The third movie on our AFI movie marathon was Casablanca, the 1942 romantic drama.  It won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.  We had seen this one before too, but it had been many years and it was great to revisit.

Casablanca tells this story of an American in Casablanca during World War II.  His name is Rick and he runs a cafe in the city and caters to patrons waiting to obtain visas to leave the country and eventually travel to America.  Rick’s former lover, Ilsa shows up with her husband, who is anti-German protester and Rick has to choose between love and doing the right thing.  The film is full of memorable lines: “play it again, Sam,” “here’s looking at you kid” and “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”  As Time Goes By is also a stunningly romantic song that has persisted in our culture because of its presence in the movie.

My husband and I had a bit of a debate about whether Rick was truly being altruistic or if he remained self-interested until the very end.  I argued for altruistic.  Why else would he give the letters of transit to Ilsa and her husband instead of using them for himself?  He knew that he would be punished for helping Lazlo to escape.  How did he expect to get out of that situation?  It was only because of luck that the French official agreed to look the other way after he shot the German officer.  The other question is whether Ilsa was playing Rick the entire time.  The romantic in me believes that she truly loved him and was not just trying to gain access to the letters of transit.

I really enjoyed watching this again.  Up next…Raging Bull.


Good Things are Worth the Effort

Earlier this week I blogged about a sermon asking me what good thing have I grown weary of and I am ready to fight for it.  I was really struggling with this a few weeks ago with my daughter.  She’s six and it had gotten to the point where I did not want to be around her.  Everything out of her mouth was a complaint, she constantly whined and I was ready to ship her off somewhere.  My husband felt the same way.  He would plan these  outings for the kids and she would ruin them with her crummy attitude.  We had reached the point of giving up on having a nice family dynamic.

Not one to give up, especially on something as important as this, I came up with a plan.  What would motivate her?  Our family has a no iPad policy during the week, but the kids are allowed to use in on the weekends.  Well, this led to binging and we really wanted to cut back on electronics, even on the weekends.  I devised a point system: if the kids were good and had a good attitude for an entire day (with a few warnings permitted), they would each get a check mark for the day.  Each check mark was equal to 20 minutes of iPad time on the weekend.  We wrote the check marks on our family wipe board calendar so they could see how they were doing.

We started this three weeks ago and we haven’t had a single problem with our daughter since then.  Her attitude has completely changed.  She thanks us for things, she says “I love you” unprompted, and is such a pleasant person to be around.  I am truly excited for the trips and activities we have planned in the next year now.  We also have talked to her about her attitude and how it affects the rest of the family and I believe she has noticed the difference as well.

We had tried lots of different things with her before finding something that worked.  Punishing and yelling clearly were not solutions.  Every child is different, but I know it is possible to find something to motivate them.  Children can make you weary, but if you persevere, the resulting good is more than worth it.

The Thrill of Hope

In the days leading up to Christmas, it is easy to get weary to the point of just being tired of it all.  Shopping, activities and family obligations can all lead to a lot of stress.  Leading up to Jesus’ birth, the nation of Israel was weary too.  The prophets had previously said that because of their lack of faith, their nation was finished (see Isaiah 1:2 and Amos 9:8), but the prophets also gave Israel a message of hope.  Daniel 2:44 states God will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed and Zechariah 14:9 says there will be one Lord who is King over all the earth.

Israel had been living in exile in Babylon, but when the Persians conquered the area, the Israelites were allowed to return to Jerusalem and begin rebuilding and to restore their worship.  They believed that if they led faithful lives, God would usher in the new kingdom He had promised.  They waited for 500 years, but nothing happened.  They were now under Roman power and they became weary.

Then, something did happen.  Jesus was born.  Luke 2:1-7: In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

This baby was literally the Word of God and God’s action.  John 1:1-5, 14 states that in the beginning there was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God.  Through Him all things were made and the Word became flesh and dwelled among us.

The second chapter of Luke goes on to describe that an angel appeared to nearby shepherds, bringing them the good news that a Savior had been born.  This was good news for all people, not just the strict Jewish observers.

Even though we may be weary, the world is still good because that is how God created it to be.  It is something worth fighting for.  What things have we grown weary of and are we ready to fight for them?  I will blog about my answer later this week.  John 1:11-12 says that He came to His own (the Jews), but they did not receive Him.  To those who believed, He gave them the right to be the children of God.  Jesus knew that it wouldn’t always work, but He came anyway.

The Godfather

Up second in our AFI Top 100 list was The Godfather.  This is one of, if not at the top of the list of, my husband’s favorite movies, so he had obviously seen it many times.  While I have seen parts (and played the video game years ago), I had never seen it all the way through.  My expectations were not very high; I typically don’t love violent mobster movies, but it was super enjoyable and kept moving with exciting plots.  Made in 1972, it won three Academy Awards, for Best Picture, Best Actor for Marlon Brando, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

I found myself rooting for Michael Corleone, even though he makes some deplorable choices during the movie.  I think that is really a testament to Al Pacino’s acting.  On the one hand, we should want him to not get involved in his family’s mob dealings, but on the other hand, he is clearly the best person for the job.  I wish that Diane Keaton, who portrays his girlfriend, had not been quite so naive.  There is a part toward the end where she asks Michael if he had his brother-in-law killed (he did), and he tells her no.  She blindly believes him and is so relieved.

There are some great lines in this movie – “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” and “Leave the gun. Take the cannolis.”

I know that The Godfather, Part II is also on the AFI list, so we’ll be looking forward to that in the future.