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Review of Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Lion

Via APPaul did it spiritually, Jared from Subway did it physically, and Bobby Kennedy did it politically. In Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Lion, Larry Tye chronicles the complex liberal hero who traversed the ideological spectrum throughout his all-too-short life. He did more than flip-flop; he sandaled.

Born to an infamous and influential right-wing father, Bobby jaggedly maneuvered to the left throughout his life. The ideologue who worked with Joseph McCarthy somehow turned into the idealist that reminded people of the ripples of hope that can cause waves of change.

Known as the “runt of the litter,” Bobby was smaller than his brothers growing up. He didn’t stand out, which is not that surprising when you grow up as the little brother of a future president and another who would be known as the Liberal Lion of the Senate. His mother worried that he would grow up to be a “sissy.” But this runt sissy spent much of his childhood, according to Tye, trying harder than any of his brothers to get noticed or receive acclaim.

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The Magnificent Seven: a movie review

Credit: Evan Agostini via APThe Magnificent Seven is a remake of the 1960 film of the same title—which was itself an adaptation of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 classic Seven Samurai—so originality was never a likely goal to be achieved. Still, the fast-paced action and all-star cast, featuring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and a number of other actors who all do an excellent job with their characters, make for a highly entertaining movie that's surprisingly family friendly as well. While the body count is high, there's little in the way of seeping wounds or unnecessarily bloody casualties. The swearing is minimal and everyone is fully clothed throughout with no sex beyond a few brief allusions to call girls in the saloon.

The plot centers on the small farming town of Rose Creek, whose inhabitants have the ill-fortune of residing in close proximity to a gold mine run by the relentlessly evil Bartholomew Bogue. Boque's attempts at taking the town through intimidation and violence work quite well until the recently widowed Emma Cullen hires Denzel's Sam Chisolm to rescue them. Chisolm, a bounty hunter by trade, then proceeds to put together an unlikely team of miscreants and good-hearted bad guys to help in the endeavor.

Each character has his own reasons for helping the town, some more noble than others, but the why matters little in the grand scheme of things as each plays his part and the group is improved as a result. As Christians, we could do well to remember that fact when trying to work with other believers to accomplish God's will.

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'Sully' and why we tear down those we should lift up

Credit: Universal PicturesSully, the latest film from director Clint Eastwood, stars Tom Hanks as the titular captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and depicts the miraculous landing of his disabled passenger jet on the Hudson River back in January of 2009. One hundred and fifty souls were on board that ill-fated flight, and Sully, along with co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) and the crew, saved every one of them from near certain death after a flock of birds flew into both engines, disabling the plane just three minutes after take-off.

While that unprecedented water landing serves as the focal point of the film, much of the movie's tight hour and a half runtime is spent portraying the trials Sully faced after everyone was safely back on dry land. The pilot is plagued by recurring visions of how things might have gone differently as he stares out across New York's sky-line, only to see his plane crashing into buildings and homes. It's impossible to see the movie and not think of the 9/11 tragedy that previously rocked the metropolis, especially as we remembered the 15 year anniversary of that horrific attack earlier this week.

Sully's nightmares are exacerbated by the National Transportation Safety Board's inquiry, in which the panel of experts often seem more determined to find someone to blame than the truth of what actually happened following the accident. As IGN's Simon Thompson noted, the depiction of the panel is, in many ways, Eastwood "holding a mirror up and asking why we can't resist tearing down the ones we should be holding up, the ones whose actions give us hope." It's a question that deserves further reflection.

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Pete's Dragon and the search for our true home

Credit: Universal PicturesWhile Pete's Dragon is technically a remake of the 1977 Disney original, it bears little resemblance beyond the name and the presence of a big, green dragon. The movie feels more like The Jungle Book than anything else, and that's a good thing. The characters have clear roles without feeling clichéd, while the plot is simple but not shallow. Ultimately, it's one of those rare feel-good, family-friendly movies that's actually a genuinely good film as well.

Pete's Dragon begins with a four-year-old Pete riding in the back of his family's car while they travel through the Pacific Northwest on vacation. However, tragedy strikes—as it seemingly does in every Disney film of late—when a deer runs across the road and the father swerves to avoid it. The car ends up rolling and Pete is the only one to escape the accident. When he hears wolves in the distance, he picks up his favorite book and runs into the neighboring forest where he meets Elliot, a big, green, furry dragon who saves him.

The movie resumes six years later as a now-ten-year-old Pete has made a home in the woods with Elliot. The pair has a seemingly wonderful life together when they stumble across a forest ranger named Grace—the first human that the young boy has seen since the accident. She would not be the last, however, as the local lumber mill has brought humanity closer and closer to Pete and Elliot's home among the trees.

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Jason Bourne: movie review

Credit: Universal PicturesIt's been nearly a decade since Jason Bourne last appeared in theaters—2012's spinoff, The Bourne Legacy, notwithstanding—and the film's title character has spent that time attempting to reconcile his returned memories with the gaps that continue to persist. When we first meet him in Jason Bourne, he's simply trying to survive off the grid by taking bare-knuckle boxing fights in rural Greece. While that may seem like a clichéd way for a former assassin to make money, you also get the sense that the pain is a way to both feel alive and cope with the pain he's caused others.

However, he regains some sense of purpose when part-time ally Nicky Parsons—who has spent the last decade attempting to reveal the CIA's darkest mysteries a la Edward Snowden—approaches him with new revelations about his father's role in the program that turned Bourne into an assassin. After the pair meet in Athens amid protests outside of the Greek Parliament, Bourne is set on a quest that will feel quite familiar to those who've seen the previous films. After all, attempts to unravel a new element of his past while stopping those bent on either bringing him back into the agency or killing him are nothing new to the franchise.

Ultimately, that feeling of déjà vu is probably the defining characteristic of this installment. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, and, as a fan of the series, I really enjoyed this movie. The car chases, hand-to-hand combat sequences, and the general awesomeness of Jason Bourne being Jason Bourne are great to watch. However, you're definitely left with the feeling that you've seen this movie play out before, even if elements of the plot are new and more relevant to our current global climate.

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