Tag: movie

Yesterday: The Beatles and Signals of Transcendence

I finally was able to catch up on some films I was hoping to catch this summer. One being the new film Yesterday directed by Danny Boyle. Yesterday stars newcomer…

I finally was able to catch up on some films I was hoping to catch this summer. One being the new film Yesterday directed by Danny Boyle. Yesterday stars newcomer Himesh Patel as Jack Malik, a struggling musician, who one day wakes up to an altered world where he is the only one who remembers the Beatles. Jack begins to play the Beatles’ music as his own and soon rapidly rises to be an international pop sensation.

Lily James stars alongside Himesh Patel as best friend, manager, and love interest Ellie Appleton. Patel and James have wonderful chemistry together and represent a very likable couple for a romantic comedy. Music star Ed Sheeran also shows up and gives a wonderful slightly self-mocking performance as himself. Yesterday features a wide collection of beautiful covers of the Beatles’ ridiculously long and excellent catalog of music. All are performed by Himesh Patel, who does an excellent job singing as well as acting.

I found Yesterday to be a lovely sweet film with likeable leads, an interesting premise, and excellent music. Yesterday is not a perfect movie but it is a crowd pleasing film featuring an excellent production of Beatles’ music. This is a good film to check for those who enjoy romantic comedies and/or Beatles music.

Yesterday offers up all kinds of interesting questions especially to those of the philosophical bent such as myself. However, I think one the most interesting ideas is raised toward the end of the film. We find out that there are two other people who also remember the world with the Beatles’ music. The tension rises as to whether they are going to out Jack or not. In the moment of confrontation instead of condemning Jack they thank him. This is quite startling, but their reasoning even more so. Neither of them are musicians and they are just thankful to hear Beatles music again. One of the characters states, comforting Jack, “A world without the Beatles is a world that’s infinitely worse.”

One can debate the merits of the Beatles music, though for my money the Beatles are one of the most beautiful songwriting teams of all time. However, I think this quote highlights something most of us intuitively believe whether we have ever taken the time to consider it or not: Art and music make the world a better place; the world would be lacking in some way if we were to lose a beautiful piece of art like Rembrandt’s Raising of the Cross, or Bach’s Six Cello Suites, or Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, or even, yes, the Beatles’ Yesterday. But why is it the case that there is beauty in this world, or why do we value creative expression and beauty in our lives? Why would we believe the world is worse off without the Beatles? What is it we think we are losing? It seems to me that we all recognize the intrinsic value of beauty because we all desire transcendence. When we encounter something beautiful, it has the power to move us beyond ourselves in a way the ugly or mundane cannot.

Ultimately, this desire for beauty I believe is a desire for God, himself, who is the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty. God is the preeminent creator who has created a glorious beautiful world. Truly, “the heavens declare the glory of God.” But not only do the heavens declare his glory and beauty but so do his creatures who are made in his image. As image bearers we reflect the marks of our creator in our creative ability. God has gifted this world by creating people with unique gifts and abilities that can introduce more beauty, grandeur, and goodness into this world. In part we can taste and see that the Lord is good, through the pieces of art created by people who are in the image of and created by the supremely beautiful One.

This also raises another important concept. Which story of the universe provides a better picture of the world? Does the disenchanted naturalistic, reductionistic, materialistic explanation of the secularists, or the enchanted, supernatural, and sacred explanation of the Christian better explain the world we live in? By my lights, the Christian worldview and explanation is much more desirable and beautiful than any alternative.

Apologists Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli in Handbook of Christian Apologetics, give an argument for God from Bach (or really from art and beauty) that goes like this:

There is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Therefore there must be a God.
You either see this or you don’t

Many will find this an unconvincing argument, and I myself don’t think in this form it is the most persuasive. But if we understand this argument to really be pointing out that there is beauty in this world, and this is better explained by there being a God than not I think we can see it to be a helpful argument pointing toward God. Apologist, James Sire in Apologetics Beyond Reason, takes this argument and expands upon it. He argues that so much of current apologetics fails to account reaching the heart along with the mind. God has planted throughout the universe both in nature and through artists “signals of transcendence” that point us towards the reality that there is a beautiful Artist who is the Creator of all.

This brings us back to the movie Yesterday, which presents us with the beliefs that 1) there is beauty in the world 2) the world would be worse off if beauty did not exist, and 3) beauty is good. The Christian faith holds all these things to be true, and further grounds them in the beautiful God of the universe. God has chosen to create a world in which there is the Beatles music. God has chosen to create a beautiful world.

There is the music of the Beatles.
Therefore there must be a God.
I hope that you see this too.

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Spider-Man: Far From Home, Hits Close to Home

A couple of days before July 4th, Spiderman: Far From Home hit theaters riding the wave of the long weekend, hoping to snatch up all those movie goers with a…

A couple of days before July 4th, Spiderman: Far From Home hit theaters riding the wave of the long weekend, hoping to snatch up all those movie goers with a bit of extra time on their hands. I’ve been excited to return to the MCU’s webslinger and his friendly neighborhood antics not only in the wake of his stand along movie Homecoming but also amongst the aftermath of Infinity War and Endgame. The fish out of water story, set amongst the countries of Europe, coupled with a fish-in-over-its-head angle make for a great hook. As one reviewer put it “…Far From Home is the epilogue to Endgame I didn’t know I needed.” I was sold.

Did the movie live up to my hype? It’s worth seeing if you’ve been following most of the Marvel movies thus far but if you want to wait to stream/rent it you’ll be fine… is what I would have said after the movie ‘ended’ but the mid-credit scene changed everything. The movie takes on a whole new weight, meaning, and emotional investment that elevates the whole experience. It becomes one of those moments that all stories strive to accomplish but is often overlooked when comics and genre fiction achieve them. It holds up a mirror to our world and allows us to see beyond our own life. It teaches us empathy. Spider-Man: Far From Home is not better than Homecoming when it comes to the entertainment it offers, because it instead is offering something else. Instead of a spectacle it offers a seed. Less fun but more lasting.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before we get to the kernel of truth Spider-Man is offering, here are few of the small things I enjoyed about the movie.
• The chemistry between the characters: Peter interacting with his friends, Peter being awkward about his romantic feelings, Peter being a part of Nick Fury’s new team. All the small character moments are great.
• I enjoyed the design of the fire monster. I like how it looked, how it felt when Spidey and Mysterio fought it. I like its powers, and how they interact with the world.
• The humor is back and it’s on par with Homecoming.
• I like the stakes. Even though this movie has raised the stakes and elevated Spider-Man to a true Avenger class hero, he still feels like a boots-on-the-ground neighborhood hero trying to be a teenager while keeping his friends safe.
There is a lot to like in this film, even if at times it drags just a bit. But onto the ending and its implications!


The mid-credit scene picks up right where the movie ‘ends’ revealing not only that Mysterio has used his hologram technology to trick the world into believing that Spider-Man killed him, that Spider-Man is some kind of villain, but also revealing Spider-Man’s true identity. And this news is brought to the public by none other than J.K. Simmons reprising his role as J. Jonah Jameson. What a reveal! The stakes for Spider-Man, personally, have never been higher. Gone is the editor of a printed newspaper, J. Jonah Jameson is now the host of the news talk show The Daily Bugle, that looks and sounds almost exactly like Info Wars and Alex Jones. The changes to the character are quite clever, though not subtle, and the implications are not lost on the view. Nor should they be for the Christian view especially.

It seems difficult to find out what is True in this day and age. This is not something particular to this current time, this current generation. The difference is not one of culture but technology. People have always lied. Politicians lie, news casters lie, celebrities lie, business people lie, your family lies, your friends lie, but now it’s much easier for people to hear the lies. This is why discerning what is truth and what is a lie becomes paramount to not only living a better, more informed life but also a Good life. A life that honors God. Though most of us cannot relate to keeping our anonymity, to wearing a mask, in order to do the most good for the most people, we can relate to being portrayed as something we are not. Or at least living under some level of fear of that happening, especially within the socially connect digital sphere of modern life. These are the two big themes of Spider-Man’s ending address: what is true and what should I do when my integrity is attacked.

The first is easy enough. As Christians our faith comes from God and the truth of that faith, its foundation, is found in the person of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). We know this because we have read the Bible and we believe it to be true. We as Christians have a filter to which all information can pass through. Those things that flow through the Biblical filter align with the Truth while those things that are caught reveal themselves to be false. The Bible teaches us to know these things and in turn allows us to then teach others (2 Timothy 3:16-17). And by teaching we become a part of the expansion of the truth ultimately covering the earth and fulfilling the Great Commission. While ultimately the public will eventually realize that Spider-Man is not some kind of villain, because he is a superhero and these are comic book movies, Christians can have the same assurance that what is true and what is false will be revealed when we hold them up to standard that God have given us.

The second theme is not always so easy live with. For those who have not yet been bitten by radioactive spiders the strain of this kind of attack is quite heavy. Many are the attacks from outside of the faith against those that choose to follow both the letter and the spirit of Gods word, Jesus himself said as much in Matthew chapter 5, and even calls his follower blessed because of it. Blessed by the very words of our enemies for being what we already claim to be. But what if the attack came from within the Church, from fellow Christians? What if those we trusted turned out to be the ones misleading us? That is the type of betrayal that Spider-Man is dealing with and many believes deal with as well.

As Proverbs 11:3 states “he who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out.” Whether you know the person or not, every time some pastor or leader within the church is caught in a sexual sin or accused of stealing money it always seems personal. Always seems like an attack on our faith, on the Church, and it is just that. It drives people away. People who were already a part of the Church, and people looking at those situations and seeing ‘that’ as the church.

If one superhero is a killer aren’t they all? Who can we trust?

How can that pastor have done this when they claim to believe the Bible? Is this what all Christians are like?

The Bible is a shield to the barbs of the enemy, not a wall to cover the sins of humanity, yet we cannot simply hide behind that shield. Our part is simple enough when confronted with untruth, when attacked in our faith: we must remain peaceful with everyone, in all we are able to do (Romans 12:18), innocent yet shrewd (Matthew 10:16), always doing good and ultimately relying on God’s Justice which goes beyond anything we can provide. (Romans 12:19-20). The world is a dark place, full of lies and danger, and yet we can take courage because Christ walks with us, for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). We are not the heroes, God is.

I look forward to seeing what happens next to Spider-Man; his heroic deeds and his exoneration. I hope you all are excited as well. Not only about the next movie but also in how this piece of art and entertainment is able to change us, if only in some small way. To be better Believers and better people to others. To be a part of the truth and a part of the source of true hope.

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A Spark of Hope: The Last Jedi Review

This is the most spiritual of any Star Wars film. Luke Skywalker even refers to “the Jedi religion” (a term not used since A New Hope). There are many things one could discuss from The Last Jedi, but at its heart it is about restoring lost faith and the rekindling hope in the midst of despair.

Last Jedi is not a perfect film, but it is truly great at times. It is the most visually beautiful Star Wars film we have ever seen. It has one of the best space battles and one of the best lightsaber battles of any Star Wars film. It is thematically rich and gives strong interesting character arcs to Luke, Rey, and Kylo. Kylo/Ben Solo is one of the most interesting villains I have seen on screen in the last decade. The Last Jedi features some of the best acting of any Star Wars film as well. Adam Driver gives a mesmerizing performance as Ben Solo. Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley also give very strong performance. I cannot recommend The Last Jedi enough. Some do not appreciate what Rian Johnson did with Luke’s story, but I think it is a magnificent end to such a great hero. I highly recommend The Last Jedi. It is a remarkable Star Wars film, that is both a true Star Wars film, and surprisingly new.

Spoilers follow….

This is the most spiritual of any Star Wars film. Luke Skywalker even refers to “the Jedi religion” (a term not used since A New Hope). There are many things one could discuss from The Last Jedi, but at its heart it is about restoring lost faith and the rekindling hope in the midst of despair.

In the iconic opening crawl, we read in bold yellow script the Resistance is waiting for Luke Skywalker to “return and restore a spark of hope to the fight.” Evil has arisen again. Hope is dwindling. The galaxy is need of something to rekindle hope. Rey goes in search of this hope, but instead of finding Luke, mighty legend, she found a broken man of lost faith.


Luke Skywalker is a man adrift. In a moment of weakness, Luke had contemplated killing his nephew, Ben Solo because he could see the potential of great evil in Ben. Luke ultimately did not give into the temptation, but by simply lighting his lightsaber he set off a chain of events wherein, Ben Solo went over to the dark side and Luke’s other students were killed or joined Ben. Luke had failed himself, his sister, his best friend, his nephew, his students, and the galaxy. His failure led him to despair. He lost faith in the Jedi way and walked away from it all.

Rey begs for Luke to return to the fight. In brilliant foreshadowing Luke ask Rey, what she expects of him, “To show up with a laser sword and face the entire First Order” (the exact thing Luke does at the end of the film). Luke does not think the galaxy needs him anymore, but Rey wisely says they still need a legend.

Later in the film at the moment where all hope seems lost (Leah actually says hope is gone), Luke Skywalker walks into the room. Luke after his time with Rey and some counseling from an old friend, has his faith restored. He will not be the last Jedi. They will continue through Rey. Luke confronts Ben Solo and the First Order to provide time for the Resistance (should we call them Rebels now?) to escape.

In confronting Ben and the First Order, Luke becomes a legend once again. He is the spark that rekindles hope in the galaxy, as is wonderfully shown through the kids telling the story of Luke Skywalker at the end of movie. In a powerful display of the force, Luke sacrifices his life to save the Resistance, Leah, and Rey. In Luke’s final act of sacrifice he has become greater than he was before, and he has brought hope to a galaxy in desperate need of it.

Why would Rian Johnson tell this story? Why do so many respond to this message of hope in the face of despair? We live in a world full of darkness. We hear wars and rumor of wars; racism, natural disasters, and oppression seem to abound.

The world is in desperate need of hope. 2017 was a very difficult year for many people. Despair is on the rise, and all seems lost.

In his essay On Fairy-Stories Tolkien introduces the term eucatastrophe which is a sudden unexpected turn to joy in a story. When Luke arrives at the old Rebel base, The Last Jedi experiences eucatastrophe. All is hope seems lost, but then an unexpected change comes in the story. Luke comes, saves the Resistance, faces the New Order and brings hope to the galaxy. In a same manner the history of humanity has its own moment of eucatastrophe in the arrival of Jesus Christ.

In the epilogue of his essay On Fairy-Stories Tolkien argues that the Incarnation is the eucatastrophe of mankind’s history, and the Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the Incarnation. When all seemed lost, Jesus the hero of our story has stepped in and conquered evil and the grave for us so that we might have life, light, and hope. I believe as Tolkien believed that Christians should never live in despair, because despair is the absence of all hope, but in Christ we always have a hope no matter how dark things may seem. Our story has already unexpectedly turned to joy.

There is much more one could discuss about The Last Jedi and its themes of hope, faith, and love. However, I will end with two of my favorite lines from the film which beautifully capture the heart of the film.

“Hope is like the sun. If you only believe it when you see it you’ll never make it through the night.”

“We’re going to win this war not by fighting what we hate, but saving what we love.”


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Love Will Save the World: A Review of Wonder Women

The long wait is finally over, after 75 years, Wonder Woman has her own movie!

The long wait is finally over, after 75 years, Wonder Woman has her own movie! Beyond all the high hopes, there was a shadow of fear; would the movie be any good? Would the first female lead, female directed superhero movie be a success? Thankfully the answer is yes.

Wonder Woman is a joy to watch. Gal Gadot gives a true break out performance as Diana, enduing her with hopefulness, compassion, innocence, and strength. Steve, played by Chris Pine, is a likeable foil and love interest for Wonder Woman. At 141 minutes, it runs longer than necessary. In the final act the movie devolves into a CGI fest, and some of the CGI looks a little shoddy. These flaws however did not detract from the joy I had watching the film. I highly recommend seeing Wonder Women.

Spoilers follow….

In what might be surprising to some, Wonder Woman paints a picture of the world that aligns itself with the Christian message in many meaningful ways. Wonder Woman is a Christ figure who is compelled by compassion and love to help the helpless, rescue the lost, hurt, and dying. It is no accident that in the most iconic scene of the movie (Dianna stepping out into No Man’s Land) what causes Dianna to fight is her compassion for people who are hurting and dying. In Wonder Woman we have a heroine that does not glory in battle, but fights because of love and a desire for peace.

In the film Dianna realizes that war and death are because of humanity’s inherent wickedness. This is the Christian message. Humanity is fallen. We are born in our trespasses and sins, none can do good, all have sinned, and we are by nature children of wrath. We are lost and we need someone to come rescue us.

In the climatic last battle Ares attempts to convince Diana to join him because humanity is wicked and deserves destruction. Diana combats this argument with “It’s not about what you deserve, but about what you believe.” She follows with. “I believe in love” and later “Love will save the world.” Some might scoff at this dialogue, but the Christian says, “you do not realize just how true this is.”

Where Wonder Woman gives an ill-defined notion of love, the Bible presents a rich compelling version. Jesus is our compassionate hero who fights on our behalf. He conquered Satan, evil, and the grave through his sacrifice on the cross. The Gospel contention has always been that it is not about what we deserve, but about what we believe. We deserve death for our evilness, but we are offered life if we believe in Jesus.

Other religions tell us that we have to do good deeds to deserve salvation and atheists try to tell us that humanity is not wicked. Jesus says, “you are wicked, you do not deserve salvation, but I love you and I give my life for you so that you might have hope, peace, and joy.” Yes, love saves the world! “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

“Other religions tell us that we have to do good deeds to deserve salvation and atheists try to tell us that humanity is not wicked. Jesus says, “you are wicked, you do not deserve salvation, but I love you and I give my life for you so that you might have hope, peace, and joy.” Yes, love saves the world! “


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