Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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My Review of FORD V. FERRARI

Ford v. Ferrari, rated PG-13

Ford v. Ferrari is the real-life story of the Ford Motor Company trying to revive their sagging sales by taking on Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race in France. The film is well-made, directed and acted, but has too much adult language to be considered family friendly. The film is directed by Oscar nominee James Mangold (Logan), and written by Jez Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow), John-Henry Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow), and Jason Keller. The film runs a lengthy 152 minutes (but doesn’t seem that long), and had a budget of nearly $100 million.
The sales at the Ford Motor Company are slipping in 1963. Marketing executive Lee Iacocca, played by John Bernthal, comes up with the idea of reviving the company and appealing to young drivers by winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race. To facilitate this, Ford attempts to buy out Enzo Ferrari, played by Remo Girone, and his company, which has won four of the past five 24 Hours of Le Mans races.  (SPOILER ALERT*** But just before the deal was to close, Enzo Ferrari pulls out, disagreeing with Ford’s demand to retain control. As a result, the bankrupt Ferrari was bought by Fiat. When the deal falls through, Henry Ford II, played by Tracy Letts (Lady Bird), decides to go to war with Ferrari, with a goal of winning the Le Mans race.***) Continue reading

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My Review of the Movie ‘Jason Bourne’

Jason BourneJason Bourne, rated PG-13

This is the fifth film in the Jason Bourne series, based on books written by the late Robert Ludlum. It is also the fourth time that Oscar winner Matt Damon has starred as Bourne. The one exception was 2012’s The Bourne Legacy, in which Jeremy Renner played the lead role as Aaron Cross.

The new film is directed and co-written (with Christopher Rouse) by Academy Award nominee (for United 93) Paul Greengrass. Greengrass also directed the second, 2004’s The Bourne Supremacy, and the third, 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum, films in this series. This film had a budget of approximately $120 million.

As we pick the story up, the amnesiac and remorseful Bourne has been using his training to fight bare knuckle underground prize fights. During a riot in Athens, Greece, he is contacted by former colleague Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles). She tells him about a top-secret government scheme that could be taken right out of our current news. Times have changed since Bourne has been away. So much now revolves around technology. Parsons has been working with WikiLeaks-like crusader Christian Dassault (Vinzenz Kiefer) and they are determined to reveal what CIA Director Robert Dewey (Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones), with the assistance of tech guru Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed), has been up to.

Parsons has been able to steal some classified CIA files, which not only reveal Dewey’s scheme, but may also provide Bourne with some answers he has been seeking about his past. Parson’s hack is detected by Heather Lee (2015 Best Actress for The Danish Girl, and also Golden Globe nominee for Ex Machina, Alicia Vikander) of the CIA. She persuades Dewey to let her lead the mission as she tracks Bourne, trying to bring him out. But Dewey has other ideas, and contacts the Asset (Vincent Cassel) to finish off Bourne for good.

The film features exciting car chases and some great locations – Iceland, Washington, D.C., Athens, Berlin, London and Las Vegas. The Vegas scene alone took five weeks to shoot from midnight to sunrise, and reportedly 170 cars were wrecked.

Greengrass and cinematographer Barry Aykroyd (The Hurt Locker) capture the action using a lot of shaky hand-held camera work, giving the film a frantic feel at times.

It was great to see the now 45-year old Damon back in the role of Jason Bourne. The film is all about action. You’re not going to get a lot of deep dialogue here. It’s estimated that Damon only has about 37 lines in the entire film, and most of them pretty short ones. With Damon, Jones and Vikander, the film features a strong cast. But the emphasis here is on the action, not character development.

The film is rated PG-13 for spy-thriller intense sequences of violence and action, and some adult language.

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Movie Review ~ The Martian, rated PG-13

The MartianThe Martian, rated PG-13

This incredible film is based on Andy Weir’s novel The Martian, which is adapted by screenwriter Drew Goddard, who wrote many episodes of the television series Lost. It is directed by legendary director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Thelma and Louise, Blade Runner, Black Hawk Down, Alien).

Matt Damon stars as Mark Watney, a member of a six-person mission to Mars led by Commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain). After a powerful wind storm hits, Watney is presumed dead and the crew has to leave him behind in order to survive. But amazingly Watney, the crew’s botanist, though badly injured, is still alive. Alone, he has to figure out how to communicate with earth and survive on Mars with minimal food and water supplies.

Watney begins a video journal where we see his humor comes through as we get to know him. We also see him using his skills as a botanist, and his ability to repair equipment as he has to depend on himself to survive. Note: while in the novel, Mark Watney has two Master’s degrees, one in botany and one in mechanical engineering, in the film, he has a PhD in botany and no engineering background is mentioned, though he is shown to have a knowledge of engineering and maintenance of the mission equipment.

Back on earth, NASA leaders, Director Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) and Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor from 12 Years a Slave) discuss how to handle the situation, assuming that Whatley will not be able to survive on Mars. They also discuss whether or not to notify the crew of the Ares 3, who are on their long journey home, and the impact of leaving one of their crew members alive on Mars will have on them, especially Commander Lewis.

The film is basically about Watney stranded on Mars, trying to survive, while NASA tries to get him back home. Damon delivers the performance of his career surrounded by a strong cast. The special effects are amazing, especially the landscape of Mars, which was created through a combination of location filming (in Wadi Rum, Jordan, which has a red colored desert) and CGI (computer generated imagery). NASA was consulted while making the film in order to make the aspects of space and space travel, specifically in relation to Mars, as accurate as possible. The soundtrack by Harry Gregson-Williams, was powerful and effectively complements the film.

There is humor in the film (Damon’s dislike of the disco music that Lewis left, for example). There is mention of faith (one character asks another if he believes in God).   There is some adult language included and one non-sexual shot of nudity, used to show how much weight Watney has lost while stranded on Mars.

This film is well made, with strong performances, particularly by Damon, but also from the strong supporting cast (Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Pena, Daniels, Ejiofor, and Donald Glover). It is one of my favorite films of the year, second perhaps only to Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation thus far.