Ten great British history films.

On screenjunkies.com, Honora James made a list of the top ten “English historical movies”, whatever that means.  Not only did Honora list a flick about a Scot as the top “English movie”, but she left out a few of the treasures that show the Sceptred Isle in its true splendor.

So, I’ve made my own list of great motion pictures that tell us about the history of Britain. Continue reading Ten great British history films.

Does religion cause war?

It has been ten years since a small group of men hijacked a few planes and flew themselves into buildings.  Their cause appears to have been a religious one.

But we forget that millions of other people with the same religion don’t fly planes into buildings.  More significantly than that, other men flew themselves into buildings afterwards, and their cause was not a religious one. Continue reading Does religion cause war?

Social Networking Promotes Garbage

A friend of mine… Do me a favor… could you please vote for… if you vote for me, I’ll vote for you…

You sick of these messages yet?

Gone are the days when critics and filmmakers were two different breeds of people.  Gone are the days when critics were professionals, who were not anonymous but had to live by their words.  Gone are the days when art was judged on some sort of merit rather than politics or favor swapping.

Despite that, some backscratching existed back in the old days. What really gets me sick these days is the no-life reputation destroyers.  I’m emailed by people “warning” me about others who supposedly did something terrible.  Like had a day job as a clown once. 

One guy asked me to give another filmmaker one star on youtube. Why?

Was the other filmmaker evil? No. 

Did he have a bad video? No, it was better than any film the guy who wanted to give one star ever made.

So, why did he want me to give him one star? It’s someone from his old school, an old rival, who called him a name.

Now, what was this horrible name? Was it something incredibly offensive? Maybe, but it was true. He was called “unprofessional”.

 Now tell me, what’s more unprofessional than telling other people to go around giving your “enemies” one star?

Anyway, I think he later told people to give a videos I was in one star, because I agreed with the enemy that he was unprofessional.  I don’t think anybody agreed though. A series of new accounts were made just to rate my video (and thrown away afterwards). It wasn’t the best video I made, but come on. What an unprofessional. (At least he could have kept the accounts to down rate his other enemies as well.)

The sad thing is, he’s not abnormal, anymore.  People are doing this all over the place.  “If I scratch your back, you stab my friend’s.”

What an unprofessional attitude.  Welcome to the idiotocracy known as “social networking”.

Pedro de Soza

451 years ago today, Pedro de Soza was secretly murdered by the inquisition in Antwerp.

The official method of execution for “heresy” of being a male Anabaptist was being burt to death.  However, the people of Antwerp didn’t like it when the foreign government killed innocent people. Many protestants, free thinkers and tolerant Catholics could revolt at the sight.  

This solidarity didn’t make heretics more safe.  Yes, burning by fire brought out a big light, and attracted attention.  So, the accused were often drowned in secret.

Some so-called Anabaptists were probably really Calvinists, but Calvinists were meant to be protected by treaty.  Anabaptists were considered a dangerous cult of communists and polygamists, although there is no evidence that Pedro or any of the other Anabaptists in Antwerp were engaged in either activity.

Pedro first heard about the Anabaptists in Spain.  There, he met a few Dutch workers who told him about the new religion.  So, Pedro went to Antwerp to practice it freely.

As Spain was the colonial power, some thought Pedro was a spy.  The local Anabaptists were very reluctant to accept Pedro as one of their own.  Eventually though, Pedro showed his sincerity.  Pedro was accepted, and he was baptised as an adult.  And this re-baptism was the heresy that Pedro and others like him were killed for.

A year after Pedro was drowned, the Anabaptist leader was tortured.  He was offered a full pardon if he gave up names of other Anabaptists. but Joos Verbeck refused to give up any of his fellow religionists.  He proved, among other things, that the pain of torture is not as strong as the power of sincere faith and true friendship.  And Joos was burnt at the stake.

But his story doesn’t end there.  When they tied Joos up for the first public execution since the treaty of Cateau Cambrésis, he didn’t go down screaming with terror.  Joos refused to “recant” of his so-called heresy.  Instead, he sang hymns and recited scripture.  His performance was so moving that the executioner trembled and almost failed to kill him.  But, you got 30 stivers for executing a heretic in those days, and the only reason anyone would be an executioner was because they needed the money.  So, like Pedro before, his leader was killed.

In 1991, I first came to Brussels.  There, I attended the International Baptist Church.  Like the Anabaptists before them, the International Baptists also believed in baptism of adults at the age of 18 and did not believe in the baptism of infants.  I half-considered myself a member of their group, but as a teenager, I could not be baptised.  When I became 18 I didn’t go through with the ritual. And so, even if the Inquisition were in place, they probably wouldn’t have drowned me (although they may have tortured me to find out who the other International Baptists were.)

Well, the International Baptists weren’t communists or polygamists, at least not the ones I met.   They seemed strongly against both things, even against churches that hadn’t practiced either for 100 years. 

The punishment for being baptised one too many times was being pushed under water yet again.  And the punishment for those who condemned the “heretics” on paper is that they are condemned by history.

Who should play the current president?

Let’s get this straight, Denzel Washington looks nothing like Barrack Obama. Ok, he may look more like Obama than Drew Barrymore does, but the resemblance is limited.

But once their mouths start moving, Obama and Washington resemble each other almost perfectly.

Remember Philadelphia? The way Washington spewed a lot of hot air, but got you thinking that you agreed with whatever he was saying? Even though you didn’t know what he was saying?

I mean, come on, they wanted a young partner to take over the firm when they retired. Tom Hanks’ character was going to die of Aids, so he’d probably die before the old jerks would retire. Sure, his employers weren’t the nicest guys, but what was he really suing them for?

And just to prove that Hank’s character was wrong to sue, the filmmaker shows him on his death bed with all these supportive people around him.

Yeah, the story was weird, and the average viewer had no idea what was going on, but you liked the people anyway.

And I have no idea what Obama stands for, but I like him anyway. Don’t ask me why, I just think he’s a great guy. A family man, a diplomat, and a smile that would disarm a soup tyrant. And boy, can he talk.

But yeah, just like Malcolm X, he doesn’t seem to do that much else. He talks, but nothing seems to happen as a result. Maybe he’s just unlucky.

Take for example his key line in his talk to the Chinese leadership: “We want to sell you lots of stuff.” Great line. But does it really help get us out of the recession?

Many actors can sit around doing nothing, and babble on and go nowhere with it. Many actors have oodles of charisma, and are so adorable you could just knit them a sweater.

However, no other living actor can come close to Obama’s ability to talk. Washington is the current master of the monologue, a forceful speaker who every screenwriter dreams of hearing his lines read by.

So yeah, if I was commissioned to make a film about Barrack Obama, the first actor I’d try to get was Denzel Washington. Nobody else in Hollywood could do the job half as well.

– Vasco de Sousa