Movie Reflections

Now Showing: Frozen
08 January 2014
Sydney, Australia

I went to see the Disney movie "Frozen" yesterday with my four-year-old niece. It was her second time to watch it, but a first for me. I already knew the story by heart, however, as she made me and everyone in the household read her storybooks almost thrice daily.

In this post I will not discuss the debates surrounding the movie re feminism and the Disney-fication of a beloved classic, "Snow Queen." You can jump to this article for that and more links. I am not an expert on either subject matter.

My niece's take is totally different from mine, that's for sure. She focused on the little girls' games, the snowman, the marshmallow man, and the reindeer. It was a delight to watch her with her tiny 3D glasses, sitting at the edge of her seat, squealing in delight at her favorite scenes.

Despite my job as a mere movie companion, I found myself relating to the Snow Queen herself.  I liked her icy, translucent gown, to start with. And the freedom she enjoyed while unleashing her powers and being herself on top of the North Mountain held such a compelling image for me. I wanted that. The music helped to seal the deal: this is my current favorite Disney princess movie as well.

Elsa, the Snow Queen, thought she could isolate herself and not hurt anybody. But Anna, her warm, passionate, and persistent sister, showed her that Elsa's powers affected their kingdom down below and buried it in deep, deep, deep, deep, snow. Elsa was frustrated because she did not know how to bring back summer, and despite trying so hard not to hurt anyone, she still ended up hurting the ones she loved the most.

I will not put spoilers here, because those inclined should go watch the movie in 3D. But I must say that Elsa's journey showed me how I should accept my powers (gifts or skills or talents), and instead of hiding who I really am and what I can do, I should learn to just become Ella and trust that there is a place where I can unleash those powers and learn to control them.

The above song was performed by Idina Menzel, whose concert was my first at the Sydney Opera House, only last year. It really spoke to me powerfully.

The movie resolves its conflict by concluding that "an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart."

My own story does not have a conclusion yet. At heart, I am more like Anna. Mine is not the frozen heart.

In photo below: Refusing to be frozen last winter in a farm in Victoria, the hills were alive with the sound of Ella. And the cows moo-ing behind me.

Now Showing: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
11 December 2010
Sydney, Australia

I highly recommend Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I found it was much, much better than Prince Caspian, as I fell asleep while watching the latter on HBO, despite the boy-next-door charm of the lead character.

In the third book to be made into a movie, Lucy has grown up and is no longer the innocent and cute little queen we have loved from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. In this film, she struggles with her self-image issues and battles with her insecurities. Edmund is still haunted by the White Witch somehow and deals with his baggage about always playing second fiddle. And Caspian... what can I say about Caspian? If I were a teenager I would be swooning over him. He has transformed from prince into king splendidly.

I watched it on 3D so the special effects were more magnificent. I thought I would be seasick but thankfully, I did not. The film was so realistic I momentarily thought I had water on my 3D glasses.

The movie's Christian theme, injected in a few lines all throughout, came to a glorious end with the appearance of Aslan. Somehow, it made sense that he did not come early to rescue the young people from their battles. They had to go through them, to fight the darkness inside them and to face their fears with courage.

The faith and hope that the characters had was contagious. By the end of the film I too wanted to believe that I must not shy away from adventure, that I had all the tools and weapons to fight my enemies, and I would happily meet Aslan, but by the Name He is known in this world.

This movie is for God's children, for them to be in Narnia again so they can go back to the real world knowing that God is real. He is there for all His children.

I have to refrain myself from adding spoilers here. Please watch it and believe again.

22 February 2009
Quezon City, Philippines

"Where's the love?", I asked myself after watching the movie "Doubt".  Since the Oscar Awards are coming, I made sure to post this blog even if I had other things I wanted to write about in my other blogs.

The film was set at a time in the Church when I was not yet born, and so I might not be able to accurately comment on the characters, their reactions, their emotions, and their actions.  The theme, however, is universal and still very much applicable to the Catholic Church as I know it.

Most of you who read this blog know that I don't exactly write movie reviews; instead I write movie reflections.

I have been a Meryl Streep fan since childhood, and I need not add to the chorus of praises for her outstanding performance in this film.  She set the pace, the tone, and the outcome of this film.  Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams held their own against her restless, doubtful character.  Philip as the very human priest Fr. Flynn was so convincing that I could relate more to his feelings, rather than to Meryl's character, Sr. Aloysius.  Amy Adams was perfect as the innocent, compassionate younger nun, that it reminded me of her character from the movie "Enchanted", which I also liked.  

The theme that struck me while watching, and even hours after, was not Doubt, but Love.  In particular, I was looking for it from Sr. Aloysius.  She had been so caught up in her desire to pursue truth and to "serve God", that she had turned Machiavellian.  She firmly believed that she could step away from God in order to do God's work.  I could not live with that.  I disagreed with that philosophy the more I thought about it.  I was shaking my head during many of her unbelievably complicated, yet subtle, scenes.

Just last Thursday, a couple of days before I watched the film, we had Bible Study in our office (yes, I am blessed to be in a workplace where the bosses support our spiritual growth) and the topic was the Fruit of the Spirit.  We studied three Scripture passages on Love: 1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 14, and Colossians 3.  We wrote down what encompassed love and we each identified our strengths and weaknesses in loving.  

A friend texted me that he loved Sr. Aloysius' humanity in the end of the movie.  For me, it came too late, for somebody else had paid the price for her lack of compassion, gentleness, patience, obedience, and kindness.  

I was struck by the stark difference between the dinner table of the sisters - hardly any conversation, the only sound coming from the scraping of the spoons against the plates - and that of the priests - where there was laughter, some irreverent conversation, wine, and genuine interest in one another.  Sr. Aloysius must have had a loving side hidden deep inside her, but I wished she had revealed it sooner.  But then again, the movie would not be about Doubt, but Compassion.

The various themes of the film were as overwhelming for me as "The Secret Life of Bees", a book I had wanted to write a reflection on even before the film was shown.  Racism, to which I had never been exposed to, played a major part in how the characters were developed and dealt with.  I would not venture to dwell on this much, except to say that any form of exclusion, any assertion of superiority, or any form of oppression, seems to me to run counter to the very nature of agape love, to which we are all called.  

It is true, however, that Doubt binds us, and that is where the film succeeds in transcending time and exposing the hearts (and minds) of men.  The very servants of God could very well be the ones experiencing crisis of faith.  Zeal for His love could possibly blind a person towards the need to accept the weaknesses of others.  I asked with the priest's character, directed toSr. Aloysius, "Have you ever done anything wrong?"  Her response was chilling.

Sr. Aloysius did not approve of sugar.  Fr. Flynn loved four cubes in his tea.  He also smoked, drank, and joked around with the students.  Sr. Aloysius liked to live in the past, and to instill old-school discipline to the students.  It was easy to love Fr. Flynn and to hate Sr. Aloysius.  He was the victim and she the judge, jury, and executioner.  

What I took with me after watching this film was to ask myself how Jesus lived, and how as His disciple, servant, and friend, I was supposed to handle life and all its complications.  I did not want to become a modern-day Pharisee and to add to the law what God had not commanded.  I did not want to give Christianity a bad name by being a sad, bitter person.  

I wish for the winds of change to come again and blow the Holy Spirit's breath into the dark, doubting souls that permeate this earth.  I do not think it is Doubt that should bind us, but Faith - in the unseen, but certain, Love of our Father, revealed through His Son, and dwelling in us through His Holy Spirit.

Yes, what the world needs now is love.  I believe this without a doubt.
April 3, 2007

Quitting my Whining

After watching Bruce Almighty on a huge screen underneath the moon and the stars, I felt sad. It was not my first time to see that film and I was not simply taking it too seriously. It was something more. I texted a friend and she said that the Jennifer Aniston praying/crying scene always made her sad.

I recalled that scene and realized it was not what caused my sadness. I connected more to Bruce himself and all his questions at God, ashamed though I am to admit it. When I first saw that film I disliked the way Bruce abused his thin slice of God's omnipotence. Tonight I saw myself in Bruce.

He had a job and someone wonderful who loved him very much, but he could not sit still and enjoy what he had. He wanted something more from God, all the time. Whenever he did not get what he wanted, he blamed God, and he had mean words to say.

I did not use similar accusatory language against God but whenever I whined and complained, I came close. I could relate to Bruce looking up, putting on imaginary gloves, and provoking God to smite him. I could relate to Bruce saying God is not doing his job because He was not fixing his life, something he accused God of being able to do in five minutes, if he wanted to.

I was no better than Bruce Almighty at creating my own pity parties and forgetting my blessings. I sat down to talk to God and say sorry for all the times I doubted Him. The picture painted in my head of how I looked every time I complained was unbearable and so un-Christ-like, yet I knew I was guilty of that.

At the back of my mind I was still waiting impatiently for God to answer all the questions I had about my life and my future. I was still holding my breath for the day when I would see the sun shining brightly. I might have been busy with many things the past few weeks but I just set aside the battles that had wounded me before. The wounds won't heal by being ignored, I know. If there was a better way, I hope I could find out soon.

I don't want to be ungrateful for God's love. I do believe in it even through these clouds. I know that by the end of this week, and on Easter, my heart shall rise with my Savior, and what seems dark shall become bright once again.

01 July 2006
Quezon City, Philippines

I just saw Superman Returns today, courtesy of a very generous soul (MMIII) who sponsored my ticket to Lingkod Greenhills’ block-off screening at Robinsons Pioneer. I am a very lucky girl, as the ticket cost a bit more than the regular screening, for it was part of a fundraising activity.

Expecting an intellectual review of the movie? Hop to the next blog, please, as I’m not about to give you one. I might just rave about Brandon Routh in a very senseless way here. Well, if Lois Lane can get a Pulitzer Prize for writing a piece entitled “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman”, I can get away with writing anything Superman-related, for he IS, as The Daily Planet’s editor Perry White puts it, “the news” these days.

I entered the movie house thinking that this Superman had some pretty high standards to live up to. After all, the first Hollywood movie I saw on the big screen was “Superman II”, way back when. And I loved it, as I’ve always wished I could fly, and this guy Superman, I saw that he could take you places up, up and away. Kal-el/Clark Kent/Christopher Reeve also starred in “Somewhere in Time”, one of my favorite movies as a child.

The other Superman sequels didn’t quite make the same impact on me. I borrowed some of the DC comic books but soon grew tired of all the twists in the hero from Smallville’s storyline that the writers loved to concoct.

Still, it was high time for Superman to return. Christopher Reeve died leaving his fans sad and awakened to the fact that he was not a superhero, after all. He was a very good man and he and his wife touched many lives. But he left a hole for another hero in our lives.

Bryan Singer did so well in his X-Men films that I was looking forward to what he was going to do with the all-American hero. What he directed was a story that slowly unfolded, taking into account the vast Superman knowledge of his audience and sharing with them discoveries about the superhero's past, present and future. We wondered if a hospital could help him, and we were not surprised. We wondered if he loved Lois Lane, yet we knew all along.

I’m thankful that while they were touring the city one night, Lois didn’t break into song anymore. She didn’t ask if Superman could read her mind, because frankly that wasn’t one of his powers anyway, and the moment just was better without that cheesy love song playing in the background. I agree, sure, that anyone would like to be “the friend” that Superman “would fly to”, but wordless music captured it better.

Lois reminded me of Mr. Kenya. The latter is a character concocted by the members of Lingkod Los BaƱos, who referred to himself as a man “who belonged to a country that could never be mine”. Hindi iyo, hindi akin, Kenya. (“Not yours, not mine, his". Or hers. No direct translation for a joke!)

Going back to Ms. Lane, well I really pity the girl with the silken curls and the successful career (where did she get the time to get a pedicure amidst all that action being supermom, supergirlfriend, superjournalist? It's a fantasy movie, all right). She’s in love with a man who could never be hers. The real "greatest American hero" is not yours, Lois, not mine, but theirs (the world’s).

Lois needed Superman, that’s why she wrote passionately about why the world didn’t. She tried to convince herself. She got the award, but in tears, because she lied. And when Superman returned, she couldn’t take back the words that had already been said. Good thing that though the kryptonite-allergic guy in the blue-and-red suit could not read minds, he could read between the lines. Lois could write many more lines, but still the truth would come out.

It was reported that Superman was in Manila. Where was I at that time??? Whom did he rescue? Ok, I lied too. I don’t find it that cheesy. In fact, I know the song a bit well. So sing it with me. I know you like it too.

I end on this note, fading away now and will go to sleep dreaming of a superhero named… Brandon Routh. (Sisters who watched all agreed with me, he’s a cutie.)

Lyrics - Music: Leslie Bricusse and John Williams

Can you read my mind?
Do you know what it is you do to me?
Don't know who you are
Just a friend from another star

Here I am like a kid at a school
Holding hands with a god, I'm a fool
Will you look at me quivering
Like a little girl shivering?
You can see right through me

Can you read my mind?
Can you picture the things I'm thinking of?
Wondering why you are
All the wonderful things you are

You can fly, you belong to the sky
You and I could belong to each other
If you need a friend,I'm the one to fly to
If you need to be loved, (to be loved)
Here I am, read my mind!



Will you look at me quivering
Like a little girl shivering?
You can see right through me
If you need a friend,I'm the one to fly to (big finish now..)
If you need to be loved,
Here I am, read my mind!

Read my mind!

Good night, folks. One has to be asleep in order to be able to wake up properly.

Now Showing: Last Holiday
March 15, 2006

Tonight I will write a movie review.  It does not run counter to my abstinence from writing trivial things, as “Last Holiday” is anything but trivial for my QT sisters and I who saw the movie right after work on a Tuesday night.  It was just what the doctor ordered for five single Christian women who needed to let their hair down.

I admit I agreed to see the movie because I wanted to laugh.  I was expecting Queen Latifah to hold the screen as her stage and entertain me with bold strokes into a fantasy world where I could buy anything I wanted without having to pay for them.  What I was treated to, however, was a gentle woman who held back all her life but once told that it was about to end, savored every minute with passion and gratitude.

I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let me provide the premise of the movie, which is a remake from a 1950s British comedy.  Queen Latifa plays Georgia Byrd, the best employee in a department store, who played by the rules and who suppressed her dreams in favor of the comforts of a predictable life.  She sang at her church choir, babysat for her sister, fed her neighbors, and harbored a secret crush on her co-worker Sean, played by equally famous rapper LL Cool J.  I’m telling you, the woman is a saint!  Aside from what I’ve already mentioned, she also watches her calories and gives store-sample food to the elderly, to the consternation of her profit-oriented boss!  

Georgia lived in another world, like a parallel universe, in her mind.  She kept a book of things she would do someday – like meet famous chefs (one played by the gifted Gerard Depardieu, and the other, Food TV host Emeril, who starred as himself); travel to Europe; eat her favorite foods without worrying about weight gain; and marry the man of her dreams.  Whenever she thought about these dreams, she just added a page to her album, but did not do anything to actually pursue them.

Until one day when a head injury brought her into the reality that is life – she was diagnosed with a terminal illness and was given three months to live by their company doctor, Dr. Gupta, played effortlessly by an actor so good the memory of his image kept me and my friends in stitches even hours after watching the film.

This plot was highlighted on the trailer and it actually misled me into thinking that afterwards, the heroine decided to suck the marrow out of life, shop, travel, wine and dine all she wanted without a care in the world!  

The surprises for me were:  First, she did not max out credit cards (as I assumed) in order to finance her Last Holiday. She just liquidated all of her investments.  Second, she maintained her wisdom and humility even in the midst of struggling with her sickness.  Third, she touched lives wherever she went, from America to Europe, because of her honesty.  Fourth, she had a personal relationship with God, often talking to Him in the middle of a conversation with another person, seeing His hand in her life and alternating between doubting Him and thanking Him for everything.  Fifth, she could be one of my sisters in Lingkod, for she reads the Bible, has a personal relationship with God, goes to church, and even serves in their Music Ministry!  That’s what made her character so adorable for me and my friends.

The movie was paced just right to make the seeds planted in the first hour bear fruit in the second hour.  It was funny and poignant, touching very common topics such as love, death, and life with freshness and restraint.  The delights which she unwrapped one by one were not borne out by her backsliding into a hedonistic lifestyle; they simply were treats she finally allowed herself to indulge in out of an appreciation of who she really was as a person.  The meals, treatments, outfits, sports, and jewels were things she relished, slowly, with her eyes closed and her lips curled up in a satisfied smile.  She was surrounded with a good mix of characters, all perfectly-cast with talented actors, from the hotel crew who adored her sincerity to the elite guests who clamored for her company.

I felt God’s love for Georgia Byrd, and it reminded me of His love for each of us.  When she was tearfully questioning Him on why He let her suffer, I asked with her.  Why God, why me?  I did what you asked, I was a good girl.  When she could not believe all the blessings that were surrounding her, she looked up, shook her head and smiled.  She did not believe in luck but knew Somebody was watching over her.

I cannot reveal the ending without spoiling the movie experience for you.  It is a highly recommended movie especially for sisters.  One of us is out there, and her name is Georgia.  She’s obedient, prudent, and patient, yes, but she also has longings, dreams, and desires that you and I know cause real pain.  

It’s a film that would make you laugh, cry, and think of turning “possibilities” into “realities”, by God’s grace, which was what the entire film was about.  The “secret of life” is in the film too, and I think my father would have to agree:  it is not the prison (or did the good chef say “box”?) of extra-virgin olive oil; for the secret of life is butter!  It was not spelled out, but I agree.  It stands for flavor.

Georgia counted the things she would have done more given another chance at life:  she said she wanted to laugh more and to love more.  Mercy, Gay, Arlene, Mirac and I took note.  Now, if each of us would just take out our secret journals of possibilities and shared them, perhaps they could become realities as well!  

To laugh, and to love, and to laugh again… maybe the film is not very realistic, but that is how I like my movies sometimes.  They have to paint hope and joy in bold strokes so I could bring them home with me.

Now Showing: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
22 December 2005
Phoenix, Arizona

I love Lucy. I'm not referring to the TV series, although I saw a tribute to the late Lucille Ball in Universal Studios a couple of weeks ago. I love Lucy Pevensie, played by adorable little actress Georgie Henley. She could make anyone believe in the existence of Santa Claus, the goodness of Aslan, and the presence of Narnia. 
I read the book "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis when I was very young and then watched the musical presented by Filipino theater company Trumpets when I was in law school. Afterwards, my Ate gifted me with a book containing the entire Chronicles of Narnia and I read the other six volumes in the series. I was then one of the millions waiting for the lion, the witch, and the famous wardrobe to hit the big screen.
The Chronicles of Narnia, brought to the screen by the certified feel-good masters of Disney, slowly unwrapped like a package of Turkish Delight. It erased the dark memory of King Long from my family's imagination (see previous post for my comments on the King Kong remake). 
This movie made fantasy a happy reality for us. The special effects made sense and were essential to the story and were, in fact, flawless. The actors - played by four children, a witch, and a lion - were perfectly cast. Lucy's innocence and kind-heartedness captured the audience and reminded us all that there was no winter too cold that Aslan could not thaw into spring.

Christmas is the best time to watch this film. For unto us a child was born, but he died in our place, like what Aslan did for Edmund. And then He rose again, putting our fears to rest and bringing our hopes into reality. The priest at mass yesterday said that we should look at Christmas from the point of view of the Resurrection so that we could see the whole picture. This film's theme does exactly that, for it's not just about the adventures of four children who had to face their own war, but it introduces us to the world of Narnia, where Aslan reigns and brings life, one that may be lived to the fullest.

In Narnia, love does not kill, but it brings life - to trees, rivers, humans, fauns, and beavers alike. Humans rule as stewards of Narnia, waiting for Aslan's return. It is a story of hope and a story of faith as well.

I am looking forward to the next Narnia movie, but until that time comes, I have enough good memories to live by, for I believe in Narnia, and I wait with the Pevensie children for the coming of Aslan.

22 December 2005
Phoenix, Arizona

Critics are raving about Peter Jackson's remake of the movie King Kong. My family and I beg to disagree. We came up with other titles for the movie:

"So Long, King Kong: What's taking you so long?"
"The Long Kong"
"Making the King Kong Too Long"

We went last Sunday night to the movies not because we wanted to see the huge gorilla but because it was Peter Jackson who directed it. Like the rest of the world, we wanted to see this genius' take on a monstrous story and be swept in the fantastic world of movie magic. After all, we saw some of the movie sets they used during our recent visit to Universal Studios in Hollywood.

Peter Jackson flexed his directing muscles all right, but clearly he was entertaining himself and not his audience. On the way home from the three-hour long hodgepodge of drama, action and comedy rolled into one, my sister, her bf, and my mom felt cheated of three hours of our lives.

Maybe Peter Jackson thought he was making another trilogy:

Part One: How the Blonde Girl Won a Role in an Imaginary Movie
Part Two: The Island and the Overkill of Monsters
Part Three: King Kong: Lost in New York

If George Lucas could use a scriptwriter, in my book Peter Jackson needs an editor, one who is more considerate of his audience's time. It took him an hour to get to the island and introduce the hero of the film and another hour to end the movie. Waiting for the film to end was like waiting for the dentist to finish your root canal. It was painful, yet you had to sit through everything to endure it.

I am an ice skating fan but there is nothing cute about King Kong sliding through ice while the residents of New York city were having the scare of their lives. I have no problem with temporary suspension of disbelief but this time, director Peter Jackson went too far. There were too many closeups on the beautiful, skinny heroine and too many bugs and too many monsters. Director Peter Jackson tried to communicate several themes at the same time - a satire on Hollywood, a tribute to great movies, a remake that seeks to improve on the original, a love story, and countless other sub-themes. One could see Moulin Rouge, Jurassic Park, Chicago and other films woven into this one's storyline.

My family and I would have appreciated the film had it been separated into three separate movies, one hour each.

Don't take my word for it, though, go watch the movie, but do it only when you don't have work the next day, otherwise you won't have the time to spare for this.

I am a fan of Peter Jackson's LOTR trilogy. Maybe he did this film thinking of the pressure fans like me placed on his shoulders to come up with something half as good as the three classics he already accomplished.

You tried too hard, Mr. Jackson. I would have been satisfied with the love story angle alone (but that's just me!). Other people would have survived on the gore factor. Still, others would have been entertained enough with the vaudeville act.

You can't please all of us at the same time. We would appreciate your work more if you had kept your focus.a

Now Showing:  Shall We Dance?
February 9, 2005

I wanted to watch "A Very Long Engagement" tonight but it was no longer showing at SM Fairview. My mother and I decided to watch "Shall We Dance?" instead. As we came out of the movie house less than two hours later, we compared notes and agreed that we were both happily entertained by the film.

Out with the minuses first. The movie is not as evenly-paced as I want my last-full-shows to be. It started on a rather flat note, with Richard Gere's character narrating in a monotone and making me think like I could predict the movie's ending two minutes after the opening credits. Eventually, however, it was able to catch my full attention. I just wanted to ignore a scene that was a cross between a Broadway musical and a Disney cartoon.

A movie about a workaholic lawyer who wanted to search for his passion would eventually make me sit up straight anyway. I also love dance sequences on film. There is something about dancers on the silver screen that sends me dreaming. I must have watched "Strictly Ballroom" a thousand times with my sister Mel when we were younger. Anytime we felt bored, we put the tape in the VCR and watched the movie while saying all the characters' lines. We clapped so hard everytime the pasa doble scene came. We discovered Baz Luhrmann even before he did "Romeo and Juliet" with Leonardo! As long as there is dancing in a movie, I would consider watching it. I have always learned profound lessons in life from "dance films".

Shall We Dance is a must-see for married couples. It's largely about the choices that people make when their successful lives get routinary. John Clark (played by Gere) had a charming family and a successful career, yet it was only when he took up dancing that he found himself. I honor his character for the choice that he made in the end, which should serve as an example to all married men. Wives could encourage their husbands to watch the film by using Jennifer Lopez as a must-see. I wond how she could afford her designer outfits and flawless makeup with an assistant dance instructor's salary, but apparently we should overlook those details because this movie is making a larger-than-life picture of passions and dreams. A beautiful woman is part of every man's dream, I would reckon. The film may have J. Lo's best assets to boast about, but Susan Sarandon's performance as the perfect wife who did not know what hit her marriage gets my two thumbs up.  Best supporting nods go to the detective and his wise assistant! Actually the more I think about it, the more I realize how fond I now am of each character in the film. They remind me of all my classmates in the dance school that is life.

They don't make dance studios like that anymore. At least not on my part of the globe. It was only in law school and Lingkod that I learned to dance confidently. Although it is not my ultimate passion (it is some other lawyer's, one who's very close to me), dancing, like Paris, is always a good idea for me.

Maybe, like Richard Gere's character, I should let Jennifer Lopez' figure inspire me to take up dancing more seriously. It sure broke the monotony of his life as a lawyer. In a Hollywood moment, he held a red rose in his hand and declared, "A dance needs a partner. And my partner is here." I think my mom's tear fell during that scene.

Passion can be tempered, as the movie taught us. It can be channeled to a more productive endeavor. Shall I dance then? I ask myself. Given the right studio, teacher, and of course, partner, why not?

07 January 2002


Do you feel like a king who refuses to take his throne because of fear of the evil and weakness that he suspects run in his blood?

Do you feel like a hobbit, small and unknown, on whom a great task is assigned and who wishes his prayers for adventures away from his happy hometown were never answered?

Do you feel like a wizard, old and wise, who feels alone, burdened and betrayed, yet who has to fulfill his part in protecting the races from the evil that threatens to destroy the world?

Have you ever doubted if you were any match for the challenges set before you, unsure whether you have it in you to conquer boldly your enemies who are closing in on you?

If there ever was a movie to rebuild your self-confidence, if there ever was a movie to make you believe in your own potential for greatness, that movie has got to be "The Fellowship of the Ring". It is sure to stir the adventurer in you: the fighter, the winner, the dreamer and the believer. As JRR Tolkien's characters come to life in this movie, you cannot help but be swept away by the bravery and loyalty they displayed amidst the darkness and chaos surrounding them. You cannot help but imagine yourself as part of that exclusive fellowship, proud to represent your race and to fight side by side with the anointed heroes of all the other races that inhabit Middle Earth.

Sometimes in life our fears overwhelm as and hinder us from taking any further steps. We resist greatness because we are afraid of failure and of its corollary pain. We deny our destiny, as determined by the blood that runs through our veins, because of fear. We refuse to accept what is offered to us and even go to the extent of wishing we have never come across them because of the responsibilities attached. Thus, we miss out on life. We forego our dreams. We live in mediocrity. We lead a comfortable life, probably, but one that is bereft of the glory that could have been ours had we been more willing to play our roles with passion. This was where I was
coming from when I saw the movie last weekend.

The wizard Gandalf, left with no choice, entrusted into Frodo Baggin's safekeeping the one ring that could destroy mankind. Frodo trusted Gandalf and met the challenge head on, pushing his fears aside, fighting the tempting offers that the ring whispers everyday. But Gandalf did not leave Frodo alone. In fact, he took a mean wizard-level beating because he stood up against evil to protect what is good. As if being hurled against mighty bolted doors was not enough, Gandalf had to die in the hands of an ancient enemy, to protect Frodo and the rest of the fellowship of the ring. Gandalf asked Frodo to follow him, yet he watched Frodo's back, and yes, died for
him. Now this story seems to be very familiar, especially to us Christians. Mr. Gandalf does not seem to have made original decisions then, because one Man already asked us to follow Him, to be different, and to stand up for righteousness. This Man did not leave us alone in our quest, either. He even went before us, faced the dangers for us, took the beatings for us, and died to save us all.

With Gandalf gone, Frodo feels alone but continues to pursue the mission that Gandalf asked him to do. Now I will let you in on a common secret, and that is, that Gandalf has not really left Frodo entirely. He may be physically absent, but he will be with Frodo as he fulfills his mission,
every step of the way. Because he will finish what he has begun in the little unsuspecting hobbit's life.

I entered the moviehouse last Sunday struggling with some life-direction decisions. I knew God was inviting me to give more and to leave my comfort zone for him but I had grown accustomed to my little world that any thought of pain, failure and suffering led me to shut out God's voice. Our relentless God spoke to me through the movie, then, and showed me what I refused to see. That He wouldn't ask me to do something that I could not do, despite my size, limitations and weaknesses. That He would never leave me alone. That He has set me apart for a specific plan He has in mind. And that there is glory in boldly pursuing His will in my life, beyond what my
eyes can see, beyond my imagination.

When I was a teenage reader of the Tolkien trilogy, the books mainly made me imagine how Legolas and Aragorn looked like, but did not really have a spiritual dimension for me. Today, I did gawk at swift-footed, sharp-shooting Legolas. I did swoon over brave and noble Aragorn. More importantly, however, I started to listen to God's call for warriors to fight the good fight of faith again. I began to believe again in God's love, in God's promise. I began to believe I could do more through my mission again. I left the moviehouse feeling like I could do anything, by God's grace. And that's a feeling I would recommend for all of you, brothers and sisters. Go ahead and watch that movie. I might even go with you to watch it again, for another dose of magical inspiration.

For all my movie reviews so far, please go to this Movie Reviews.  Read what I had to say about "As Good as It Gets," "Bruce Almighty," "The Pursuit of Happiness," "Close to You," "Love Actually," "Star Wars: Episode III," "The Notebook," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," and so much more. 

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