Films at Peace…

As It Is In Heaven is an Oscar-nominated Swedish drama which tells the story of Daniel Dareus (Michael Nyqvist, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), a small-town boy who escaped his tiny village to become a famous conductor. A tragic mishap sends him back home in search of a fresh start, and he ends up leading the local choir.

Babette’s Feast is a film about a 19th century Parisian political refugee who seeks shelter in a rough Danish coastal town. The elderly daughters of the town’s long-dead minister, Martina and Philippa, take her in. The once beautiful daughters had forsaken their chances at romance and fame, taking hollow refuge in religion. In Danish with English subtitles

The Lathe of Heaven is based on the scifi book by Ursula K. LeGuin, who oversaw this production. George Orr (played by Bruce Davidson) is a young man who has dreams that sometimes come true. He knows this kind of power is too much for him or anyone to wield and takes drugs to stop himself from dreaming.

The Last Airbender, M. Night Shymalayan’s 2010 live-action film of the famous Nickelodeon anime series. Set in a world with four kingdoms (fire, water, earth, air) dominated by the fire kingdom for 100 years. Some humans can “bend” or manipulate their element using telekinetic abilities.

Eat Drink Man Woman, Ang Lee’s culture clash between the traditional Chinese culture of widowed Master Chef Chu vs. his three unmarried daughters, Jai-Ning, Jai-Chien and Jai-Jen, who want to leave their “father knows best” life behind and wrap traditional values in new forms.

WALL-E is a 2008 animated film directed by Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo), a collaboration between Walt Disney and Pixar. The first Pixar film to be nominated for six Academy Awards, it won for Best Animated Feature.

The Cunning Little Vixen is a lavish animation of Janáček’s famous Czech opera featuring the lovable flirtatious fox, Sharpears. It’s a tale of the creatures in the forest, those who hunt them, and ultimately gratitude for nature’s cycles of death/rebirth.

Spirited Away tells the story of Chihiro Ogino, a sulky ten-year-old girl who, while moving with her parents to a new neighborhood, becomes separated from her parents and lost in the spirit world. She takes a job in Yubaba’s bathhouse while trying to figure out how to free herself and her parents and return to the human world.

Dean Spanley is a 2008 New Zealand and British comedy-drama starring Peter O’Toole, Sam Neill, Bryan Brown and Jeremy Northam. It is a hidden gem set in Edwardian England which explores the transmigration of souls while giving us a glimpse of how a father and son change their orbit from distant to up close.

Three Short Films. Guest host Benjamin Jones screens three short films from his Spiritual Cinema Circle collection. Baggage is a comedy about dropping lifetime emotional “baggage.”  Run time 10 minutes. The Gambling Man is about Alby Hurwit, who has heard music in his head all his life. At the age of 70, he didn’t just write a song – he began composing a symphony. Run time 18 minutes. What Is That? portrays a father and son having an unexpected conversation.

 

Return to This Month’s First Friday Films

Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace is the compelling story of one man’s struggle against Nazism and its intimidation of the German Church. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s legacy includes a poignant body of work that documents his struggle to determine the will of God and his exemplary calm and concern for others as he faced the prospect of his own death. Posthumously he became an inspiration for people like Desmond Tutu, Vaclav Havel and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Happy, a 2011 documentary. A NY Times article listed the US as the 23rd happiest country in the world. Hollywood director Tom Shadyac (Liar Liar, Patch Adams) read it and asked Academy Award nominated filmmaker Roko Belic to make a documentary about happiness. It combines cutting-edge science with real-life stories and takes us on a kind of cultural travelogue on the happiness trail through 14 countries.

Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen. Margarethe von Tratta directed and wrote the screenplay for this reverent 2009 biopic about the famed 12th century Benedictine abbess. Von Bingen was a Christian mystic, scientist, herbalist, poet, naturalist, playwright, philosopher and composer. Pope John Paul II called her, “a light to her people and for her time, she continues to shine even more brightly today.”

Saving Mr. Banks. The Last Airbender, M. Night Shymalayan’s 2010 live-action film of the famous Nickelodeon anime series. Set in a world with four kingdoms (fire, water, earth, air) dominated by the fire kingdom for 100 years. Some humans can “bend” or manipulate their element using telekinetic abilities.

Dean Spanley. Peter O’Toole, Jeremy Northam, and Sam Neill weave quite a tale in this comedy-drama set in Edwardian London (circa 1900). It explores the transmigration of souls (dog to human) while giving us a glimpse of how a father and son change their orbit from distant to up close.

Moonrise Kingdom. Set in 1965 on a series of remote New England islands, this comedy celebrates the idiosyncratic adventures of tween-agers Sam Shukusky and Suzy Bishop. Are they soul mates? Well, they certainly fall in love, and, as they feel like outcasts anyway, decide to run away together.

The Triplets of Belleville, written and directed by Sylvain Chomet. His mesmerizing hand-drawn animation tells a quirky tale of how an old woman with a club foot and a very fat dog become superheroes.

Five Short Flicks provided by Ben Jones, leaving time for discussion in between shorts. Tiny Miny Magic by Danielle Lurie is about a young woman who connects with her postal carrier in an unexpected way. Revenge, Inc., by Matthew Moore, a man learns to give up his wish for revenge. West Bank Story by Ari Sandel blends musical comedy and serious politics in a farcical description of one crazy scenario for peace in the Middle East. Winner of the 2006 Academy Award for best live action short. Second Life of a Sugar Bowl by Didier Canaux portrays a man wandering through Paris before dawn. In The Choice, by Evan Kaufmann, a man goes on a trip to meet an inspiring internet connection, and picks up an interesting hitchhiker along the way.

Four Short Flicks provided by Ben Jones. See Flatland with Martin Sheen and Michael York (animated), which is set in a two-dimensional world where inhabitants are geometric shapes; Era which is set in the 1920s; Friend Request Pending finds Judi Dench exploring social networking and Helium where a boy in the hospital is told stories to ease his fears (Danish with subtitles).

Hugo. When his father dies, 12-year-old Hugo takes up residence behind the walls of a Parisian train station.

The Thief of Bagdad, A 1940 Technicolor classic on par with The Wizard of Oz in terms of storytelling, adventure, special effects, romance and music.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel  In this sequel to the Golden Globe nominated film, the transplants who were tourists in India are now residents. They have morphed into a family of choice, and are busy encouraging each other as to what kind of life they choose to lead while continuing to help Sonny (Dev Patel). Brilliant cast, colorful India and a great story, all building up to a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious wedding finale.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988) is a hand-drawn film by master animator Hayao Miyazaki. When their mother is hospitalized, two young sisters spend a summer in the countryside with their father. This natural wonderland of the forest is filled with spirits of all kinds that only children can see (totoros).

Inside Out. Ever wonder what goes on in a child’s brain? Pixar’s latest and greatest explores the world of emotions in an 11 year old girl’s head. It shows how she learns to allow sadness to have its rightful place (along with joy, anger, disgust and fear) which allows wholeness to begin.

Benjamin Jones, guest host for December, brings us Nativity!, a 2009 Brit family comedy based on an elementary school which puts on a nativity play; think School of Rock meets Elf in Coventry.

The Way Way Back  is a 2013 film about a stifled teen who finds his voice with encouragement from the manager of a local water park. He takes a summer job to escape his unbearable home life with his neglectful mom and her overbearing boyfriend. As a humor-challenged teen, he begins to participate in life at the water park and shrugs off the manipulations of his mother’s boyfriend.

In The Martian, American astronaut/botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead and left behind on a Mars mission in 2035. Against all odds, he must find a way to survive and contact NASA scientists to rescue him.

A Little Chaos — A period drama set in the time of King Louis XIV when he was commissioning his gardens at Versailles. Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman (Professor Snape to Harry Potter fans) shine as they explore grief, gardens and the way we can bless or hinder each other.

Turbo is a 2015 biopic about America’s preeminent screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who refused to testify before the congressional House Un-American Activities Committee. This resulted in a prison sentence and his being blacklisted as a communist. He, along with other writers, fought to end Hollywood blacklisting which lasted from 1947 to 1960.

The Cobbler a 2015 comedy/magical realism film directed by Tom McCarthy (Spotlight). The film stars Adam Sandler as Max Simkin, a disallusioned cobbler in NYC who discovers a magical stitching machine inherited from his Jewish ancestors that allows him to literally, ‘walk in another man’s shoes.’

Beyond Measure presents a revolution brewing in public schools across the country. From rural Kentucky to New York City, schools that are breaking away from an outmoded, test-driven education are shaping a new vision for our classrooms. These are schools that see critical thinking, communication, exploration, experimentation, collaboration, and creativity as the key to good education. And they are dramatically improving outcomes for children of all backgrounds. They are schools where practically every student graduates and goes on to finish college. Beyond Measure offers a positive picture of what’s possible in American education when communities decide they are ready for change. Are you?

The Little Prince, a novella written in 1943 by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, has been transferred by Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda) into an animated film about wonder, wisdom across generations and the value of friendship. It stars Jeff Bridges and Mackenzie Fox.

In Star Trek Beyond follow the young Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew as they meet Krall (Idris Elba), a crafty new enemy intent on – what else – destruction of the Federation. Spiritual themes explored in the film are justice and openness.

A Christmas Story. Nine-year-old Ralphie Parker’s life is filled with what every kid deals with at Christmas – bullies at school, feverish dreams about what he wants from Santa and weird presents from his relatives.