Friday, February 28, 2014

OSCAR: Short Subject - Animated

The tale of a wild child brought from the forest to the city, where to no ones surprise he does not fit in. The charcoal morphing surreal rendering is fun to watch.  The story is nothing new. 

Get A Horse
We missed this. Released with Frozen, apparently we are among the few that haven't seen it.  Although our cable on-demand offered "the Oscar nominated short films," this was not included.  Some snarky jokes about Mickey Mouse by the animated hosts explain its absence.

Mr. Hublot
Am intricately engaging visual environment tells a simple, but heartwarming story.  The juxtaposition of intricate visuals with the simple story makes for a charming cinema.  This is my pick. 

Beautifully flowing animation and a tale of healing.  This is Kyle's pick.

Room On The Broom
Here's sweet old fashioned animation of a children's story.  Lots of visual humor added to engae everyone. A close second for me.

OSCAR: Short Subject Live

Beautiful Poetry.  Moving. What a short film can say with so much more style and without the fillers that a feature film would demand.  With nods to "The Red Balloon" and even Spielberg, this was our favorite. Called sappy by many, it had me blubbering.

The Voorman Problem
The ubiquitous Martin Freeman is this short tale of solipsism gone wild.  Worth seeing.

Just Before Losing Everything
An important subject is dealt with in several new ways.  The abused are center stage and the abuser is given little focus.  The workplace as a support community was positive. A contrived parking lot encounter and non-ending made it less effective to my eye. This is LA Times Martin Tsai's pick to win.

That Wasn't Me
Here's an example of subject matter that needs more in depth exploration that short film can offer.  Perhaps the complete stripping of humanity from the characters was the point. It didn't work so well for me.

Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?
Humorously injecting slapstick into an everyday setting, this is fun film.  Too close to home, but fun.

Helium is our pick to win.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bishop Smith of AZ Reponds to Jim Crow's Return

It's another day to be proud to be an Episcopalian.  Members of my LGBT community who shun the church for thousands of years of persecution certainly are justified. But there are so many wonderful leaders in this church who have finally returned to the fundamental message of Jesus Christ.  All are welcome in this church.  We are a place to find refuge from the sin of churches that divide, devalue and reject the humanity of any group.  Today's example:

The legislature of Arizona has passed what can only be described as 'Jim Crow' laws aimed at the LGBT community.  Based on "sincerely held beliefs" any person can deny another person service. A legislator appear with Anderson Cooper last night appears not to know what he signed, saying it was just to prevent a clergy person from being forced to perform a same-sex marriage.  He was either ignorant or lying.  NO CLERGY PERSON can be FORCED to MARRY ANYONE.  No church, mosque or temple can be forced to offer their worship place for an event that they don't want. 

Bishop Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona issued this statement on their website:
Who among us doesn't want to support religious freedom? This argument seems to be the tactic of some arch-conservative lawmakers, who have convinced our Arizona legislators that it is fine to deny people basic human rights under the guise of religious freedom. Lawmakers in other states and members of both political parties have been astute enough to see what bills like this really are – a wolf in sheep's clothing that masks discrimination under a veneer of piety. Arizona, however, with its propensity for making itself into the political laughing-stock of the nation, has been duped once again. One can only pray that our Governor will, as the Arizona Republic said this morning, “get out her veto pen.”
From the Very Rev. Troy Mendez, an outline of the law and its effects:
What is being proposed?  Actually, several things are being proposed in this bill, including the following:
a)         Enables Discrimination based on “sincerely held beliefs.” The bill expands the term “exercise of religion” to include elements of practice and tacit “observance” of the religion (i.e., enacted beliefs). A person’s “religious practice and liberty” could be used under this bill as an excuse to deny people fair housing, job opportunities, and any kind of equal protection under the law. The framework of the bill is state-sanctioned discrimination.
b)         Expands the legal definition of personhood. In the current legislation, a “person” by definition becomes any and all entities, including “any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, estate, trust, foundation, or other legal entity. Personal morals could therefore apply to the way commerce is conducted, theoretically denying access or services to another group, under the grounds that offering them would be religiously reprehensible.
c)         Overrides any municipal non-discrimination legislation. The ordinances of local governments would be subject to the state’s legislation, thereby nullifying the will of the people of a community, including recent legislation passed in the City of Phoenix about a year ago.
Read the entire post here.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Philomena and Christianity

We are now only short seeing one nominee for Best Pictures for the Academy Awards, 2014. Last night we saw Philomena.  When one knows the basics of a story, it is always wonderful to be as completely surprised by a film.  Without any spoiler, the film is a must see and is now tied with Nebraska for my personal best picture selection.

These two movies, in totally different ways, take an everyday person through a journey of faith, one secular and one religious, but both very personal.  Both put a brilliant actor in the role.  Both resolve these journeys of hope in ways that the audience can relate to, both subtle and with a powerful message.

As a Christian following Philomena's relationship with her church was also a personal journey.  There was no personal trauma on the scale of hers in my life, and I have been much less faithful. But after an hour and half living with two people whose views on faith were very different, one line summed up the core messages of Christianity. Don't worry you won't miss it and you won't forget it.

Philomena far surpasses the cinematic attempts at portraying the life of Christ thus far and I suspect it will be the same with the upcoming Son of God in delivering what Christianity, and indeed every religion, should be about.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Gay "Life " in Russia

"Tradition Values" and raising a "pure generation."  Sound familiar?  The first is a buzz phrase of right wing groups today, the second is a phase that anyone aware of history would connect with Nazi Germany.  These are the phrases that are being used in Russia today to suppress LGBT people and those that support their right to be out.

An article in the February issue of GQ helps us to understand the reality of gay life in Russia today with the stories of these people:

Please read the entire article to find out who these people are.

As the Olympics approach we need to know that this is more than just a campaign to criminalize LGBT activity in Russia.  At its root it is an attempt to cleanse the impure... not a new idea in Russia unfortunately. 

Here is the closing paragraph of GQ's article:

One man was charged for holding up a sign that saidbeing gay is ok. Pride parades are out of the question, a pink triangle enough to get you arrested, if not beaten. A couple holding hands could be accused of propaganda if they do so where a minor might see them; the law, as framed, is all about protecting the children. Yelena Mizulina, chair of the Duma Committee on Family, Women, and Children's Affairs and the author of the bill, says that it's too late to save adult "homosexualists," as they're called, but Russia still has a chance to raise a pure generation.