- "A Brush
With Fate" (Hallmark TV, 2003)
- "A Brush with Fate" traces the history of a "famous" painting from the 18th century to its present owner. The movie opens when an art teacher/artist takes a teaching job at a private school. As he goes to meet several faculty at lunch, he notices a non-descript, plain, middle aged, very myopic female teacher. He asks his collegues about her. They explain that she is the literature teacher and that she is a bit eccentric. Later she comes to the art teacher's classroom and she proved to be as eccentric as his colleague had warned. She invites him to her home and introduces him to her father who is wheelchair bound. He unable to speak because of a series of strokes. She is unwavingly devoted to him. When the art teacher suggests that she get additional help for him, she balks. She leads the art teacher to a viewing room and in it is the famous painting. She tells him that it is by the famous artist, "Vemeer." This time he balks and tell her that there are fewer than forty Vemeer paintings extant. That when she shows him all the research that she has done, hence the story begins as she traces the history of the painting and the lives of the previous owners. The stories are rich. Afterwards, the art teacher asks, "how did it come to be in your possession?" The story continues as she tells her father's part in it, an officer in the Nazi regime. The father came and drove a Jewish family from their home. As the foot soldiers were pushing them out of their home, her father notices the painting. He was so intrigued by it that he admired it for what seemed like hours, meanwhile a little Jewish boy had hidden beneath the dinner table. As he finished admiring the painting, he kindly called the little boy from underneath the table and asks tenderly, "would you like to go with me?" Then he leads the little boy by the hand and removes the picture from the wall then they leave. As the spinster is weaving this tale, she has the art teacher's rapt attention. He asks, "where did your father take him?" She told him to the concentration camp. Then she nostagically muses that her father had only one regret...that he didn't rise higher in rank in the Nazi regime. Disgusted, the art teacher bounds from the house. She runs after him and castigates him for his morality. In her tirade she tells him such devotion to the painting is LOVE. In the middle of the night she packs up her father, her research and their painting and disappears. I think this movie makes excellent sermon illustrations about idolatry and secrets and how they can enslave us. (Pastor Angela Shannon, Trinity English Lutheran Church, Ft. Wayne, Indiana)
- Both men face the struggle to recognize what is right and what is wrong, to care about the difference, and to choose to do the right thing.
- Boiler Room (2000)
- The "legitimacy" of Seth's illegal home casino compared with his "legitimate" job as a high-pressure salesman of questionable stock.
- "Because of the routine racism at the firm, Seth observes it must not be a comfortable place for a black woman to work. Abby points out she makes $80,000 a year and is supporting a sick mother." (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times Review)
- "The desire for significance, of which fame is a tempting substitute, is found in reality from living deeply committed and faithful lives." (See review at Cinema in Focus)
- The Storm of the Century
- Andre Linoge (Legion) demands a decision from the people on the Island. Which decision is the right one?
- American Beauty (1999)
- The roses that appear throughout the movie are symbols of hypocrisy, for example the roses in the house denote that the house itself is a hypocrisy; the outside of the house is beautiful and what goes on inside is complete opposite of the external appearance. another example is the rose itself meaning that a rose is beautiful when you look at it far away but up close its in a way painful looking because of its thorns, everything in the world is could look beautiful but it can also hurt. (Patrick Werner, Memphis TN)
- The Confession (1999)
- "It's not difficult to do the right thing. It's difficult to know what is the right thing to do. Once you know, it's easy to do it." (DVD ch 8)
- The Truman Show
- At the conclusion of the movie, Kristof (Truman Show creator) tries to convince Truman Burbank to stay in the imaginary world Kristof has created. The setting (a voice from the sky) and the words being said sound a lot like God at first. Upon further reflection, however, it's clear that the show's creator is trying to coax Truman to remain in slavery and is only interested in himself, not in Truman. It's a vivid reminder that evil has often masqueraded as the divine. (Steve Hendrix)
Devil's Advocate (1997)
- A stunning depiction of the seduction of power and money, and the twisting of reality to fit whatever goals we, personally might have. Good for illustrations of the satanic, greed, not recognizing evil when it stares you in the face, and our failure to discern what is evil from what is good.
- Moral decisions are not always "biggies" but rather decisions that confront us, unknown, every day of our lives.
- "Vanity is definitely my favorite sin." Milton/Satan.
- Face Off (1997)
- Evil as a "wolf in sheep's clothing". (see review at Hollywood Jesus)
- The Usual Suspects (1995)
- Verbal Kint: "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."
- Natural Born Killers
- While Mickey and Mallory are understood as evil, they are also revered as heroes. "If I were a mass-murderer, I'd be Mickey and Mallory Knox." Institutional evil - including the evil involved in promoting killers as heroes - is not recognized. (Mallory's family situation is washed over by bright colors and accompanied by a laugh track. The warden and Jack Scagnetti are seen as positive figures, writing books and "keeping order." The media presents itself as an unbiased observer when actually it encourages the glorification of evil and violence.)
- The Stand (tv miniseries
- The flu escapes into the world when a man attempts to save his family from it. (DVD part 1, chapter 1)
- When I lecture on Old Testament Theology, and on the
hardening of Pharaoh's heart, I use the scene from
TOMBSTONE when Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) asks Doc
Holliday (Val Kilmer) "What makes a man like Ringo do the things he
does?" Holliday answers "A man like Ringo has got a great empty hole
running right through the middle of him...he can
never kill enough, or steal enough, or inflict
enough pain to ever fill it." Wyatt asks "What does he want?"
Doc answers "Revenge." To Wyatt's question "For what?" Doc answers
"...bein' born." A
powerful picture of the interaction of choices and
inheritance in the making of an evil person.
(Lawson Stone--Professor of Old Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary)
- When I lecture on Old Testament Theology, and on the hardening of Pharaoh's heart, I use the scene from TOMBSTONE when Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) asks Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) "What makes a man like Ringo do the things he does?" Holliday answers "A man like Ringo has got a great empty hole running right through the middle of him...he can never kill enough, or steal enough, or inflict enough pain to ever fill it." Wyatt asks "What does he want?" Doc answers "Revenge." To Wyatt's question "For what?" Doc answers "...bein' born." A powerful picture of the interaction of choices and inheritance in the making of an evil person.
- Apocalypse Now (1979)
- Kurtz: "Then I realized they were stronger than we. They have the strength, the strength to do that. If I had 10 divisions of those men, then our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling, without passion, without judgment."
- Cabaret (1972)
- What does evil look like? Two men, one German and one American, stop at a local festival in the German countryside. A beautiful young boy stands and begins to sing "Tomorrow Belongs to Me", a hauntingly lovely ballad. One by one, other young people join him in the song. Finally, the camera pulls back and reveals the boy's Hitler Youth uniform. The charming scene becomes one of horror as we realize the evil implications of the song. (FUMC, Natchitoches, LA)