Tag Archive: russell crowe


Sweet Ringing of Hope

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

There is something a little sweeter in my neighborhood. The Presbyterian Church has a new bell tower.

For the last few years the belfrey was dismantled. It was kinda of sad to look at the church, wondering if the needed repairs to the original structure were ever going to be restored. I think I even said something to my husband about that.

A few weeks ago, Carol O’Connell shared on facebook the building of the new belfrey. Then I heard about a special dedication event for the bell. This past weekend as I searched the parkway for my dog’s choke chain collar (don’t ask), I heard the bell ringing and cheers from the crowd going up.

It was good to hear that ringing and not to hear any creaking as anything broke. (My head always goes to worse case scenarios so when everything works out it is like a double blessing.) To hear that ringing signals something more than a bell back where it belongs; it signals a rebirth of an organization that has struggled.

We all have that at some point in our lives. Situations get out of hand and we wonder if we can ever come back. Sometimes we fails and sometimes we make it in baby steps the whole way.

It makes me think about movies about the Great Depression when people wondered if it would ever get better.

cinderella-manI remembered watching Cinderella Man starring Russell Crowe as a boxer who has lost his beautiful home and taxi company during the Great Depression. He and his wife and three children live in a basement apartment as he works as a day laborer while she takes in sewing and ironing. Life is bleak until a chance fight shows he might still have what it takes. That is when his former manager arranges a bigger fight.

Oh, this movie is filled with sports cliches that we love. But Crowe, Renee Zellweger, and Paul Giamatti give gritty and classy performances of people on the edge who find their way back in the middles of the 1930s when nothing felt as it was going to come back.

That movie may be too adult in context for the younger children in the house. That’s when you pull out Kit Kittredge. Based on the American Girl Doll character of the same name, this girl has spunk.

kit_kittredgeSet during the Depression, ten-year-old Kit learns that while her family has been wealthy, or at least well off, they are slowly losing everything. Her father’s business has gone under, her older brother has not returned to college. Her mother is considering raising chickens.

Kit is overly emotional as ten-year-olds can be, especially when Dad leaves for a different city to find work. She learns to accept the chickens and sells eggs, she deals with their house being overrun with boarders, and brims with the hope that her father will come back soon.

Both movies are filled with grit and determination of characters who know life will get better, even if they don’t know how that will happen or what it looks like. Sometimes when we take on great projects, we don’t know what the outcome will be. But why let something as trivial as that stop us.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Starting earlier this year with the release of Son of God, it is being said that 2014 is the year of the biblical movie.

Just looking at a list of movies shows that there are at least four major motion pictures with biblical or faith-based themes to them.

Last week, an independent movie called God’s Not Dead starring Kevin Sorbo was released. The story is about a college student who feels pressured to give up his faith by an atheist professor. Instead of giving in, that kid played by Shane Harper (Spencer from Good Luck, Charlie), chooses to defend his beliefs and does so scientifically.

While the critics have not been kind, I am interested in seeing this movie. I want to see how they portray the conflict and how our main character, Josh, is able to defend his beliefs.

NoahThis week, the big production of Noah makes it to the big screen. Russell Crowe stars as the man who is given the task to build a boat that will save his family and many of the creatures of the earth. I became excited about the movie after watching several trailers showing water rushing down and the very human story of all those people being left behind.

It has been reported that the word “God” is not used in this movie. Instead other names are used, which actually is appropriate considering this is a story from a Jewish standpoint. In the Jewish tradition, you do not call “God” by his name because that word is so powerful. “Yaweh” is a more common term that is allowable. I also read that the director, Darren Aronofsky, has been wanting to make this film for years but it took his great success with Black Swan to make that possible.

In April, Heaven is For Real comes to the big screen starring Greg Kinnear as the father of a young boy who states he saw Jesus when the boy was very sick with appendicitis. Adapted from the book of the same title, I expect a very gentle telling of this story. I find Greg Kinnear can be very subtle and engaging, he is able to tell a story well. I wonder how they will deal with various parts of the book that show a family in crisis as well as the moments of joy.

This fall, Nicholas Cage stars in the remake of Left Behind. I wonder what kind of performance he will give knowing how intense this actor can be. Finally, we will go through Exodus starring Christian Bale (Batman series) as Moses and Ridley Scott in the director’s chair in the month of December.

Kelly Riley, Connor Corum, and Greg Kinnear in Heaven is For Real

Kelly Riley, Connor Corum, and Greg Kinnear in Heaven is For Real

What some might say is that Hollywood realizes there is some good money to be made by playing to Christian believers. But I believe these movies do not get made unless producers believe they will actually get their money back.

I also believe that there are people hungry for movies about faith and belief. Otherwise a movie such as Heaven is For Real may have never seen the light of day. Noah and Exodus are made for the spectacle they create. But movies like Heaven are made for us normal people to ponder.

Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.

Sing It, Anne, Sing It!

Family Movie Night

One of the great things about being a parent is all of the things we do with our kids.

Just this past weekend, we went to the RV and Boat Show at McCormick Place. There the kids climbed on boats, tramped through RV’s, and planned a life of camping as we looked at pop-ups.

Sara and Sam had fun jumping and running in a floating tube while David explored a Coast Guard boat. All of us marveled at beautiful wooden boats.

On Saturday, the kids insist we have a picnic outside while the weather was still warm. We watched the colder temperatures roll in with darker clouds but for that moment we ate our lunch outside. Who does that in January in a northern state?

Later that same day, I took in a movie with a girlfriend.

This was not a movie meant for small kids. And sometimes that’s OK, parents should have movies that are meant just for them. Sometimes we want adult situations, adult context and content. Some of us adults want music and soaring vocals to accompany a grand story.

Anne Hathaway as Fantine in Les Miserable, image from IMDb.com

Anne Hathaway as Fantine in Les Miserable, image from IMDb.com

Les Miserables is a movie about the poor in post -revolutionary France. Life is hard and unforgiving of mistakes made in your youth. Victor Hugo created conflicted characters, people who do wrong in the hope they are helping to do right.

We have characters who acknowledge their sins, characters who believe they are acting correctly in all circumstances. There is a political power struggle and love-at-first sight. We see unrequited love and a parent’s love for a child that pushes a woman to the brink.

The story starts with men working as slaves to bring in a big ship that has been damaged. But the focus goes on one prisoner who is about to go free on parole. That man is Jean Valjean, imprisoned for stealing bread and trying to escape.

His greatest moment of salvation comes when a priest forgives his sins, even after being released from jail and stealing from the church. But the greatest love of his life starts when he agrees to take care of a child left behind by a former employee.

We will have battles of will, battles of faith, battles against the harsh realities of life. Mixed in all that are horrifying moments when a woman loses her pride, a man loses his purpose, another realizes that he was only taking care of a child before she found her true love. And then they sing about how their hearts are broken and love did not go the way they had hoped.

Just when it gets too heavy, we have Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham-Carter to lighten things up as the inn keepers who are willing to lighten their customers’ pockets.

So is this movie worth your time? Is it Oscar worthy?

Yes IF you are a fan of musicals. Yes IF you do not mind sitting through a two and a half hour movie. Yes IF you do not mind going through a slow spot. Yes IF you love great singing and acting from Hugh Jackman.

If you prefer chase scenes, explosions, and fighting with weapons such as swords I am going to disappoint you and let you know those things to not happen in this movie.

If you are looking for commentary on the human condition, if you are looking for a testimony of faith, if you want to see a person die with dignity then this is the Oscar-nominated movie you have been waiting for.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Signs of Spring

What was your first sign of spring?

For me it was seeing the tips of my Tiger Lilies coming out of the ground.

Then I looked over and saw green leaves popping out where my hardy mum are located. That is when I got excited. So I lifted up some of the compost that rests over the Tulip bed. Oh Yeah! They were coming up, too. I placed the compost back over the tender sprouts and skipped into the house. My plants are coming back and spring is almost here. This past Friday I was running around without my coat, just in my shirt sleeves.

Because I cannot really do anything in the garden, I get antsy. I want to dig and remove compost and put in new mulch. But it is not time yet. There are no plants at the garden centers yet and there’s still a danger of frost. I suspect next week anxiety will get the better of me and I will be out there with a rake.

The other signs have slowly made their appearance as well. Last week I heard Redwing black birds singing. Yesterday, I heard to shrill call of the woodpecker.

Better yet, our kids are running outside to play. Granted they are doing a lot of gun games that I do not like. But the kids are also skate boarding and riding bike. My daughter and I rode our bikes over to Casey’s to put air in my tires.

Now for the days that it gets too cold or too rainy to be out, I have some great movie picks. One of my favorites is Enchanted April (1992) starring Miranda Richardson and Josie Lawrence as two English women who rent an Italian Villa for the month of April to escape the rain.

Their housemates include Joan Plowwright, an older woman whose family were friendly with many of the literati; and Polly Walker, a socialite seeking solitude from the world and her broken heart. The beauty of the Italian countryside is transforming for the characters and for the viewers. This movie is best suited for older teens and adults in regards to context rather than anything particularly objectionable.

Two other more recent movies that have great scenery is Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) and A Good Year (2006). These adult treats feature Italy and Provence, respectively, and makes one yearn to have that ease, that comfort, that lifestyle of being totally completely happy while living on an estate. Plus, I like watching Diane Lane and Russell Crowe take on roles that are not as intense as their normal parts.

A movie with lots of greenery that is more suitable for children is The Secret Garden (1993). The story is about a young girl brought to Yorkshire, England from India after the death of her neglectful parents. Mary is sullen and angry but kind housemaid, Martha. gives her a jump rope and shoos her outside. Mary discovers a garden that has been locked up and neglected by her uncle.

With the help of Dickon, Martha’s brother, they bring the garden back to life. That same magic is used on Mary’s cousin, Colin.

Another good choice for kids is Over The Hedge (2006) which stars Bruce Willis as a racoon who has to pay back the Bear his winter stash of food. His plan involves using other woodland animals to get it. Unfortunately these animals have discovered a housing development in the place of half of their woods. And not all humans like furry forest animals.

My kids end up laughing and having a good time, even when some of the action sequences get a little hairier than I would like. However, even I can laugh when the villains get their due.

Until next week, see you in the movie aisle.

Let the world, or at least St. Anne, know your family’s recent selection by dropping a line to momgoestothemovies@sbcglobal.net. You can also ‘friend’ me on Facebook.