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Film/Music/TV

The Magnetism of the Exiled Soul to Stranger Things

The Magnetism of the Exiled Soul to Stranger Things

The most succinct way to describe Stranger Things is to say that it’s Steven Spielberg meets Stephen King–meets Netflix. It’s eight episodes and totally watchable in one week, or one night, depending on how willing you are to sacrifice your REMs. (Be warned: You’ll find it hard to finish one episode and resist at least watching the incredible opening credits for the next.)

Stranger Things tells the story of Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) who, like the woman searching for coins (Lk 15), frantically searches for her missing son, Will; meanwhile Will’s group of motley twelve-year-old friends, who have also been searching for him, stumble across…

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Come See The Pawnbroker in Stamford with PZ (Weds 7/27)

mBdFO2DLxyDyz14zjeiZOu6NG7RThe Pawnbroker came out in 1965 and stars Rod Steiger as a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz who is suffering from acute P.T.S.D. The Pawnbroker was notorious at the time for a scene of nudity that was a “first” for Hollywood. It also contained a way of editing flashbacks that was exciting and fresh. Moreover, The Pawnbroker was the first mainstream movie to deal directly with the Holocaust.

But seeing it now — and all the above are true — it is even better. The film observes a man under overwhelming stress from suppressed memories. They simply will break through. The Pawnbroker also makes some powerful observations about men and women. A scene towards the end between Rod Steiger and Geraldine Fitzgerald is almost worth the entire movie.

For religious people, and specifically for Christians, there are images in The Pawnbroker from the Passion that are both moving and somewhat controversial, especially if you believe, as many do, that the Holocaust is the possession solely of its actual victims. I myself think the iconography of The Pawnbroker works. When I saw it 51 years ago, I was affected to my teenaged core and didn’t know why.

Join me, Paul Zahl, this Wednesday in Stamford, CT at The Avon (right off I-95 and parking is easy); the theater is also short walking distance from the Stamford RR station — for the second in our Mockingbird-sponsored series entitled “Religious Hope from the Movies”. That’s Wednesday, July 27 at 7:30 pm. I shall introduce the movie briefly, and moderate a short discussion afterwards.

PZ’s Podcast: Hey, Everybody

PZ’s Podcast: Hey, Everybody

EPISODE 219

Gosh, I like Tommy Roe!

But why?

Well, partly, because his songs are catchy and sweet, and especially “Everybody” (1963). But “Dizzy” (1969) also makes me… dizzy.

The real reason a person likes a song — or really likes a song — is that it speaks for them. Or speaks to them. Or speaks from them. The song “resonates”, to use the idiom, with you. In other words, it’s not just the song. It’s the part of you that connects to the song.

All these things we like so much (i.e., pop songs, videos, movies, novels, television shows, poems, paintings) draw something out…

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Lively Perspective from a Malodorous Corpse: Christian Liberty in Swiss Army Man

Lively Perspective from a Malodorous Corpse: Christian Liberty in Swiss Army Man

This one comes to us from contributor Josh Encinias:

Repellent as its non-stop farts, bone crackling, and other embarrassing bodily functions are, Swiss Army Man joins a new tradition of movies, beginning with Jean-Luc Godard’s film Goodbye to Language and Todd Solondz’s Wiener-Dog, that force the viewer to dig deep for empathy, accepting foibles of human will as humanity’s default mode. Otherwise, in these movies as in life, you will come away with a deeply cynical, solipsistic view of humanity. This movie may not be for everyone because of its purportedly divisive qualities, however, they are mostly joke fodder and background noise, masking the old story of death and…

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Chickens Running at Midnight

Chickens Running at Midnight

Here in the Atl, we are on par with Cleveland (at best) in terms of major sport championship futility.  We’ve got nothing other than our World Series Championship in 1995 – against Cleveland (ironically).  In fact our biggest sports moment is not actually in that World Series, it’s 3 years earlier when “Sid slid” against the Pirates to send the Braves to the 1992 World Series (that we would lose to Toronto). While Atlanta fans were experiencing pure euphoria after “Sid slid”, there was a different story brewing on the Pittsburgh side.  It’s chronicled in the video below, on July…

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Hollywood Teaches Us How to Be Good Friends: A Much-Belated Review of The Intern

Hollywood Teaches Us How to Be Good Friends: A Much-Belated Review of The Intern

I inwardly sighed last week when my wife suggested that we watch the 2015 Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway comedy The Intern on HBO Now. One has to admit there are problems with the film’s setup.

Robert De Niro plays Ben Whitaker, who is a retired, widowed, 70-year-old who spent 40 years climbing the corporate ladder at a telephone book publisher. He applies for a “senior internship”* offered by a hip start-up, About the Fit, which has set up its open-office, iMac- and MacBook-heavy workplace in the building where Ben’s factory used to make the now-obsolete phonebook. Ben gets assigned to the company’s…

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The Great British Baking Show: It’s Just a Cake

The Great British Baking Show: It’s Just a Cake

Here’s another one from our friend, Carrie Willard. The following contains a spoiler in Episode 301 (Cakes) of the Great British Baking Show.

In the early 2000s and in the early years of our marriage, my husband and I gathered around a television set with friends on Sunday nights to watch Sex and the City, or Six Feet Under, or whatever HBO series was headlining that year. But at home, when we got tired of the news or didn’t have anything better to entertain us while we folded the laundry, we’d settle in to cooking shows on the Food Network or…

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For When I Am Strong, Then I Am Weak

For When I Am Strong, Then I Am Weak

I have a beef with the editors of Modern Love, and it’s not just about their polite refusal of my recent submission. It concerns a recent episode of their podcast, a reading of a column published almost seven years ago written by a woman who “saved” her marriage by refusing to suffer her husband’s rejection. By refusing to suffer, period.

The author of the piece, Laura Munson, recounts her husband’s mid-life crisis that spawned this rejection, and the announcement he made that he was leaving her and their children. What follows would read to many as an inspirational tale of…

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EpiscoDisco: The Documentary – Out Now!

Let’s face it–this is probably the single coolest thing Mockingbird has ever been involved with, or will ever be involved with. I’m talking about the short documentary on DJ JAZ and “The Episco Disco” that VICE (and their electronic music division Thump) filmed at our conference in NYC this year. A culmination of culminations! Of course, if it’s all downhill from here, at least our decline will have a killer soundtrack.

Those in the United States can click on the image below to watch ten of the greatest minutes of the year. Those in other countries will either have to get crafty, or wait til the video hits youtube later this year:

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And if by some sad circumstance you missed the session John mentions in the clip, never fear: we got you covered.

July Playlist

Tony Hale’s Awkward, Silent Prison

Tony Hale’s Awkward, Silent Prison

Tony Hale, who played Buster Bluth on Arrested Development and who we talked to in a 2009 interview called “Tony Hale Controls the World!”, sat down with Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air” last week. They discussed his role as Gary Walsh on HBO’s hit series Veep, which wrapped up its fifth season on Sunday. Here are some highlights.

During the interview, Hale didn’t shy away from admitting that he has a knack for playing anxious characters. He talked about his personal experience with anxiety, and his experiences with prayer and faith in response to it.

GROSS: You’ve said in the past that you…

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Checking in with Game of Thrones (Season 6 Finale Edition)

Checking in with Game of Thrones (Season 6 Finale Edition)

Into the interregnum – spoilers abound. (Click here to listen to a special GoT episode of The Mockingcast, in which a few of us try to make sense of the religious elements of the show/books.)

Cersei Lannister, first of her name: married to King Robert Baratheon in the wake of Robert’s Rebellion. Bereaved of Robert in a boar hunt gone awry, thwarted a power-grab traitor Eddard Stark in its wake, and consolidated the Kingdoms behind Joffrey I. Helped broker an alliance between Tyrell and Lannister, bedrock of security in the Seven Kingdoms during rebellions by the North, the Iron Islands, and Stannis Baratheon….

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