David Bruce


with comments by David Bruce

I receive a lot of e-mail.  I am not able to post all the mail. I have included a good sampling, however.  If the subject is the same I might group the newer messages with similar older ones.  Also, my response may appear a few days after the original posting. I can't do HJ everyday.  You must include your "name" and e-mail address within your comment if you want it posted, otherwise it will not be posted (there is a privacy issue here and we respect that).  I do, however, encourage you to give your "name" and e-mail so others can respond to you personally.
E-mail and Comments:
This page was last updated on August 2, 2001

Subject: Brimstone
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Michael

I like Brimstone, but I was shocked at the way most of the "dammed" characters are portrayed. When I see the "souls" being returned to Hell, I felt sorry for them because they lost a second chance for living and starting life over again. In addition, it seems like the show is glorfying the Devil and Hell. In the future, I suggested that the person who played the detective E. Stone should work on a more righteous show that has God on his side. Therefore, the whole family can watch the show.
Michael Reed
P.S. These two can be responsible for the cancellation of Brimstone on FOX.

Subject: Baby_Boy
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Gregg Farah

amazing film. exceedingly upsetting, but an incredible depiction of the tension and struggle faced by individuals from a variety of levels. There are several compelling stories within this story. I immediately went out and rented Singleton's "Higher LEarning" and was disappointed in that film. His film making has come a long way and Baby Boy is a wonderful addition to his resume.
Gregg Farah

Subject: Planet of the Apes
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: DG

Well, I gave in and went to "" with my teenage son. SAVE YOUR MONEY. I was told NOT TO GO by people who are serious film buffs, and I should have listened, but gave in under the pleading of the kid. Shoulda known better!

1. Rampant anti-religious bias -- The bad guy apes are mostly devout believers in a Supreme Being and a Deliverer who will return again some day. They are also narrow, bigoted, prejudiced, and brutal.

2. Anti-Goldwater slap -- The main antagonist is made to say "Extremism in the defense of apes is no vice." Sound familiar? Barry Goldwater's quote at the SF Cow Palace, I think, when he said "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." Gratuitously nasty.

3. PETA-polemic -- Of course, the entire movie is rife with PETA themes about animals having souls, being equal in how they should be treated, and how they must not be used for medical research. 4. Bestiality -- Not content to bend most rules, APES then has the male star and the female "human lover" ape smooching at the end in genuine affection . . . suggesting crossover affection is both possible and acceptable. Makes the audience wonder if they could have nice little kids with tails and opposable thumbs too. How nice!

Generally, the FX were not any big deal, the acting was marginal, the science beyond far fetched, and the sci-fi themes just too implausible.

LOSER MOVIE but Tim Burton obviously had fun. I lost my "willing suspension of disbelief" very early and never had a reson to regain it.


Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: "Rev. Marlene Yanik"

I generally agree with just about everything you write -- and mostly agree with your "disengagement" thoughts. As a Presbyterian minister, I can hardly be classified as "right wing conservative," but I have two beefs with the movie (and TV) industries (and, with your letting them off the hook on these issues). I am not afraid of "R" rated movies, nor adult themes -- but I'm sick and tired of the excessive raw language (much of the time, gratuitous) -- as if "everyone" speaks that way all the time. True, there are worse things than the "F" word, etc.-- but our language has become debased -- and I think much of it comes from movies. I do not have tender ears, and have been known to let loose with a salty word or two upon occasion. I taught in the barrios of East L.A. -- and worked in the inner city areas of both L.A. and Kansas City, and of course, heard a lot of "language," -- but the movies outdo most of what I've heard. For example, I was driven to distraction in "Good Will Hunting" -- but it had an effect on me (in addition to its good message). After seeing the movie, the next day (while driving) I had to slam on my brakes to avoid an accident -- and what do you know -- out popped my favorite word! If an adult minister is so affected, what about more impressionable kids? That is just one example. Secondly -- the "flesh" issue -- (usually female, of course). What a denigration of women! -- just a continuation of objectifying the female body. I do not mind a tasteful or necessary-to-the-story bit of nudity -- but "puhleeze," we cannot in good conscience approve or "wink" at the constant stream of blatant, gratuitous (again, usually female -- how many men have we seen "bouncing" around recently?) soft porn! I know from first hand counseling experiences that soft porn often leads to hard porn, and then disrespect and even violence. I really don't want to sound like Jerry Falwell and his ilk, but there must be some middle ground somewhere! Thanks for letting me vent! As I said earlier, I think you're mostly right -- and (by the way) agree with your Thomas Kinkade assessment! I really do like your site! Keep up your good work!
Marlene Yanik

Response: I agree with you in terms of personal taste. I too, wish screen writers and movie producers would be more gentle to the ears and eyes. As you know, I stick to the largely overlooked spiritual (biblical) connections and leave the flesh and language issues to other critics. Side note: I do not use foul language, nor do I sleep around. Films have never changed that fact for me. Film is part of the language of our culture, therefore, important. Thank you for the kind and encouraging words. -David

Subject: Newsletter 27
ate: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Danial Panzella

I totally agree with you.
Danial Panzella

Subject: Kinkade Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Vicky

David: I agree with your assessment of Kinkade. I have Christian friends who seem to want and think it is very Christian to want a trouble free world with people who have no problems.

Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Kenna

Just wanted to thank you for the time and effort you put into the newsletter. I don't have any real response yet, but you make me think...

Reponse: You are welcome. And thank you for the kind words. I try. -David

Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Pastor Naugle

Thanks for your thoughts. I've been thinking more and more about our church ministry and how to reach out to those without the love of God. Yet as a pastor, I just seem to have trouble making the leap to advocating R rated movies. I watch them ocassionally, especially with my finger on the fast forward button. A side from the book you quoted from, what would you suggest that could help an almost 50 evangelical pastor who wants to move in the right direction?
Pastor Naugle

Click for book infoResponse: Without question this is the book to get. Bill is a friend of mine, we see each other each year at the City of Angeles Film Festival, and he teaches at Calvin College. He is an incredible thinker and fluent with pop culture. He will help you with the issues you raise. I highly recommend this book to you. Publisher note: "Grounded in Christian principles, this accessible and engaging book offers an informed and fascinating approach to popular culture. William Romanowski provides affectionate yet astute analysis of familiar, well-loved movies and television characters from Pretty Woman to Homer Simpson. He speaks with expertise on films from Titanic to Casablanca and music from Mozart to Springsteen, bringing sources as diverse as Shakespeare and Allan Bloom into the discussion."Eyes Wide Open : Looking for God in Popular Culture by William D. Romanowski

Subject: Kinkade
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Don

I have, for a long time now, thought that such sentimentality is nothing but "corn syrup" -- too corny and sickeningly sweet, not to mention artificial. I don't remember reading anything about Jesus maintaining such a "safe" lifestyle. Quite the opposite was true. If getting dirty with the masses was good enough for Christ, then it should be good enough for all of the rest of us.

Response: He's a good artist and a wonderful human being, just not realistic. I agree with you.

Subject: Kinkade
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Jill

Hey David, ya gotta point. I do like the art. But, I see your point. I must say few people in our church are active with secular groups, or any sort of community outreach. Perhaps we should change our images. It's just that I have spent about $3,400 on all of the Kinkade paintings on my walls. What am I do do. Why did I spend that money in that way?

Response: It is a dilemma. Thank you for being open to new thinking. -David

Subject: Newsletter #26
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001
From: M in Tennessee

Hey, Hey, Hollywood Jesus!
Just thought I'd write a note and talk about why I'm an agnostic.... How did I become an agnostic?

I am gay. I was steeped in the Southern Baptist Church as a child. I've been dealing with a strong personal faith all of my life (my family is steeped in faith and I am as steeped), experiencing God on so many levels. Through the years, I have watched people point the finger ("you're going to burn in hell for that"), use neologisms ("I love you, brother!"), or preach and then live a double life. Uggggghhh! I've also seen tiny "glints of goodness" that shine out for me to take. They keep me from falling into atheism. My godly Mother, who truly lives what she believes, is my absolute inspiration. Now, though, I have to somewhat divorce the god from the good deeds when emulating her because of all of my luggage in life. Isn't life strange!

Where do I begin? With the church that had a preacher who had killed 2 previous wives and eventually killed his third wife in an accident (the gun was under his pillow and she was gunshy? Please!). With the same church where the Minister of Music was caught years later in a pedophilia scam? With my then-preacher brother (SBC - the moderate type), who fell from Grace (at least that's what her name is, I think!)? With the Episcopal Church that had the cute priest (but still truly had the power of the Lord) that got up in front of a predominately gay church to say that "the Holy Spirit just wants me to talk... and..... I just know that adultery, homosexuality, and bestiality are all in the same type of sin.... It's wrong." ? With the SBC telling their wives to be submissive? With Jerry Falwell and Jimmy Swaggart and Jim and Tammy Baye Fakker and ...... the list goes back centuries. How can I believe when I see all these things? How can I believe when the refutations against Scripture's infallibility are strong? How can I believe when I suddenly have a lightbulb go off in my head telling me that people need pacification, and this is their answer, to control? (have you ever noticed how many control freaks are out there in religious positions of power?) Alternately, how can I believe when the right wing (thanks, Jerry Falwell!) these days are into the anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality, anti- catholicism, Jesus is coming in 2 and a half weeks issues? Where did any moderate discussion run off to? I say that we are living in a time of tyrant church leaders. It's going to get worse, unfortunately, until it gets better. The church will lose many, as they have definitely lost me.

I've tried the following churches, earnestly trying to see if any out there truly believed that we are all one mankind: Southern Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal. Southern Baptists were just crazy after the right-wing took over! Lutherans are bigots, Methodists were lukewarm and boring, and Presbyterians had too many cute guys, but they were all married! Seriously, though, Presbyterians were lukewarm as well, with a closer twinge of the kewl high church.

This whole spirituality thing is a toss-up for me. I want to emulate the good and go away from the bad. I don't think that these morals should be reserved only for those that are religious (monotheistic or otherwise). And did I talk about the Moral Majority? Oy! I still believe in God, though. I still believe in a higher power that has a divine plan. I still believe in the goodness of humankind.

I still believe in the golden rule. I still believe in an afterlife. Love your web site. Keep those "glints of goodness" coming our way! Have a good one,
M in Tennessee
I went off on a street preacher about a month ago. I know that it sounds terrible, but I had this energy for 20 years and needed to let it out! Who says what THE WAY is?

Response: Please consider Hollywood Jesus your church. And please do not hestitate to talk chat via private email with me. -David

Subject: Atlantis_The Lost_Empire
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001
From: Edwin

It's been some weeks now since I saw the movie "Atlantis" but I do remember that I was not pleased with some of it. The crystal thing bothered me because there are cults that use crystals. It reminds me of amulets/charms which are items said to have supernatural/magical powers to ward off spells, demons and bad luck. (Source of info: Fourteen Things Witches Hope Parents Never Find Out by David Benoit) There were other things that bothered me about the movie but I cannot recall all of it.

I would very much recommend David Benoit's Fourteen Things Witches Hope Parents Never Find Out.

I do not agree with everything he writes in this book because it seems really strict but it does provide Christians with a microscope into the secular world. I would never have learned what I have if I hadn't read that book. I still find it useful at times. I do like to be positive so I will say that the animation and color of the movie was entertaining. ----

Response: Yes, yes. I can just see it now, all the so-called witches hoping that parents wouldn't discover that they are out there trying to get their children. Good grief man, why do you read such garbage and hate. Merchants of fear. Salem witch trials are back again. And, so-called Christians are leading the way. END THE HATE. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. WICCANS ARE PRECIOUS PEOPLE. JESUS LOVES WICCANS. And Wiccans do not harm children. This film has NOTHING to do with Wiccans. I wish some of my Wiccan friends would respond to these hatefull Christians (so-called). -David

Subject: Jacob's Ladder
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001
From: Jim Wolf

The drug in Jacob's Ladder was a metaphor. God, in putting man on earth in search of his true purpose, subjects us to the "drug" of material and physical comforts and temptations here on earth. We become addicted to earthly pleasures and comforts; we forget to find purpose; we forget why we are here. Yes, all of Jake's war buddies were used by the system and experimented on with drugs -- so are we all on the drug: earthly pleasures and physical comforts. Jake needed to realize what was happening to him: he needed to let go, realize it was over -- time to move on. The whole entire movie set in NYC was not real; it was merely Jake going over his life in the period between his wounding and his death.

Notice, in the beginning of the movie, Jezzie references Gabe, Jake's son, as dying before the war. Thereafter, the movie makes you think Gabe died after Jake came home after the war. Gabe did die prior to the war, further confirming that Jake's reminiscences of his son were mere memories. Jake was sorting out his life before he moved on in death.
Jim Wolf 7/30/01

Subject: Jacobs Ladder
Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2001
From: Gary

Without a doubt my favorite movie of all time. A great film. I wanted to comment on a few things I have seen written in this forum regarding the storyline and the interpretation of the film. Having read the screenplay I would argue that the "laddr drug" themre is more or less a hollywood addition to try to make the movie more accessible to the great unwashed. A story that was as deep and abstract as a dying man's struggle for life and examination of fundamental questions of spirituality was never going to make sense to the majority of viewers.

Jacob is a PhD. I thought it was mentioned directly that he held a doctorate in Philosophy but I may have simply implied this from the fact that he is reading Camus' exsistentialist work The Stranger when we first see him on the bus. He is not an MD.

Something I have not seen mentioned (but I have not read all of the comments here yet) is that if one watches carfully there is clearly something wrong in the environment. The movie is supposed to be set sometime after Jacob has returned home from Viet Nam. But nothing in the environment supports this. All of the music played or heard is from a time when Jacob was in Nam. The cars in the film are all of that period not post-war. The subway, various businesses - everything is appropriate to a time Jacob would have known prior to entering the war. I would be interested in any contradiction to this observation as I have looked closely for them. I do wonder about the edition of The Stranger that Jacob is reading for example becaueI used the same edition with the same cover art in 1975 or 1976 but I have no idea when that particular edition was released. Regardless, the music that is playd or sung (Please Mr. Postman and the music at the party) is all early enough to be known to Jacob prior to the war I believe.

So what about the rest of it? He is dying. He is an educated doctorate whose guilt over the death of his son has driven him to volunteer for service in an unpopular war. His *only* son Gabriel was hit by a truck. Any father can imagine the horrible guilt and the possibility of it driving one to lose all hope and simply run away from the world. Anyway, he is dying. It seems stabbed by one of his own fellow soldiers perhaps in the craziness of a jungle firefight or maybe not - perhaps that was only added to provide a smoother storyline for the mythical and weak drug storyline. The movie takes us through his dying moments - the "what ifs" of a dying man trying to struggle for life and trying to make sense of his life and impending death. He imagines possible alternative lives that he may have led - one with the young hot Jezzie - someone he never would have normally been with. A sexual, hot-tempered, party girl of sorts. The screenplay mkaes it a bit more obvious that she is in fact a demon of sorts - a temptress. He flashes into a continuation of life with his wife (most likely Gabriels mother) and two sons he never actually had. A stable life. He struggles to live and to fight death and there is where the spiritual aspect of the movie kicks in. He is toured through hell - he is tortured in an attempt to clense him of his sins and to provide him with an opportunity to join his son in heaven. If you get a chance to pick up a copy of the scren play the final scene was much better as written than it was eventually played out on the screen. Jezzie's role certainly becomes much more clear.

Well, anyway - a great film. Unfortunate, in my mind, that the drug theme ws included but one can even tie that in as an attempt of a dying man to find some logical explanation

Subject: planet_of_the_apes
Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2001
From: "David

While the make-up and visual effects were stunning, the storyline was quite disappointing. A vague departure from the original film, there were quite a few loopholes left unanswered.

Subject: Newsletter 25
Date: Sat, 28 Jul 2001
From: Donna Farley

The Three Lives of Thomasina, an older Disney movie based on the Paul Gallico novel and starring Patrick McGoohan. Charming and family-friendly.
Donna Farley

Subject: hi
Date: Sat, 28 Jul 2001
From: Tom

re is a review of "Requim for a Dream"?
It's a very good and disturbing film.

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