The Last Airbender
Release Date: September 16
The Last Airbender is the next hotly anticipated film from Writer / Director / Produer M. Knight Shyamalan. Based on the incredibly successful cartoon series by the same name, The Last Airbender is a fantasy tale describing a bitter war between four nations who have the power to manipulate the primordial elements – Earth, Fire, Water and Air. Aang, the child monk, is the last surviving airbender and also the latest incarnation of the Avatar, the mystical being repsonsible for maintaining peace.
The Last Airbender is a vehicle for a distinctly Buddhist philosophy that sees the world in terms of competing forces that must be held in balance. Older readers might remember a similar approach in the 1980’s television series Monkey. The cartoon series has proved just a popular to children today as that series was for a previous generation. There is no ultimate right or wrong; evil is the result when one side is given more precedence than another. Harmony, not truth is the key goal.
The Last Airbender’s established market in afternoon television and M. Knight Shyamalan’s credentials will ensure a large audience amongst children and adults alike. Parents should be ready to give a lot of context to what goes on if they decide to make it a weekend outing for their kids.
Release Date: September 16
Easy A is a comedy about the sort of hard-working rumor mill common to most communities and the very unfunny way it can shape a person’s life.
Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) is a nondescript teenager in a high school full of flashier personalities. However ditching her friend’s camping trip so she can hang out with a fictional ‘George’ starts the chins wagging. Before she knows it she has earned herself a reputation. However Olive finds there’s something attractive about finally being recognised, even as a scarlet woman and a few fantasy affairs cement her new identity.
There are clearly going to be significant sexual references in a film like this one, though there is no explicit imagery to be concerned about. However Easy A is crammed with bigoted Christians with tongue in cheek Bible names like Pontius, Judas and Jezebel. Their leader, Marianne, gleams with unconscious irony as she advises her friends about the only way to deal with a girl like Olive:
“We need to pray for her – but we also need to get rid of her. Jesus tells us to love everyone, even the whores and the homosexuals! But it’s so hard because they just keep doing – it.”
This is just the sort of caricature that is bound to offend the sort of Christian who is unable to see from where the criticism arises. God’s servants have often been the first to reduce Christianity to a series of do’s and don’ts while ladling out condemnation on the very people Jesus came to save.
Easy A’s writer Bert Royal took his inspiration from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter in which a woman called Hester commits adultery and is ostracized by her town. Royal sets the novel as the reading assignment for Olive’s English class, drawing a parallel between his heroine and Hawthorne’s. Both Hester and Olive come to a point where they admit what they did was wrong, but for Royal passing judgment is the real sin and so Olive’s admirer Todd stands ready to offer her unquestioning acceptance. It’s a pity because his role is the one that really belonged to Jesus. When the self-righteous of his day dragged in a woman caught in adultery and demanded permission to stone her, Jesus made it clear that only those who hadn’t stumbled were in a position to judge. He at once made everyone conscious of their own sin – without pretending the woman’s didn’t exist.