Archive for the 'movies' Category

Greedy Lying Bastards

Greedy Lying Bastards Trailer

Greedy Lying Bastards is a documentary film examining the power, corruption and greed within the fossil fuel industry .


Roger Ebert has an entertaining review of Luther, as much as I disagree with his take. However, he got the main point correct:

It is unlikely audiences will attend this film for an objective historical portrait; its primary audience is probably among believers who seek inspiration.

The primary audience for this film is Protestants who will watch it to cheer for their hero. And contrary to what Ebert suggests, you will not be disappointed. This is a tremendous film, highly recommended.

The challenges of making a religious film, and wisely the film makers decided to go with the religious approach, are great. It is just too easy to be too cliché, to bombastic, or too holy. This film avoids all those errors. Neither is it a period piece, not a costume drama. This is an exciting movie about an exciting story. Excellent scenes with horses riding through dark forests, french horns, and everything that could be desired.

The music is excellent. Richard Harvey‘s score perfectly supports the script. At first I was disappointed that he did not incorporate A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. But upon reflection that might have been too much of a Protestant sledgehammer. He did use one of Luther’s hymns, one I did not recognize. This movie could have used more of Luther the musician. A few scenes of Fiennes playing the lute and singing would have gone a long way to brightening this very intense movie.

The Protestants who will love this film will fall into two groups, those with only a vague knowledge of the historical events in this film, and those of us who have read numerous histories of the Reformation. It is very difficult to satisfy both groups, but this film does.

The film opens with the famous lightening storm where the young Luther promises God to become a monk in exchange for his life and takes us to the Augsburg Confession.

Ebert again:

He must have been quite a man. I doubt if he was much like the uncertain, tremulous figure in “Luther,” who confesses, “Most days, I’m so depressed I can’t even get out of bed.”

This is actually drawn directly from the historical record. Luther was famously subject to prolonged periods of deep depression. He was also famous for his arguments with the devil. If you visit Erfut Castle you can see where Luther threw ink at the devil. The stain is still there.

My favorite scenes are the exchanges between Luther and Spalatin, such as early in the film when Luther has been summoned to Rome and Luther says “I cannot believe that the Pope would issue such an order,” whereupon Spalatin replies “welcome to the world of politics.” There is another great exchange in Erfurt Castle where Spalatin says, of translating the bible into German, “It’s the thing Rome fears most,” whereupon Luther responds with a sly smile, “Well, you must blame the author for that.”

Alfred Molina is brilliant as Johann Tetzel, playing the infamous seller of indulgence with just the perfect blend of stern Dominican and ingenious traveling salesman.

The iconic scene of nailing the 95 theseses is done brilliantly, with the pounding of the hammer echoing into the nave of Castle Church, and by inference, every church in Europe. The scene is mixes with scenes of printing presses (who might as well be listed as a supporting cast member) and crashing indulgence sales.

I like the Cardinal Cajetan in this movie and sympathize with his frustration. Like the historical Cajetan, the one in the movie portrayed as a reformer. However, the historical Cajetan was, like most Dominicans of that era, far too keen on burning people.

The question arises as to why they did not burn Luther after his meeting with Cajetan in 1518. The reason is that burning Luther would have offended Frederick the Wise. Since Frederick was an Elector of the Holy Roman Empire, and since the Emperor Maximilian I was ailing, the Pope did not want to risk offending any of the Electors, lest the Papacy lose influence on the selection of the next Holy Roman Emperor. Ranke details how Frederick the Wise required a promise of a trial in Germany for anyone accused of a crime, in anticipation of charges against Luther, before he voted for Charles V for Emperor.

Ebert again:

The movie follows the movie hat rule: The more corrupt the character, the more absurd his hat. Of course Luther has the monk’s shaven tonsure. He’s one of those wise guys you find in every class, who knows more than the teacher. When one hapless cleric is preaching “there is no salvation outside the Church,” Luther asks, “What of the Greek Christians?” and the professor is stumped.

The professor of course is the famous Andreas Karlstadt. This is the challenge of telling Luther’s story; Luther is surrounded by so many historical giants. The uprising that Karlstadt would lead was not Protestant versus Catholics, but Anabaptist radicals against conservative reformers. Protestantism began to fracture from the very moment of its birth.

The excommunication scene is wonderfully presented. The text of the bull is read over a scene of Leo X spearing a boar with a sound track of french horns blazing. It could not be more splendidly told.

I like the way this movie handles Luther at the Diet of Worms. The very quiet voice that Fiennes employs is counter intuitive, but creates a great tension. Of course he uses the most famous words Luther never said, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Luther never said that, but since that is the only thing people know about him, you can’t leave it out of the movie. The rest of the speech is drawn directly from the historical record and it pretty splendid that Luther was brave enough to look the Emperor in the eye and say it. It made him a national hero.

Ebert again:

When he leaves the priesthood and marries the nun Katharina von Bora (Claire Cox), where is the passion that should fill him? Their romance is treated like an obligatory stop on the biographical treadmill, and although I am sure Katharina told Martin many tender things, I doubt one of them was “We’ll make joyous music together.” This Martin Luther is simply not a joyous music kind of guy.

Compared to the historical record the movie gives us a red hot romance. Luther was very worried about the nuns who had run away from the convents and was anxious to find husbands for all of them. Katharina von Bora was the only one left and she suggested that she could marry Luther or one of the other reformers (whose name now escapes me). Luther decided that he would marry her. It was not until he was married that he decided he really really really really liked Katharina von Bora. In all his letters he constantly praises his wife.

This is a wonderful movie and highly recommended.

Attention Sarah Bolger fans!

Sarah Bolger has a web site.

Now if she would only put on a video clip of last night’s famous scene where she says a public prayer for her father wherein she slips in a reference to the Virgin Mary, crossed herself, and finished with a Latin benediction.

Clever script writing and brilliantly acted.

Showtime REALLY needs to give Bolger a Queen Mary series. She is the only one who offers a multidimensional Mary Tudor.

Garment envy

Sarah Bolger as Mary Tudor

I want that hat.

Sarah Bolger as Mary Tudor

The Daily Beacon

Since Thomas Cromwell (James Frain) was beheaded at the end of season three, Bolger seems poised to take from Frain the slot of most captivating actor in the series. Bolger’s acting is the best argument for a follow-up Showtime series, chronicling Mary and Elizabeth. Her Mary is so intense and devout that it’s easy to see how she’d earn the nickname “Bloody Mary” later in life.

Actually Sarah Bolger comes close to redeeming one of history’s least sympathetic characters. Mary Tudor was jinxed from the get go. How could she ever accept the Reformation? How could she betray the memory of a mother who had sacrificed so much to defend her legitimacy?

Mary’s Catholicism was heroic in the young Mary. She put herself at risk for her religion. It would be fascinating to see what Bolger did with the role as Queen Mary. I hope she has the opportunity.

Z excerpt

check out the lines about no left or right, only one voice

Michael Moore’s Slacker Uprising — Trailer

Do you live in Harrisonburg, Virginia?

The Courtsquare Theater is showing Jimmy Carter Man From Plains.

War on Greed

What would you do if you lived in one of Henry Kravis’ mansions for a day during the holidays?

Roger Ebert reviews Jimmy Carter Man From Plains

Chicago Sun Times

Jimmy Carter could be sitting in the shade, watching his peanuts grow, but at 83, he maintains a ceaseless schedule of travel, speeches, talk-show appearances and meetings, most devoted to his obsession with peace in the Middle East. Jonathan Demme’s documentary, “Jimmy Carter Man From Plains,” shows a man whose beliefs, both political and religious, seem to reinvigorate him; he even carries his own luggage in airports and hotels.

Demme, a skilled documentarian as well as a considerable feature director (“Silence of the Lambs,” “Philadelphia”), follows Carter in late 2006 on a tour to promote his newest book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. The former president, who brokered the famous Camp David handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, believes there will never be peace in the region if the two sides do not talk and eventually agree, and throughout the tour, he is picketed and challenged by pro-Israel demonstrators, who especially dislike his use of the word “apartheid.” We get the feeling he might have chosen another word if he’d realized how that one would upstage rational discussion about his book.

Had Carter used any other word the enormity of what the Israelis are doing would not penetrate. There is no way you can tell the truth about the Middle East without raising a storm. Those who wish to wage peace must be prepared to face this storm.