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Shoelaces for Christmas

It's not about "Community"
It's about "the one." The thing that concerns me about this modern obsession with "doing things for the community" is that it has, historically, been used as an excuse for more oppression.

The Marxists thought - think - that people are a "herd" that needs to be managed by their superiors, the elites. They used "community" as an excuse to oppress the individual (see Ayn Rand's "Anthem").

This movie isn't about "serving the community," it's about people helping people, individually, not collectively.

The current politicians' emphasis on taking things from "the rich" to help "the community" is just the same Marxist horror starting up all over again.

If you want to put the ideals exempted by this movie into action, find someONE to serve.


Political Correctness Gets In The Way
I started watching the first season of this police procedural, and enjoyed it a great deal until it got to a point at which I lost interest. More on that later.

I should say that this appears to be another British police drama with female lead that offshoots from Prime Suspect, much like "Scott & Bailey" (which featured a supporting character played by Nicola Walker). And in fact I appreciate this one seems to avoid the extended depictions of office politics and attendant drama of those earlier series, and sticks with the crime being investigated.

But here's where I lost interest.

I'm not British and have never even visited the UK, but I'm aware of the intense struggle there (as here in the USA) with "political correctness" and the attempts to cast whites as guilty ex-colonizers, avoiding any intimation that non-whites are ever at fault for anything - their foibles are induced by the horrible suffering at the hands of whites. (The current ongoing drama of Tommy Robinson, currently under arrest for what in the USA would be his constitutionally-protected right of free speech is a case in point).

And it seems the writers of this show are zealous adherents of that school of thinking. Thus you have one character cursed and reviled for the crime of "racism" committed forty years in the past when she was a confused teen. And then, the sudden introduction out of the blue of the "crime" of "homophobia" at which point I simply lost interest.

I watch TV for entertainment, not political indoctrination. Bringing up contemporary politically-correct notions of right and wrong might resonate with a certain type of person for whom "hating Whitey" has become a religion, but to me it's tedious and distracting.

I'm sorry to have been so disappointed with this series.

Prime Suspect 1973

Martini Does A Stunning Recreation
I had just finished binge-watching the entire "Prime Suspect" oeuvre a month or so ago, when I came upon this new series.

The thing that astonished me most was, how Ms. Martini did such an incredible job of absolutely nailing the mannerisms and overall personality that Helen Mirren originally created with her portrayal of the middle-aged Jane Tennison. Even down to the turns-of-the-head when noticing clues or focusing on what someone was saying that was significant in putting the facts together; and the ambiguity of her coldness with members of her own family juxtaposed with how sympathetic and downright gentle she could be when speaking to witnesses and victims of crime.


And of course, no portrayal of Jane Tennison would be complete without touching on her absolutely lousy, utterly self-destructive behavior with men. It was painful to see 22-year-old Jane throwing herself at her boss (who ends up being an unsuitable object of her affections on just about every level possible).

As a grandfather with grandchildren in their late teens, it about broke my heart to watch it.

Upstart Crow

Verily I laughed
In sooth, the rollicking merriment of this ribald offering hath caused me to strain my vitals till I'm like to fill my puffling-pants with that which doth provide fertilizer but canst be found not at yon Walmart Garden Center, and which doth provide relief when brought forth but not in polite company!

'Struth, were it not for the modern blessing of indoor plumbing I fear I'd long since have become the laughingstock of my near neighbors were I observed struggling to gain entry to mine own privy in time to forestall a reeking pant-load!

Those other critics here who disavow the comic genius of this arch take on the life of the Bard of Avon canst not have seen the selfsame episodes I've viewed this far; that, or they are in the clandestine pay of that odious scoundrel, the Green-Eyed Robert Greene himself!

Have you a secondary-school inmate resident in your abode, pray have them watch an episode or three of this noisome farce! Mayhap their grumblings regarding forcéd tutelage upon "Romeo and Juliet" will turn less nettlesome should they behold the fruitless attempts of Kate to strut the stage in the first female role in English theatre to be played by one who hath the greater weight of Bolingbrooks to her credit, yet not, alas, dangling 'twixt her thighs!


"My Credit Card Was Just Declined By Mister Yummy!"
Pretty funny show. Saw the first few episodes, but this was right at the time TV began to lose its appeal to me and I didn't hang with it. Miss Moore's death bought it to mind.

Gee, maybe if I'd have watched a few more, they wouldn't have canceled!

They did try to make it seem just a little too "MTM Show"-ish. Like "Lou Grant," the venue changed from TV newsroom to newspaper news desk, but the "Lou Grant" show became a drama, whereas the dynamic here was supposed to be the same as the MTMS, with wacky supporting cast, and MTM's "nice middle-America girl" vibe. Fifteen years on, you'd have expected her character to be a little more savvy - they tried to make up for her age and inexperience by having her be a displace homemaker, but really, she didn't play "little girl lost" nearly as well in her late 40s as in her early 30s.

Spaceflight IC-1: An Adventure in Space

No Excuse For Poor Production Values
Consider this is the same year that Star Trek began on NBC-TV. We may laugh at the funny SFX on TOS, but compared to this film (and several others made about the same time), it was downright modern.

Also, consider four years later, Kubrick would make 2001: A Space Odyssey, which to this stay still looks fairly fresh. Check out the 1960s-era reel-to-reel tape recorder the "Educator" uses to record her lessons for the children. At least the Star Trek folks tried to simulate a technology 200 years in the future.

The story-line is about par for the "sturm-und-drang" type of space opera of this time, but it is rather unrealistic to expect us to believe that this crew would be so misfit and unable to get along with one another. Considering the amount of rigorous psychological testing the early Mercury astronauts underwent just to orbit the earth, it's rather bizarre.

That Thing You Do!

Del Paxton's Age ALL WRONG
Love the flick, but something bothered me recently when I caught it on the tube.

The year is, what, 1964, '65? "Del Paxton" is obviously a bebop-era jazz pianist. Trouble is, the character is about 60 (that's the age of the actor who played him at the time the movie was made, anyway).

That means he would have been born around 1905. He would have been active during the "Roaring 20s," and during the "Swing" era. I doubt that he would have made a transition to "bebop" by that time. Those guys were all born in the 20s and 30s, so the character of "Paxton" is really about twenty years TOO OLD for the era in what "That Thing You Do" takes place.

The Notebook

My "Review" Will Go Completely Against The Grain
This is a formulaic "chick flick" with the interesting twist that it doesn't focus SOLELY on the "passion" of young love but does show that love can endure. I appreciate that as far as it goes.

However, as the father of a teenage girl (now 15) trying to rear her with values in this valueless world of "sex, lies and DVD," I must protest.

Above all, young women (at least) AND young men with any integrity whatsoever did NOT behave this way in the 1930s and 40s. Such unbridled passion leading immediately to sexual gratification occurred seldom. Usually it was the young woman who, by virtue of cultivated modesty and a sense of personal worth, refused to put herself in such a predicament.

Certainly "stuff happens," but this was NOT a typical story. The idea that a young woman, regardless of her depth of emotion, would immediately throw herself into bed with her Summer romance--not to mention one she had not seen for years--is just not reality.

Could it happen? Yes. Would it have happened? HIGHLY unlikely. In those days, a woman had far, far too much to lose in such a scandal.

This was a matter of taking modern sensibility--where "love" equals "sexual passion"--and projecting it into the past, ignoring all the mores and sensibilities of that era. I repeat: It Is Just Not Realistic that a "mature romance" would result from such a shameful act.

So, it's only a movie, right? Well, my daughter viewed this with her older, married sister, and was so taken with the story. This is the way that young girls are gulled into believing this dark lie: That "love means giving yourself to 'him' when the opportunity presents itself."

Meanwhile we have our present-day dilemma, of illicit sexual relations between children with no thought of consequence, risking unwanted pregnancy, abortion, emotional trauma and low self-worth, all because these things are depicted as "part of romance". It is NOT reality, and it is reckless.

This illustrates all too clearly the widening gulf between "Real America" and Hollywood--and why Hollywood has done so much over the last generation to help destroy traditional values and land us in the mess we're in today.

In 1999, 79% of all births to women aged 15 to 19 were to unmarried women, compared with about 14% in the 1940s and 1950s (SOURCE: Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States, 1940-1999. National Vital Statistics Reports, 2000). Think of that: Even with contraception AND ABORTION available today, the RATE of unmarried teenage pregnancy coming to full term is more than FIVE TIMES what it was in the time period depicted in this movie.

What do you think that irresponsible film-making of this kind has contributed to that problem?

If you are the parent of a teenager: What messages are you sending to your sons and daughters by your support of films such as these?

The Work and the Glory

A Solid Effort for LDS Cinema
My wife and I had just completed reading all nine volumes of TW&TG just a month or so previous to our taking in the motion picture. We are fortunate that we live in one of the few areas outside the Wasatch Front that is privileged to get these films for short engagements at one single Mega-plex here in west Houston.

I had read reviews here and elsewhere that had led me to believe the quality of the acting would be "below average," but I have to say that I cannot agree. No one is bucking for an "Oscar" here but the acting is at least on the level of your typical made-for-TV miniseries, the like of which were popular in the late-70s and 80s. Even some of the minor characters like that of "Will Murdock" were played quite believably; I did not note much in the way of "hammy" quality even in those scenes where you might expect it (crowd scenes e.g.) With minor changes the story was faithful to the first volume of Lund's "nonology," and although I thought the part of Joseph Smith Jr. was ably played the focus really was on the Steed family and friends and the reactions of those protagonists to what was transpiring.

They spent a good amount of script-time on the conflict between the family members--especially Joshua and his father--and I thought did a good job of efficiently moving the story along without the benefit of "backstory" that the novel affords.

I think I enjoyed most of all the seemingly accurate depiction of American frontier life in the 1830s (even though like the book, the dialog is glaringly "modern"), and the score.

The music's effectiveness was accompanied by a very good audio track that allowed a clear understanding of what was being said (even asides by "extras" during crowd scenes). The sound quality overall was just superb.

The camera work was likewise. I am amazed at how well-lighted even a low-budget film like this can be given current technology. There were a few scenes that were rather dim, but I thought this actually contributed to the feeling of being there at a time when coal-lamps were the source of light after dark. One scene of this type that comes to mind was that of Mary Ann Steed reading the concluding verses of the Gospel of John early on an Easter Sunday.

All in all, I quite enjoyed this film and will be sure to pick it up on DVD when it is released. I am quite critical of independent LDS films because I think too many of them fail to measure up to the standards set by the BYU Film Department/LDS Film Studios' official releases for the Church, most of which are about as good as they come.

I thought The Work and the Glory set the bar a little higher, and hope that the production company is able to realize a profit on the release so that we might possibly look forward to a continuation of the Steed saga in future releases based on the Lund series of books.

A Man for All Seasons

Couldn't Disagree More
The 1966 film starring Scofield was a throwback to film-making of ten or fifteen years earlier.

Heston was brilliant as More and Redgrave was outstanding as Mistress More. The teleplay had much more of the sense of the original stage play than the hacked-up Hollywood flick the OP speaks of.

Guess it's a matter of taste, but Heston has NEVER been wooden, EVER. One of the greatest actors of our age. In my opinion only Richard Burton could probably have been a better casting choice than Heston--and he was dead by this time.

Heston was also remarkably gracious and effusive about Miss Redgrave's talent, even though they would never see eye-to-eye politically. He is a gracious man, a talented actor, and a wonderful husband and father. Would there were many more like him out of the dreck of Hollywood.

The Other Side of Heaven

Stirring and deeply moving
I'm sorry that the adolescent ravings of the previous reviewer appear first. His profound failure to "get it" is an embarrassment.

First of all, this is about a young man of "white-bread" heritage casting aside all he has and all he is, even leaving the love of his life for two and a half years, in order to immerse himself in a culture about which he is totally ignorant so that he can offer them the greatest gift he has to offer: His faith.

Rather than "looking down" on the people he has come to SERVE, he bears great hardships, and exerts himself in ways he could never have conceived, in order to connect with these people. He comes to love them, profoundly.

And their love for him in return, even those who have reason to be suspicious of him, is a testament to his sincerity.

Please recall that this is a TRUE STORY. Whatever you might think of John Groberg's religion, or his motives, the fact is that these things actually happened in just this way. He DID travel from Idaho to Tonga, he did live among the people there, he did come to gain their trust, he did bring to them a precious gift of faith, and he did return often throughout the rest of his life, with his wife and family, to be among these people whom he loved.

That anyone could be so callously dismissive of this truth is a sad commentary on our "post-Christian" society.

But I found this film to be deeply moving and very satisfying, and I recommend it highly to those who enjoy inspiring film.

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