Film Review: A Separation — 4 stars


SUMMARY: An Iranian man’s wife leaves him to care for their daughter and his aging father. The woman he hires to help brings a new set of problems that may just ruin his family and his good name.

DETAILS: A Separation is an Iranian film (The Separation of Nader and Simin) that won Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Academy Awards. Also nominated for Best Original Screenplay, A Separation tells the story of the tragic breakup of an Iranian middle class couple, Nader (Peyman Moaadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami), and explores the consequences of their decision that includes lies, deceit, miscarriage/murder, child custody, and ultimately a quest for justice. The story begins with Simin attempting to divorce her husband who refuses to leave the country with her in order to stay and care for his aging father who suffers with Alzheimer’s. Their separation forces Nader to find a caregiver for his father and this is where their troubles begin. Nader hires a woman from a lower class who desperately needs work, but who (due to the intimate nature of care-giving involved) is forced to lie about her employment. A Separation beautifully explores the issues of class, marriage, parental care, sin, love, and the tragedy of a couple splitting up. The film is a slow and steady, beautifully shot, dramatic piece that I highly recommend for anyone desiring a glimpse into modern day Islamic life. The aging, nearly silent, grandfather in the film is wonderfully played by Ali-Asghar Shahbazi whose actions, mannerisms, and portrayal of a man with Alzheimers should have earned him a nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. This film proves that the power of storytelling is truly a universal gift.

SCORE: 4.0 out of 5 stars
ACADEMY AWARD: Best Foreign Language Film

Film Review: Monica & David — 4 stars


SUMMARY: In spite of them both having Down Syndrome, Monica & David marry and start their lives together.

DETAILS: Monica & David have Down Syndrome… and yet they won’t let that stop them from being happily married. Although dependent on Monica’s mother and step-father, Monica & David begin their lives together and show us that love is so much more than what we typically expect it to be. The film covers the stresses of the first year of marriage including a big family move, David’s adjustment to diabetes, and the thought of losing those you love. We also see the struggles of their parents who ultimately fear the day when they are dead and gone and can no longer care for and protect the children they love so much. I watched this film because I have a 6 year old daughter with Down Syndrome and I often look into her beautiful blue eyes and wonder what her future will hold. I have 5 other kids who I know will do okay out in the world, but it’s my youngest, the one with Down’s that I worry the most about… and she’s only 6. Monica & David is uplifting and inspiring. I highly recommend this film because it will show you that just because someone has Down Syndrome, it doesn’t mean they don’t have dreams and aspirations. Monica & David captures the humor, the resilience, and the heart that is Down Syndrome.

SCORE: 4 out of 5 stars

Film Review: Unbroken — 4 stars



SUMMARY: A U.S. Olympic athlete turned WWII Airman survives a plane crash, 45 days on the open sea, and the remainder of the war in a Japanese prison camp… all the while remaining unbroken.

DETAILS: Based on the true life experiences of Louis Zamperini, Unbroken tells the story of a U.S. Olympic athlete turned WWII Airman (Jack O’Connell) who survives a plane crash in the ocean, 45 days on the open seas, and the remainder of the war in a Japanese prison camp. Zamperini continually hears his brothers words of encouragement though all of his trials, beatings, and torturous experiences. In the end he remains unbroken and eventually chooses to forgive his enemies. This screenplay, written by Joel & Ethen Coen (and others) contains several scenes that portray strong themes of faith and redemption, including a “crucifixion” scene, and a beautiful baptism scene where Louis and all the prisoners ultimately receive their redemption. Directed by Angelina Jolie, the story doesn’t cover the entire novel by the same name, but certainly is an inspiring telling of Zamperini’s early life.


SCORE: 4.0 out of 5 stars


Film Review: The Railway Man — 4 stars

ONE WORD REVIEW: Forgiveness

SUMMARY: A British prisoner of war is forced to help build the Thai-Burma Railway and is nearly tortured to death. Decades later he confronts his captor and extends the only gift that will set them both free… forgiveness.

DETAILS: Based on the true story of Eric Lomax (Colin Firth), a British Army Officer who is captured during World War II by the Japanese and forced to help contstruct the Thai-Burma Railway. The film cuts back and forth between 1980’s England where Lomax and his new wife (Nicole Kidman) struggle to overcome his horrific war memories and the POW environment of the 1940’s where he was tortured beyond imagination. Along the way he realizes there may only be two ways out of his pain – suicide or revenge, so he sets out to find the one who played a key role in his torture and enact his retribution. In the process he realizes that his captor has been tortured by the wartime memories as well and that perhaps there is a third option that may lead to freedom for both of their tortured souls… forgiveness.


SCORE: 4 out of 5


Quartet — 4 out of 5 stars


SUMMARY: A famous operatic quartet finds themselves living together in a home for retired musical stars… but will they ever perform again?

DETAILS: Dustin Hoffman directs this fantastic story about life in a retirement home for aging musicians. When the fourth member of an operatic quartet moves into Beecham House, three of the four decide to get the quartet together again for a final performance of their famous Rigoletto. But an aging diva who worries about her voice along with her failed marriage to one of the other members of the quartet are obstacles that may be insurmountable. A brilliant performance by Billy Connolly (A Series of Unfortunate Events) tops this great cast of fun, rich characters.

SCORE: 4 out of 5


Rebellion of Thought — 4 out of 5 stars


SUMMARY: Two stories woven together… Post-Modernism explored and my personal journey away from the traditional church.

DETAILS: I haven’t watched this film in a few years and I realized that I come across as rather egotistical…. imagine that happening when someone puts themself into their own film!

SCORE: 4 out of 5


Blue Like Jazz — 4 out of 5 stars

Donald Miller’s story of college and christianity. At an extremely secular campus he gains a sense of what is real about his faith in spite of all the hypocritical christians he knows.

SCORE: 4 out of 5