valuable art treasures. It turns out that the painting is Gustav Klimt’s famous Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, renamed by the Nazis as Woman in Gold. The Austrian museum and government do everything in their power to block the pair, regarding the painting as “The Mona Lisa of Austria.”

 Home

Rated PG. Romans 12:2 (J. B. Phillips); Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:9; 1 John 4:8a.

I was surprised that this animated feature, reviewed by critics so lukewarmly that I delayed getting out to it, contained so many peacemaking themes. When the six-legged Boov, fleeing from a superior enemy, invade Earth they literally suck up people in giant vacuums and deposit them in theme park towns scattered over Australia. They then occupy the vacant buildings in the rest of the world. One of them named Oh is an outsider because he, unlike other Boovs, likes neighbors and parties. When he meets the one human left behind in America, the adolescent Tip, the two overcome their initial hostility, setting off together on a quest for her mother. They even manage to transform the invaders and their enemy by the end of the quest. Parents will welcome another female empowerment tale, this time the girl being an emigrant from the Caribbean.

 Monkey Kingdom

Rated PG. Luke 1:52-53.

The latest Disney True Life Adventure has breath-taking shots of Sri Lanka monkeys living near an ancient abandoned city, as well as of exotic birds and predators. From the thousands of feet of film they have fashioned a story with the Biblical theme of the vindication of the oppressed by focusing on a monkey they name Maya. She is kept at the bottom of the social order, forcibly kept out of the giant tree providing their main food as well as from the huge rocks that provide refuge during the rains. How Maya becomes a mother and eventually emerges as a leader makes for an exciting story.

 Little Boy

Rated PG-13. Matthew 17:20b; Matthew 26:39.

Taking place from the beginning through the end of World War Two in a small town on the coast of California, this faith-based film is well intentioned—there is the outsider theme involving a bullied boy and an elderly Japanese American persecuted by the town’s citizens—but the lack of subtlety (a major problem found in most faith-based films) confines this to an audience of believers willing to overlook its many flaws. At least it offers a positive image of the clergy, a priest who serves as the boy’s conscience and mentor. It also offers an opportunity to discuss faith and miracles as opposed to magic and coincidence.

 The Longest Ride

Rated PG-13. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5.

It’s a Nicholas Sparks film, so you pretty well know the plot if you have seen any of the multitude of other films based on one of his popular books. The twist this time is that there are two love stories, the usual between two attractive young whites, and a second, told through a box of love letters written by a Jewish man, most of them while he was fighting in World War Two. This is an enjoyable date film for those who believe that “love conquers all,” even if the young couple are intellectually and culturally oceans apart.

 Clouds of Sils Maria

Rated R.

Juliet Binoche plays a veteran actress forced to confront her own ageing process when she agrees to take part in a play based on a movie that launched her career 20 years earlier. She then played the younger woman who manipulated an older actress, but now is suited for the older woman. As she rehearses lines with her personal assistant, whom she has come to depend too much upon, the lines could be either from the play or from their own relationship. Her meeting with the rebellious young actress goes well, but what will happen they begin working together?

 On DVD

A.D.

Rated PG.

During this period while the Hollywoodized A.D. The Bible Continues is being shown on NBC, you might want to obtain the original A.D. that was broadcast as a 9-hour miniseries in 1985. It has been reduced down to 6 hours, with two love stories between Romans and Jews interwoven between the familiar stories of Peter and Paul from the Book of Acts. In this more sober Biblical film there are no disciples being chased across the rooftops of Jerusalem or sword-carrying Ninja angels.

 Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem

Rated NR. Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Luke 18:3.

This Israeli anti-patriarchal film has left the Esquire Theater already, but is worth searching out. Featuring strong performances by its ensemble cast, its story unfolds over a long five-year period during which its heroine and her lawyer tries to convince a panel of three Orthodox rabbis that she should be granted a divorce from her uncaring husband. In that country only a rabbinic court can grant this, and then only if the husband agrees. Only this husband will not, and thereby is Viviane’s dilemma.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply