Trailer Freakout (Monday)

I’m incredibly late to the party, but my super-quick response to the Comic Con Batman vs Superman trailer? **Egads** am I thrilled about this movie. Using the post-Man of Steel backlash surrounding the annihilation of Metropolis as the catalyzing narrative vehicle? Well done. It’s dark, it’s intense, blah blah go the critics. It’s not Marvel- that’s ok- I’m still definitely intrigued. This preview eradicated my fears of mediocrity to the extent that I forgot where I was (a very quiet public place) and reacted verbally more loudly than I ought. (People were startled- it was funny in retrospect. Ha.) Funny is fun with these kinds of movies (thanks Marvel), but I like the heavy-handed morality tales that were Man of Steel and Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Grit and gravitas can be good. Heroics can’t always be pithy quips and shiny shields- it can be heavy as well as light.

I’m impressed enough to shame-facedly give a tentative apology to Ben Affleck, whose casting choice I was vehemently against from the beginning. There you go, WB marketing team- for now, you’ve won me over. I’m starting to see this new iteration of the Dark Knight with considerably less vitriol clogging my good opinion (but my dislike how to go somewhere, so Jesse Eisenberg, my main concern lies squarely with you now).

If nothing else, it’s just- cool– to see a bunch of fictional heavyweights duke it out onscreen, more so, at least for me, than The Avengers, as I find BvS‘s characters more familiar and iconic. If nothing else, it’s Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman in one movie, and that alone gives me hope.

Also: Lois Lane, you’re the real hero here.

Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of imdb.com. 

Trailer Freakout Friday: EVEREST

There’s an allure in the inherent spookiness of those classic man-and-his-pack-come-what-may tales. The terror and spectacle of many remains undiluted by fantasy, which taps into a rawer sense of fear. While beautiful and inspiring, nature can become ferocious instantaneously. People have that proclivity, too, in the woods when no one can hear you scream. Shudder. Remember that awful Appalachian Trail urban legend? Sheesh.

I can’t remember how I stumbled upon Into the Wild, but I do know I loved it, and the piece served as a gateway drug to Jon Krakauer’s works. It wasn’t until last summer that I read Into Thin Air, a recounting of the author’s trip up Mt. Everest and the tragedy that occurred on the way down. Truly, it was one of the most compelling and disquieting books I’ve ever read, leaving me affected to the point that there were nights I had trouble sleeping after I put it down. The story that Krakauer tells, and I mean it in the purest, soberest sense of the word, is marvelous.

I knew there was a George Mallory project in the works, but I had no idea there was one telling the story about what went down in ’96.  So when the trailer dropped yesterday, not only was I blindsided with joy when it came to plot, but also by the caliber of the ensemble; it’s rich and well roundedLove Actually style. AHH. Check out the trailer:

Yeah, yeah, the clip’s set-up makes our characters seem sort of trope-y, but when you realize that no, these people were not fictional, but flesh and blood, aiming for seemingly “impossible dreams” and missing their pregnant partners while truly truly trying to beat the odds in an utterly horrific situation, it adds an extra layer of poignancy to what you’re watching. Or what I hope to be watching- I’m assuming this movie’s going to be great without seeing it.

What I find to be of particular interest is that while the actor who portray’s Krakauer, Michael Kelly (Man of Steel, Now You See Me), is present throughout the trailer, he isn’t identified; talk-time is given to actors with greater buzz or storylines that can be easily parceled as tweetable soundbites of inspiration and thematic significance (I see you John Hawkes). Everest is allegedly based on an amalgam of different survivor’s accounts of the tragedy– including Krakauer’s- instead of favoring just one, and the change in title suggests that this is isn’t so much an adaptation of his best-selling story- which did, in fact, spark some controversy– but rather one that Krakauer played a part in. I still find it exceedingly interesting, however, that his name isn’t mentioned once throughout the trailer. After all, his enormously popular tale inextricably and very publicly tied his name to Everest fiasco of 1996. Is he a household name? Maybe not like, say, J.K. Rowling. Yet Into Thin Air and Into the Wild (and its subsequent film) are well-known enough to have put him on the map, not to mention his other hit works of non-fiction. It seems to me that introducing him in the trailer would be a marketable move, which makes his absence rather noticeable. Is this some sort of subtle shade? Have other survivors lobbied to have their perspectives have greater presence? Or, at the end of the day, does it really just come down to star power (then cast someone bigger for Krakauer…) or how this particular international trailer was cut? Sam Worthington (Avatar, Clash of the Titans), a relatively popular star, is apparently in this movie, but I didn’t see him in the clip- am I blind?-so it could merely be a matter of this-over-that and nothing more.

We’ll see. Maybe my memories of the book’s detail are foggy and I’m making too much of this. Nevertheless, I for one am terribly curious.

Also! Shout out to The Walk for another dizzyingly-great trailer. While I can’t honestly get behind Joseph Gordon Levitt’s French accent (yet), the cinematography and editing on this puppy look phenomenal, and it seems a fitting, cathartic homage to the World Trade Center in a way that doesn’t recall the horror of 2001. Can’t wait.

EVEREST movie poster image, here used as a header, courtesy of imdb.com. 

What Joe Biden Taught Me About Grief

Courtney:

Poignant. Lots of newfound respect of our VP.

Originally posted on Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer:

Beau Biden, Joe BidenI read the news today that US Vice President Joe Biden’s son Beau died this weekend. He was 46, the same age as I am. He died of brain cancer, the same thief which stole my mother.

I know very little about Joe Biden, but then I read this article and I was filled with compassion for the losses he has faced in his life. His wife and baby daughter were killed in a car accident and he said the only thing that made him carry on was looking after his two sons. Now he must face the loss of one of those sons.

In a speech Biden gave to families of fallen soldiers in 2012, he talks about the constant weight of grief.

Just when you think, ‘Maybe I’m going to make it,’ you’re riding down the road and you pass a field, and you see a flower and it reminds you…

View original 507 more words

On “Bad Blood,” “Mad Max,” and Being a Christian Feminist (YIKES)

I was raised by a Godly man and a sassy, take-no-crap woman who bought my two younger sisters and I bumper stickers that read, “Girls can do anything.” My dad put one on the door into our basement and another above the Ranger’s windpipe, the four wheeler that Gretchen, at 11, could drive like a pro. These weren’t empty words for our folks- my parents believed that I could be president when I went through that phase during 8th grade, and as my sisters and I start to fly the coop, continue to remind us that we can do whatever we put our mind to. Perhaps my favorite element of my childhood- and there was much to praise- was the consistent reminder that being women was never an obstacle or a threat –  it just happened to be who we were.  It was something to be celebrated- may it have been through admiration of Ripley from “Alien,” wearing pink sundresses, playing sports, or watching “Pride and Prejudice” every day for a straight week and wanting to be Lizzie Bennett. Our parents did not limit us.

I have been lucky in that I have only experienced a small bit of what some would consider sexism, none of which happened in the classroom or in the workplace; I am blessed to be have been thus far surrounded by people who, while seeing me as a female, don’t recognize it as an issue or a handicap. However, I have heard frustrating, heartbreaking stories from women and sisters that have felt the sting of being considered less-than, or sexual objects, or incapable based on biology, and the injuriousness of it makes me powerfully sad.

I believe a few things. I believe in a creator God, who loves me and made me uniquely. I believe that He made men and women differently in fundamental ways, but that we are united in our shared likeness of God. We are united in His love for a collective “us.” We are united in being called His children.  We are united by the command to love one another- which means a call for respect for His creation, whether we want to or not.

Which brings me here: Women are not treated equally. It’s a fact. It’s a problem. I believe it is injustice. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be. That’s why I don’t think it’s bonkers or “un-Christian”  for women who have experienced such egregious mistreatment to, in response, hunger and thirst for equal treatment or opportunity (p.s. – that is all feminism is. It’s not putting women above anyone else or erasing the good differences between the genders, in my mind, but that’s an essay for another lunch break).  I cannot blame them, and I frankly, I stand with them.

At the end of the day, I don’t – and no one should, but that doesn’t mean no one will—go to Hollywood or Taylor Swift for my primary source of identity. I strive and I fail, but my eyes are set on my Creator, and He is where I get my sense of self- my female-ness, which I celebrate, as all His creation is “good.” (His words, not mine!). That being said, I live in the 21st century and I’m going to watch TV. The best advice I was ever given was from the lady who raised me, who in turn heard it from her college professor:  “hold the [proverbial] newspaper in one hand, and the Bible in the other.” It’s both an acknowledgement that the world is broken and encouragement to engage and enjoy while filtering what we hear, see, and learn through what we know to be True. It’s proven so exceedingly beneficial to me, as a cinephile and devourer of stories, however they come, to examine everything for truth and good, and discard the rest- or, sometimes discard it altogether. I’ve gotten to the point where positive images that reinforce ideas I can get behind are the ones I try to prefer when considering my media intake.

That’s why, when I watch Taylor Swift’s (in my opinion, silly, but that’s beside the point) “Bad Blood” music video, I can’t say that I’m expecting to get some Christian truth from it. But I can appreciate Swift’s commitment to excellence, her entrepreneurial spirit, and her (again, cinephile) homages to some wonderful action movies that is evident throughout her work. She’s not my favorite artist out there, but I find it encouraging and inspiring that she, as women in a world that has historically been slow to make room for ladies, is out there and getting stuff done. For those reasons, I can support her latest efforts.

That’s why when I see “Mad Max: Fury Road” for the inevitable third time, I will pay special attention to Charlize Theron’s standout portrayal of Imperator Furiosa, a women who is tough as nails and as capable as all get-out, but who isn’t built of steel and obnoxious quips, ninja-ing in v-necks as female actions stars are prone to (be made to) do. She feels. She cries. She expresses doubt and vulnerability amidst this innate strength. She stands up to injustice that she witnesses, facing violence and danger and hurt in the name of doing what’s right. No, she is not Jesus, and thus she is fictional, imperfect, and not a source of ultimate identity, but man, did I leave the theatre in a sense of wonder. In the midst of all this post-apocalyptica was someone I knew, someone who I would want to be like. To have that kind of reaction to an action movie heroine? Unheard of. That’s good stuff. That’s important stuff. It’s indicative that maybe the tide will change. I can get behind that.

That’s why I don’t think it’s a crime to pause and celebrate being a woman. In a music video, in a blockbuster during tent-pole season, in a bumper sticker on your basement door.  It’s not a replacement for Jesus-truth, lest anyone be reading this and get confused. It (should) not be at the expense of men, nor should it be violent or reactively vitriolic. HOWEVER, it’s not demonic. It’s not evil. It’s not wrong. It is a celebration of God’s creation, His inherently perfect creation, and I believe with all my heart that when we embrace our God-given identity with joy, it blesses Him.

Photo header courtesy of http://www.theguardian.com.

Getting Messy

Carolina nights are always beautiful. Even in winter, the night hums, sweetly musical. That particular evening must have been late spring, and the cacophony of crickets and birds, strangely peaceful, was the soundtrack to the emotional conversation I was having over the phone with mom. The catalyst? It was sophomore year of college. As it was…a roller coaster of an experience, I have a few ideas; however, I can’t say for certain. It doesn’t matter now, I guess, but whatever it was had left me a very public wreck, sobbing outside my dorm.

I wouldn’t have been out there unless I had to be. The spot by the pillars was the only place I got service, and I needed to talk to mom. I was alone at that point, and rather discreet, anyway, so embarrassment- or even fear- of being spotted was the last thing on my mind.

She barely made a sound, so I was surprised to realize that suddenly there was a woman’s hand on my arm. I turned around and recognized her as a classmate from my freshman writing course. We had spoken very little since then as we ran in different circles, but I knew that she had recently returned to school after a season of deep grief and suffering.

Without a word, she kept her hand on my wrist, turning around from my shaking frame, preserving my dignity as I snotted and sobbed. She didn’t say it, but I could almost hear the words unfolding in my head:  “I see your grief and I feel for you.” In an instant, she was gone.

She didn’t try to fix me. She didn’t throw pleasant platitudes at me. She knew how it felt to hurt, and that the pain subsides when we know someone is present, can identify in some small way, and cares. It was one of the most powerful moments of my life.

***

I found myself crying in a church parking lot recently. It was awkward. I wasn’t, you know, haha Hallmark movie crying; it was full on ugly tears, like, “get a room, Court!” kind of weeping. (Hey- give me a break. I made it to my car!)

What made it slightly worse is that I was parked next to a woman who was preparing to leave. I didn’t look at her, but I knew she was there. I was hoping that if she glanced over at me, she would just see a kiddo fiddling with her phone, not one that was in the middle of a rather powerful cry.

She pulled out, much to my relief, and it was getting hot and I had somewhere to be. I was checking to see the state of my eyes-reddish, but not bad, little eyeliner damage; a miracle!- when suddenly a car pulled up beside me, and the woman whom I thought had left was suddenly at my door.

“Are you alright?” She asked. “I couldn’t leave. I just saw you and…I felt your pain.” And then, she hugged me deeply, and she cried with me, and told me she would pray for me. No words, no game plans. She was there, this lovely stranger who saw grief and addressed it. I will never forget her kindness.

 ***

I don’t know what the point of today’s post is. Maybe I’m trying to say that we need to be willing to be uncomfortable in the face of sadness, that getting our hands dirty with those we love or those we are commanded to love, even if we don’t know them, can bring healing to both the sufferer and the comforter. I’m learning that one can read about pain and then one can experience it, and when you do, the last thing you want is a corny greeting card line or a Sunday School standby verse that you know to throw out in times of trial because you found it in the concordance. I don’t want to imply that the Word doesn’t have power, or a timely letter isn’t impactful- please don’t get me wrong! But you’re not reading an essay that includes anecdotes of people patting me on the back while spouting Psalm 23 and then rushing off to the next thing. Just saying. (And so does James!: “Faith without works is dead.” -2:14)

I guess I feel sort of silly sitting here in the dark writing about pain, especially since I am in a season where I have chosen, for better or worse (currently, it really feels a lot like worse), the loss I experience, and I feel a bit- guilty- to be wrecked, totally and utterly. But the fact of the matter is- we’re a hurting people, all of us. Let us be like Jesus and be willing to “get in the boat,” even in little ways- with those riding through a storm.[“Letters in Red: Why Are You So Afraid?”]

Love ya.

xoxo,

Court