Tag Archives: family

The Intern – Movie review

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The Intern” could have been a great movie.

Obligatory spoiler alert here.

Ben is the grandfather you never had. He is in his 70s but you would never know it because he is physically fit and his mental faculties are as sharp as ever. He has led a long successful life and is apparently doing well enough financially to afford a nice house in a nice NY neighborhood and wear tailored suits every day. Ben loves learning and doing new things. Ben even learned to speak Chinese. Why? Who cares! Ben is obviously the picture of competence and professional accomplishment.

One day Ben come across an ad (in a printed newspaper) for a “senior intern”. A company has had the brilliant idea to hire elderly people as interns. Why? We are never told. Some sort of charity I suppose. Or perhaps it’s because seniors are always getting into trouble and therefore need something to do with their spare time. Either way Ben responds to the ad and gets “hired” because who could be more awesome than our hero?

But wait. Shortly after Ben is hired we discover that his heroics pale in comparison to the woman he will be assigned to for the duration of the film.

This is where we meet Jules. Jules is the founder and owner of an ultra-successful internet startup. This startup specializes in making sure that the clothing you order on its site will fit you when it arrives. Jules is a cross between Jeff Bezos and  Steve Jobs. Jules can do it all. And Jules has no need for Ben.

For some reason Ben is assigned to “help” Jules anyway and a significant portion of the movie is spent showing Ben idling in the office waiting for Jules to need him. During this wait Ben decides to help the other male interns get their acts together. Ben helps one intern fix a relationship that he broke some time ago (by accidentally sleeping with the the girl’s roommate). Ben helps another intern with general life skills like how to tuck in his shirt and wear a tie. Ben even helps Jules’s assistant, who has a masters in business degree from Princeton, get noticed by our superstar Jules.

Finally the day comes where Ben is needed by Jules. The near flawless Jules has spilled something on her coat. No doubt the fault for this mishap lays with the dish she was eating or the person who prepared it because one thing is already clear in this movie, Jules never does anything wrong on her own.

Ben goes to retrieve the garment to take it by the dry cleaners and discovers that Jules is still wearing it. When Ben goes to retrieve it from her he overhears a meeting where Jules is being maneuvered by her board to look for a CEO to give her some “adult supervision”.

This is the major conflict that the movie revolves around. Who will Jen choose as a mentor/boss?

A minor conflict arises at this point because remember Jules doesn’t need Ben. The script writers needed to figure out how to get Ben close enough to Jules to provide her with some of the great advice he’s already doling out to the other interns. This is solved by Ben casually looking out of the window and seeing Jules’s driver drinking from a flask in his jacket. Ben confronts the driver and allows him to gracefully exit the scene while Ben assumes the duty of driving Miss Daisy, err Jules.

This is where we learn about Jules’s life away from work. Just kidding. Jules’s personal and professional lives overlap so much that Ben basically becomes the Alfred to her Batman from this point on.

The movie reaches its climax when Jules decides that she doesn’t need a CEO to provide her with adult supervision at all. What she really needs to do is to simply lean in a little more.

Along the way we learn that Jules’s husband, who just comes out of left field in the movie, is cheating on her because he is just not strong enough to be a good house husband, excuse me stay at home father. We also learn that Jules has a strained relationship with her mother. We know this because at one point in the movie Ben leads a raiding party of interns to go delete a nasty email about her mother that Jules sent to her mother by mistake.

At no point does Jules learn or grow in this movie.

In classic feminist fashion every other character is made to confront their shortcomings and flaws. What makes this movie somewhat unique, however, is that it pits the cultural milieu that gave rise to  two competent and accomplished characters against each other. Ben likely grew up in the 30s and 40s. Jules remarks on how Ben has managed to shed the sexism that his generation is apparently notorious for and at one point Ben actually says “I don’t mean to be the feminist here” while correcting Jules when she toyed with the idea of giving up the feminist fantasy world she’s living in because her family is in danger. Jules, on the other hand, grew up in the progressive 90s and 00s where she was expected to break glass ceilings while also having a family and competing for mom of the year.

Everything that makes Ben’s advice worth listening to is at odds with how Jules is living her life. One of the sub-plots in the movie is that Ben is looking for female companionship. Not a wife, just someone he can take to funerals and occasionally have sex with. Think of it like an elderly play date. Anyway, through this sub plot we learn that Ben was happily married before and his wife stayed home to take care of their son. We never meet the son in the movie or even hear anything else about him. This is especially odd when you consider how the climax of the movie goes with Jules crying about how she is likely to die alone if she divorces her husband.

Jules thinks it’s unfair that her husband will likely run off and re-marry the soccer mom he’s been seeing for quite some time now while work will likely consume and overshadow any hope of a family for Jules.

Ben resolves this for Jules by telling her she can be buried in the same plot with he and his wife. I’m not sure how this is supposed to resolve the real conflict Jules raised earlier but according to the magical world of cinema, it does.

This could have been a great movie. The question underlying the whole elderly intern program idea appears to be “where have all of the seniors gone from our lives?” We read about how timeless wisdom about life and how to live it well used to be transmitted down through generations by having elderly people around to mentor us. In fact the movie’s tagline is “experience never gets old”.

However the inescapable lesson the movie seems to drive home is that the only real wisdom the older generation can give is in being cheerleaders. I mentioned earlier where Ben led the interns on a raid of Jules’s mother’s house to remove an email Jules accidentally sent out of frustration. That email was Jules complaining to her secretary about how her mother was a raging bitch because she had the audacity to criticize Jules. Jules wants to get rid of Ben early on because he is “too observant” and she tells him later that she considered that to be a problem because she feared he might judge her. I don’t think the word “mentor” is used in the film at all. It couldn’t be because that would imply a relationship where Jules would be expected to confront her character flaws and grow past them. However the lesson that is driven home in this movie is that feminist heroes arrive on the scene already perfect with no further character development required. In fact it is the world that needs to develop around them.

Here’s the trailer. And even though I think this movie could have been great I still think it’s worth watching. If nothing else it provides great food for thought.

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Film, divorce, and alienation

The other night I found myself watching E.T with the family. And since I can’t watch a movie anymore without also being on my laptop, here are some interesting facts about E.T I bet you didn’t know.

First and foremost, E.T. is all about divorce, not aliens.

After his success with Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Spielberg had instead set out to make a smaller, more personal film. “E.T. was about the divorce of my parents, how I felt after my parents broke up,” Spielberg admitted. “[It was] the first movie I ever made for myself.” The idea for E.T began to form while the director was on location in Tunisia for Raiders. A lonely Spielberg started picturing something of an imaginary friend. “It was like when you were a kid and had grown out of dolls or teddy bears,” he recalled. “You just wanted a little voice in your mind to talk to. I began concocting this imaginary creature, partially from the guys who stepped out of the Mother Ship for ninety seconds in Close Encounters [1977].” He shared the idea with Melissa Mathison, Harrison Ford’s screenwriter girlfriend who had already penned two family films The Black Stallion (1979) and The Escape Artist (1982). Together Spielberg and Mathison fleshed out the story.

Additionally, it appears that Spielberg’s father issues have had a profound influence on most of his work.

Spielberg researched for his upcoming film “Lincoln” for over 12 years and it is partially inspired by his reconciliation with his father.

He was the father of a nation in need of repair and in a sense the movies I’ve made recently have reflected the positive relationship that my dad and I have enjoyed for 20-25 years.

Oh, and it should be noted that it was Spielberg’s mother that filed for divorce, after having an affair with one of her husband’s friends. And Steven blamed his mother, not his father, for the subsequent breakup of the family.

When Spielberg was 19, his parents got divorced after his mother fell in love with one of his father’s best friends. “It’s still a mystery to me, but even though my mother was like an older sister to me, I kind of put her up on a pedestal,” Spielberg said. “And my dad was much more terrestrial, much more grounded, much more salt of the earth. And for some reason, it was easier for me to blame him than it was to someone who I was already — exalted.

All of this serves to demonstrate once again how important marriage is for children.

Voddie Baucham On Biblical Manhood

Could marriage be undermined by language?

A friend of mine recently pointed me to this page where in the author crafts an argument against the definition of marriage being between one man and one woman. His argument is based largely on biological anomalies which give rise to odd situations where if we consider the person to be male or female depending on what aspects of the male or female biological makeup we choose to measure by (ie. testosterone, estrogen, physical features) we might end up “mandating and legally sanctifying exactly the sort of same-sex marriages they’re intending to ban”.

First off, it needs to be pointed out that no one is required to marry or procreate. They may have the freedom to or not depending on their physical characteristics, but they are by no means forced to marry anyone.

Additionally, since genetic abnormalities are quite common (ie. cancer) I fail to see why offering medical treatment to resolve these conditions would be less preferential than redefining the institution of marriage.

As to government’s involvement. I would agree with government’s non-intervention and I would argue that any attempt at redefining commonly used words would constitute a major intervention. If you want to strengthen contract law to rectify situations like visiting a loved one in the hospital or prison then I would be all for that. But you don’t need to redefine a word in order to accomplish that end. Likewise it makes no sense to say that a group of people are deprived of a right because the definition of words functions in an exclusionary sense in order to convey meaning. In order words, if we, as a society, start monkeying around with our language such that marriage is no longer biologically bound, then what we would have accomplished is the destruction of language and constructive discourse.

We would not, however, have done anything to increase freedom or equality.

Something to keep in mind in the wake of the royal wedding

From this article on the UK Telegraph:

“We are living at a time where some people, as my daughter used to say, they want to test whether the milk is good before they buy the cow,” he said. “For some people that’s where their journeys are.

Why should we condone this “Try before you buy” mentality? I, for one, will vociferously fight this trend among my own children if nothing else than on the personal experience of what it almost did to my own marriage.

The only thing that saved us is something I desperately hope happens for the Royal newlyweds. A radical change in heart towards the creator under whose eyes their respective vows were undertaken.

Without that, they are in serious danger of walking down the same road as Prince William’s father and late biological mother.

What about civil unions?

A friend on Facebook pointed out the following in a disussion on a recent post of mine:

You point out that there is nothing to stop homosexuals from “drawing up contracts” and calling that a marriage; but their legal position on many issues would be quite different from actually legally married couples – eg inheritance rights, being forced to testify against eachother, tax issues etc.

Here’s my response:

I would be all for discussing legislation that discusses specific changes like those. In fact, I think a big help in regards to taxes would be the adoption of a flat tax system (paper here).

I’d be all for allowing the creation of contracts wherein both parties voluntarily agree to enter into agreements which provide things like testimonial coverage, (tax free) inheritance guarantees, and guaranteed access to one another in crisis situations (ie hospitalization). However none of that necessitates that we redefine the fundamental institution of marriage nor that we create a rival institution like “civil unions”. All of that can and should be accomplished through strengthening existing private party agreements.

Do you hear that? I think I just heard the minds’ of my liberal friends being blown.

What’s wrong with teaching “gay history”?

California bill SB48 is touted as another step in combatting discriminatory practices by teaching students about the contributions to humanity made by gays, lesbians, and transgendered persons.

“Most textbooks don’t include any information about (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender) historical figures or their civil rights movement, which has great significance to both California and U.S. history,” the bill’s author, state Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said during a news conference Thursday.

“This selective censorship sends the wrong message to all young people, and especially to those who do not identify as straight,” said Leno, who is openly gay.

Leno, however, begs the question when it comes to teaching GLBT issues in an age appropriate manner. As child psychologist Miriam Grossman testifies:

Personally, I think this whole situation underscores the need for robust voucher programs to empower parents to opt their children out of things like this.

What Do ‘Pro-Choice’ Protesters Really Think About Abortion?

It needs to be pointed out that their attitude towards sex as a sterile, recreational activity unconnected with any biological consequences combined with their view of children as parasites are not unique. These are the predominant views of our society, pushed in all facets from politics to education to entertainment.

The future looks very bleak for any children produced and raised in the homes the people above will provide (when they choose to provide it, of course). One protester even had a sign “would you trust me with a child?”

What the above video shows is how it is socially acceptable, indeed fashionable, to spurn our biological design in pursuit of unbridled hedonism.

Only the gay die young?

In late March, 2007, a spate of articles and news releases were released from Drs. Paul and Kirk Cameron purporting to demonstrate that the life expectancy of homosexuals is 20 to 30 years lower than that of straights. Behind this flurry of activity was a poster session presented at the March, 2007 Eastern Psychological Association convention in Philadelphia.

This is part of the introduction of “An exchange between Warren Throckmorton, Morten Frisch, Paul Cameron and Kirk Cameron
regarding the lifespan of homosexuals.”

In it, the often criticized methods of Drs. Paul and Kirk Cameron are discussed. Specifically the objection given by Morten Frisch:

Since, as noted, age is a strong determinant of openness about homosexuality, the study groups of deceased homosexuals in Cameron and Cameronís report were severely skewed towards younger people. Consequently, the much younger average age at death of these openly homosexual people as compared with the average age at death in the unselected general population tells nothing about possible differences between life expectancies in gays and non-gays in general. All it reflects is the skewed age distribution towards younger people among those who are openly homosexual.

Paul Cameron responds with a couple of points:

  • it has been shown that homosexuals are more likely to respond to surveys

    Further, in that study, analysis of the patterns of missing answers among respondents showed that those with homosexual interests were more, and not less, likely than those with only heterosexual interests to respond to questions about sexually non-conforming behavior.

  • no one, on either side of the issue,

    knows for sure how often people deliberately lie when they respond to sex surveys, or how many individuals simply refuse to respond in order to hide their sexual preferences. We also donít know whether refusals of that particular sort are more common among the older. All we know is that several well-funded research teams have not found many differences along behavioral dimensions ó including items about sexuality between the first responders and those who eventually responded after repeated visits or call-backs.

  • the death of older homosexuals would be difficult to simply cover up. But even so, no one can know this with any certainty either.

    It was partly because of the uncertainties in self-report that we decided to examine other kinds of data. Obviously, obituaries depend upon human reporting but are not ‘self-reports.’ To keep oneís past sexual behavior secret after death can be difficult unless no one else knows, presumably even oneís own partners. As Ben Franklin wisely said, ìthree can keep a secret, but only if two of them are dead.î Again, neither Dr. Frisch nor anyone else knows whether in fact the older are disproportionately less often represented than the young among obituaries in gay newspapers.

  • the report also used data from public records

    That is why it is of more than passing scientific interest that three rather different sources and kinds of data ó sex surveys, obituaries, death registries all indicate fairly similar declines in homosexual prevalence with age.

Its interesting to also note that Dr Frisch apparently mentioned “in an email that no more than 5% of Danish gays take advantage of the marriage laws there.”

In his response, Warren Throckmorton cites the following report

In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men. If the same pattern of mortality were to continue, we estimate that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged 20 years will not reach their 65th birthday. (Hogg et al, 1997, from the abstract)

There is a lot more in the paper, and I highly encourage anyone interested in engaging others in a rational discussion regarding homosexuality to read it. One thing to note, however, is that all sides agree “that there may some difference in life span”. The only difference seems to be that those who are sympathetic towards the homosexual agenda are unwilling to speculate on how much that difference is.

Man is made for community

Ayn Rand is famous for arguing for a political stance wherein men were seen as sovereign beings. While this view has merits, one of its pitfalls comes when discussing man’s relationship to other men. It seems that any appeal to community is lampooned by her and her followers as “collectivist”. Rand centered her philosophy in the rationality of the mind. However, I believe that it is precisely the mind where we find the strongest reason we have to believe that man is made for community.

When I pressed one of Rand’s followers what reason we have for believing the mind to be an accurate source of true beliefs, I was told:

The reason I trust my mind is due to a long road of trail and error. Started as a baby with simple concept formation.

The process of trial and error is only valid once you have information and a mechanism for evaluating truth from falsehoods. Babies rely on external agents to provide them with information AND the ability to sort out truths from falsehoods.

For example, I jokingly told my kids that landsharks would get them if they didn’t stay in bed a while back. My daughter firmly denied their existence based on prior argumentation of there being no such thing as monsters. My son, however, has been convinced they exist. Both of them have also subsequently been exposed to “evidence” for landsharks in the form of a shark ride at a local park and a youtube clip from SNL (its pretty funny too). Now, how are they supposed to find out, without me or some other external agent telling them, that landsharks are, in fact, not real?

I would agree that a man’s mind is essential to his survival. But the mind alone does not produce information. Like logic, all the mind can do is process what is already in it.

If you maintain that the mind is merely a physical chunk of meat I would wager that your burden of explaining how true beliefs are formed even more difficult since, under such a view, the mind would merely be a slave to the stimuli in the environment around it. This would also further call into question the mind’s design (or lack thereof) of producing true beliefs for it’s owner.

In opposition to this, I would maintain that true beliefs require the intervention of intelligent agents external to ourselves. This condition indicates that man is not complete in and of himself but rather is dependent on others, on the community.

No man is complete in himself, and children are a prime example of this fact.