by Kathy Merkle-Raymond
A sermon by Kathy Merkle-Raymond, Director of Communal Care (preaching texts: Leviticus 19: 1-2, 9-18 and Matthew 5: 38-48)....Download
Our group meets at 7:15 p.m. on the 3rd Tuesday eight months a year. Before each meeting, people view the film (possibly getting a copy from Netflix, the library, or watching with other film group members), and then we meet at a member’s home to discuss the film; it’s very much like a book club in those aspects. Our meeting includes an introductory worship portion and a time for sharing and prayers. Please feel free to join us, if you’ve been able to watch the film and want to see what the discussion is like. For more information, please contact Ellen Forbes, Jeff Grinnell, or Shirley Eglington. The church office can provide you with their contact information.
NOTE: For reviews of films we’ve watched in previous seasons, click here.
2016-2017 Faith Issues in Film meetings:
Sep 20 – Woman in Gold
Oct 18 – Eye in the Sky
Nov 15 – Outing to see NT Live: Hamlet at Century 20, Redwood City, at 7pm
Nov 29 – The Danish Girl
Jan 17 – Bridge of Spies
Feb 21 – Not One Less
Mar 18 – Nicky’s Family
Apr 21 – Me, Earl and the Dying Girl
May 16 – Crescendo
Woman in Gold (2015, directed by Simon Curtis)
This is the remarkable true story of one woman’s journey to reclaim her heritage and seek justice for what happened to her family. Sixty years after she fled Vienna during World War II, an elderly Jewish woman, Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), starts her journey to retrieve family possessions seized by the Nazis, among them Klimt’s famous painting “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I”. A gorgeous painting to anybody’s eyes, it was especially so for Maria, since the subject was her beloved aunt who had helped raise her. Together with her inexperienced but plucky young lawyer Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), she embarks upon a major battle which takes them all the way to the heart of the Austrian establishment and the U.S. Supreme Court, and forces her to confront difficult truths about the past along the way.
While audiences appreciated the film more than critics, its pluses far outweigh its flaws. As it raises questions about rights and “national” treasures, it focuses on the importance of family and shows the effects of WW II injustices that have continued to affect real people into the current millennium.
Helen Mirren stars as Colonel Katherine Powell, a UK-based military officer in command of a top secret drone operation to capture terrorists in Kenya. Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman – in his last role) is supervising the mission from London with members of the UK government as witnesses. Through remote surveillance and on-the-ground intel, Powell discovers the targets are planning a suicide bombing and the mission escalates from “capture” to “kill.” But as American pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) is about to engage, a nine-year old girl enters the kill zone triggering an international dispute, reaching the highest levels of US and British government.
With the emergence of global terrorism and the sophistication of modern technology, the rules of war and the nature of the battlefield have changed drastically, raising new and more complex considerations. The legal and moral questions surrounding allowable collateral damage are more troubling and scary. The film offers a very intense and engaging exploration of the military, political, ethical and personal dilemmas presented by drone warfare. It makes you think as much as it thrills you – and forces you to question what you would do in the same situation.
Cruising through his senior year, high schooler Greg Gaines spends his free time making parody versions of famous films with his pal Earl. But when Greg ’s mother asks him (forces him, actually) to befriend Rachel, a leukemia patient, his blithe outlook begins to change.
The film is quirky and hilarious, in places. The actors are all perfectly cast and the characters are all lovable, and memorable. It’s also a very touching film, and quite depressing (at times); but it’s always beautiful to watch, and wonderfully moving. The cinematography is gorgeous and the score is perfectly fitting. The script is brilliant, and clever as well, and the director is definitely one to watch out for. It’s sure to become a cult classic, for many years to come, and who wouldn’t love that title?
In 1962, America prepared to recover Gary Powers, the U2 spy-plane pilot captured by the Soviets. The plan was to hand over their own incarcerated Russian spy Rudolf Abel, in a classic Cold War prisoner exchange at dawn on the Glienecke bridge spanning East and West Berlin – the so-called “Bridge of Spies”.
Tom Hanks plays James B. Donovan, a U.S. lawyer recruited for the unpopular task of defending a Soviet spy. Mark Rylance won the “best supporting actor” award for his portrayal of Rudolf Abel. Both men are confronted with moral dilemmas and show humor and deep caring, as well as courage in the midst of the possibility of losing all that has meaning.
In 1930, Danish painter Einar Wegener elects to have gender-reassignment surgery, with the blessing of his wife, Gerda. This true-life narrative of personal courage also sheds light on the medical origins of transsexual surgery.
Master Chinese filmmaker turns his lens on the travails of modern China’s peasants. When teacher Gao Leaves town for a month, a 13-year old Wei is pressed into serving as his substitute at the school from which she just graduated. If she keeps her class intact, she will receive a bonus. But when a student leaves for the city, she follows and strives relentlessly to bring him back.
Since its inception in 1976, El Sistema, Venezuela’s phenomenal youth orchestra program, has brought social transformation to several million disadvantaged children in that country. In addition to producing world class musicians like conductor Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema is now a rapidly expanding global movement, changing countless young lives worldwide. Can El Sistema work here in the USA?
This film is an in-depth, verité based look at three kids — two in West Philadelphia and one in New York City’s Harlem — as they participate in a pair of Sistema-inspired youth orchestra programs. We watch as the kids struggle to master their instruments, confronting their fears along the way, and interact with their talented, dedicated teachers. Surprises, heartbreak and joy come in big doses as we watch the three young people, and the community around them, respond to the mysterious power of music.
This docudrama tells the story of Nicholas Winton, an Englishman who organized the rescue of 669 Czech and Slovak children just before the outbreak of World War II. Winton, now 102 years old, did not speak about these events with anyone for more than half a century. His exploits would have probably been forgotten if his wife, fifty years later, hadn’t found a suitcase in the attic, full of documents and transport plans. Today the story of this rescue is known all over the world. Dozens of Winton’s “children” have been found and to this day his family has grown to almost 6,000 people, many of whom have gone on to achieve great things themselves.