The following motion pictures were perceptive and entertaining, and would have made my list of favorites from 2011 but for their excessive and dispiriting content. Now, a couple of the films being discussed below are rated R – this spotlight should not be taken as an endorsement. Read the entire review, making sure to take in the content before you decide to watch any movie. Remember: Know Before You Go. When given the synopsis and content of a film, you can discuss that movie without having to support it. (If your reviewer isn’t reporting the reason for the film’s rating, get another reviewer.) Click the film's title to see our review in a new window.
Hawaii resident Matt King (George Clooney) finds his life suddenly dysfunctional. His adulterous wife is in a coma, he’s lost the Papa connection with his two troubled daughters, ages 10 and 17, and his relatives want him to sell the land that has been in their family ever since the days of Hawaiian royalty. There’s so much good about this film, from the beautiful Island locations to the insightful story to the engrossing performances (look for Clooney and Woodley to get Oscar noms). As the plot progresses, you see that he is a man ashamed of his faults, one who wants to be a better person and do the right things. Sadly, the film’s family has little regard for authority and everyone freely curses, both kid and adult, using both obscenities and irreverence toward God. It can be argued that the filmmaker is using this bad behavior to help define their characters, but we are still being bombarded by the objectionable content as in film after film. What’s more, there’s no true spiritual insight. In this film the only reason for God or Christ is to call upon their names in order to relieve frustration. R.
The Ides of March looks at the corruption of power, and in no other arena is that corruption of power more evident than the political one. The film reveals two things that bring the fall of so many – the lure of power and, of course, sex. When all else fails, Satan uses the opposite sex to destroy a family, an occupation, and an ideal. The Ides of March has the best of Hollywood exposing what often manipulates the race for the top. Alas, it’s also the most cynical film you will see this year or perhaps any other. After a viewing, you’ll always wonder if he means it when a politician says, “God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.” R
Margin Call, a morality play laced with enough obscene language to make David Mamet’s ears bleed, is both enticing and horrifying. The suspense-driven story is a sort of exposé, one that frighteningly examines the speculative structure of Wall Street and those who man that sector. Though capitalism is the only sound financial system for America, the film does point out what happens when that system is corrupted by greed and manned by people with no moral scope. Alas, its content was over the top. The f-word, alone, is used 100 times. Enough said. R.
Warrior. Same complaint. When I asked the filmmaker, Gavin O’Connor, why he put in the 20 obscenities and three or four profanities, he answered: “The language in the film represents the messiness of life. I thought that if I kept things squeaky clean, it wouldn’t be reflective of life…” Sounds reasonable on paper, but in Exodus 20, the instruction is clear and devoid of addendums: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain…”. PG-13
Super 8. Same complaint, only the frequent offensive language came from adolescents. PG-13.
Since the removal of the Motion Picture Code toward the end of the 1960s, content has steadfastly become as formidable as the artistic and technical merits of films. And sadly, now content often overshadows the profundity of a film’s message. For example, it is argued that coarse and profane language is a reflection of the reality of life. “That’s the way people talk,” some say. But movies are illusionary, except, evidently, when it comes to the cruding down of the culture through verbal exchange.
Our public behavior and speech should indicate what we stand for, and our choice of words should be one way we define our character. Else, how are others to know? And, if every film made has the protagonists, no matter the genre of the film or the class of the characters, using obscenity and profanity as mere colloquialisms, then how should we expect this and future generations to communicate?
I was once told when I complained about the profane use of Christ’s name in a movie; “Oh, Phil, get over it.” I told the woman that if I suddenly started using the N-word to describe Blacks or another incendiary expletive to describe Jewish people, she would justly stop me in my tracks. Yet, she finds my defense of a need to reverence God and Christ in the movies to be something I should give up on.
Now, most of you just said, “Hear, hear” (or the equivalent of). But, what are you doing about it? Don’t just get over it.