• Movie Reviews 19 hours ago

    Film in review – “Rosewater”

    Film in review – “Rosewater”

    by Ronald P. Salfen
    There are a couple bothersome things about this film that get in the way of its working well as a “true story.” It’s about a journalist, Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal), born in Iran but writing for Newsweek as an American reporter, being arrested and imprisoned in Iran while covering their 2009 elections. Kept mostly in solitary confinement for 100 days, the movie is about Bahari’s struggles to remain sane while continually protesting his innocence, even as he was forced to sign documents that in fact admitted that he was… continue reading...
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  • Movie Reviews 19 hours ago

    Film in review – “The Theory of Everything”

    Film in review – “The Theory of Everything”

    by Ronald P. Salfen
    The story of Stephen Hawking is a compelling one, and this film does a very credible job of developing it. Of particular interest is the way they depict the early days of Hawking’s Cambridge career when he was just another student – a promising one, sure, but somewhat intermittent in fulfilling his homework obligations (depending on whether it challenged/interested him). He spends most of his time with his fellow science majors drinking in the pub, talking, and yes, occasionally going to dances. Which is where he met Jane (Felicity Jones),… continue reading...
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  • Movie Reviews 2 days ago

    Film in review – “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part One”

    Film in review – “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part One”

    by Ronald P. Salfen
    There are negatives at the start. First, this movie does not stand alone. They assume way too much about what the viewers would already know from watching the first two installments (do we really remember everything from last year and the year before?). Plus, they leave us hanging with the story line, because there’s a “Part Two” coming out next year. So they are not even trying to attract a walk-in audience here – just those who are already fans (or else you will have to have a lot explained… continue reading...
    ShareShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail to someone

Film in review – “Rosewater”

Rosewater_poster

There are a couple bothersome things about this film that get in the way of its working well as a “true story.” It’s about a journalist, Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal), born in Iran but writing for Newsweek as an American reporter, being arrested and imprisoned in Iran while covering their 2009 elections. Kept mostly in solitary confinement for 100 days, the movie is about Bahari’s struggles to remain sane while continually protesting his innocence, even as he was forced to sign documents that in fact admitted that he was a spy. The first problem is that Bernal is Mexican – not Iranian or even remotely Persian. His English is thickly accented, but then, so is everyone else’s in this movie, so maybe the director (first-timer Jon Stewart) assumed nobody would notice the difference. Well, at the very least, Bernal is an accomplished actor and he is convincing in the reporter’s role. But why do we show him confined in a cell for 100 days with his hair never getting longer (nor his … [Read more...]

Film in review – “The Theory of Everything”

Theory_of_Everything

The story of Stephen Hawking is a compelling one, and this film does a very credible job of developing it. Of particular interest is the way they depict the early days of Hawking’s Cambridge career when he was just another student – a promising one, sure, but somewhat intermittent in fulfilling his homework obligations (depending on whether it challenged/interested him). He spends most of his time with his fellow science majors drinking in the pub, talking, and yes, occasionally going to dances. Which is where he met Jane (Felicity Jones), the “helpmate” who changed his life. Because right about the time Mr. Hawking was beginning to dazzle his professors with his creative academic work and startling outside-the-box thinking, he began to develop debilitating physical symptoms. When the diagnosis was confirmed, it was worse than everyone feared: he’d contracted ALS. Otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease (though few of Hawking’s Cambridge friends knew anything about Lou Gehrig). … [Read more...]

Film in review – “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part One”

MockingjayPart1Poster3

There are negatives at the start. First, this movie does not stand alone. They assume way too much about what the viewers would already know from watching the first two installments (do we really remember everything from last year and the year before?). Plus, they leave us hanging with the story line, because there’s a “Part Two” coming out next year. So they are not even trying to attract a walk-in audience here – just those who are already fans (or else you will have to have a lot explained to you before you go). Second negative: this movie is very dark, both literally and figuratively. Many of the scenes are shot underground where desperate rebels are hiding, all wearing black jumpsuits for solidarity; but even when we go above ground, all is rubble and smoking ruin because we’re in the middle of a civil war here. And nobody is playing nice. Third negative: you don’t shoot down a jet fighter with a bow and arrow. Actually, they have our heroine hit one fighter, which then crashes … [Read more...]

Film in review – “Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Birdman_poster

This is a great movie for theater lovers, and a pretty good one for everybody else. Michael Keaton is superb in the main role. He plays Riggan, a once-famous costumed hero who has now kind of fallen on hard times. (I know, the premise was similar in “The Incredibles,” but this one is aimed at the adults, not the kids.) He's thrown all his eggs into one basket: trying to put together a new Broadway play (or actually a re-adaption of an old one, which wasn't quite a classic in the first place, and this production isn't, either). It's beset, at first, with a primary actor who just isn't good enough. The problem is that he's already been cast, and it's too close to opening night to switch horses. Or is it? Riggan's lead actress, the eager but inexperienced Lesley (Naomi Watts), suggests someone whom she is, ahem, really close to at the moment, Mike (Edward Norton). Mike is a veteran stage actor who's recently been fired (or quit… or whatever) from the project he was working on and is … [Read more...]

Unauthorized actions: Memorandum from executive leaders of thirteen presbyteries

Date: November 13, 2014 To: The Rev. Marilyn Gamm, Chair, Presbyterian Mission Agency Board Cc: Linda Valentine, Executive Director From: Executive Leaders of Thirteen Presbyteries* Subject: Unauthorized Actions As executive leaders of thirteen presbyteries, we strive with volunteer presbyters to be good stewards of Presbyterian funds dedicated to the mission and ministry of the PC USA. Frequently, we are first to be asked about decisions of the larger church, to interpret their purpose, to clarify their financial implications, and to describe anticipated outcomes. In this way, we inform church leaders and members how their contributions are allocated by the church's councils in light of authorized mission priorities and according to established fiduciary policies. We collaborate with executive leaders across the church in exercising our call and privilege to administer Christ's mission through the PC USA, faithfully and truthfully. Because of our unique role in church wide … [Read more...]