Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Story

O belly up to the bar my son
And I'll tell you a tale of wars unwon,
Of battles unfought, of heroes unsung,
And peace unshaken, and hatred undone,

Where peace is a warcry, where love is a blade,
Where refusal of violence sways the unswayed,
where compliance is force and theft is a gift,
where vengeance is taking yet one more fist.

My story's an old one, my story is new
My story is earth and it's rain and it's dew
It's Jesus alive and it's Jesus who died
It's Jesus who stamps out self-righteousness, pride
It's Jesus who lifts up the humble, the weak,
It's Jesus' embraces for all those who seek.

It's barriers broken and swords melted down,
It's weeping with those who would see you cast down,
It's being a brother and sister to all
It's selling possessions and chasing a call

O son, tell the story to all who have ears;
The story's been growing for two thousand years
And it will keep growing, son, if you take ahold
of it and live it, like the endlessly bold
Saints who've walked out the story through time,
Who've sung out its lyrics, who've marched to its rhyme.

Oh let the story roll on like a song;
Let it rasp out of throats, let it clash like a gong,
Let it swell like an ocean and sway like a tree,
Let it stand like a beacon and draw all who see.

Son, make it a mission, the story I tell:
Make it your orchard, and make it your well,
Where you eat when you're hungry and drink when you're dry.
Make love your blade, and peace your warcry.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


I've come to the conclusion in recent years that there's no one snobbier than film reviewers. They seem to have as an agenda converting audiences into cynics and naysayers.

Evidenced by the horrible reviews of Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed, and as the second big release written by Zach Helm (the other being Stranger than Fiction), solidified the screenwriter is his position on my internal List of People in Hollywood Whose Careers I Follow Faithfully on IMDB.

The movie stars the always-lovely Natalie Portman and the always-quirky Dustin Hoffman as Mr. Magorium, 200+ year old toystore owner and inventor extraordinaire. The story is about Magorium's willing demise: he's decided he's lived a long enough life, and is now turning the store over to his young, self-doubting assistant, Molly Mahoney(Portman). The movie deals with Mahoney's acceptance of her beloved employer's mortality, and her own decision to believe in the power she had over her own destiny.

I'm a huge fan of movies that operate on a level where any age group can enjoy it. I enjoyed this movie mainly because of the themes - and great performances from Hoffman, Portman, and Jason Bateman - an actor who is quickly becoming one of my favorites - as the "counting mutant," or accountant, that Magorium hires to put his books in order before he dies. Kids will love the magical store that recalls Wonka's Chocolate Factory in some ways, while adults can relate to the situation of coming to grips that someone you care about is no longer going to be with you. The movie handles this issue in a way that's both weighty enough for the elders, yet still not too heavy for kids. I think it was brilliant of Helm to put such grave (no pun intended; I really tried to think of a different word) themes into such a light-hearted and whimsical environment. I think this softens in some respects the gravity of the issue, while at the same time making it more prominent. How can death enter into such a playful setting?

While the movie's not, ultimately, as good as Stranger than Fiction, it's still a movie much worth seeing, and one that could prompt a lot of discussion with kids about the subject of loss and death.

To return to my comment about reviewers. I want to shake people who tear apart a fun-yet-substantive movie like this. I went on to see what reviewers were saying, and was surprised by the vitriol poured on what I thought was a high-quality film. These are the same people who shred Shyamalan for every movie he makes not being Sixth Sense. They don't seem to get it. They need to learn to watch a movie how it was intended to be watched, and enjoy it how it was intended to be enjoyed. Not every movie will or should be avant-garde or edgy.

One last note: According to IMDB, Zach Helm is working on another film due to come out in 2010 about a man who begins receiving postcards from God. I can't wait.