Review: Silver Linings Playbook

Last night I got the chance to attend an advance screening of Silver Linings Playbook, the new film by David O. Russell (director of The Fighter and Three Kings), and starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro.

Let me just say three words: Go. See. It.

Charming, intense, emotional, upsetting, endearing, uplifting, funny — SLP is a tremendously well-told and jarringly human story, based on Matthew Quick’s novel. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence deliver a couple of fantastic performances, and the supporting cast is equally stellar.

One of my favorite movies of the year so far.

Silver Linings Playbook is released in the US on November 21.

Trailer:

 

The Line: What Matters

Last night, I was privileged to be at the premiere of The Line, a documentary film by Emmy Award-winning producer Linda Midgett and Sojourners, in partnership with World Vision, Bread for the World, Oxfam America, and the Christian Community Development Association.

The ‘line’ of the title is the poverty line, which currently stands at about $23,000 per year for a family of four; and the film delves into the stories of four people faced with poverty.

It is the poor that are mentioned throughout the Bible as of unique concern–these are the vulnerable and marginalized, these are the ones often oppressed and kept down by the systems in place, these are “the least of these.”

As Aaron said a few weeks ago at The District Church, “The test of true, biblical justice is how we treat the poor.”

Please take some time to watch the film and learn the stories and faces of just a few of the almost 50 million Americans living in poverty–they are our brothers and sisters, and we are called to be their keepers, to be their neighbors.

Don’t just be aware; do something, even something as simple as raising your voice.

You can find more info and action steps that you can take at thelinemovie.com.

“Lincoln” (trailer)

Coming in November: Steven Spielberg’s biopic of our 16th President, starring the inimitable Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, and Tommy Lee Jones.

I’m reading Ronald White’s biography of Lincoln at the moment, so I’m particularly looking forward to this!

There is beauty in the world: Yosemite

I’ve been reading again through one of the books that changed my life, Brennan Manning’s The Ragamuffin Gospel. One of his chapters talks about wonder, and he quotes Abraham Joshua Heschel, who said on his deathbed, “Never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I asked for wonder, and he gave it to me.”

Both Heschel and Manning lament that, “As civilization advances, [our] sense of wonder declines.” Because we get so caught up in our plans and projects, our busyness and activity, with ourselves, that we forget to take time to bask, to celebrate God’s glorious creation–“We grow complacent and lead practical lives. We miss the experience of awe, reverence, and wonder.”

The video below is an absolutely stunning time-lapse video from Yosemite, taken by Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty. It was a reminder to me that there is so much beauty in the world, if I’ll only take a second to step back, open my eyes, and look up.

A trip to Yosemite has definitely been added (bold and underlined) to my bucket list.

Keeping healthy

It’s been awhile since I’ve made time for things that give me life, that aren’t necessarily ‘productive’ but are highly conducive to my spiritual, mental and emotional health–things as simple as reading a book, or going to see a movie, or discovering new music. I realized that I needed to build a little more of that into my schedule, and with the extra time afforded me by my sports injuries (from which I’m recovering), I’ve been able to indulge a little.

Books

Between Two Worlds, John W. Stott. A great and classic resource on preaching; insightful and wise. Stott’s been a spiritual mentor of mine and a favorite theologian, and when I read books of his like this one, I feel his passing all the more keenly.

Kissing Outside the Lines, Diane Farr. A funny, touching and insightful look at inter-racial relationships, sparked by an encounter between a Korean-American named Seung and Farr (a well-known actress). I guess it sort of validated a lot of the thoughts and feelings I’d had about inter-racial relationships, including ones that I’d been in.

LeadershipNext, Eddie Gibbs. Examining what leadership–particularly in the church–looks like as we launch into the 21st century. Gibbs is a professor at Fuller Seminary, and has been involved with a number of emerging church movements. In reading this, I was glad to see that we at The District Church are already living out a lot of the things he said would be needed to thrive.

A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin. I’m re-reading this fantastic work of fiction in light of the HBO series whose first season just finished, and also the latest installment, “A Dance with Dragons,” that just came out. When I first read this, years ago, I couldn’t handle it. The bad guys weren’t clear; the good guys weren’t clear; I didn’t know who I was supposed to root for. But reading it again last year, having the benefit of a few years of age, wisdom and maybe a dose of realism, I was able to appreciate that there aren’t easy answers, it isn’t a black-and-white world, and that not everyone you care about lives to see the happy ending. A fantasy-fiction series for a post-modern world.

Movies

Captain America: The First Avenger.

A riproaring adventure, a fun comic book adaptation, an enjoyable ride. Definitely, definitely, definitely had its cheesy, “ra-ra America” moments (a.k.a. Team America moments), but on the whole, I had fun. Chris Evans did a great job as Cap, Tommy Lee Jones was hilarious–as usual when he’s trying to be, e.g. Men in Black–and it set the scene well for next summer’s blockbuster adventure, The Avengers, which you get a preview of at the end of the credits–so exciting!!

Cowboys & Aliens.

Cowboys? Cool. Aliens? Cool. Combined? A boy’s dream. Lots of shooting and explosions, two generations of leading men (Harrison Ford–sorry, dude–and Daniel Craig), and Olivia Wilde? Entertainment. I’m not going to dissect this, or talk about postcolonialism, or even how it could’ve been a better movie. It was a good and fun and entertaining enough for me! Thanks to Jon Favreau, who’s really showing his directing chops–with this, the Iron Man movies, and Elf, the guy’s got some talent.

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Definitely one of my favorite movies of the year. In the story of a middle-aged man whose life falls apart around him, Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone light up a fantastic script–at turns heartwarming, gut-wrenching, painful, hilarious, sad, frustrating, and laugh-out-loud funny. Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei provide some stellar support, and welcome to the big screen, Analeigh Tipton! I went on the basis of my friends’ recommendations, and I’m telling you now: go see it.

Music

Zonoscope, Cut Copy. Fun indie, electronic music. Thanks to JY for the recommendation.

Bon Iver, Bon Iver. All my friends (hipster and otherwise) had been raving about this. And it’s warranted. My first taste of Bon Iver’s music, and it’s a good one.

10,000 Reasons, Matt Redman. The latest offering from a Christian music stalwart, Matt continues to write songs that speak for a new generation. Love the guy’s heart.

Strip Me, Natasha Bedingfield. This actually came out last year, but I only got it this summer. Natasha’s always got a way of making me smile with her music. So much love for her.