‘The Big Sick’ Is a Movie to Heal Many Ills

The plot for the Big Sick is simple enough. Boy meets girl. In this version of that old story boy is a Pakistani immigrant and an aspiring stand up comedian. Girl is a mid Western charmer working toward a masters degree in psychology. The tried and true plot then proceeds.But, then after we get to the boy loses girl part, we walk into the serious twist on the old plot. Girl is stricken with a rapidly progressing infection, and is put under with an induced coma, while the doctors work … [Read more...]

Radio Dreams, Immigrant Dreams, A Movie for Our Times

The plot of Radio Dreams is simple enough. A Farsi language radio station in San Francisco has made a booking coup, well beyond its normal range. They're bringing the heavy metal band Metallica to jam with Kabul Dreams, an Afghani rock band.The story turns on that single day as the hours extend on and Metallica does not show up.It captures perfectly an immigrant community filled with hopes and constraints, and perhaps living more into the constraints.But, Radio Dreams is also a … [Read more...]

Wonder Woman: A Film for Our Times

Jan and I went to see Wonder Woman Sunday afternoon. Because of the buzz, and the opening weekend rush, we pre-purchased tickets at one of the new crop of theaters featuring barcaloungers, and, critically, assigned seating.As we settled into the clips announcing forthcoming films especially curated to accompany the film, I began to feel slightly anxious. Lots and lots of things blowing up. Which, hey, I'm a guy, I do like. But, often blowing things up becomes a substitute for, you know, a … [Read more...]

We Went to See Moonlight: And I Give it a Reluctant, but strong Recommendation.

Yesterday Jan and I followed our almost regular program of going to a late matinee and then to dinner.We'd feared we were going to miss Moonlight, but I think because of Oscar buzz it has had a second life. And, so, we were able to get to the theater while it is still making the rounds as first run.If you google "moonlight" and "review" you will see it is wildly popular among the professional reviewers. My google search has A. O. Scott from the New York Times telling us "Perhaps the most … [Read more...]

Building Fences, Tearing Down Fences: A Review of the Movie Fences

Sometimes the timing is just perfect. For me yesterday morning I preached a sermon at the Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church in Canoga Park, California on the book of Jonah. There I reflected on how we can, whoever we are, and whatever our limitations, live into something larger. In that case the story of a complete jerk being a prophet speaking true. Then, in the evening Jan and I went to see Fences.Now one of the reasons I'm hesitant to call my reflections on the movies we see "reviews" … [Read more...]

Our Fucking City: A Review of Patriots Day

My interest in going to see Patriots Day was a mixed bag. I don't have much of a taste for disaster films or their closely related. And I was, I admit, mildly put off by the idea of a "heartfelt tribute" or "inspiring story" as was said of Patriots Day. I like uplift as much as the next person, but I have a pretty deep aversion to treacle.On the other hand Jan and I spent a fraction shy of fifteen years in Eastern New England, half of that in Newton, an inner ring suburb of Boston, the … [Read more...]

Martin Scorsese’s Silence: a Review

Martin Scorsese's latest offering, Silence, actually enjoyed a special initial release for the pope at Vatican City. It will officially open on the 23rd of December. Last night Jan and I went to Paramount Studios for a screening of Silence for journalists and bloggers. Frankly, I think people might find it an odd Christmas movie. As we walked out Jan said, "Now, that was harrowing."There are two brief quotes from reviewers that I believe taken together say what one is going to encounter … [Read more...]

Reading Stephen Batchelor’s After Buddhism

I can't believe Stephen Batchelor's After Buddhism sat in my bedside pile of books for a full year. Having just finished it, I'm really sorry I waited so long.The book opens with two quotes. The first from the Buddha himself. “The dharma is clearly visible, immediate, inviting, uplifting, to be personally sensed by the wise.” Paired with it is one from the ninth century Chan master Linji. “The dharma of the buddhas has no special undertakings. Just act ordinarily, without trying to do anyth … [Read more...]