We do not know if there is extraterrestrial life. You can’t logically prove a negative, so unless one shows up in front of the Washington Monument like Michael Rennie in The Day the Earth Stood Still or waves at the Hubble Telescope from the porch of their little alien home on the beach front of their little alien planet we won’t ever know for sure.
But the debate rages nonetheless. Each camp passionately believes in their conclusions – whether it is that the Universe – based on its size – MUST be teeming with life with which we have just not made contact OR in the vast wasteland that is the universe we are just the lucky lottery winners. Most agree on the evidence available but DISagree on the interpretation of that evidence, depending on their frame of reference which in turn depends upon their point of view through which they will filter all of the information they have. For instance, one group may see a blip in the radar and conclude that it MUST be a planet potentially fertile with life. The other side is certain it is merely a glitch in the lens. One hears a rhythmic sound and thrills to the possibility it could be an attempt at communication from another civilization. The other group assumes it is a reflex sound coming from an unseen spinning pulsar.
And so the conversation goes on in healthy fashion, inspiring each side to hone their skills, challenge their preconceived notions and continue to seek for new evidence to support their side of the argument.
Now, let’s pretend that it has become politically correct to ASSUME there is NO life originating from outside the boundaries of our planet. That the barren Wasteland view is the only concept taught in schools, published in textbooks or discussed in polite self-described intellectual circles. And that anyone who even SUGGESTS the possibility of life originating outside our planet is to be derided, freely insulted, humiliated, ignored and looked down upon as hopelessly ignorant or a fool. No more debate, no more healthy self-skepticism from either camp, no more honest research. Because anything that could POSSIBLY be found to contradict the Wasteland theory would be immediately dismissed, no matter how potentially credible. It would be a bit like trying to play tennis by yourself. Your serves would be for naught so your offense would suffer, you would accept no lobs back so your defense would be non-existent, and you would become a pathetic tennis player. Actually you wouldn’t BE a tennis player any more. If you refused any competition then you would simply cease to play and you may as well turn the lights off and go home.
The “debate” over the origin of the universe has become that former player. Any ideas that compete against the theory of Evolution are rejected, any evidence which challenges that secular dogma is dismissed out of hand and all debate has been halted. Any real research has hit the dead end of blind obedience to an unproven theory.
Is Genesis History? turns the lights back on the court and calls challengers back into the game. Del Tackett interviews leading men in their respective fields of geology, marine biology, astronomy and palenotology – all of whom were trained in, steeped in and at one time confined by the limits of the demand that Evolution be the only theory allowed – like some kind of an intellectually biased club into which only the select few were allowed to play. Each has rejected this idea as inadequate, in their estimation, to explain the evidence concerning the beginning of life in the universe and the very coming into existence of the universe itself. By their own admission they are only able to scratch the surface of their findings during the film and invite entry into a deeper study of their scientific findings, citing access to websites and welcoming debate.
Many forget that our current scientific breakthroughs ALL stand on the shoulders of scientists – the vast majority of whom were devout Christians, most Catholics. So to dismiss the idea of Creationism is to dismiss the framework from which MOST of our store of scientific knowledge comes. And without that you are merely memorizing the formulas without really understanding the fundamentals which will allow for truly significant understanding of the concepts.
So — I challenge you to watch this film through to the end INCLUDING the table conference at the end with the interviewees.
Creationists have been forced to recite the Evolutionist's mantra for years as the new age gospel dictated into the school curricula, assumed into everything from commercials to comedy skits and demanded of allegiance – Creationists
are quite familiar with the dicta.  .
As a result the Evolutionists have become intellectually lazy, for which they should chide themselves. Without competition, without self-criticism you will never improve.
Become more intellectually honest. Challenge yourself with Is Genesis History?.


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is, itself, just that – peculiar. That’s not to say it is a bad movie. But it is unusual – and a bit of challenge to watch at times.

The story is about Jake (Asa Butterfield) who feels very ordinary – until his grandfather (Terence Stamp) dies in a mysterious and horrible way – with his eyes sucked out by a shadowy monster. Returning to the place where his grandfather grew up, he comes across a Gothic but romantically beautiful house which serves as a “Home for Peculiar Children” run by an equally mysterious Miss Peregrine (Eva Green). And then strange upon strange, finds the home has existed in a time loop since 1943, where the world around them repeats the same day over and over. And while the children do not age, neither do they lose the memories of the things which happened on previous repeated days – like Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day. But instead of the loop being used as a learning tool, it is being used as a security measure. You see, Miss Peregrine is hiding some very unusual children from — monsters. Which is ironic as some of the children can be a bit off putting themselves: Claire whose mouth of monstrous teeth are hidden in the back of her head, and the twins who have a powerful force underneath a full body canvas outfit or Enoch who puts animal hearts in inanimate objects and brings them to life to fight each other. And others – with equally "peculiar" skill sets.

The acting is quite stylized. At first I thought the children had been under prepared for their scenes as their effect was just a bit stunted. But then other actors appeared who I know full well are at the top of their game, used the same approach.


Samuel L Jackson plays Barron, the head “bad guy”. The talented Rupert Everett has a surprise and tricky-to-recognize cameo as an ornithologist and Judi Dench – who could win an Oscar by reading a grocery list out loud – makes a departure so abrupt and unexpected that I wondered if it was a homage to Samuel L Jackson’s role in Deep Blue Sea. And all of them act with the same stilted style. I realized it was a deliberate choice by Burton.

Perhaps he intended to create a story book feel. The source material was a series of books originally meant to be a collection of odd photographs to which a story was attached.

The ambiance of the movie harkens back to the old Grimm’s fairy tale approach to children’s stories. When one thinks of children’s movies we think of Finding Dory and The Secret Life of Pets, where violence is cartoonish or mostly takes place off screen or is not visually repugnant or is comical. Even in Harry Potter most of the violence, even deaths, are pretty sanitized.

But in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children the writer and director did not shy away from graphic – even brutal – showings of exactly what they meant. When someone says children’s eyes are stolen and eaten – they do not mean it metaphorically. At one point we watch as a group of well dressed evil "Peculiars" sit about a table and suck in a large pile of eyeballs one at a time. It’s kind of gross but Burton-stylized and fascinating, like a train wreck.

But then what are we to expect from Tim Burton? He, of the Corpse Bride, Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Also following in the steps of the Grimm Brothers, Burton does not hesitate to show us a dead child or an evil character getting his eyes poked out. But none of it is gratuitous, which saves this particularly “peculiar” outing.

Bad things happen when bad people do bad things. But, also like the Grimm Fairy tales there is merit in heroism and redemption in using your talents for the good of others and love will eventually conquer all.

I do recommend this movie but with provisos for the squeamish and any child under early teen years.


What if Jason Bourne was autistic….and an accountant. This is basically the premise for The Accountant, a compelling who dunnit with intriguing twists and turns. While there’s nothing especially new under the sun with the basics of the plot – guy uncovers a conspiracy, is chased by bad guy’s henchmen, lots of violence, innocent girl in distress comes under the reluctant wing of our intrepid hero – there are surprises.

One of the most absorbing and unexpected set ups is the protagonist. Not exactly a hero in the typical sense, he has a moral code of honor which he is willing to both kill and die for. And — he’s autistic. I cannot think of a single other film where the kick-gluteus maximus lead has this particular challenge. Now – Mercury Rising, Rainman, The Boy Who Could Fly, and Snow Cake – all feature autistic characters but all are in need of support, rescuing or protecting.


In The Accountant, Ben Affleck plays the self described “high functioning” autistic Christian Wolff, as a man who needs assistance from no one. Raised by his military single father, and with his younger brother, to be self sufficient, and extremely tough – Christian’s eccentricities generated from his autism are not shied from. Neither are they the subject of any of the usual well intentioned amusement. This is a man at whom you would not want to laugh – for a variety of reasons. One of which is the dignity with which he comports himself. The audience is allowed to observe his world and is encouraged to respect it.

While there are hit men, embezzlers, mafiosos, torturers, murderers, psychos and plain old bad guys, the person who, I believe is the BIGGEST bad guy, the one who commits the worst sin and who, actually, starts the chain of events TWICE which create pretty much every bad thing that happens in the movie is —– Wolff’s mother.

Early on Christian’s mother abandons the family — at Christmas. The distraught Christian frantically tears the house apart. His father is seen in the front of the house, from the POV of the younger and smaller brother watching from the window, practically begging his wife to stay. The father, military and having expressed a desire for structure and the importance of discipline in the home, enters to find Christian having broken every breakable and punched a hole in the wall. I expected there to be further anger and conflict.

Instead the father kneels and cradles his traumatized son on the floor, cooing to and comforting him. This scene informed much of the rest of the film as well as my reaction to the path the elder Wolff lays out for his vulnerable sons. For example, when he insists his sons continue training with a special martial arts tutor beyond even what the tutor thinks is the limit for the young boys, we understand the father is not being cruel – he is devoted to and loves his children but, as he openly points out – he knows what’s best for them.

Because the mother leaves the father alone to fend for the boys and himself, the elder Wolff has no choice but to make them rock tough. And the younger boy is left with some seriously unresolved anger issues. Had the mother not left, it is likely the path all three of the men would have taken would not have been as dark as the one on which they ultimately trod.

Near the middle of the movie we discover Christian father’s has died. The death came as part of escalating conflict at this same woman’s funeral. The two – father and son – attend in military dress. But the new husband with the new family and the two new “normal” children takes exception to the first, rightful, husband being at her funeral. Ironically, Christian’s father was only there at Christian’s request. A fight breaks out, the new husband calls the police, an over zealous police deputy takes a shot a Christian. The father – as he has done his whole life – throws himself in the way of the bullet and dies. Christian attacks the police officer and sends him to the hospital – and ends up in Levingworth prison, where he meets the whistle blower accountant to a Mafia family who takes him under his wing, teaches the genius savant everything there is to know about this extremely dangerous lifestyle AND accounting.

And — the rest is the movie.

But all the bad stuff can be ultimately laid at the feet of this terrible woman’s “choice” to walk away from her children and husband because the situation was just too darned cramping to whatever style she thought she wanted. Reminds me of that old Kenny Rogers song – “You Picked a Fine Time to Leave me Lucille”.

The “balance” of the movie reveals how Christian copes with the tragedies in his life despite his challenges. Some of the choices HE makes are difficult ones but usually made with the care of others foremost in his mind. While this hero isn’t without flaws, as all humans are, his strict moral code left The Accountant in the black on his balance sheet.

FYI – Despite the genre, there is no sex, though there is a good deal of violence and a LOT of profanity.


As Oscar time rolls forward it is to be noted that La La Land has garnered a record tying 14 nominations – an accomplishment only achieved by two other movies to date: Titanic and All About Eve.
La La Land is the best movie I’ve ever seen that I do not like. Please bear with me. There is nothing wrong with this movie. It is, in fact, an EXCELLENT movie. It is fascinating, well acted, beautifully filmed and I would see it again. But it’s just not my cup of tea.
Let me explain: La La Land is the ups and downs of a love story harkening back to the old song and dance musicals of Singing in the Rain where our protagonists and total strangers break into synchronized dances and “improvise” brilliant and witty songs on the spot.
Mia and Sebastian “meet” in a traffic jam subsequent to an amazing and almost bizarre dance routine spontaneously begun like a flash mob on a gridlocked Los Angeles freeway. We then observe them in their respective lives: Mia, an aspiring but failing actress who keeps her rent coming in as a waitress, and Sebastian a jazz player/composer who chaffs against the confines of the banal music he must play at the bar where he gets a steady pay check and tips.
Things just do not happen the way we expect. For example, other than Mia and Sebastian we never see the people in the dance troupe traffic jam again. When we see Mia in her apartment it is HUGE and you are left wondering how on Earth does this girl afford this place on a waitress’ salary only to suddenly find she has THREE roommates.  Mia wants to be noticed and is left breathless by the appearance of a “fictitious” celebrity yet shuns the shallow Hollywood parties she finds she must attend to GET noticed.
Much of the story of the two lovers follows an expected thread – boy meets girl, they do not like each other, boy and girl find they constantly run into each other or are thrown together by circumstance, deny their attraction for each other but leave the audience winking as at Benedict and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing knowing they will fall hopelessly in love. There are misunderstandings and blocked opportunities, Gift of the Magi-type sacrifices, and long lovely embraces.
But the story never quite goes where you expect it WHEN you expect it. Without revealing more than I have to about the plot or the ending, let’s just say there was more discord in the harmonies than is appealing to me. See I am a dyed-in-the-wool romantic. I write screenplays (completely unpublished and with large files holding many rejections) and I have a saying that I cannot write an unhappy ending. It’s just against my nature. There’s too much UNhappiness in the world so when I am waxing creatively I do not want to go down that road. That does not mean stories with unhappy endings are bad – Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Saving Private Ryan, much of Les Mis, Gone With the Wind – all are beautiful brilliant movies with much to cry about, but not what I like to WRITE about and not in my “go to” pile when I want to just relax with a friendly piece of entertainment.
Same goes for the music I enjoy. I like soft rock and Christian rock and even some of what used to be called Bubble Gum (Herman’s Hermits, Captain and Tennille).  Now my husband LOVES the more discordant – both in movies and music. He thinks an unhappy ending is more realistic and therefore more satisfying and jazz is the sound that floats his boat.
Which brings us to the theme of the movie. Mia at one point at the beginning of their budding romance admits she does not like jazz. So, our smitten Sebastian takes her to a jazz club and explains his fascination. “It’s conflict and it’s compromise, and it’s very, very exciting! It’s new every time.”
Another place in the story, Sebastian uses the same metaphor to encourage a despondent Mia. Sebastian says: “This is the dream! It’s conflict and it’s compromise, and it’s very, very exciting.”
Which is an excellent point and another way to describe what I suppose is the attraction to jazz for aficionados.
The movie IS very much like jazz – a sweet musical line that runs through the film twisting and turning but staying true to its fundamental theme. But at the same time surrounded by, encased in and sometimes driven by the harsher realities around it. It’s tough to keep up an idyllic love story when you have to exchange your rose colored glasses for a hands on opportunity to pay your bills. And even harder when one of the duet just does not seem to be fully committed to the tune.
There’s a scene near the end which gives the audience the full blown unexpurgated full on dream of what you expect and want from a movie like this, but then in a slap in the face and what feels like condescension we find it is just a dream. As though the screenwriter was yelling at us – “This may be what you WANT, but this NEVER HAPPENS, so GET OVER IT!”

So as the credits rolled I was left dissatisfied, somewhat disappointed, unhappy, and maybe even a wee bit insulted while still admiring the panache, the vibrancy, the beauty of the film I had just seen. (I do not think I was alone because as the credits began rolling someone immediately behind me summed up my feelings in a conversationally loud: “What the H***?!”)
BUT — from a jazz point of view it stayed true to Sebastian’s devotion to the genre: The movie hinted at and teased about with a familiar theme but when all was said and done it ended suddenly and on a discordant note. “It’s conflict and compromise” – but alas, if you are expecting a happy ending — it is only a dream.