The Missing showcases a side of Ron Howard I never expected to see, and brings a wealth of stunning performance moments from an all-star cast in an epic adventure about family, race, and survivorship. Starring Cate Blanchett, Tommy Lee Jones, Evan Rachel Wood, Eric Schweig, Val Kilmer, Aaron Eckhart, and Jenna Boyd, the story follows the long journey home of a homesteading family in New Mexico after a renegade Apache brujo and his men attack in search of girls to sell in Mexico. Along the way, the white women of this family learn the hard way that their ignorance of Apache values and Apache claims to the land where they live cannot continue to go unchallenged.
My favorite scene in this movie is still the very first one, but I won’t give that away if you haven’t seen it yet. This poem, based on the 79th Psalm, is in Lilly’s voice (Evan Rachel Wood), ruminating in captivity about her odds of being rescued by white soldiers.
What has become of my mother? Strangers have fouled our ranch with monstrosities, nothing is sacred to these traffickers. Our homestead reeks of violation. the men of our household are carrion, unburied and impossible to mourn; their witch cooked Brake alive to feed wild crows. The land we called our own soaked up their blood through leaves and snow, as naturally as rain, and no one left behind to dig their graves. Before we were the butt of townsfolks’ jokes, but what we’ve been reduced to – I’ve no words. How can this have happened to me? How long will my life be dragged through the mud, how long? Why don’t these catastrophes strike people more deserving of contempt, know-nothings, people with no curiosity, those who would’ve amounted to less? Are there not enough fools and laggards to surfeit their dens of iniquity? Am I to suffer for my father’s crime? surely the army will come for us, for without their help, we are done for. Someone is bound to attempt to save us, for we have been stolen from Christian homes, and no one dare blame us for going along, so long as we fight in our hearts for grace. These outlaws and drunks mock our hopes and prayers. But when cavalry troops come, they’ll turn tail, eager to outrun avenging lawmen. When the officers see us bound and gagged, they’ll be quick to cut our ropes and help us. They’ll show these shameless bottom-feeders scorn, and drive home their regard with bayonets. We here are all that remains of our homesteads. what we pray for is the barest minimum. In our mothers’ names we cry for revenge.
In Hollywood, the CIA is always the villain, even if the protagonist is a CIA agent, and Ridley Scott’s action adventure Body of Lies is no exception. Starring Russell Crowe as the cynical CIA careerist Ed Hoffman, Leonardo DiCaprio as the much-abused human intelligence specialist Roger Ferris, and Mark Strong as the skeptical Jordanian intelligence czar Hani, this cloak-and-dagger thriller is a bit dark for a popcorn movie, but for a dust-filter genre Middle East spy flick it does the job, without belittling the million+ deaths the U.S. war on terrorism has caused.
This poem, inspired by the 76th Psalm, is in Hoffman’s voice browbeating Ferris about priorities.
Uncle Sam is well known in Basra, in Baghdad he left his mark. In Jordan he knows his friends, in Gaza he has his narcs. There, in a shower of missile strikes, he laid waste Saddam’s war machine: vengeful light shows in electric green battered the backbone of industry. The palace guard were put to shame, retreating in a bitter daze, and unopposed, the air force bombed Iraq. The credit was the C.I.A.’s, for manufacturing consent. Langley has never been more feared, for who can outrun a drone? Satellites decide whose homes will be reduced to rubble, when Langley has a score to settle, defending freedom, as they say. Jihadists go to ground like rabbits knowing we will draw up kill lists. Make what promises you may, you’re with us; our allies are your friends because of aid. The wages of oil wealth are paid in blood. My Pentagon outranks your king’s right hand.
Though I’m not normally one for musicals, I thoroughly enjoyed Joel Schumacher’s adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s masterpiece, The Phantom of the Opera, starring Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum. I cringe at Gerard Butler’s signature move in shoot-em-up’s of shooting his adversaries dead when they’re already down, but this role won me over to his fandom. Emmy’s turn as Christine is angelic, and I would definitely go to see another musical adaptation if she were in it – fans should check out her YouTube channel for original music videos, including Christmas music!
This poem, inspired by the 75th Psalm, is in Madame Giry’s voice, an almost omniscient narrator of the story of the cursed Parisian opera house and its melodramatic demise.
We sing for you, the Phantom – we take heed, and know your voice, who summoned us, comes near. The people are enthralled, and doubt you not. “The point of no return is now at hand, and I shall cast the lots – who lives, who dies. This Opera house would fade from memory, if I had not raised up its brightest star. I warned the circus dancers, brutes and clowns, and their inflated diva, not to sing. Seek not to rob my prottégé of rank. Your blithe disdain for art does not daunt me. For nowhere else will you obtain the means to move the soul – my music is the key. The Phantom you abhor will have his due, for only he can make or mar on cue. At his fingertips the music sheaves, mute with possibility – his dreams. He will break his silence, and in song, unwind his fell designs for the pompous throng, and all will come to ruin at one blow.” And I, though I keep faith, will always know whose music moved the firmament that night. “And all the fools who hunted me recoiled. Christine alone held fast, and met my eyes.”