Monday, May 25, 2009
Do Secular Miracles Happen?
There is the possiblity of miracles in the air when a smudge appears on a freshly finished exterior wall on Henry Poole’s modest Los Angeles house. Luke Wilson as Henry Poole has other things to worry or veg out about. He arrives in the neighborhood, buys a house and mops about drinking all day until the very unordinary characters of a very ordinary neighborhood cross his path.
Do miracles happen to non-believers in a secular world? Do secular miracles happen?
I saw this flick on cable showing a remarkable slice of a man’s life as he retreats into himself trying to reconcile his life and sort things out so to speak.
“Henry Poole is Here” is an every man’s story that did not do well at the box office. I am reminded of the Jimmy Stewart flick “It’s a Wonderful Life” that took decades to be rediscovered on video and take on the mantle of “classic”. Henry Poole is one such flick in my opinion. It is a classic waiting to be recognized as such.
Luke Wilson in any other movie age could be a Cary Grant with his talents and screen presence. Where have all those old great stars gone? They are walking around today with less aura and more bucks in their pocket.
Henry Poole is Here
Getting back to this movie which has a secular aspect to the way of looking at the complicated human emotions of hope, fear, faith. Albert Torres, without many other screen credits, wrote an absolutely excellent balanced view of the origin of miracles and man’s reaction to them – with overtones of the existential. Of course in our modern secular age, miracles don’t happen in cathedrals and in the presence of saints’ relics. Images of Elvis and Jesus are more than likely to happen on French Fries at Wendy’s and witness “miraculous” events.
Miracles happen all around us. Some of us can blame God for miracles. Miracles can be explained away as coincidence what ever that is.
Henry’s place in the scheme of things is minimalist. We can only guess as to his past. His beliefs about God and the universe remain largely locked within his head throughout the movie.
When a stain on a wall in his back yard appears and his religious Hispanic neighbor sees Jesus in the stain, all hell breaks loose in Henry’s Poole retreat from the world.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot. It is a movie where believers, non-believers and people on the fence will not feel uncomfortable in watching this very California laid back paced light drama.
There is a quote from a once legally blind girl in the movie, who believes in faith and miracles, and who goes on with her ordinary life after what appears to be a profound miraculous moment in her life. She quotes Noam Chomsky which nearly went totally over my head. I do not take away from Noam or B.F. or Marshall. I do not know how much of academia’s Parnassic knowledge actually trickles down to earth among us mere mortals. Sometimes a quote from the top tier makes more sense than things written in the bible. The Noam quote went a little over my head in that I cannot repeat it word for word. I understood the gist of the saying. The basic gist of the quote is that science cannot explain everything and sometimes things just happen in the universe.
If you are in the mood for a rainy day afternoon movie with some subtle thought content, give this flick a try.