Category Archives: Movies

Won’t You Be My Neighbour?

On Sunday I watched a new documentary film called Won’t You Be My Neighbour? Here are four interesting things I learned from the film about Fred Rogers the host of the long running children’s television program  Mister Roger’s Neighbourhood.  

The theme of Mr.Roger’s television program was that all children are worthy of love just the way they are.  In one episode of his show he explains why 143 is a special number to him because it reflects the number of letters in the phrase I LOVE YOU.   I- one letter, LOVE- 4 letters, YOU- 3 letters- 143. According to Fred’s wife Joanne her husband weighed 143 pounds for the last 30 years of his life.

Fred Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister.  He studied theology at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and upon completion of his degree in 1962 was ordained.  He never served as a church minister but considered his career spent creating wholesome children’s television programming his religious mission. 

The show Fox and Friends on the Fox News Channel once described Mr. Rogers as an “evil, evil man.”  The documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbour includes an old clip from the show where the host of Fox and Friends said Mister Rogers was evil for having ruined a generation of kids by telling them they were special and making them feel entitled. 

As he was dying Fred Rogers asked his wife whether he thought God would consider him a sheep or goat when he got to heaven.  He was referring to a Scripture passage in Matthew 25 where Jesus says that when people are judged at the end of their life the goats will be those who did not show their love for God by helping others.  The sheep will be those who tried to see the face of Jesus in everyone they met and tried to help them.  Fred’s wife Joanne told him that if he wasn’t a sheep no one was. 

Other posts………..

What’s the Best Way to Raise Children

Thoughts About Children

Teaching Kids About Being Homeless

 

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Crazy Rich Asians

I enjoyed this movie throughly.  We went to the late show and the fact that I didn’t fall asleep or even close my eyes for a second attests to its entertainment value.  Just ask my husband!

I love a good romantic comedy and this was certainly a delightful one.  One of the reasons Crazy Rich Asians is being touted by critics and audiences alike is because all of the characters are indeed Asian.  I think its great to have a successful movie with so many actors from a group that has been underrepresented in Hollywood films.  

Here are some scenes in the movie that resonated with me perhaps because I lived and taught in Asia for six years and have visited Singapore where the majority of the film’s action is set. 

  1.  There is a scene where a group of unbelievably wealthy women are having a Bible study.  The Christian prosperity gospel certainly has its hold on Asia probably thanks to missionaries, particularly in former British cities like Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore. I met many a Christian millionaire in Hong Kong where I taught at a rather expensive private faith-based school, supported in large part by those millionaires’ generosity. 

    Nick, the hero of the movie introduces his girlfriend Rachel to his grandmother who has the final say on whether he can marry her

  2. There is enormous family pressure on children to do well in Asia, to succeed and to be loyal to the family. Grandparents play a major role in raising children and have a big say in their lives.  I had students in Hong Kong who would get scolding phone calls from grandparents living in other countries if they weren’t doing well in school.  Many of my students had names chosen by their grandparents. 

    Making Chinese dumplings

  3. Making dumplings as a family is a ‘thing.’  I’ve done it. There’s a key scene in the movie where a family makes dumplings and viewers learn a lot about family history and dynamics. 

    Dave and our friends enjoying street food in Singapore

  4. Singapore street food is world-famous.  I was so glad one of the scenes in the movie featured that food in a big way. 

Other posts………

The Sculptures of Singapore

Making Chinese Dumplings

 

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What a Great Dad!

I was once an eighth grader myself and I parented two sons through that phase.  Those experiences however have little in common with what it is like to be an eighth grader today in a world dominated by technology, where navigating relationships on Instagram and Snap Chat is perilous and where trying to figure out who you are apart from your social media presence seems impossible. The movie Eighth Grade which I saw on Monday night with friends does an amazing job of taking you into the world of young teens and showing you just how strange and difficult and awkward it can be to find your way through that social milieu. 

The young girl at the center of the film Kayla lives with her father who has been her single parent since she was just a toddler.  He is such a good dad!  Concerned, caring, trying to give his daughter space to make choices but at the same time letting her know he is always there for her.  Kayla is at a point of such low self esteem but her father makes it clear he thinks she’s a great kid!

The father Mark Day played by Josh Hamilton clearly believes being a good father is the most important thing in his life.  He  has a job but he doesn’t appear to let work or his social life interfere with his clear priority to just ‘be around’ so whenever his daughter does want to talk or she is upset he’s there. 

The movie is great on many levels- from fifteen year old Elsie Fisher’s amazing performance as Kayla- to wonderful but cringe worthy scenes like the one where Kayla has a date with a loveable but totally nerdy boy she met at a party- to the truly scary scenes like the one where a highschool guy tries to take advantage of Kayla’s need to be liked and accepted. 

I’d recommend the movie first and foremost though for parents of young teens because the Dad in this movie although he is bumbling and gets it wrong sometimes, and can drive his daughter wild, is basically stoic and caring and provides a textbook example of how to parent an eighth grader with unconditional love and a reassuring presence. 

Other posts……

Teenagers

Why Adults Are Reading Teen Fiction

Why Do We Share Our Worst Selves With the People We Love the Most

 

 

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What If You Could No Longer Do The Thing You Love the Most?

What if you could no longer do the one thing you believed you were born to do? That’s the question at the heart of the movie The Rider.  Filmed on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and directed by a young Beijing filmaker Chloe Zhao the main characters are all played by local people of the Lakota Sioux nation and not professional actors. the rider

Brady the young man at the center of the story is a professional rodeo rider who can no longer ride because of a devastating head injury.  His best friend has suffered a life altering injury as well and Brady’s kindness and care for him as well as for his autistic sister Lily make him such an appealing character.  His mother has died, his Dad drinks and gambles too much and the family lives in poverty. Brady has a lot on his shoulders.

The scenery of the South Dakota badlands in this movie is breathtaking, the relationship between Brady and his horses magical and there is a religious aspect too that is thought provoking.  Brady really believes God has put him on this earth to ride, but now that he can’t ride what is he to make of God? How can life still have meaning?

This is a profoundly sad movie with no uplifting Hollywood solutions.  I chatted with a woman who is a concert pianist on the way out of the theater and she was wondering what she would do if she could no longer play the piano.  I wondered what I would do if I could no longer write. What do you think would happen to you if you were no longer able to do the thing you love the most? 

We saw the movie at Cinematheque and there are still a couple more showings this week. 

Other posts……..

Tully

Wedding Night

The Audience Applauded For Her

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The Audience Applauded For Her

You don’t often go to a movie where the audience claps as the credits roll but there was hearty applause on Sunday night at Winnipeg’s Cinematheque Theatre where I watched RBG a documentary about American Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  She is a remarkable and interesting woman in so many ways.  Here are five.  

  1.  Ruth who is 85  has survived cancer twice and works out regularly with her personal trainer- planking and doing twenty push ups in a row. 
  2. She wears different collars with her Supreme Court robes depending on the cases being decided and depending  on whether she is offering a dissenting opinion or a majority opinion on that case. 
  3. She was very good friends with the late Justice Antonin Scalia even though she disagreed with him vehemently on many key issues that came before the Supreme Court. They both loved the opera. 
  4. Her granddaughter Clara Spera just graduated from Harvard Law School.  Both Ruth and her daughter Jane were also Harvard law students.   There are three generations of women lawyers in the family all educated at Harvard. 
  5. Ruth has had a hand in deciding many important cases on the Supreme Court.  Without her and her influence on the court there might not be gender inclusive admission policies for universities, same sex marriage rights or rights for people with mental illness to live in community settings.  She has been the voice of dissent as well for many important rulings like the one which ended the manual recount of ballots in the 2000 election thus insuring a George Bush win and the most recent case where the Supreme Court decided a baker was within his rights not to provide a wedding cake for a same sex couple. 

Portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Simmie Knox 2000

If you see the movie RBG you will know why the audience clapped at the end.  I could probably write a dozen blog posts featuring five interesting things I learned about Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Look for more. 

Other posts……..

Called to Court

Antigone’s Legacy

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Right to Have Children?

first reformedWe saw First Reformed on Wednesday night.  In the film a young man Michael who cares passionately about the environment commits suicide because his wife is pregnant. He feels the world is doomed because we humans have harmed its climate past the point of no return.   He doesn’t know how he will respond to his child when she will confront him someday and ask how he could have brought her into the world when he knew about the cataclysm that was coming.  

philip ettinger in first reformed

Philip Ettinger plays Michael in First Reformed. He asks priest Ernst Toller played by Ethan Hawke if God will forgive us for what we have done to the earth.

Michael kills himself to make room for his child on earth.  He leaves so his child can take his place because having a child is apparently the most damaging thing you can do when it comes to the future of the earth. Each human being’s carbon footprint is so huge that no matter how much we recycle…. and bike or walk instead of taking the car….. and buy local….. and conserve water it doesn’t nearly begin to balance the harm we do to the environment by having a child. In the film Michael leaves the world to make room for his daughter to enter it. Some people would agree he did the right thing.  This article on NPR for example Should We Be Having Kids in the Age of Climate Change addresses the very thing Michael is so concerned about. 

I understand all that logically but….. having children is way to invest in our hope that the world can still be saved.  Perhaps the next child who comes into this world will be the one who will figure out how to reverse climate change.  Perhaps they will be the one to figure out how to survive the coming cataclysm. 

baby with familyHaving children and now grandchildren has been the richest, most meaningful and most fulfilling aspect of my life but I know that is not the case for everyone and…… for some not having children is the right choice both for personal reasons and to save our earth.  I’m just glad its a choice I didn’t have to make. 

Other posts..….

Recipe for a Terrorist

What Will Our Grandchildren Think? 

Must We Live in Fear?

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Wedding Night

We saw the movie On Chesil Beach on Monday.  It stars the luminous and lovely Saoirse Ronan who is superb in her role as young violinist Florence Ponting.  Billy Howie plays her fiancée. He’s a recent history graduate named Edward Mayhew.  

Florence and Billy are on their honeymoon. Neither of them has any idea how sex works and it leads to disaster.  It makes the viewer awfully glad to be living in a time when information about sex is more readily available. Billy makes a choice the day after their wedding and it sets his life on an entirely different course than he’d planned.  It makes you stop and wonder what choices in your own life changed its direction forever and how alternate choices might have turned out for you. 

I haven’t read the book of the same name on which the film is based by Ian McEwan but apparently it has a much more ambiguous ending. I thought the end of the film was poorly done.  I hardly ever notice make up in a movie but the cosmetic jobs on Florence and Billy who are in their sixties at the end of the movie are painfully unrealistic. 

The story is a bit slow-moving ( I saw my husband nod off a couple of times) but I found it well acted and it made me think about my own wedding night at the North Star Inn- my first taste of both champagne and caviar which were supplied with our honeymoon package.  I remember Dave called one of his baseball teammates before the evening was over to see if the guys had won or lost the game he’d missed that day.  The outcome of our honeymoon night was thankfully not the same as Florence and Edward’s. On Chesil Beach is sad but worth seeing. 

Other posts about movies……….

Tully

Wonder

The Post

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