Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Shutter Island" Review (no spoilers)

Long story short? "Shutter Island" was a filler track on a great album.

I bet you want the long story now...(sigh)...okay.

When I first saw the trailer for "Shutter Island," I thought about my two cousins, Brittany and Ashley. They're darlings, and they both struggle within the spacious labyrinth called Autism. They are my heart, and for their sake I wanted a movie that addressed mental illness directly to be good.

Now there are two genres of movies that belong in the "Shutter Island" family tree. The first is movies about people who are "off" but have some purpose that you'll figure out soon enough. Like a "Saw" on one extreme, and "Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind" on the other.

In fact, if you watch "Eternal Sunshine" right now, you don't really have to see "Shutter Island" at all. Unless you like long hallways and dim lights (Scorcese believes you do, a lot)

The second genre includes movies about mental illnesses, and contain narratives that reveal to us how little we know about the human brain. You've seen "Cool Hand Luke" and "Of Mice & Men." For a laugh you saw "What About Bob?" (I could mention "Fight Club" here but it became a cult classic before we could extract the meaning). Two words define this genre, and after today I'm sure they'll never be bested in my lifetime: RAIN. MAN.

We needed "Shutter Island" to be good. That's why we picked the best director and the best American actor money could buy (sorry, Mr. Depp, Dicaprio absolutely outacted you here). The normal range of emotions for Dicaprio was present: the furrowed brow, the held in tension that makes you think for a second his head may explode. All present and accounted for. But there's something extra in Dicaprio's repertoire that we haven't seen before. It's confusion. He wears it on his face every second in this movie, and pulls it off beautifully. He truly looks like something else is going on in his mind.

I guess that's what bugs me here about Marty Scorcese. Ok, you've got the BEST, and in a faaaaaaar worse movie ("Aviator") you let him tell the story with his face (to the point that when "Aviator" ended you still don't know what happened). "Shutter Island," without spoiling anything for you, is the exact opposite. The moment you begin to wonder what THAT look on LD's face is, Marty tells you. Boy does he tell you. With flying leaves, papers, ashes (everything really) that would put "House of Flying Daggers" to shame. It's very arthouse.

That's right, I just said Martin Scorcese made a Arthouse movie. Are you angry yet? Well, you haven't seen "Shutter Island."

There's actually a point in this movie where Marty can just pull out, say "I blew it," and give us the message on mental illness. The problem is, by the time he does that, it is waaaaaaaay too late. People have disintegrated. Too much has happened. The smell of "trying too hard" is already in my jacket. The dry cleaner can't even get that out. The ending of this movie is either phenomenal or abysmal. I promise you will not feel ANYWHERE in between. There's a better movie that reminds me of "Shutter Island": it's called "Harakiri" (1962). That's the movie you want to see.

A word about Ben Kingsley. His awesomeness should come as no suprise, even if you've seen him play THIS character 20 times (you can almost guess the lines coming out of his mouth). There's something he does with his bow tie however, that is either annoying to look at, or its awesome. I'll let you decide.

I've been harsh, but here's the deal. I recommend this movie for two reasons. First, it's a film about mental illness, and we simply don't know enough. Any data is worth the Edward Daniels-size headache you are bound to have after watching this. Second, anytime you can watch one of the greatest actors of our generation, do it. Even if this reminds you just a tiny bit of Aviator. Don't worry, it's better than that.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


1. No excuses. Watch the video. Figure it out. Something to GIVE UP. Something to START DOING.

2. Add a COMMENT with your NAME, YOUR SACRIFICE, and YOUR ADDITION. So I can pray for you.

3. TELL A FRIEND. Join the INSPIRACY! Find someone to hold you accountable.

As a way to make a statement about our generation, and how selfless we CAN be, I want 100 of us to join the Lent Challenge. Let's Go.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

United Church of Christ commercials

All of these were "banned" by the media when the UCC turned them in to be played on the major networks. Seriously. Banned. They were called too polemic. You decide.




UCC goes hard. They're sitting here now promising me that another one is coming out April 16 that's gonna crush these. I think any of these could have set the Super Bowl right. They're saying the ads were turned down, but that Tebow ad was front and center. We might have gone soft.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ministry & Fight Club

First, read this article about churches taking on fight clubs as ministries

Then, laugh. Because that's what I did.

It reminds me of something Mark Driscoll (I believe it was him, I could be wrong. Google him too though. He's a character) said about people following a Jesus that was a "wimpy vegetarian who wore sandals and drank decaf." I'm guessing he meant that in the pejorative sense. Instead, the solution is to pump up this notion of Jesus who was a MAN'S MAN. A Jesus who watches (and bets on) the Super Bowl, and puts his muddy boots on your couch. A Jesus who doesn't make sandwiches, because we've got women for that.

And they always have the same reasons...

1. "Because men are the head of the household." What that has to do with the price of tea in China I'm not sure, but I'm guessing real men don't drink tea. They drink MONSTER ENERGY and double shots. And they put each other in a head lock on Tuesday nights.

2. "Fighting in real life is like fighting with faith." Riiiight...because you were born yesterday and don't know about metaphors yet. I'm guessing you think the biblical authors didn't either...

So the author of Hebrews really wants me to run a race! Yes!

3. "Because we want to make Christianity more appealing." It's not a video game. It's a lifestyle. And some folks just ain't going, no matter how glossy you make it. At its core Christianity is about having a faith that can suspend reality...rather, negotiate it to create and sustain hope in situations where hope doesn't exist. That's what it means to FIGHT. And if you want a puncher's chance in life, it's gotta happen OUTSIDE the Octagon.

Our churches have got to stop laying in bed so naively with a culture that doesn't care about church. Not to say we avoid culture altogether, but there's got to be some middle ground where we integrate certain cultural practices while critiquing others (I would hate for you to miss a glaring reference and commercial for H. Richard Niebuhr's "Christ and Culture" here). This blind acceptance of whatever's COOL is not making "warriors" for Christ (as the Evangelicals have always hoped) or even good Christians.

Or Christians even.

We're just making folks who fight and go to church. We already got folks who go to church and fight.

I like that my Jesus maintains the sort of peace that can accept whatever God's will is for him (including death). I like a Jesus who won't fight back with instigators. I like a Jesus who does his job regardless of who accepts him or not. I like a Jesus who, instead of telling his disciples (who included women), "I AM BETTER THAN YOU" (It's me baby! Jesus!), he told them "You will do far greater than me." I like a Jesus who fights with his heart, his mind, and his will - not with his fists. I like a Jesus who loves.

Even if he wears thong sandals and listens to Pat Matheny records.

What do you think about this?