Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS

The House With a Clock In Its Walls, rated PG
***

The House With a Clock In Its Walls is a PG rated dark, mysterious, creative and a bit wacky fantasy film, with some content concerns for Christian parents. The film is directed by Eli Roth (Hostel) in his first film not rated “R”. The screenplay is written by Eric Kripke based on the 1973 young adult novel by John Bellairs.
The film is set in 1955 in the small town of New Zebedee, Michigan. Ten-year-old Lewis, played by Owen Vaccaro (Daddy’s Home, Daddy’s Home 2), is orphaned, his parents having died in a car accident. He is then sent to live in a mysterious Victorian mansion filled with clocks with his eccentric uncle Jonathan, played by two-time Golden Globe nominee Jack Black (Bernie, The School of Rock) who was excellent in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Lewis eventually finds out that his uncle he has never known is a warlock and his uncle’s best friend and neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman, played by two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator), is a witch.   Lewis asks his uncle to teach him magic, which he reluctantly agrees to. Continue reading

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My Review of OCEAN’S 8

Ocean’s 8, rated PG-13
***

Ocean’s 8 is an entertaining, all-women sequel to the Ocean’s trilogy that was launched in 2001, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starred George Clooney as Danny Ocean. Those Ocean’s films were actually a remake of the 1960 Ocean’s 11 film starring the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., etc.).  Soderbergh serves as producer for this film. The film, which features an all-star cast, is directed by four-time Oscar nominee Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Dave, Big), and written by Ross and Olivia Milch.
Oscar winner (The Blind Side) Sandra Bullock stars as Debbie Ocean, the estranged younger sister of Danny. The film begins as Debbie is finishing a five-year prison sentence. Although she convincingly assures the parole board that she is looking forward to the simple life, in reality, she has spent the past five years, eight months and 12 days planning her next big heist. Immediately after being released from prison she cons her way through a department store and into a high-end Manhattan hotel room. So much for the simple life.
Shortly after that Debbie contacts her best friend and nightclub owner Lou, played by two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator), to tell her of her plan to steal a large diamond. The $150 million diamond necklace, weighing in excess of six pounds, is locked in an underground Cartier vault, and only removed for special occasions.  One such event is the Met Gala, the annual fashion extravaganza at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it will be worn by the famous actress Daphne Kluger, played by Oscar winner Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables).
Debbie and Lou then go about putting together their dream team to carry out their audacious plan. Their team will be comprised of all women, because as Debbie says “A ‘him’ gets noticed. A ‘her’ gets ignored. And for once, we want to be ignored.” Each of the women will bring a specific talent to the team.
Their team is comprised of singer Rihanna as the hacker Nine Ball, two-time Oscar nominee Helena Bonham Carter (The Wings of the Dove, The King’s Speech) as Rose Weil, a struggling high-end fashion designer, Golden Globe winner Sarah Paulson (American Crime Story), as Tammy, a former fence (middleman), who is trying to live a quiet life as a mom in the suburbs, rapper-comedian Awkwafina as the pickpocket Constance, and six-time Emmy nominee Mindy Kaling (The Office) as the jeweler Amita.
Fashion plays a big part in this film. Costume design is by Sarah Edwards. She not only outfits Ocean’s gang, but we also see incredible fashion on display at the Met Gala. We see Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour, as well as a number of celebrities at the Gala.
How Ocean’s 8 carry out the heist with the tremendous amount of security around the diamond necklace was entertaining, and includes some plot twists, though the lead up to that was a bit slow.
There is also a subplot of revenge involving one of Debbie’s former lovers, Claude Becker, the art dealer played by Richard Armitage (The Hobbit films, Hannibal). Four-time Emmy winner James Corden (The Late Late Show with James Corden, The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special, The 70th Annual Tony Awards) plays the excitable insurance investigator John Frazier.
The film gets its “PG-13” rating for adult language, including at least one abuse of Jesus’ name. Themes include theft, revenge and deception.
Ocean’s 8 is an entertaining twist on the Oceans films, this time using an all-female crew. The performances by Bullock and Cate Blanchett lead the way for this strong cast.


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My Review of THOR: RAGNAROK

THOR: RAGNAROK, rated PG-13
****

THOR: RAGNAROK, the latest film from Marvel Studios and the third Thor film is an enjoyable action-packed Marvel film with a great cast that contains a lot of humor.
The film is directed by Oscar nominee Taika Waititi (Two Cars, One Night) and written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost. The film has a different feel than previous Thor films, more like a Guardians of the Galaxy film. It includes a lot of humor and some classic rock music by Led Zeppelin. The soundtrack is done by co-founder of the New Wave band Devo, Mark Mothersbaugh. The film has a loose feel, with an amazing 80% of the dialogue being improvised. The film had an estimated budget of $180 million and opened at $120 million in its first weekend in the U.S.
As the film opens, we see that Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, known as the “God of Thunder”, has been captured by a large demon named Surtur, voiced by Clancy Brown. Thor steals the crown Surtur is wearing, which is the key to Ragnarok (an apocalyptic battle in Norse prophesy) being unleashed on Thor’s home Asgard, which will result in total destruction. As Thor returns to Asgard, he finds that his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has been impersonating his father King Odin, played by Anthony Hopkins, four-time Oscar nominee and winner for Silence of the Lambs, who Loki has sent to Earth. Thor is furious with Loki, and the two go to Earth to find Odin. There they encounter Doctor Strange, played by Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) who directs them to Odin, who is in Norway and near death. Before he dies, he tells the brothers that they have an older sister, Hela, played by six-time Oscar nominee and two-time winner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator). Hela is known as “The Goddess of Death”.  At one time she teamed with Odin before he became a man of peace and goodness. Odin tells his sons that upon his death, Hela will return to Asgard and take control; and that is just what she does. Blanchett is excellent as the villain Hela.
Skurge, played by Karl Urban (Star Trek, Lord of the Rings) joins Hela in the takeover of Asgard.
Thor is sent to a planet called Sakaar, where he is captured by Valkyrie, a former Asgardian warrior who is now a bounty hunter who drinks a lot, played by Tessa Thompson (Creed).  Valkyrie takes Thor to the Grandmaster, played well by Oscar nominee Jeff Goldblum (Little Surprises). The Grandmaster uses Thor to compete in his arena against his reigning champion, none other than the Hulk, played by three-time Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo, who also plays Bruce Banner. The Hulk has been on Sakaar for two years, and likes it there.
Can Thor, Hulk and Valkyrie get back to Asgard to save it from Hela and annihilation? They will be assisted by Heimdall, played by Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom).
Content issues include some totally unnecessary adult language, the expected Marvel action violence, and brief rear male nudity, which is played for laughs. The film includes themes of family, sacrifice, friendship and forgiveness.
I thoroughly enjoyed THOR: RAGNAROK. It was a fast-moving, well-acted, entertaining and funny film.