1140 Cowper St Palo Alto CA 94301 Sundays at 8:30am and 10:30am


Faith Issues in Film Group


Our group meets at 7:15 p.m. on the 3rd Tuesday eight months a year. Before each meeting, people view the film (possibly getting a copy from Netflix, the library, or watching with other film group members), and then we meet at a member’s home to discuss the film; it’s very much like a book club in those aspects. Our meeting includes an introductory worship portion and a time for sharing and prayers. Please feel free to join us, if you’ve been able to watch the film. For more information, please contact Ellen Forbes, Jeff Grinnell, or Shirley Eglington. The church office can provide you with their contact information.

NOTE: For reviews of films we’ve watched in previous seasons, click here.

2018-2019 Faith Issues in Film meetings:

Sep 18 – Loving Vincent
Oct  17 – Frozen River
Nov 20 – Coco
Jan 15 – A Matter of Size
Feb 19 – The Big Sick
Mar 19 – Lady Bird
Apr 16 – My Afternoons with Margueritte
May 15 – The Shape of Water

Loving Vincent (2017)
By Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman

Moira Macdonald, Settle Times arts critic, writes, “You have, I am certain, never seen anything quite like “Loving Vincent,” which is being promoted as the world’s first entirely hand-painted movie. It’s an animated film, but that descriptor isn’t quite accurate: To tell this story about a mystery surrounding the 1890 death of artist Vincent Van Gogh, filmmakers Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman assembled a cast, found period-appropriate costumes and sets, and shot the film. Then the real work began: Every frame — more than 65,000 of them — was hand-painted over in oil paint in the style of Van Gogh, by a team of more than 100 artists.”

 

Frozen River (2008)
Written and directed by Courtney Hunt
Stars Melissa Leo and Misty Upham
Rated R, 2008, Drama/Suspense, Running time: 1 hour 37 min

“Frozen River,” a debut film by Courtney Hunt, never stumbles  It resists all temptations to turn this plot into some kind of a thriller and keeps it grounded on the struggle for economic survival by two mothers who live without male support. They both live in shabby house trailers on the U. S.-Quebec border in Mohawk territory.

I loved this film about two blue-collar women who do not bond in traditional ways because they are too busy trying to survive.

The winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2008, “Frozen River” is one of those rare independent films that knows precisely what it intends, and what the meaning of the story is. Hollywood was caught off-balance by two nominations – for best original screenplay and best actress.

 

Coco (2017)
Directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina
Stars Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt
Animated by Disney/Pixar

Coco is an engaging and touching quest narrative, with some great visual spectacles and sweet musical numbers. Coco has lots to say about family and memory and mortality and how we think about the big adventure waiting for us all. For a film set largely in the Land of the Dead, it is very life-affirming.

One of our group wrote: “Coco is based on the Mexican holiday of Day of the Dead, with an all Latino cast. The delightful story follows a 12-year-old boy, Miguel, who is transported to the land of the dead where he seeks help from his great great grandmother. This story has elicited more of my respect for the Mexican culture.  My granddaughter who is half Mexican has been asking to see photos and journals of my ancestors as a result of watching this movie with me.”

 

A Matter of Size (2009) 
Directed by Erez Tadmor Sharon Maymon
Stars Itzik Cohen, Dvir Benedek, Alon Dahan, and Togo Igawa
Subtitles

This Israeli movie is about some overweight Israeli men who are frustrated in their efforts to gain approval by losing weight but find fulfillment as sumo wrestlers.

Led by Japan native Kitano, the fat men discover that there are places in the world where oversized waistlines are appreciated. The film is full of nuance, adding flavor and universality to the development of the characters. You learn to love and understand the men as they gain insights into their own issues. The movie manages to capture all the pathos and challenge of life in a way that is loving, light, and humorous – not because we laugh at the characters but because we see ourselves and our own humanity in them.

A Matter of Size is a wonderfully sweet little movie about self love and acceptance.

 

The Big Sick (2017)
Directed by Michael Showalter
Stars Kumail Nanijani, Emily V. Gordon, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano

Based on the real-life courtship between Nanjiani and Gordon, The Big Sick tells the story of a Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail, who connects with grad student Emily after one of his standup sets. What they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, which complicates the life that is expected of Kumail by his traditional Muslim parents. When Emily is beset with a mystery illness, it forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents, Beth and Terry, who he’s never met, while dealing with the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart.

 

Lady Bird (2017)
Directed by Greta Gerwig
Stars Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts

Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson fights against but is exactly like her wildly loving, deeply opinionated and strong-willed mom, a nurse working tirelessly to keep her family afloat after Lady Bird’s father loses his job. Set in Sacramento, California in 2002, amidst a rapidly shifting American economic landscape, Lady Bird is an affecting look at the relationships that shape us, the beliefs that define us, and the unmatched beauty of a place called home. As critic Richard Roeper writes, “It’s unique and original and fresh and wonderful…”

 

 

My Afternoons with Margueritte (2012)
Directed by Jean Becker
Starring Gerard Depardieu and Gisele Casadesus

In a small French town, Germain, a nearly illiterate man in his 50s who is considered the village idiot, takes a walk to the park and happens to sit beside Margueritte, a little old lady who is reading excerpts from her novel aloud. She’s articulate, highly intelligent and frail. Germain is lured by Margueritte’s passion for life and the magic of literature from which he has always felt excluded. As Margueritte broadens his mind via reading excerpts from her novel, Germain realizes that he is more of an intellectual than he has ever allowed himself to be. Afternoons spent reading aloud on their favorite bench transform their lives and start them both on a new journey: to literacy and respect for Germain and to the deepest friendship for Margueritte. The New York Times: excellent…a pleasure to watch. The Huffington Post: a movie of heart, soul and love. Boston Globe: It’s determined to look on the bright side. The film isn’t about the actor’s intelligence. It’s about his emotional radiance.

 

The Shape of Water (2017)
Directed by Guillermo del Toro,
Won Best Picture at the Academy Awards

Change comes into the life of an isolated mute woman’s life when she seeks to bring justice to an aquatic creature trapped in a laboratory by a hostile high security government agent. A bond develops between them. This film is a good mix of humor, drama, and intrigue. The characters are very real.