Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of JOJO RABBIT

Jojo Rabbit, rated PG-13
** ½

My wife Tammy and I love watching movies. But we’ve done something this year that we’ve never done before – we have watched all of the Oscar nominated films for Best Motion Picture. The last one we watched was Jojo Rabbit, which received six Oscar nominations and won for Best Adapted Screenplay.  The film was directed by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok), who also won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and is based on the book Caging Skies: A Novel by Christine Leunens. Jojo Rabbit is a quirky satire set in Germany at the end of World War II.
Jojo Betzler, played by newcomer Roman Griffin Davis, is a 10-year-old boy who has completely bought into the beliefs of the Nazis. As such, he believes that Jews are monsters who have horns on their heads. He’s such a believer, his imaginary friend, who frequently gives him pep talks is none other than Adolph Hitler, played mostly for laughs by Waititi. Jojo lives with his mother Rosie, who references God a few times, played by two-time Oscar nominee Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit, Marriage Story). Jojo is told that his father is away in Italy fighting in the war.
Jojo heads off to a weekend Hitler Youth Camp, which teaches the boys how to fight and the girls how to care for wounds and have babies. The camp leaders include Captain Klenzendorf, a disabled German soldier with an injured right eye who drinks a lot, played by Oscar winner Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Fraulein Rahm, played by Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect), Finkel, played by Emmy nominee Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones) and Deertz, played by Emmy winner Stephen Merchant (The Office). Jojo’s best friend at camp is the lovable and plump, Yorki, played by Archie Yates. Continue reading


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My Review of MARRIAGE STORY

Marriage Story, rated R
***

My wife Tammy and I have been watching the movies which received “Best Film” Oscar nominations which we had not already seen. One of those films was Marriage Story, an interestingly titled film, as it is less about a marriage than it is about a painful divorce. The film received six Oscar nominations, and features outstanding acting performances from Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver. It is also a very difficult film to watch and hard to recommend. The film is directed and written by three-time Oscar nominee Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story, The Squid and the Whale), and is based on Baumbach’s own divorce.
The film tells the story of Charlie, played by two-time Oscar nominee Adam Driver (Marriage Story, BlacKkKlansman), the owner/director of a theatre company in New York, his wife Nicole, played by two-time Oscar nominee Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story, Jojo Rabbit), who is the star of his plays, and their young son Henry, played by Azhy Robertson. Continue reading


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My Review of AVENGERS: ENDGAME

Avengers: Endgame, rated PG-13
****

Avengers: Endgame, a highly anticipated film, brings to an end the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) storyline that began with 2008’s Iron Man, and has continued now through 22 films and all of those mid and post-credits scenes that we have sat and waited for. The three-hour film will satisfy MCU fans, as it looks back on the previous films and characters, but it does contain some content concerns that you will want to be aware of.
The film is directed by brothers and Emmy winners Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (Arrested Development) and written by Emmy winners Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers). While the film had an estimated budget of approximately $400 million, it made a record-setting $350 million in the U.S. opening weekend, and an incredible $1.2 billion worldwide.
2018’s Avengers: Infinity War ended somberly with the formidable villain Thanos, voiced by Oscar nominee Josh Brolin (Milk), finally possessing all of the six Infinity Stones that he had been seeking. Thanos, who says he is Inevitable, then used the power he gained from the stones to snap his fingers and wipe out half of all existence, including superheroes such as Black Panther, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and many more.
Avengers: Endgame opens with a family picnic scene in which the family of Clint Barton/Hawkeye, played by two-time Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner (The Town, The Hurt Locker), suddenly disappears due to the snap. The film then moves forward about three weeks after “the snap”. Continue reading


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My Review of Sing

singSing, rated PG
***

This animated film with a budget of approximately $75 million is directed by Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet. It has been nominated for two Golden Globe awards (for Best Animated Motion Picture and also for Stevie Wonder’s song “Faith” for Best Original Song).

Buster Moon (Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club), a koala bear, owns a once grand theatre that has fallen on hard times. He can’t pay the stage hands or the mortgage, and is constantly being hounded by the bank. To help generate interest in the theatre and hopefully keep it from closing, he decides to hold a singing competition (think of American Idol), which is questioned by his best friend sheep Eddie (Oscar nominee John C. Reilly). The plan is to offer a $1,000 prize to the winner. But his elderly one-eyed iguana assistant, and my favorite character, Miss Crawly (Garth Jennings) mistakenly lists the prize amount on fliers as $100,000, rather than $1,000. Needless to say, this prize amount generates a lot of interest.

We meet the contestants, all of whom have dreams, and like American Idol we hear their backstories. Finalists include Johnny the ape (Taron Egerton, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eddie the Eagle), Rosito (Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line) a stay at home mom to 25 little piglets, Ash (Golden Globe nominee Scarlett Johansson, Lost in Translation) a teen punk-rock porcupine, Oscar nominee Seth MacFarlane plays Mike a shady white mouse and Meena (Tori Kelly) is a shy elephant. Throughout the film, you hear bits of more than 85 songs, ranging from the 1940’s to the present day. The film builds to an excellent finale.

I really enjoyed this film. The writing was sharp, and the animation, while not spectacular, was good. While the film will interest children and they will enjoy the animals, some of the backstories were a bit heavy. A theme in the film is to always pursue your dreams. The importance of support from family was another theme.

The film includes a small amount of bathroom humor and some mild sexually suggestive content, such as three female rabbits dancing to Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda”, but overall is acceptable for all ages.