Academy Awards fiasco

Hollywood was feeling good.  The Academy Awards show featured continual Trump-bashing and the “Oscars So White” controversy was put to rest, with black people well-represented in all categories and winning lots of awards.

But at the grand finale, the announcement of the climactic “Best Picture” award, presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced that the winner was La La Land.  But they had been given the wrong envelope!  The La La Land producers were giving their speeches, until they were interrupted with the news that it was all a mistake.  Moonlight, the coming of age film about a young gay black man, was really the winner!  Pandemonium!

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Actors vs. Trump

Meryl_Streep_At_The_2014_SAG_Awards_(12024455556)_(cropped)Meryl Streep took the occasion of her lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes to give a blistering speech against president-elect Donald Trump.  See Mollie Hemingway’s critique of her speech.

Now actors have the same right as all other citizens to criticize their public officials.  This, along with other recent “public service” spots featuring actors and their political causes, does raise another issue:  acting outside of one’s vocation.
Actors have the vocation of effectively speaking lines written by someone else.  (It has always bothered me that actors get all of the attention in Hollywood, while those who write the scripts that they recite remain largely unknown by the public.)  They generally have no particular expertise in other areas, yet they regularly testify at Congressional hearings on a wide range of non-acting topics. [Read more…]

Martin Scorsese on vocation

Martin_Scorsese_by_David_ShankboneRenowned film director Martin Scorsese talks about vocation in a recent interview.  He didn’t make it through seminary but started to realize that you don’t have to be a priest to have a vocation.

I have noticed more and more Catholics who have started understanding vocation in Lutheran terms.

Scorsese also discusses his new film Silence, based on Shusaku Endo’s classic novel about the persecution of Jesuit missionaries in Japan in the 17th century.  Currently in limited release, the movie is being hailed by some of those who have seen it as one of the truly great Christian films.  If you have seen it, please report.

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Debbie Reynolds dies, one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher

Reynolds_-_Fisher_-_1955Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia in the Star Wars films, died last week.  One day later, her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, also died.

Her father, singer Eddie Fisher, abandoned his family to marry Elizabeth Taylor (who would later abandon him to marry Richard Burton).  He died in 2010.

Reynolds was known for playing the wholesome ingenue in scores of classic movies.  She also sang and danced on stage and in musicals such as Singin’ in the Rain.   

Carrie lived a life plagued with mental illness and drug addiction, which she chronicled with sensitivity and wit in a series of memoirs and novels.  She had been estranged from her mother for many years, but they reconciled and became close.  Reynolds was reportedly devastated by her daughter’s death and her emotional devastation brought on her death.

Carrie was a “princess” of Hollywood royalty, and the story of her family is one of both great cruelty and great love.

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The Christmas stories of Connie Willis & her favorite Christmas movies

Connie Willis, MiracleConnie Willis is an award-winning science fiction author and a deft satirist of contemporary foibles.  (Read her novel Bellwether.  Never again will you take seriously fashions, trends, or being cool.)  She is also a Christian.  (For more on her biography, go here.)

She has published a collection of short stories about Christmas–gift idea!–entitled Miracles and Other Christmas Stories.   I’m reading them as part of my Advent and Christmas observance and enjoying them greatly.  Some of them are of the Miracle on 34th Street-type warm-hearted type, only funnier, others are darker but thought-provoking, and some are about the True Meaning of Christmas.

Also of value in that volume is her introduction, in which she discusses the genre and gives her favorite Christmas stories. She then discusses Christmas movies.  After a gentle critique of It’s a Wonderful Life and an illuminating reading of said Miracle on 34th Street, she gives her favorite movies, most of which you will probably never have heard of.  So we dug up three of them that I’ll tell you about after the jump. [Read more…]

Vocation in Hacksaw Ridge

Desmond_Doss_CMH_awardNotice how many movies are about vocation.  For example, consider Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson’s movie about Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector who won the Medal of Honor.  A medic, he rescued 75 wounded servicemen in the Battle of Okinawa.

I haven’t seen the film yet, but a review in World Magazine by Sophia Lee quotes a passage that goes to the heart of the doctrine of vocation.  Read it and my discussion after the jump. [Read more…]