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Films? Fr. Jonathan’s Fave Five!

With all this time indoors, there’s time… to watch movies!

Here are 5 movies that I’ve watched more times than I can count.

Rocky

I love Rocky because it’s not a boxing movie, though the boxing is pretty great. Instead, Rocky is about a man's discovery of what it takes to be “whole” in his own eyes.

For much of the movie, Rocky is passionless. He doesn’t have drive to succeed, to fight, or to win mainly because he doesn’t believe he can do any of those things. His trainer Mickey knows it. His girlfriend Adrian knows it. He knows it. He knows he can’t win at anything, so why even bother trying. He hasn’t tried in years, perhaps his whole life. So why try now?

But that same thought nags Rocky. What if he really tried? What if he tried to face Apollo as a man? A whole man. What if he stood toe to toe with the best in the world and took his shot? Not his shot to win but his shot to be whole.

My favorite scene is when he confesses to Adrian that he doesn’t think he can win, but that he’s okay with it. He just wants to take Apollo’s best and stay standing.

And, at the end of the movie, I cry almost every time. Why? Because I love seeing people face their fear and become whole through the crucible. It’s beautiful.

Crimson Tide

This is probably only a “classic” to me but I think this movie is outstanding. I love the basic premise: Two strong leaders grappling with the fate of the world on a submarine.

The moral dilemmas faced on the USS Alabama are as real world today as they were in the 1990s. Do we listen to our authorities or do we question them? If you question those in authority, how do you speak truth to power? Is “right” still “right” when it takes “wrong” to achieve it? (Think Machiavelli here.)

The choices we make on a daily basis rarely seem this steeped in drama, and yet it’s the underpinnings of our thoughts that led us in those times of crisis. Will your moral compass kick in when you need it most or will you do as you were trained and told? Are those two connected?

These are very significant questions that, if we’re honest, we might not like the answers to when we look inside ourselves.

At the end of the movie, I find myself wondering, which side would I have joined? Who would I have stood with and why? And, could I have lived with that decision?

Invincible

On the surface, this is a feel-good sports movie, e.g. aging athlete gives it one more try and gets his shot. However, like Rocky, it’s more than that.

The main character Vince isn’t sure who he is or why. He’s tried to be a stand-up guy (the movie is set in Philadelphia) and things haven’t gone his way. Some of it was his fault. Some of it wasn’t. But he has a choice: do I try or do I not try? (Obviously he tries or there wouldn’t be a movie!)

I also love the friends he has. They push him. They prod him. They make fun of him. Most of all, they love him and I love that about them.

But, with all that said, the best part of the movie is that it’s a true story. Unlike Rocky who could be an archetype for many men, Vince Papale is a real guy who really went after it. Sure, the movie takes some liberties, particularly in his love life, but overall, it’s a true story.

And at the end, when he points to his friends and girlfriend up in the cheap seats at an Eagles game, I get chills because none of us do this life alone. We’re in this together, even when we’re far apart.

Miracle

I was alive for the 1980 Olympic “miracle on ice” but I don’t remember it. But this movie brings it all back: USA/USSR hatred, gas shortages, glared jeans and feathered hair. Really, what else could you want from a movie?

The two guys who make the movie great for me are Herb Brooks and his assistant coach Craig Patrick. How they choose to lead the team of amateurs was beautiful to watch. The boys on the team were boys and that’s fun too, but Herb and Craig… genius.

I also love watching Herb wrestle with “winning” vs “obsession”. There’s a fine line there and I think the movie does a terrific job of showing Herb's swearing all over the road between the two.

Finally, Al Michael’s original call of the game at the end… magic. Pure magic. Of course, it’s all true. It’s all real. Which makes it that much more wonderful to me.

Groundhogs Day

This one is just silly fun as it attempts to answer the question: what would you do if you had the same day - forever?

Bill Murray is hilarious with his deadpan facial expressions, and I have many, many of his one-liners committed to memory. “What if I’m god? Not THE God, but a god?” or “Don’t worry ladies. I had the tire. I had the jack. I’ll just be a minute.” or “Don’t drive angry! Check your mirrors. Side of your eye. Side of your eye. You’re really doing well for a quadruped.” I’m grinning right now thinking about those scenes.

The humor is very good, but perhaps it’s the notion that we can get better and grow that makes this movie good for me. Or maybe it’s the idea of really getting good at something that you’d never otherwise have tried if not for the abundance of time. (sound familiar????). No matter what, there’s a lot to love in this movie. (Also, I confess, I have a crush on the female lead, Andie MacDowell. She’s so nice!)

I think you’ll love this movie, and, perhaps the best part is, as soon as you’re done, you can watch it again! Because it’s "GROUNDHOG DAY!!!”

Enjoy and let me know what you think.

Fr. Jonathan+


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