Political content in this week’s new dvds: It’s Complicated, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The Descent: Part 2, District 13: Ultimatum, Disgrace, Mega Piranha… plus some old dvds: Knocked Up, Last Chance Harvey, Black Snake Moan, Happy Endings, Vera Drake, The Cider House Rules…
1. It’s Complicated (2009) [Rated R for some drug content and sexuality.]
summary from imdb.com:
When attending their son’s college graduation, a couple reignite the spark in their relationship…but the complicated fact is they’re divorced and he’s remarried.
directed by: Nancy Meyers
starring: Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, John Krasinski, Mary Kay Place, Rita Wilson, Alexandra Wentworth, Nora Dunn, Blanchard Ryan
from Hollywood, STFU:
There was surprisingly little message in “It’s Complicated”, which was appreciated. Although, I wouldn’t argue if some saw a legalization agenda in the few scenes with a lax attitude toward pot. However, the one thing with which I did take exception was a graduation scene of one of Jane and Jake’s kids. I can’t stand when a movie tries to slip one by you, almost subliminally. A poster on a wall, a slogan on a t-shirt, a sticker on a locker, or in this case a seating row marker at a graduation. It was momentary, and most people would miss it. However, I understand that unless the director is a complete hack, which, clearly, Nancy Meyers is not, the shot of a frame is meticulously composed. Nothing is in the frame which is not intended to be there. So when I see a shot of a college graduation where the students are seated by degree, and each seating section is labeled by a sign, and the sign for “Liberal Arts” is partially masked so that only the word “Liberal” can be read, I know that it’s not by accident. However, my only real beef was that “Liberal” should have read “Marxist”.
Alec Baldwin: You know, I think this is very French of us…
Meryl Streep: How is it French of us?
Alec Baldwin: I have a young wife but I am having sex with my old wife… Not old… you know, “ex.” I didn’t mean “old.”
2. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009) [Rated PG-13 for violent images, some sensuality, language and smoking.]
summary from wikipedia.org:
The film follows the leader of a traveling theater troupe who, having made a deal with the Devil, takes audience members through a magical mirror to explore their imaginations.
directed by: Terry Gilliam
starring: Johnny Depp, Heath Ledger, Jude Law, Colin Farrell, Christopher Plummer, Lily Cole, Peter Stormare, Tom Waits, Verne Troyer
I needed the money… when you run a charity, you have to give lots of money away… the red tape… the bureaucracy… you have no idea what a bunch of fascists the Charity Commission is…
[Four Russian gangsters see Tony, who owes them money. Tony flees into the Imaginarium. As the gangsters threaten Tony, Parnassus tempts them with a police recruitment song, promising they will enjoy being cops because they can continue being brutish:]
Hello, hello. Hey, boys, channel that violence for the good… Come on, join up… come on, lads.. Join up today… [singing:] We love violence with truncheon, badge, and gun… your right to silence ends, babe, when we begin our fun… but if you choose to join us, the choice is clearly yours… we swear that you’ll be legal when we batter down the doors… of people we don’t like, you know those weirdos, wogs, and scum… and if they show resistance, grab your weapons, load dum-dums… And split their flesh, their bones, their skulls, the sound will burst their ears… Please let them know and make it clear we’re the mothers of all fears…
Sustainability is great, if you can achieve it… the problem in most cases is you simply can’t get there…
aren’t you running the risk of entrenching the need for charity by increasingly institutionalizing it?
look, it’s an unfortunate truism that charity, like poor little Olga here, is always with us, to coin a phrase… […]
and what’s your message to the President?
oh I wouldn’t presume to have a message for the President… I think, luckily for the foundation, we see eye to eye on most things… […]
[children singing:] We are the children of the world… and we have suffered for your sins… but if you open up your heart… a beautiful new day begins… […]
look at this: “Disgraced director of children’s charity ‘Suffer the Little Children’ was arrested last week” he was arrested last week on charges of stealing organs from Third World children and selling them to wealthy Westerners…
3. The Descent: Part 2 (2009) [Rated R for strong bloody horror violence, grisly images, terror and language.]
summary from imdb.com:
Distraught, confused, and half-wild with fear, Sarah Carter emerges alone from the Appalachian cave system where she encountered unspeakable terrors. Unable to plausibly explain to the authorities what happened – or why she’s covered in her friends’ blood – Sarah is forced back to the subterranean depths to help locate her five missing companions. As the rescue party drives deeper into uncharted caverns, nightmarish visions of the recent past begin to haunt Sarah and she starts to realize the full horror and futility of the mission. Subjected to the suspicion and mistrust of the group and confronted once more by the inbred, feral and savagely ruthless Crawlers, Sarah must draw on all her inner reserves of strength and courage in a desperate final struggle for deliverance and redemption.
directed by: Jon Harris
starring: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza
news woman: with the community still shaken from last year’s Slate’s Quarry tragedy, here in Boreham, it’s fresh heartache… as the search for the missing women moves into the end of its second day, hope is fading for Senator Kaplan’s niece, Juno, and her five friends…
one of the wise non-Americans: you want to lose that heavy metal… gun blast down there’d be like dynamite…
the “trigger-happy” American: my gun stays with me…
[after the trigger-happy American shoots off his gun setting off some boulders, trapping a girl beneath:]
Dan, a wise non-American: F###! F###### trigger-happy Americans. F###### only answer they’ve got to anything is a f###### gun!
4. District 13: Ultimatum (2009) [Rated R for some violence, language and drug material.]
summary from imdb.com:
Damien and Leito return to District 13 on a mission to bring peace to the troubled sector that is controlled by five different gang bosses, before the city’s secret services take drastic measures to solve the problem.
directed by: Patrick Alessandrin/written by: Luc Besson
DISTRICT B13 is a French action thriller, now out on DVD, which takes its story from today’s news headlines about riots by young Muslims in France. The story is set several years in the future, after the government has decided to place walls around the most troublesome Muslim enclaves.
from Kyle Smith:
The best Parisian action movie of the week is “District 13: Ultimatum,” a serviceable thriller with a lefty message.
As in “District 13” (also known as “District B13”), to which this film is a sequel, “D13U” imagines a terrified white Paris literally walled off from black and brown citizens in housing projects. Near the beginning, there is a jaunt through the armed encampments of colorfully seething gangsters — Chinese, Arab, black and neo-Nazi. Later all will join forces. We are the world; we are the children…
One honest cop (Cyril Raffaelli) and ghetto-savvy Leito (David Belle, a pioneer of the gymnastic, dash-up-the-walls discipline called parkour) discover a plot by fascist cops to spark a civil war by framing Africans for cop-killing. The cop solution to the project problem: Blow them up and start over.
Luc Besson’s script (he also nabbed story and producer credits on this week’s “From Paris With Love”) marries his B-movie sensibility with appropriately sophomoric political grandstanding, tossing in semi-serious allusions to Gitmo, the Rodney King beating and Iraq: a firm called Harriburton is leading the fight to blow up the projects so it can win the rebuilding contract. Hey, argues an evil cop to the French president: Such destruction will “create jobs.” Sounds as sensible as our stimulus program.
from Darin Miller at Big Hollywood:
Spoiler alert: the film cannot be discussed without acknowledging its ending. In an awkward finish, gang members take the government headquarters building and stop Gassman. As a token of gratitude, the President promises unlimited funds to clean up the neighborhood. At that point, the gang leaders ask the President to go through with Gassman’s plan and blow their headquarters to smithereens.
The problem with this ending is that the inhabitants, while justifiably opposed to a government take-over in their district, fail to acknowledge that they are the problem. The gang leaders supply drugs to the rest of the city, and their violent lifestyle is the reason there are no good schools or family-friendly zones in the district. The idea that these leaders would turn their district over to the government to make it livable again is ridiculous, especially when they could have used their drug money to fix things the way they wanted it for years. Should we believe then that these leaders are happy to sacrifice their empires if someone else pays for the clean-up? It’s not likely, especially when the film reveals early on that hundreds of millions of Euros have already been poured into the district and it hasn’t helped.
The film’s strength is Parkour, not social commentary and the creators should to play to this strength or lose their fans in the future. That’s the ultimatum.
In the rotting, riot-prone, walled-off banlieues of near-future Paris, David Belle returns as the endlessly inventive ghetto acrobat—vaulting out windows, leaping from roof to roof, turning the act of evasion into a form of courage—and he teams up again with equally idealistic policeman Cyril Raffaelli, who prefers to stand and fight, confronting drug dealers and corrupt politicians directly. […] A rogue government security agency and evil corporation—called, get ready for it, Harriburton—are conspiring to bomb the banlieues and develop the rubble as luxury condos. “It creates jobs,” the villain tells the Sarkozy-style president. “We rebuild a neighborhood for the middle-classes, who’ll vote for you next time.” Besson explains the plot three times more than necessary, using flashbacks and a Rodney King–style cop video to underscore how government has failed (and quarantined) the poor.
5. Disgrace (2008) [Rated R for sexual content, nudity, some violence and brief language.]
summary from imdb.com:
After having an affair with a student, a Cape Town professor moves to the Eastern Cape, where he gets caught up in a mess of post-apartheid politics.
directed by: Steve Jacobs
starring: John Malkovich
Poli-Bits: racist violence, post-apartheid South Africa, animal welfare, guy wears a Che shirt, power of teacher over student
Dour, detached, and oozinggeneral contempt, the professor of literature who runs afoul of postapartheid South Africa in Australian director Steve Jacobs’ Disgrace might have been written for John Malkovich. In this film adaptation of J.M. Coetzee’s brilliant 1999 novel, the actor brings his languid creepiness, along with a hard-working Cape Town accent, to the part of David Lurie, a snooty, 50-ish academic with an aestheticized passion for the Romantic poets. Divorced and still fancying himself a roué, David maintains a chilly, power-tripping attraction to women of color that leads him to seduce — some would say, rape — a beautiful mixed-race student named Melanie (Antoinette Engel). Such is David’s arrogance that when a multiracial academic committee accuses him of flouting university rules, he readily concedes his guilt. “I was enriched by the experience,” he says, rubbing in his disdain for political correctness while refusing to meet the committee’s demands for a public apology.
Forced to resign, David leaves Cape Town for the backcountry, where his daughter, Lucy (South African newcomer Jessica Haines), a lesbian hippie as idealistic as her father is disenchanted, farms her small homestead in precarious harmony with Petrus (Eriq Ebouaney), her inscrutable black overseer. Prodded by Lucy, David reluctantly volunteers at a local pet clinic, where a middle-aged animal-rights activist named Bev (Fiona Press) euthanizes unwanted dogs. It’s in these backwoods, a habitat as scrubby, raw and concrete as his city life was tastefully abstract, that David will be profoundly humbled and transformed by a shocking sequence of events. But if you know your Coetzee, you won’t be expecting a nice, liberal parable in which everyone learns to get along. There’s no Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Disgrace, no institutionalized acts of mercy, no olive branches extended from white to black or vice versa. Instead, the long-suppressed hatred of South African blacks for their erstwhile masters bubbles up in an ostensible robbery that turns into a rape and beating, whose savagery mirrors, then far surpasses, what David has done. Differentially scarred by the attack, he and Lucy react according to their disparate natures and political bents. […]
In fact, Disgrace looks the chaos and hatred of postapartheid South Africa squarely in the face, probing the terrible fallout from white denial and pride without patronizing blacks by caricaturing them as noble victims. David may fancy himself apolitical, but his intransigence echoes that of South Africa’s former President P.W. Botha, who failed to show up when summoned before a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And the film will surely resonate with audiences in Australia — whose government recently issued a formal apology to its Aboriginal population, and where Coetzee now lives — and wherever skin color has been made a basis for rigid social hierarchy.
Prior to his reckoning, David is not pro-apartheid. He’s something worse: a man who’s not for anything other than the gratification of his own desires and the arbitrary assertion of a droit du seigneur that was bred in the bone of white South Africans, or at least the country’s white males. But by the end of Disgrace, David has come to the painful yet oddly peaceful recognition that in the new South Africa, men like him have grown obsolete. It’s the women who “do what must be done.” Lucy’s decision about the baby she’s carrying, the land she lives off, and the people she lives with, may seem as bizarrely over the top to Western audiences as it does to her father — certainly, it made me catch my breath. Yet in making up her mind, she reveals herself not as the dippy hippie we thought she was, but as a practical representative of a new generation of whites who understand the precise magnitude of the debt run up by their parents, a debt that they must now figure out how to repay.
Lurie’s daughter Lucy lives alone on a small farm, and runs a market garden and dog-kennel. She makes a show of practical independence, but it soon transpires that she is dependent for practical help and protection from her black “dog-man” Petrus, an ambitious New South African who will play the system of land grants and maybe something more sinister, to cement his ascendency over Lucy. Three young black men gang-rape and impregnate Lucy – an act even more traumatic because she is a lesbian – and lock the desperate Lurie in a bathroom before setting him alight. Lurie is fiercely angry, and wants Lucy to prosecute what turns out to be Petrus’ nephew, or maybe even son, but Lucy refuses. She will not run away from her country, and knows that the price of remaining is to accept subjugation by Petrus and to carry the baby to term. Lurie shares the reaction of the reader/audience – sheer shock that Lucy will not conform to our expectations of what a rape victim should do and feel….
The daughter is attacked and gang-raped in her house after showing a kindness to a stranger; her father is beaten unconscious and can’t help her. We don’t see any of the attack on her, but we know. We see it from the father’s perspective. What happens afterwards is the puzzling bit, and the audience, I suspect, was meant to be as confused as the father when the girl refuses to leave her farm, doesn’t want to make trouble by going to the police, and even when one of the attackers shows up at her neighbour’s place at a party, and is his nephew, she still decides to stay and not cause a scene. She is pregnant from the attack, and as her belly swells, other things come into play. Her African neighbour offers an arrangement where she can become his wife and give him some more land, and in return receive his protection. There have been suggestions that the baddies will come back; there’s also the suggestion that her neighbour was somehow involved (he was away the day of the attack, which the father sees as a bit too coincidental.) […]
Why doesn’t she leave and go somewhere safer? She refuses these things when her father asks. It’s like she is resigned to something; is she trading her life as a form of redemption for what she sees as her forefathers’ crimes of invasion?
6. Mega Piranha (2010) [Rated R for some violence, brief nudity and language.]
summary from imdb.com:
A mutant strain of giant ferocious piranha escape from the Amazon and eat their way toward Florida.
directed by: Eric Forsberg
starring: Tiffany, Barry Williams
it is not a communist country, Mr. Ambassador… whatever you are thinking…
i’m not concerned about the communism, i’m concerned about our trade agreement… and the sanctions that are right now being prepared in Washington D.C. to be imposed against you…
oh, is that a threat?
no, it’s a reality…
he’s claiming it was terrorists… the CIA? thinks it could be the start of an anti-American military coup… i need you to check out that river bottom and tell me what really happened before we have another Afghanistan on our hands… do whatever it takes and do it fast…
your country… what about my country, huh? you Americans come here… treat us like we’re from a third world country… like we’re children… like we can’t take care of ourselves…
[on tv:] anti-American protests were seen on the streets of Caracas, Venezuela this afternoon following the assassination of US Ambassador Arnold Regis, the primary architect of the now-controversial Pan-American free trade initiative … no group has yet claimed responsiblity for the attack…
good… let’s close this case… the Venezuelan government is not happy. […] i’m flying down to Caracas tonight to smooth things out at the capital… relations are bad to say the least…
and we’re sanctioned by the United Nations…
[sarcastically]: oh, well, the United Nations… how charitable…
for openers, Venezuela is a sovereign nation and one, i might add, whose relationship with us is not doing very well at the moment…
oh we’re gonna stop them, alright… but the Greenpeacers won’t like the way we do it…
what does that mean?
we have a nuclear submarine set to intercept the piranha in one hour… as soon as those creatures are far enough away from land: we nuke’m…
7. Knocked Up (2007) [Rated R for sexual content, drug use and language.]
summary from imdb.com:
A one night stand turns into the unexpected for Ben, when Alison announces to him that she is now pregnant with his child. Ben decides that the best thing to do is to get his life sorted so he can care for Alison and his new child, which isn’t an easy job for him.
directed by: Judd Apatow
starring: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segal, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Martin Starr, Joanna Kerns, Harold Ramis, Alan Tudyk, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Ken Jeong, Craig Robinson, Loudon Wainwright III, Adam Scott, J.P. Manoux, Mo Collins, Ryan Seacrest, James Franco… 10 second cameos by: Jessica Alba, Steve Carell, Andy Dick, Eva Mendes, Dax Shepard
Ryan Seacrest: So if you want that perfect tan like the stars,
he’s the one to see. We’ll be right back on E! News. Stay with us.
Alison Scott: Okay.
Seacrest: Okay, is Jessica Simpson here yet?
Scott: Let me check. Let me see.
Seacrest: Is she on her way? She’s left her house?
Scott: Hey, guys? Okay, let me know when she’s pulling in. She’s about to pull in.
Seacrest: – Is she camera-ready?
Scott: Is she camera-ready?
Seacrest: If she’s gonna be in hair and makeup for three hours, I can’t do it. I’m not gonna be here. I got to do American Idol. It’s live. I got to do it. I got to be there. What are we gonna interview her about?
Scott: Nothing personal.
Seacrest: No personal questions.
Scott: No personal questions. Don’t ask her about her sister and her nose job.
Seacrest: No plastic surgery questions.
Scott: No plastic…
Seacrest: No personal questions.
Seacrest: Great. We’ll talk about the Middle East and maybe an idea of an exit strategy. Maybe she has a good pitch. Should I ask her about Korea? Maybe have her point it out to us on a globe? I don’t understand the young talent in this town!
You know what movie I just saw again the other day, which is #######, like, mind-blowing, and I haven’t seen it since it came out is Munich.
Oh, man, Munich ####### rules.
Munich is awesome!
That movie was Eric Bana kicking ####### a##!
Dude, every movie with Jews, we’re the ones getting killed.
Munich flips it on its ear. We’re capping #############.
Not only killing but #######, like, taking names.
If any of us ### #### tonight, it’s because of Eric Bana in Munich.
I agree with that.
You know what is not helping us ### #### is the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, over here at our table.
I don’t like your shoes.
How was Burning Man this year?
#### you guys. I’m glad I’m not Jewish.
So are we.
Yeah, so are we.
You weren’t chosen for a reason.
I thought maybe we’d just talk and get to know each other better.
Cool. Okay. I’ll start. I’m Canadian.
Oh, that’s cool.
From Vancouver. I live here illegally, actually. Don’t tell anyone. But it works out in my advantage, I think, ultimately, ’cause I don’t have to pay any taxes. So financially that’s helpful ’cause I don’t have a lot of money. You know, I mean, I’m not poor or anything, but I eat a lot of spaghetti.
Jay Baruchel: I think it’s awesome that you’re gonna have a kid, man. Think about it like this. It’s just an excuse to play with all your old toys again.
Jonah Hill: You know what I think you should do? Take care of it.
Baruchel: Tell me you don’t want him to get an “A” word.
Hill: Yes, I do, and I won’t say it for Little Baby Ears over there, but it rhymes with “Shma-shmortion.” I’m just saying… Hold on, Jay, cover your ears. You should get a shma-shmortion at the shma-shmortion clinic.
Baruchel: Ben, you cannot let these monsters have any part of your child’s life.
Joanna Kerns: Allison, just take care of it. Take care of it. Move on. What’s gonna happen with your career? How are you gonna tell them?
Katherine Heigl: I’m not gonna tell them for a while. I have a while before I have to say anything.
Kerns: How could you not tell them?
Heigl: They’re not gonna know. I mean, I’m only gonna start to show when I’m like, I don’t know, six months or something. Seven months.
Kerns: Three months.
Kerns: Three months. Fat in the face, jowls, fat #ss.
Heigl: Debbie didn’t get fat.
Kerns: Debbie is a freak of nature.
Heigl: Mom, you know, it’s important to me that you be supportive.
Kerns: I cannot be supportive of this. This is a mistake. This is a big, big mistake. Now, think about your stepsister. Now, you remember what happened with her? She had the same situation as you, and she had it taken care of. And you know what? Now she has a real baby. Honey, this is not the time.
Katherine Heigl: You know, I was just calling to… To let you know that I’ve decided to keep the baby. I’m keeping it.
Seth Rogen: Oh.
Heigl: Yeah. So, that’s what’s happening with that.
Rogen: Good. That’s good. That’s what I was hoping you’d do. So, awesome.
Heigl: Yeah. Yeah, it is good.
Rogen: Okay, I know we didn’t plan this, and, you know, neither of us really thought it was gonna happen, but life is like that, you know, you can’t plan for it. And even if we did plan, life doesn’t care about your plans, necessarily. And you just kind of have to go with the flow and, you know, I know my job is to just support you in whatever it is you wanna do, and, I’m in, you know. So whatever you wanna do, I’m gonna do, you know. It’s… I’m on board. Yay!
Heigl: I really appreciate you saying that.
Did you see this sex offender website? These are all the sex offenders in our neighborhood.
Looks like your computer has chicken pox.
Those are sex offenders. These people live in our neighborhood.
Well, I’ll skip their houses when we’re trick-or-treating. What do you want me to do? Form a posse? Got your six-shooter on you? I got my lynching rope.
You shouldn’t take it so lightly.
I don’t take it lightly. You know, I’m not gonna go over to any of these people’s houses and say, “Hey, do you mind… Can you baby-sit?”
If I didn’t care about these things, you wouldn’t care about anything. Care more.
You’re so concerned with stuff, like “Don’t get them vaccinated. “Don’t let them eat fish. There’s mercury in the water.” […] how much Dateline NBC can you watch? […]
So I’m the bad guy because I’m trying to protect our kids from child molesters and mercury?
8. Last Chance Harvey (2008) [Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.]
summary from imdb.com:
In London for his daughter’s wedding, a rumpled man finds his romantic spirits lifted by a new woman in his life.
directed by: Joel Hopkins
starring: Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Kathy Baker, James Brolin, Richard Schiff
Harvey the American to Kate the Brit: ahh, s###… sorry, vulgar American…
Harvey: you got sad… why?
Kate: I was pregnant once… didn’t have it… I mean… I didn’t think twice about it… that’s what smart girls did… yeah… I do… I do sometimes wonder, you know, wh– whether they would be funny or clever or… [cries]… oh, i don’t know… neurotic… stupid, really… i don’t know why i told you that…
9. Black Snake Moan (2006) [Rated R for strong sexual content, language, some violence and drug use.]
summary from imdb.com:
A God-fearing bluesman takes to a wild young woman who, as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, looks everywhere for love, never quite finding it.
directed by: Craig Brewer
starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci, Justin Timberlake, S. Epatha Merkerson
movieguide.org Christian reviews
Poli-Bits: sexual abuse, abortion, “combat anxieties among young soldiers”
Samuel L. Jackson plays Lazarus, a blues singer turned farmer whose wife has just left him for his own brother. Lazarus tries to convince his wife to go to a local church counselor, but she flatly tells him no, because she doesn’t love him anymore.
Christina Ricci plays Rae, an extremely promiscuous young white woman cheating on her boyfriend, Ronnie, who has gone to join the Army. One night, after a stoned orgy with some other guys, Ronnie’s best friend tries to take Rae home. He beats her, however, and leaves her for dead on the side of the road near Lazarus’ farm.
The next day, Lazarus finds Rae unconscious and treats her wounds, including a persistent cough. He finds out about Rae’s wicked ways and, angered at his wife’s own infidelity and Rae’s attempts to seduce him, decides to chain Rae up to cure her. Thus begins a stormy relationship that slowly develops into a figurative father-daughter relationship. Eventually, with help from the local black pastor, Rae begins to see the light, and Lazarus realizes he cannot force people to change.
Rae’s boyfriend Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) leaves for deployment with the 1960th Field Artillery Brigade, Tennessee National Guard, and in his absence she has bouts of promiscuity and drug use.
Ronnie [later] returns to town after being discharged from the National Guard due to his severe anxiety disorder.
Consider the story of Ricci’s husband, played by Justin Timberlake, who once again proves—as he did earlier this year in Alpha Dog—that he truly is a solid actor. After balancing machismo with self-loathing in Dog, Timberlake exudes vulnerability as Ronnie, an army soldier plagued with violent anxiety. […] who exerts homicidal tendencies once he discovers his wife’s been cheating.
When Timberlake’s redneck brother viciously beats Ricci and leaves her for dead, grief-stricken bluesman Jackson brings her back to his shotgun shack and tries to set her on the straight and narrow.
Jackson sets about saving himself and exorcising his own formidable demons by rescuing Ricci from a life of sin and degradation. Their gradually improving relationship is contrasted with Jackson’s sweet, stumbling courtship of kindly pharmacist S. Epatha Merkerson, in a subplot that epitomizes the film’s surprising social conservatism. In Moan, promiscuity and abortion are the problems—Jackson is mourning the termination of his unborn child as much as the death of his marriage—and fidelity and marriage are the solution…
10. Happy Endings (2005) [Rated R for sexual content, language and some drug use.]
summary from imdb.com:
Happy Endings weaves multiple stories to create a witty look at love, family and the sheer unpredictablity of life itself.
directed by: Don Roos
starring: Lisa Kudrow, Steve Coogan, Jesse Bradford, Bobby Cannavale, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Ritter, Tom Arnold, Sarah Clarke, Laura Dern, Johnny Galecki, Peter Horton
movieguide.org Christian reviews
Poli-Bits: down with the rich/Mexican illegal immigrants/marrying for green cards/gay issues/artificial insemination/abortion
Lisa Kudrow of TV’s FRIENDS stars in the movie as Mamie, a troubled, unhappy abortion clinic counselor. The movie opens with a distraught Mamie running through some suburban streets and getting hit by a car. The movie then tells the events leading up to this situation, including the situations of characters indirectly involved.
Twenty years ago, Mamie seduced her new step-brother, Charley, and became pregnant. She left town to get an abortion and now works as a counselor, supposedly making sure that the women deciding their babies’ fates are happy with their final decisions.
Their two step-parents dead, Charley now runs one of his father’s restaurants they both inherited. Charley is in a complicated friendship with two lesbians, their sperm baby, Max, and Charley’s own homosexual boyfriend, Gil. Working in Charley’s restaurant as a karaoke announcer is 22-year-old virgin Otis, who has the hots for his boss. Otis invites a well-received karaoke singer, Jude, to become his rock band’s lead female singer. Although Jude seduces Otis, she has designs on his rich father, Frank. Jude blackmails Otis into going along with her plan.
Meanwhile, Mamie is having a hot affair with Javier, a Latin masseuse. One day, an unkempt, would-be film student, Nicky, blackmails Mamie into helping him make a movie to get a highly competitive student scholarship. Nicky informs Mamie that he knows the identity of Mamie and Charley’s son, the intended abortion victim who Mamie secretly decided to put up for adoption instead. Nicky wants to make a documentary of Mamie’s reunion with her son, but she and Javier convince Nicky to make a documentary about Javier’s non-existent sex massage business instead.
All of these stories come to a comical climax that’s at times disturbing and sometimes sad.
Did you guys hear that thing on NPR this morning? About sperm.
Oh, no, no, no, I didn’t hear that one.
Well, maybe it was yesterday.
What was that?
Just about storage and freezing and stuff. […]
Do you guys know how long sperm keeps?
In the proper, you know, facility. I don’t know what it would be at home.
Did you hear the other story, though? It must have been after that, on the Khmer Rouge… about that guy who was growing vegetables behind the torture room?
That was devastating. I almost had to pull the car over. […]
Sugar, bad. Torture, fine.
Can I get some ice cream with that?
Oh, absolutely. I’II get it.
You know, there’s Tofutti in there, too.
You always been rich?
I’m not rich. It’s all relative.
That’s what rich people always say.
Nobody asked for a green card, huh?
Not for the crap jobs.
You stand at Home Depot, nobody asks you anything. Right?
But for Lifewell and Beverly Patrol… you had to have a green card.
I got married. I was seeing this girl off and on… so she said she’d marry me. It wasn’t free. I’m still paying her.
Wow! Hey, you think we could get her for the documentary?
No way! You kidding me? It’s against the law. It’s major.
We had to pretend for a year we was married. They came over, they’d do interviews… ask us questions in different rooms. She was real good. Good actress, you know? But nobody knows. I mean nobody. Not even Mamie.
Mamie’s white, OK? You look like a scared Mexican. Like, down at the border on the news.
[written on screen:] Four months later. Charley’s father, Mamie’s mother. Charley tells them the big news.
Mamie’s mother: Pregnant? Pregnant?! Get your bony ####### #ss out of this car! What the hell is the matter with you?! What the #### were you…
[written on screen:] Abortion Day. Off to Phoenix. Charley will stay behind.
Mamie at 17: I gotta go.
Eric Jungmann: Wait… Wear this when they do it. It’s–it’s good luck.
Mamie’s mother: Mamie? Who’s in there?
Mamie: No one, Mom. I’m on the phone.
Mother: Charles is waiting in the car, so hurry up.
Mamie: OK, I’m coming.
Mother: I’ve got your blue bag.
Mamie to Jungmann: I only did it to get out of this house. OK?
Jungmann: No, you didn’t.
Mamie’s mother: Mamie! It’s time to go!
[written on screen:] Mamie is like Javier. They get paid to make people feel better.
Girl: But it– it already has a face, right? A face and a personality?
Mamie/Lisa Kudrow: It has more of a head than a face at this stage. And a personality? I don’t–Not a personality. I don’t think you could say that.
Girl: No one’s giving me any advice.
Kudrow: I’m not here for advice. I’m here to listen. I can’t tell you what to do.
Girl: That’s great. That’s helpful.
Kudrow: I had one when I was your age.
Girl: And were you sorry after? I mean, does it bother you? I’m Catholic.
Kudrow: I shouldn’t have told you that. And I’m Jewish, so… I shouldn’t have told you that, either.
Girl: Will you be here tomorrow? It’s tomorrow at 10:00 if I decide.
Kudrow: Tomorrow? No. No, but there will be someone for you… Janet, if you want to talk afterwards.
Girl: Yeah. I’m gonna do it.
Girl: I’m not maternal, either.
Lisa Kudrow: I don’t need to see my son. I was going to have an abortion, in fact… until someone talked me out it.
Jesse Bradford: If you don’t care, then why’d you keep updating the adoption agency… with your addresses? There’s four of them in the file.
Kudrow: He has the information. He can contact me if he wants to.
Maggie Gyllenhaal: I don’t even know why I’m here. I have already made up my mind.
Lisa Kudrow: It’s just something we do here… Jude. Or is it Judy?
Maggie: I want the abortion.
Lisa: Do you want to tell me why?
Maggie: Well, I’m marrying somebody… and… I want to start out with a clean slate.
Lisa: This is not his child?
Maggie: It probably is. If it isn’t, it’s his son’s.
Lisa: Are you serious?
Maggie: Yeah, and then, if we have more kids… their brother or sister could be their cousin or… You see how it could get?
Lisa: Yeah. Do your partners know of your pregnancy?
Lisa: Do you have any feelings about your baby?
Maggie: You’re not supposed to say “baby”. You’re supposed to say “pregnancy” or “fetus”. I’m pretty sure about that.
Lisa: It’s important to you not to call it a baby.
Maggie: Mm-hmm. But that’s because you’re gonna rip it out of me… and flush it away. Are you pro-life? Will you sign my form?
Lisa: I’m just asking questions. I’m pro-choice, of course. But my opinions aren’t important here.
Maggie: Well, then, I’d shut up about them. I think we’re done. I have an appointment for tomorrow at 10:00.
Lisa: I don’t want you to misunderstand. I think everything is a much bigger decision than we think. And this one– this is the biggest. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I don’t even know what to ask you.
Maggie: You’re a little ###### up, aren’t you? You gotta be better at this most days.
Lisa: This is about average. Here you go.
Lisa: I’m not pro-life, though.
Maggie: Who is, once you start paying attention?
[Maggie Gyllenhaal drives to abortion clinic with angry protesters banging on her car:]
[Maggie lies down and says “I’m ready.”]
11. Vera Drake (2004) [Rated R for depiction of strong thematic material.]
summary from imdb.com:
Abortionist Vera Drake finds her beliefs and practices clash with the mores of 1950s Britain–a conflict that leads to tragedy for her family.
directed by: Mike Leigh
starring: Imelda Staunton, Eddie Marsan, Jim Broadbent
Poli-Bits: abortion, abortion, abortion, hate the rich!, abortion
Regrettably, the director still could not resist from making a case for abortion by contrasting a wealthy young woman who quietly has the procedure performed in a clinic without as much as a hiccup with the poor women that Vera helps, who always run the risk of winding up at a hospital locked in a fight for their very own lives. His pro-abortion politics of envy are abhorrent.
there are too many scenes involving abortion for me to type out the dialogue… so instead please be sure to read the reviews up above by James Bowman and Jack Cashill…
You lose any mates, Reg?
A few, yes.
I lost a couple of pals, and all.
I lost my best mate.
Ah, that’s right… Bill.
Did our basic together and everything. Out in Palestine… he got ambushed in an orange grove.
I had to pack his kit up for him like…
Sit next to Reg.
It’s dreadful, isn’t it?
You warm enough, Reg?
Put the fire on, Dad.
I lost my mom in the blitz.
Did you, Reg?
Chapel Street market, March.
Well now we remember that bomb, don’t we, Dad?
It blew all the windows out.
12. The Cider House Rules (1999) [Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, sexuality, nudity, substance abuse and some violence.]
summary from imdb.com:
Homer is an orphan in remote St. Cloud, Maine. Never adopted, he becomes the favorite of orphanage director Dr. Larch, who imparts his full medical knowledge on Homer, who becomes a skilled, albeit unlicensed, physician. But Homer yearns for a self-chosen life outside the orphanage. When Wally and pregnant Candy visit the orphanage Dr. Larch provides medically safe, albeit illegal, abortions Homer leaves with them to work on Wally’s family apple farm. Wally goes off to war, leaving Homer and Candy alone together. What will Homer learn about life and love in the cider house? What of the destiny that Dr. Larch has planned for him?
directed by: Lasse Hallstrom
starring: Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron, Delroy Lindo, Paul Rudd, Michael Caine, Kathy Baker, Erykah Badu, Kieran Culkin, Heavy D., Paz de la Huerta, J.K. Simmons, Erik Per Sullivan
Poli-Bits: abortion, abortion, migrant workers, more abortion, incest, illegal abortion, falsifying medical records, abortion, patriarchal rules shouldn’t apply to me, another abortion
from James Bowman:
The Cider House Rules, directed by Lasse Hallstrom, is the inspiring tale of an abortionist, Dr. Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine), and his long life of tireless, unselfish, devoted service to unwanted children in an orphanage in New England in the early part of the century; when, of course, he was forced to ply his trade illegally. Hm. I wonder if there could be any kind of a political agenda here? It’s just possible, I suppose.
The title comes from an observation made about the list of rules posted on the wall of a dormitory where migrant workers come every autumn to pick apples. The first few rules (the only ones we hear) are confusingly worded but all seem to add up to one rule, which is don’t go on the roof. This seems reasonable enough, considering the rickety state of the building and the likelihood of a serious accident to anyone who puts a foot wrong, but one of the migrants trenchantly observes that “Someone who don’t live here made them rules.” This seems to her-and to Hallstrom and to John Irving, who wrote the novel on which the film is based-to be a conclusive if somewhat illogical reason why the rules should not be obeyed. Fortunately, no one is killed by crashing through the roof as a consequence of not obeying them.
You get the analogy? The rules against abortion are (or were, when there were such things) made by men, who do not live in women’s bodies. Therefore, women need not obey them. Indeed, it is a question whether they need obey any rules imposed upon them by a patriarchal society. The only point in the film where any kind of moral judgment is made is when it is revealed that one of the migrant workers, Mr. Arthur Rose (Delroy Lindo), has been committing incest with his own daughter. Paradoxically, both this act and the rule against it must be regarded as artefacts of the patriarchal culture, but the film comes down on the side of opposition to incest anyway. Not to be disregarded, of course, is the fact that it provides an opportunity for the daughter to have a wholly-approved abortion.
The apple-picking in this movie takes place on the Maine estate of Wally Worthington (Paul Rudd) a handsome young man who is a pilot in the dangerous Burmese theatre of the last World War. Home on leave from the Army Air Force, Wally turns up in his smart roadster at the St Cloud’s orphanage, run by Dr. Larch, where the good doctor obligingly performs an abortion on his gorgeous, pouting girlfriend, Candy (Charlize Theron). While there he makes quite an impression, and Candy even more of one, on Dr. Larch’s young orphan assistant, Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire). Having lived in the orphanage all his life, Homer thereupon decides he needs to see more of the world. There follow idyllic days of picking apples along with the migrants on Wally’s estate and idyllic nights of screwing Wally’s girl while Wally is risking his life for his country in the Far East.
Candy explains her behavior by saying, “I’m not good at being alone,” but, of course, she also benefits from the fact that the unwritten rule against a girl’s screwing around on her boyfriend overseas is-you guessed it-made up by men. She is exempt from it ipso facto. Of course the great thing about this exemption is that men can benefit from it, too. Or at least abortionists can, who are presumably to be regarded as a sort of honorary women for the essential service they perform. Dr. Larch, for instance, is to be applauded not only for his career as an illegal abortionist but also for falsifying medical records in order to keep Homer out of the army and for forging medical and academic credentials in order to permit Homer to succeed him at the orphanage. More of those pesky patriarchal rules! Too bad that he meets an untimely end through his addiction to sniffing ether while listening to “Ukulele Lady” on the Victrola. One supposes it was the patriarchy that drove him to it.
THE CIDER HOUSE RULES tells the tale of Homer Wells (Toby Maguire), a young man growing up in a remote orphanage in rural Maine. Doctor Larch (Michael Caine), an ether-abusing but kindly man, runs the orphanage and serves as a surrogate father to his charges. He considers Homer to be his protegee and trains him in medical skills until Homer can deliver babies and perform surgery with aplomb. Yet, the doctor and Homer differ on one issue: Dr. Larch performs abortions, which Homer insists is wrong. Homer argues that, if abortion were legal, he himself might have been aborted and that he is “happy to be alive.” The doctor insists that the young mothers who come to him are desperate and that he simply “gives them what they want” instead of telling them what to do, because “doing nothing” is wrong. “Our duty is not to leave things to chance,” he admonishes Homer. He claims, like all abortion advocates, that, if he does not give these women what they want, they will seek the procedure from amateurs and end up injured from a botched attempt. […]
THE CIDER HOUSE RULES is offensive on so many levels. Its insidious manipulation of its audience with blatant symbolism and heart-tugging scenes, of orphans yearning for parents, of Homer picking shiny red apples in gorgeous mountain settings, of frantic young girls pleading with Dr. Larch for help, all in the name of abortion, is simply sickening. Even the movie’s title supports the pro-abortion theme. The “cider house rules” are a list of rules in the house where the migrant workers live and make cider. The workers burn the list, because “those rules weren’t written by the people who live here [in the cider house].” (Never mind that they were written by the people who own the cider house. Another vote for anarchy from the libertine left!) The analogy is obvious: since pregnant women (i.e., the keepers of the womb) were not the authors of abortion laws, the laws should be ignored and defied. Once the cider house rules have been destroyed, the workers declare that they will make their own rules, “every single day.”
[Dr. Larch] falsifies Homer’s medical records to exempt him from service in World War II. When the state licensing board moves to replace Larch, the abortionist concocts a phony educational history and counterfeit credentials for Homer, who had never so much as attended high school, much less college or medical school. Knowing that several members of the board are devout Christians (and thus the target of particular derision in the story), Larch embroiders his falsehoods further by claiming that Homer was a missionary ministering to the sick and needy in India. All of this is justifiable, according to the film, because he’s doing “the Lord’s work” (in this instance, the “lord” referred to is Molech, not Christ) and he needs Homer to be his successor.