30 April 2016

A Hologram for the King

In the movie A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING Tom Hanks plays Alan Clay, a man who is dealing with personal problems and chooses to focus on having a successful career. Many people can probably relate to this. The story serves as a character study, which is a portrayal of traits and qualities of a single individual. In other words, Alan's personality is more important than the plot. Maybe this aspect is what attracted Mr. Hanks to the role.

Another interesting character is Yousef, played by Alexander Black.  Yousef is Alan's driver while he is in Saudi Arabia on business. He is also humorous and manages to intrigue Alan with details about his life. Surprisingly, this movie even provides Alan with a love interest from an unlikely individual. Falling in love really is the last thing on Alan's mind, but that is usually when it occurs.

A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING is based on the book of the same title by Dave Eggers. It is currently playing in theatres in the United States and Germany.

07 April 2016

Caged No More

Human trafficking is a huge problem throughout the world.  Often the victims are young and unsuspecting. It is disturbing knowing that every 30 seconds someone is captured.  The movie CAGED NO MORE offers an illustration of how the process works and affects people who know the individual being enslaved. The movie stars Kevin Sorbo, Loretta Devine, Cynthia Gibb, Alan Powell, Debra Wilson, Abigail Duhon, and Cassidy Gifford.

Devine plays Aggie, the godmother of a dying woman who pleads with her to save her girls from their malicious father, Jack, played by Sorbo (Sorbo gives an outstanding performance as Jack and his righteous twin brother Richard). Jack is the one responsible for the human trafficking of his daughters. When Aggie discovers this, she does what is necessary to seek help from Richard. Richard, his family, friends, and church help Aggie through the process of locating Jack's daughters.

Richard is a wealthy man. Human trafficking can happen to anyone, even to people in the most affluent communities. CAGED NO MORE does an excellent job of bringing awareness to the issue. At the end of the movie, writer, producer, director Lisa Arnold and cast members speak to the audience, explaining how serious the problem is and informing there will be two more films; CAGED NO MORE is part of a trilogy.

For more information about CAGED NO MORE and how you can get involved, visit the official Web site at http://www.cagednomoremovie.com/.

06 April 2016

The Masked Saint

A unique film released this year is THE MASKED SAINT.  It stars Brett Granstaff (as Chris Samuels),  Lara Jean Chorostecki, Diahann Carroll, Roddy Piper (his final film performance), and Mykel Shannon Jenkins. The movie is based on the book The Masked Saint by Chris Whaley. Whaley is a former professional wrestler (The Saint) who became a pastor.

THE MASKED SAINT is a family film with an inspirational message (The wrestling sequences may frighten some, but most will be able to view them.)  Chris Samuels is a professional wrestler who decides to retire, despite threats from his wrestling promoter, Nicky Stone (played by Piper), and become a pastor of a church in a small town.

When Chris, his wife (Chorostecki), and daughter arrive at their new home, he discovers the town has quite a bit of crime activity.  Chris decides to fight injustice by masquerading as The Masked Saint, a vigilante superhero.

The plot may seem silly, but ultimately the story is an allegory.  Chris is a man of faith who wants to help people. His methods are unconventional, but his heart is in the right place.

In addition to the crime in town, Chris' church experiences financial difficulties. As a result, he goes back into the ring to raise money. Unfortunately, he is greeted by wrestling promoter, Nicky, with a comment like, "I knew you would be back," but stays focused on his goal.  Eventually, being a pastor, father, husband, "superhero," and wrestler starts becoming too much for Chris. He is forced to make an important life decision.

For more information about THE MASKED SAINT, visit the official Web site at http://themaskedsaint.com/.

05 April 2016


Colm To'ibin's novel Brooklyn is the inspiration for the movie, BROOKLYN. I have experienced being an immigrant just like Ellis Lacey (played by Saoirse Ronan). Usually hope and some fear are a part of the process.  Hope carries more weight, except in BROOKLYN Ellis is very young and still trying to discover who she is and if the dreams she has are actually hers. She also has difficulty leaving her mother and sister in Ireland.

The immigration process can include much adventure due to challenges of learning another culture. In the United States Ellis discovers there are many other Irish immigrants in Brooklyn, including the boarding home in which she lives. She also receives support with enrolling in school and finding a job. She even starts socializing and meets an Italian man named Tony (played by Emory Cohen) at a dance.

In the 1950's there are several opportunities for Ellis to discover who she is via experiences she has when getting help from people she meets, especially Tony. Falling in love for the first time is overwhelming for her, and thinking about going back to Ireland provides confusion. She does not even tell her mother and sister about Tony.

BROOKLYN is a coming-of-age story that is engaging. The writing and performances are excellent. It is always a pleasure watching Saoirse Ronan portray interesting characters.

For more information, visit the official Facebook page for BROOKLYN at https://www.facebook.com/BrooklynMovie.

04 April 2016

Woman In Gold

I saw the movie, WOMAN IN GOLD, almost one year ago. I realized I had not written about it here so today I will share my thoughts on this really nice film about Maria Altmann (played by Helen Mirren). Maria was a Jewish refugee forced to flee Vienna during World War II.

The movie begins at present day, following Maria living in Los Angeles, and the narrative is given in a series of flashbacks. She pursues obtaining a painting of her Aunt Adele, known as "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I." At the time Maria escaped from Vienna, not only are Jewish individuals being captured, but the Nazis are stealing many items from them. "Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer I" is a painting of the "Woman in Gold," and very special to Maria. It means so much to her that she hires an attorney, played by Ryan Reynolds, to help her get it back from Austria. Unfortunately, the Austrian minister and art director are unwilling to part with the painting.

It is intriguing watching Maria and her inexperienced lawyer, Randy, as they travel to Austria to retrieve the portrait. When the minister and art director insist on leaving the painting at the gallery, Maria and Randy argue their position within the law. The case is even heard by the United States Supreme Court.

WOMAN IN GOLD is a historical and educational film.  Through literature I teach students about the Holocaust. The stories are usually from the point of view of survivors that were forced into concentration camps. Those stories are important and should be shared. However, WOMAN IN GOLD brings an awareness of the other wrongs committed by the Nazis, such as stealing valuable artwork.  These details should become known and taught as well. It furthers the reality that the Jewish people taken by force had class and lived normal lives.

For more information about WOMAN IN GOLD, visit the official Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WomanInGoldMovie/timeline?ref=page_internal.

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites are located in Victoria, B.C. in the Colwood community. They are two miles (th...