Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Prestige

"In every magic trick their are three parts...The Pledge...the Turn...and the Prestige..."

"It's not enough to make something disappear, you have to bring it back again."

"No one cares about the man in the box..."

"In the end, you don't really want to know the truth; you want to be fooled."

Indeed you may not want to know the truth about human nature as this movie describes it. You will be surprised throughout, and indeed, Christopher Nolan's skillful construction will grow on you the more you think about it. Most viewers will be kept guessing till the end. It is well written and acted. I dare say it literally has some of the tightest construction I've seen in a long time. My respect for Nolan's directing just grew by leaps. Since the movie works within three time periods, the danger of confusing the audience is high. Nolan guides us through the plot so seamlessly though, folding recurring bits of dialogue into the plot with meaning and force and in just the right order to create the needed continuity.

The acting, as I mentioned, was wonderful. Hugh Jackman finds an ideal role as the "sophisticated" Robert Angier while Christian Bale owns his part as Angier's archrival, Alfred Borden. In between Angier and Borden are some other interesting character sketches such as Cutter (Michael Caine), a skilled stage engineer who stays refreshingly solid in his methods and manner while the two rivals are developing into bitter enemies.

Regardless of the movie's intent, one thing should be kept in mind--this is a movie short on heroes. That's not to say I don't thoroughly appreciate the human elements this movie highlights. The basic plot is a journey of two philosophies--so different and so similar--and Angier and Borden take them to the extreme.

One believes that success is simply the greater ability to fool the audience--his last line of the movie: "It was the look on their faces..." He spends most of this life compulsively looking for something better--assuming his rival has a better trick that he must top. He takes his obsession with beating his rival to the end--his own personal destruction.

The other believes that success equals sacrifice--no matter what it is he is sacrificing. He is willing to take what he has, perfect it, and then hold onto it regardless of the collateral damage to himself or those he loves.

In the end, one philosophy seems to triumph over the other, but only because he has something real to walk away with at the end--and only after he has completely denied all that was left of himself and admitted one of his greatest mistakes.

One huge thing that most viewers and reviewers seem to have missed is the impeccable detailing that went into this movie. The period is immersive and accurate, with real life character Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla (David Bowie) scripted with as much mystery and dignity as the real life man.

If it is still in the theaters, I recommend it with the caution that if the rating says "disturbing images" you can take that seriously.

The Prestige is a work of art nonetheless.


Quote of the day

"One would assume that if (people) were to go to Christkindlmarket (German Christmas festival in Chicago), they'd know it is about Christmas."

-Christina Kounelias, executive vice president with New Line Cinema, after their latest film "The Nativity" was denied access to the festival for fear the movie would offend non-christians.

The coming noncrisis

It's so amusing to see how newshounds like Matt Drudge and Co choose to apply perspective in just the simple arrangement of the headlines. As of 2:45 PST on Nov. 28, I spoted this headline:
Directly underneath it was this headline:
Temps in Calgary Hit 100-Year-Low
tsk tsk

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving report

If you would like a portrait of our Thanksgiving Day celebration yesterday, you can visit Lydia Jones blog here, and Anna's blog here for a little bit of photo and text.

Good times and memories.

Some headlines worth checking out

Just a quick summary of interesting news that made it to the press today.

The ongoing drama in the UK over the former KGB agant's poisoning has concluded in his death. He issued a final denunciation of the Putin government--which I think his pretty close to spot on. Russia probably remains one of the the most corrupt places in the world.

And in another spy story...

The death penalty is being considered in the case of a man who alledgedly sold or gave away military secrets to a number of different countries including China--information included secrets of the B2 "stealth" bomber. If he's guilty...lets get it done. Send him down.

'Hi, my name is Ahmed and I want to be a suicide bomber'
A fascinating story from World Net Daily, in which a Jewish reporter was granted an interview with a martyr-in-training from Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian terror group. The interview is a frank and open discussion of what his motives are and how he fits it into his current frame of mind. It sent tingles down my spine at one point:
"Meanwhile and before I drive you to hell in an operation, enjoy your tea and our hospitality." (Laughing).

Coming soon: My belated/languishing review of Christopher Nolan's The Prestige

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Here in the dark

It's dark in here...with a just candle on the coffee table and the light from my laptop.

The power went out at work at around 11:30...out in Lynden a little after 1:00. It's kind of scary to walk around in a pallet yard with wind like this anyway. Coworker John had one stack fall just behind him as he walked to the office. Some plywood ripped off the shop doors creading a gapping hole in one side of the shop. All in all, life is interesting right now--what with trees down all over the roads...

Glad I charged my laptop battery yesterday along with my cellphone. Getting off work under these conditions has few perks let me tell you. I don't think bible study in Bellingham is going to happen at this rate--I'd have to get gas anyway and I'm not sure where I would go for that. The Herald has a story which I hope they will keep up to date. I should save my battery.

Here's to your health and safety.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Missionaries or preservers of order?

My inboxes often open to both useful and annoying updates from anything and everything I have ever had anything to do with in my life... Today one such email was something that was meant to inform me on the necessity for voting this year. It's from a local Christian/conservative activist group but that's beside the point. Quotes from leading evangelical/conservative leaders were the bulk of this letter. Although all of them seemed to tend toward the same point--go out and vote--the careful eye can discern some conflicting perspectives.

Exhibit one - Tony Perkins, Family Research Council:
"If we want godly government — how do you think we get godly government? …By putting godly people in government. Making that happen begins with getting past the excuses for nonparticipation and voting for candidates who hold to biblical values. But it doesn't end there. It also involves Christians seeking elective office themselves — and fellow Christians supporting those efforts with their money and time.

So often as Christians we want to disengage from politics. We need to see this as a mission field and send missionaries into government. If we had Christians inside our congregations pursuing it as a calling of God, as a ministry, it'd be a lot easier for churches to support them. And that's where the church needs to go."
This is the most problematic and misguided quote I noticed. I won't say it is without truth--there is nothing wrong with Christians seeking high office and fellow Christians supporting them. However the problem is this: Perkins seems to put his faith in government and wants the church to help society, not by preaching the gospel and being a light like it is called to do, but by treating homegrown politicians like missionaries--thereby distorting the mission of the church--also it might encourage the failure of good candidates by scaring nonchristian voting blocs with what might sound like theocratic language.

In summary: No, you don't get godly government just "by putting godly people in government." The church must first stop abrogating their responsibility to be salt and light--for instance, by taking back from government the responsibility of charity. Time to stop expecting the government to fix all of our Katrinas.

Exhibit two - Kay Arthur, Precept Ministries:

“How important is it that Christians take advantage of the privilege given us to vote? Or, as children of God, are we not to concern ourselves with politics? Wouldn't you think that if God urges us to pray for those in authority and if we have the opportunity and privilege of electing our leaders that He would expect us to exercise our governmental rights? Wouldn't it be our God-given responsibility as God-fearing people to uphold the biblical tenets upon which this nation was founded?

These are very turbulent days – and personally, I believe that we are where we are because the Church has been apathetic about the Word of God and righteousness. Although we are meant to affect our society as salt and light – first and foremost in our own lives – have we instead infected our nation by giving it a distorted image of what it means to be a child of a holy God?

‘Righteousness exalts a nation; sin is a reproach to any people’. We are a nation under great reproach, and consequently we are living in turbulent times. If we do not cast our vote for righteousness in our own lives first and then in our nation, I fear what will happen to us.”
This comes a lot closer to the truth in my humble opinion.

Exhibit three - Chuck Colson, Prison Fellowship:
“Voting is not an option for Christians. It's a biblical duty, because by voting we carry out God's agency; we are His instruments for appointing leaders. Just like Samuel in the Old Testament, we are commissioned to find the very best people we can who are best able to lead us. Not to vote, or to turn down candidates because they're not perfect on a biblical score sheet, is a dereliction of biblical responsibility.

Remember that the first job of a leader biblically is to preserve order, out of which freedom flows, and then to restrain evil. Every thinking Christian has to look at candidates this year and decide for himself or herself which one can best keep and preserve order and restrain evil. And remember also Jethro's advice to Moses: ‘Choose men who love God and are able’. And you have to look at other things with candidates—their character and their stand on moral issues. And then once they're elected, we need to keep pressing them on those moral issues, lobbying for what is right. I am convinced of the need for more, not less, political involvement from Christians. And it all begins with voting.”
Colson hits close as well--as opposed to thinking of political leaders as missionaries, he views them as the bible speaks of them: as preservers of order.

If you haven't voted, please vote. If you need a recommendation, vote Republican...


Yeah, having worked out in the rain all day, most of us at work could see it coming. Here's the Herald story filed an hour ago by a former classmate of mine.

Drudge was also carrying the news about the storm (aka "The Pineapple Express") coming across the entire Northwest and lower BC.

Very warm and water water everywhere! Quote from one BC official:
"I think that only in a province like B.C. can we go from drought to flood over the course of a week,"
(perhaps "drought" is a bit of an exaggeration)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

KOMO's piece on freespeech violation at BCC

The continuing story...

Hat tip: Patrick at RespectfullyRepublican.com
Check this site for further updates (I'm also a contributor there)