Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Another call for Redeemerites to give my mother juicy quotes for her magazine. What did Redeemer University mean to you? How has it shaped your thought? How has it shaped you as a Christian?

Friday, July 20, 2007

This past Monday, Laurianne and I headed down to the Bytowne theatre to see Paul Verhoeven's Black Book (not to be confused with Little Black Book, a horrendous romantic comedy.) Paul Verhoeven is a director whose American portfolio includes such films as Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers, Robocop, Total Recall, and the truly horrible Showgirls. None of these films are particularly good, and all seem to share a common theme of excessive violence, excessive sex, or a combination of both.

I was astonished to learn that Verhoeven has directed two movies that are considered the greatest Dutch films of the twentieth century: Soldier of Orange, and Turkish Delight. While the plot synopsis of Turkish Delight does not appeal to me, Soldier of Orange, the story of students involved in the Dutch resistance, does. I hope to see that movie some day.

Black Book was of particular interest to me because it deals with the Dutch Resistance during World War II. Being of Dutch extraction, and being a student of history, I was excited about seeing this movie. My excitement was tempered by a certain anxiousness. What would Verhoeven do? Would there be any resemblance of actual historical events, or would it be an excuse for bloody shoot-outs and mindless sex?

In the end, I was neither satisfied nor disappointed. The movie begins with the words "based on actual events" which, in the film world, is code for "we dressed everybody old-fashioned and then made up a story." The movie does a fine job in recreating the war-time Netherlands (I think), but the fictional characters do not correspond to any Dutch reality. The film is poignant at times, while at other times it is so over the top it borders on ridiculous. There is a lot of violence, which is to be expected in a movie dealing with a clash between the resistance and the Nazis. There is also a lot of nudity, which is, for the most part, completely unnecessary.

Carrice Van Houten plays Rachel Stein, a Jewish woman in hiding. Circumstances force her out of hiding and into the resistance. Further events lead her to befriend the German SD officer, Ludwig Müntze whom she initially uses for information but later falls in love with. I had a difficult time with the idea that a Dutch Jew could have possibly fallen for any Nazi, no matter how sympathetic, during this dark period of history. I could not build up any positive feeling towards Müntze, a man who presumably would have served Nazism to the end if it had been successful. The film follows Rachel Stein's trials and tribulations right through to the liberation of the Netherlands.

Despite the problems I had with this movie, I still consider it to be well-done. While it often seemed forced to me, it packs an emotional punch. The dark underbelly of the resistance is shown in all of its ugly glory. Van Houten's performance is superb, the story is intense, and many of the characters are intriguing. Verhoeven's often heavy hand succeeds in sculpting a work of merit.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Great Redeemer Post

My mother is writing an article for the Beacon (?). She asked me to create a post asking my friends for their thoughts on how Redeemer shaped them as a person. So, if any of my fellow Redeemerites out there could take the time to share their thoughts and possibly gain immortality by having their name printed in a newsletter, my mother would be most grateful.
For myself, I feel that Redeemer allowed me to embrace my love for this world without being ashamed. We do not stand with our heads in the clouds, but with our feet firmly planted on the earth, wrestling with current ideas and trends, caring for the planet, and always seeking the truth. I would speak on this further, but I need to eat. Thus, I leave the pith of Redeemer to the rest of you . . . Please. Your time is appreciated.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Song of the Moment: Hurt - Johnny Cash

A cover of a NIN song about drug abuse transformed into a lament for a lost loved one. A very effective video.

On the Bus

Recently, due to certain ailments in our automobile, we have been forced to take the public transportation system. Often when I tell people that this is what I do, they give me their sympathy. To be honest, however, I rather like taking the bus. No longer do I have the frustration of getting across the Ottawa River, of Ottawa's often inexplicable traffic jams, or of getting stuck behind a bus. Now I'm stuck in the bus. All I have to do is walk to my stop, get on the bus, and sit. I have been getting a lot of reading done, which gives me a certain sense of accomplishment.

There is an advertisement for the OC Transpo that I have seen a lot of lately. Above a statement urging people to use the public transporation system in order to meet new people is a picture of an elderly gentleman in a suit and a young woman with an outrageously large and colourful hair-do. Both of them are smiling, but I am left contemplating whether the elderly gentleman wouldn't be reconsidering the time he spent liberating Europe. "Man," he should be saying, "I took shrapnel in my leg so that you could make your head look like a peacock's derriere?"

I cannot say that I have actually met any new people on the bus, but I certainly have seen some interesting ones. One sullen young woman slumped in with repeated thuds. I looked up from my book on the Third Crusade to see a woman with her red hair hanging listlessly over her face. She had green jogging pants, a blue shirt, and a large walking stick with a shrunken skull peering at me from its apex. I really felt that she should have had a leather jacket and maybe a tattoo instead of what I thought were butterflies on her shirt. I also witnessed two bearded gentlemen dressed similarly in bright pastel pink and green tennis suits, the bottom half of which was absurdly short. One of them had flowers in his hair. I didn't bother taking the opportunity to get to know them.

Who deh?