Movie Roundup: Lots to Contemplate

After a month of not seeing one movie in the theater, it’s been a bonanza two-movie week. Last Tuesday night (our local Regal Theater hosts 1/2 price movies on Tuesdays) my brother and I saw “First Man” about Neil Armstrong’s journey to the moon, then on Monday I zoomed down to Newport News (our nearest big city) to see “Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer.”

Two different yet sobering movies that offered lots to contemplate.

As NASA groupies, my brother and I plotted months ago to see “First Man” after watching the preview. It wasn’t quite what I expected – definitely not a get-up-and-cheer NASA movie like one of my favorites “Hidden Figures.” Instead, it’s a sobering snapshot of the cost of getting to the moon: in lives, determination, dedication, sacrifice(s), plus the psychological and physical tolls on astronauts and their families.

Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong has come a long way since “The Proposal” with Sandra Bullock. (Although he was hilarious in that and I’m a huge Sandra Bullock groupie.) Both he and Claire Foy, who plays Neil’s wife Janet, deliver moving performances of emotional depth.

“But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? …We choose to go to the Moon! We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.”   President John F. Kennedy

Awhile back I heard Ellen Stofan as NASA’s Chief Scientist give a talk to alumni at The College of William & Mary (where I went to graduate school.) She said that NASA’s extraordinary achievement reaching the moon in the 1960s motivated a host of innovators who subsequently made advancements across multiple medical and technological fields. (It’s humbling to note that the small chips in our cellphones now hold more computing power than those early NASA rockets.)

As was then – the sacrifices Neil Armstrong, his wife and family made plus those of fellow astronauts to reach the moon – so, too, now the going may be hard facing the seemingly insurmountable challenges in our country and world today.

My movie takeaway: In doing great things there is sacrifice. What are we personally willing to sacrifice to achieve our goals individually and collectively?

Now I must say I’m not usually one to watch FBI thriller movies about serial killers. Last week after reading Caralyn’s blog post about it over at BeautyBeyondBones, the fact that most media blocked this movie got my dander up.

I’m ornery that way, so went to see it (despite misgivings about the potential gore factor.)

Just like during the case and trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell who was convicted of multiple murders in 2013, no one wants to deal with (or talk about) the fact that he was an abortion doctor. Thus what he did went on unabated until an FBI drug raid on his clinic revealed – well, go see the movie to find out.

This movie could have been so gory. It’s not. After reading Kathy Reich’s Temperance Brennan books and watching Bones, this movie is like a mild Bones episode. (Must say a few Bones episodes were a bit too much for me!)

I do have views on abortion that I’ve written about previously (click here to read them) but I also have friends and colleagues who have differing views.

I respect them and their views.

But one challenge this movie highlights is what happens when no one speaks up – when rigidly held views cover up crimes?

This movie is about truth – difficult truths – and how we face them.

It’s also about courage. Joanne Pescatore, the Assistant D.A. who prosecuted the case, was pro-choice but could not deny the facts as more was revealed. An investigative blogger Molly (a composite character based on one journalist and one blogger who covered the trial when no one else did) courageously tweets and shames the media into eventually paying attention to the trial.

Even with piles of evidence, the trial would have been lost if not for the courage of a young staff member from Dr. Gosnell’s clinic.

Who took a picture.

A difficult truth.

If you have a chance, go see this movie. It’s actually a well done film with good actors stretching a small budget (as big Hollywood movies go) mostly focused on the trial (using actual transcripts.) Think Law & Order on a big screen.

Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer

Making a beeline to the restroom after the movie (my Mama always said, “tea in, tea out”) I saw another lady doing the same.

I said, “I don’t think I want to see that photograph.” (As the credits rolled, there was a website address listed to view it.)

She replied, “I think everyone should see it.”

That challenged me, Bones gory-index notwithstanding, how many things do we look away from. Avoid?

Not just this issue, but any issue that might rock the boat of our comfortable securities and views? That might make us think for a minute (or two) differently?

Life is a gift to be treasured in equal measure – the lives of every one of us, of every color, orientation, gender, status, age, religion, wealth, of refugees, immigrants, children in cages at our border, the abused, and those killed brutally around the world.

Life is a gift.

Back to Virginia’s movie roundup. Two movies with different yet similar messages relevant for today: the daily sacrificial cost and challenges of achievement, the need for compassionate courage, and how we face difficult truths (especially when they conflict with our views.)

grace, peace & inspirational movies


“I guess we all like to be recognized not for one piece of fireworks but for the ledger of our daily work.”  Neil Armstrong

p.s. It took two days but I finally looked up the photograph, thanks to the lady in the Newport News theater for challenging me. It is horrifying (& I have viewed some relatively tough stuff, including mass graves in Kosovo.) A very difficult truth.

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