SUNDAY: Call + Response

You’re invited to a special screening of the film “Call + Response: Concert to End Slavery” NEXT SUNDAY, JAN 11th at 6:30pm to honor Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

Call + Response is the first feature rockumentary to expose the world’s 27 million most terrifying secrets. There are more slaves today than ever before in human history. Call + Response goes deep undercover where slavery is thriving while luminaries on the issue such as Cornel West, Madeleine Albright, Daryl Hannah, Julia Ormond, Ashley Judd, Nicholas Kristof, and many other prominent political and cultural figures offer first hand accounts of this 21st century trade. Performances from Grammy-winning and critically acclaimed artists include Moby, Natasha Bedingfield, Cold War Kids, Matisyahu, Imogen Heap, Talib Kweli, Five For Fighting, Switchfoot, members of Nickel Creek and Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, Rocco Deluca. Music is part of the movement against human slavery. Dr. Cornel West connects the music of the American slave fields to the popular music we listen to today, and offers this connection as a rallying cry for the modern abolitionist movement currently brewing. You will not leave tonight without learning about many different tangible, easy, and effective ways in which you can respond to this issue!

This film deals with human trafficking and is rated PG-13. Admission is only $2 and FREE childcare is provided. Street parking.

DETAILS for CALL + RESPONSE

WHEN: SUNDAY, JAN 11, 6:30pm

WHERE: Ecclesia Hollywood, Pacific Theatre lobby, Hollywood Blvd.

NOTE: Childcare is provided, FREE

For more INFO – churchinhollywood.com and callandresponse.com; or contact me (Justin).

Favorite movies of 2008

In reverse alphabetical order:

WALL·E: For a movie with not all that much dialogue, where the main characters are two robots that communicate in one-word sentences, this is a keeper. Somehow, Disney make you care, make you think that maybe, just maybe, robots can fall in love. All against the backdrop of an underlying message about the environment, what we’re doing to our world, and the potential of the apocalyptic future.

***

Slumdog Millionaire: I saw this movie in December, and it quickly leapt to the top of my 2008 movie list. Directed by Danny Boyle, showing his versatility after Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, and Millions, and starring two first time actors in Dev Patel and Freida Pinto (with whom I may have fallen in love), this is the touching story of a kid who, having grown up in the slums of Bombay, is on the verge of winning the big prize on India’s version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”. The portrayal of the realities of life in one of the fastest-growing countries in the world is heartbreaking because you know it’s not fictional; and Boyle takes the audience on a rollercoaster ride of emotion from heartbreak to exhilaration. One of my faves, and not just of 2008.

***

Run Fatboy Run: Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame is back with this gem, directed by David Schwimmer. His comic genius is on display in this movie about a guy who tries to win back his one-time fiancée and mother of his child by running the London marathon. That and London movies often get me.

***

Rambo: Sylvester Stallone isn’t really known for subtlety, and that wasn’t his goal with this, the fourth movie in the Rambo franchise. I saw an interview he gave in which he said that he’d wanted to convey the brutality and harsh reality of war in this movie. He succeeded. It’s a violent movie. A very, very violent movie. But in some ways, I think, it works to show people that war isn’t pretty. Not at all.

***

Iron Man: After a number of angsty superhero movies, which is fine—superheroes do have angst—it was good to have one movie where the superhero was … well, fun. As well as being one of Robert Downey Jr.’s comeback movies of the year, this was an exercise in enjoyment; he really made Tony Stark and his alter ego come alive.

***

The Dark Knight: Heath Ledger’s magnum opus as the Joker, this film was much bigger, more epic, and quite a bit darker than its predecessor, and it was undoubtedly a great movie. However, I actually thought that as a whole, Batman Begins was a better movie. Still, I do love Christian Bale, Michael Caine (as Alfred), Morgan Freeman (as Lucius Fox), and Gary Oldman (as Jim Gordon), and the additions of Heath, Aaron Eckhart (as Harvey Dent/Two Face), and Maggie Gyllenhaal (replacing Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes) were great moves. Hopefully, director Chris Nolan and the rest of the crew will be back for a third.

***

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett do a wonderful job in this touching epic (adapted from a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald) about Benjamin Button, born old and growing young. It’s a fairly long movie, a tad over 2 hours and 45 minutes, but David Fincher brings a touch of fantasy and magic to this story.

***

Bolt: While it won’t win any awards for sophistication or praise for philosophical observations, Bolt makes my list because it’s the one movie that had me laughing the entire time. (In fact, I was laughing so much I choked.) Rhino the hamster totally made my day.

In the meantime …

I just watched the latest episode of 24. There are six episodes left until the end of the season, and having finished tonight’s, I was left profoundly dissatisfied. Not because it wasn’t good or exciting (thankfully, it’s picked up in the last few episodes), but because it wasn’t finished. I was tired of the lack of conclusion, of the fact that there isn’t a happy ending for Jack Bauer, at least for another six episodes. (And even then, we know he’s gonna have at least two more crappy days, based on the fact that 24 will be running for another couple seasons.)

I suppose it’s analogous to watching The Lord of the Rings, and having just finished The Two Towers, realizing that, amidst the jubilation following the Battle of Helm’s Deep, there’s still at least another three hours until a happy ending: Frodo and Sam still have a ways to go before they get to Mount Doom, Aragorn still hasn’t claimed his throne or gotten together with the girl (and that’s only going to happen if he survives). Maybe I’m alone in wanting happy endings, things to be all okay, and people to get along. But I don’t think I am.

See, I think it’s in all of us, this desire for a happy ending. It’s even in creation itself, according to the Apostle Paul, which “waits with eager longing, … groaning in labor pains” (Romans 8:19, 22) for the happy ending to come. From that statement, we can note a few things.

First, this desire for a happy ending – for an end to senseless war and violence and killing (yesterday, more than 30 people at Virginia Tech were shot), for an end to millions of people dying in Africa everyday because of lack of clean water and AIDS and other preventable diseases, for an end to dysfunctional relationships, betrayals of trust and heartbreak – this desire is natural; it is inherent in creation itself.

Second, there is a happy ending: it’s not just a pie in the sky theory that might possibly come true; it’s gonna happen, whether we want it or not; Jesus is coming back, whether we want him to or not (Isaac Newton predicted that Jesus would come again in 2060; only 53 years to go …).

And finally, it’s gonna hurt in the meantime, it’s gonna be hard. Now I’ve never experienced labor pains. And I’m glad I never will. But I have many friends who have given birth, and have shared their experiences (one of the wonders of living on a hallway with families). [Episiotomy: enough said.] It’s not going to be easy, being in this place of tension and longing for what’s to come.

But here’s an encouraging final thought: in the meantime, we’re not alone. Jesus said: “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age (i.e. until he comes back again)” (Matthew 28:20). And life with Jesus now … it can also be pretty good. Go figure.