Category Archives: Movies

Far From The Tree

What could make you stop loving a child?  

far from the tree movie posterAs I watched the movie Far From the Tree on Netflix I asked that question.  I marveled at the sets of parents it profiled who continued to love their children despite the fact they presented their families with fierce challenges and in many cases considerable heartbreak. Far From the Tree is a documentary that looks at parents with a child who is not like them, a child who defies that old saying about how much children often resemble their parents “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  

In the film we meet Jack who is autistic, often violent and can’t speak, Jason who has Down Syndrome, Trevor who has committed murder, and Joe, Lena and Lioni who are dwarfs. far from the treeThe documentary is narrated by Andrew Solomon a gay man who wrote the book on which the movie Far From the Tree is based. In his book Andrew explores how some families, including his own, handle having a child who is very different than his or her parents, a child who presents the family with unique challenges.

Two things shone through for me as I watched Far From The Tree.  The first was that every parent in the film loved their child unconditionally. There was nothing their child could do to make them stop loving them.  And the second was how the families in the film managed to find happiness in situations where being happy might seem challenging. 

I highly recommend Far From The Tree.  Although not an easy movie to watch it is inspirational and a testament to the power of love. 

Other posts about movies that look at parenting……..


Right To Have Children? 

Why Do We Share Our Worst Selves With Those We Love the Most? 

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Like Father Like Daughter?

movie viceWe saw the movie Vice on Christmas Day. It is a biography of Dick Cheney. While serving as George W. Bush’s vice president Cheney probably wielded more power than any vice president ever has.  The film claims it was because of Cheney’s influence that……. conservative news stations like Fox proliferated, ISIS was created, the United States invaded Iraq, efforts to promote alternatives to fossil fuels were stymied, and America heightened the brutality of its interrogation techniques. Also thanks to Cheney the current interpretation of the constitution implies that a president’s actions are always legal.  The movie didn’t leave viewers with much of anything to like or admire about Dick Cheney.

dick cheney's daughter mary holds bible for him when he is sworn in as vice president

Dick Cheney’s younger daughter Mary who has a same sex marriage partner holds the Bible for her Dad as he is sworn in as Vice President

The one moment in the film when I felt somewhat positively about Cheney was when he made it very clear to George W. Bush that if he became his running mate in 2000 there would be as he put it ‘be a concrete line’ in the sand with regards to the fact that Dick Cheney’s younger daughter Mary was a lesbian and in a same-sex marriage. Obviously same- sex marriage was something Republicans did not support but Cheney indicated he loved his daughter and his bond with her was of primary importance to him. In 2009 Dick Cheney made a public statement in favor of same-sex marriage.

The early part of the movie depicts the Cheney family- Dick, his wife Lynne, his younger daughter Mary, his older daughter Liz and their spouses and children as being very close, affectionate and supportive of one another. 

Interestingly then in 2014 when Dick Cheney’s older daughter Liz, a former Fox News contributor, was running for a Senate seat in Wyoming, with her parents’ approval she publicly took a stand against gay marriage and gay rights, a stance that created a rift with her sister Mary that has lasted to the present day.  They no longer see each other and Mary and her partner have publicly criticized Liz.  

liz cheney posted this picture on her twitter page

Liz posted a picture on Twitter of her father hugging her after she was elected to Congress

Liz lost her 2014 senate race but in  2016 the state of Wyoming elected Liz as their member of Congress to fill a position left open by a retirement and just this past November Liz Cheney was reelected and has been picked as the GOP conference chair which means she will be in charge of the party’s communications strategy and is the third highest ranking Republican in the House of Representatives. Liz has always been very supportive of her father and played a key role in his campaign for vice president. He in turn heartily supported his daughter’s run for Congress.

Seeing the film Vice and learning just how tragically and terribly Liz Cheney’s father changed the course of American history it is pretty scary to think that such a man’s child is now gaining power in Washington. Like father, like daughter? 

Other posts……….

Women in Politics

A President’s Funeral and a Statue in Hong Kong

Doing Something

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Filed under Movies, Politics

Don’t Trust The Trailer

instant familyI had watched trailers for the movie Instant Family and decided I didn’t want to see it because it looked like it would be one of those romanticized, feel good films about foster families and foster care.  But when we were trying to decide on a movie to watch with friends on Monday night I checked out Instant Family’s reviews and found it had received a positive response from critics and audience members alike.   I discovered that contrary to the cutesy trailers I had seen the movie was based on a true story and that Sean Anders the writer and director of the movie had been a foster parent himself.   Most reviewers agreed the movie presesented difficult but realistic truths about the foster care system. 

They were right.  The movie was engaging and didn’t paint a rosy picture of what foster care is like.  I learned or was reminded of some things.  

  • There are 500,000 children in foster care in the United States.
  • Although older children and teens make up the largest percentage they are the hardest to find placements for in foster care. 
  • Siblings benefit from being placed in the same foster home. 
  • The goal of foster care is to reunite children with their birth parents and this will be the top priority when decisions are made about children’s futures. 
  • Foster parents are a very diverse group and most, but not all, genuinely want to help children. 
  • Foster parents take an intensive course before being approved for fostering. 

When the couple in the film has just about reached the end of their rope with their three difficult foster children they go and see another set of foster parents for advice.  That foster mom reminds them…….”things that matter are hard.” 

That might be the core lesson of the film and applies not just to foster parenting but to every kind of family relationship. 

grandma sandy meets her grandkids instant familyI can recommend this movie. It will make you laugh and cry.  My favorite character was Grandma Sandy! I bet you will like her too!

And remember you can’t always trust a movie’s trailer to give you a true picture of what the film is about. 

Other posts……..

That’s Not My Kind of God Either

An Evening At the Forks

She’s Gone


Filed under Movies

You Will Be Charmed and Enlightened

“Here’s a comb,”  says Ethel kindly. She picks up a comb from on her hospital nightstand and hands it to her son Raymond. Ethel is on her death-bed but true to form she can’t help expressing her discomfort with the longer, rather messy hairstyle of her middle- aged artist son. 

ethel and ernestThat is just one of the rather charming incidents in an utterly charming movie on Netflix called Ethel and Ernest.  You have probably heard of Raymond Briggs the British artist responsible for such children’s classics as The Snowman.  The movie Ethel and Ernest is based on a graphic novel Raymond Briggs wrote about his parents’ lives. 

Ethel and Ernest are ordinary, hardworking Londoners but through their eyes we see how World War II impacted normal everyday people in devastating ways. sending raymond offSome of the most heartbreaking scenes occur when Ethel and Ernest must send their five- year -old off to live in the country with strangers because of the bombing in London.

ernest and ethelWe also see political events of the 60s and 70s through Ethel and Ernest’s eyes, the rise of socialism and feminism. We watch as they cope with a son who is something of a hippie and becomes an artist instead of having the solid kind of professional job his parents dreamed of for him. 

ethel and ernest movieThe animated movie Ethel and Ernest reveals a slice of world history in the most intimate way by opening the doors to a snug working class home in London and letting the viewer inside to see a family’s everyday life.  It’s charming and enlightening.  Thanks to my friend Esther for recommending it!

Other posts…….

What’s A Bonus Family? 

Warms Your Heart and Makes You Laugh Out Loud

That’s Not My Kind of God Either


Filed under History, Movies


I saw the movie Green Book this week about a wealthy African American concert pianist and his Italian chauffeur. They are driving through the racially segregated southern United States in 1962.  The line in the movie that stayed with me was “the world is full of lonely people waiting to make the first move”.  

Dr. Don Shirley the musician in the movie is a wealthy man. He is incredibly talented, lives in a luxurious apartment  filled with fine art and beautiful furniture, and is cared for by a servant. He can speak eight languages, knows people in high places, and has been presented with two honorary university degrees.  

Yet he is a lonely man. He is estranged from his brother. He is divorced. He says he is too much a part of the white world to have many black friends and because he is black he nevers feels his white acquaintances truly accept him.  Will he make a move to get past his isolation and establish a bond with someone? 

The movie made me think of a music video recently released by my favorite Winnipeg band Royal Canoe. It is called RAYZ. The man in the video is also a performer- one of those living statue artists who poses for money.  Unlike Dr. Shirley he is poor, counting his pennies, living in a run down room, buying lottery tickets and going to bars alone. Sometimes he stares at people doing things together on the beach where he works.   Is he wondering what it would be like to make the first move to establish some kind of bond with one of them? 

There are lots of lonely people in our world.  Perhaps we should think about altering the movie quote from…. “the world is full of lonely people waiting to make the first move” to “the world is full of lonely people waiting for us to make the first move.” 

Other posts……..

Why Do We Still Like Dickens A Christmas Carol? 

Thanks Terry MacLeod

Time To Get Out of Our Holy Huddles

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And The Moral Of The Story Is?

Along with a group of friends we saw the movie A Star is Born in St. George Utah where we were vacationing. After the film we went to eat supper at a Thai restaurant and chatted a bit about the film. Someone asked  “What do you think was the moral of the film’s story?”

star is bornMy husband quoted a line from the film about the importance of having something to say that other people want to hear.  Could the moral of the film be that the reason we are here on earth is share an important message in a way that will make people listen.  Someone in our group said that in order to do that you need talent. He didn’t think he had the neccesary kind of talent.  

I countered saying everyone has talents but we don’t all cultivate our talents or use them to the best of our ability. The wife of the man who said he had no talents supported me and told her husband just what a talented man he was in many ways. 

So there you have the moral of the film.  

We need to believe we are talented.  We should recognize and cultivate our talents. We need to use our talents to share a message we think is important.  

Other posts…….

Won’t You Be My Neighbour?

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

What a Great Dad!


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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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