Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of I Am Not Your Negro

i-am-not-your-negroI Am Not Your Negro, rated PG-13
***

This Oscar nominated documentary uses the words of James Baldwin to tell the story of the Negro in America. It is directed by Raoul Peck and narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson’s excellent narration is comprised entirely of words from novelist, playwright and essayist James Baldwin.  At the time of his death in 1987, Baldwin was working on a book entitled Remember This House, about the lives and deaths of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, three men he knew personally. But when he died, he had completed only 30 pages of the book. In this film, director Peck envisions what the finished book would have looked like, as he looks at the Black experience in America, in part by looking at those three men.
Peck includes a lot of footage of Baldwin in this film (from The Dick Cavett Show, etc.), along with historical news footage, clips from classic movies and even recent footage from the Obama inauguration, from Ferguson, Missouri and of President Trump. We often see the film compare African Americans to Native Americans.
Baldwin says that the story of the Negro in America is not a pretty story, and it is also the story of America. I would disagree with him when he states that at the end of their lives Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. were essentially the same.  My wife thought that Mr. Baldwin had a stereotypical view of white people, based upon movies, TV, advertising and the news.  On the other hand, he had some very thought-provoking comments.  I would also say that as a white man I couldn’t fully understand some of the points made in the film, which was attended by a large mixed-race audience, that broke into applause several times during the film and when the film ended.
Racism should never be tolerated by Christians. We are all made in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27). The film made me wonder just how much racial issues have really changed in America. We are more politically correct today, but have hearts truly changed?
This would be a good film to watch and discuss with friends.


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MOVIE REVIEW ~ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

miss-peregrines-home-for-peculiar-childrenMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, rated PG-13
***

This film, directed by two-time Oscar nominee Tim Burton, is his first since 2014’s Big Eyes. It is based on the popular 2011 young adult novel of the same name by author Ransom Riggs. Riggs has released three books in the series. The screenplay is written by Jane Goldman (X-Men: First Class, Kingsman: The Secret Service).

The film is about a teenage boy, Jake Portman, who is played by Asa Butterfield (Hugo, Ender’s Game). He lives in Florida, and doesn’t have a close relationship with his parents, played by Chris O’Dowd and Kim Dickens, but is very close to his grandfather Abraham, played by Oscar nominee (for 1963’s Billy Budd), Terence Stamp.

Jake has long heard his Grandpa’s stories about a house with “special children” just before he joined the British army for World War II. He has shown Jake mysterious old photographs, but doesn’t really want to talk too much about them. When Grandpa mysteriously dies, Jake’s father takes him to an island off the coast of Wales, the site of Grandpa’s stories, so that Jake can put those silly stories to rest and move on with his life. The house used in the film is an actual house, and can be found near Antwerp, Belgium.

The house that Grandpa told Jake about was hit by German bombs on September 3, 1943. When Jake and his Dad arrive, they find only the bombed out shell of the building remaining. However, when Jake sneaks back to the home on his own, he is able to enter a portal, or a loop, that takes him back to 1943. It’s there he finds the incredible place that his Grandpa told him about. It is run by Miss Peregrine, played by Golden Globe nominee (for Penny Dreadful), Eva Green, who worked with Burton on his 2012 film Dark Shadows. Burton has described Miss Peregrine as “a scary Mary Poppins”. She has the ability to turn into a falcon and to manipulate time via time loops. This allows her to keep the house and children safe. No one ages, and they are always in the same day of the same year.

There are also monsters, called Hollows that hunt down the peculiar children in the house for their eyes. The leader of the Hollows is the scary Barron, who is well-played by Samuel L. Jackson.

Miss Peregrine’s house has an interesting and odd collection of children, including Emma, played by Ella Purnell, whose peculiarity is air, and who needs to wear weighted boots to keep from flying away; and Enoch, played by Finlay MacMillan, who can bring things to life. Jake falls for Emma, who ironically also had a relationship with Jake’s Grandpa before the house was bombed some seventy years ago.

One of our best actresses, Dame Judi Dench, seven-time Oscar nominee and one-time winner, plays Miss Avocet. Unfortunately, she has a very small role, and her vast talents are largely wasted in this film.

The film is rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and peril, which will be too scary for young children. Director Tim Burton effectively uses special effects to show the peculiarities of the children, and a late in the film clash with the Hollows had the most Burtonesque look. There was also one completely unnecessary abuse of God’s name included in the film.