Oz the Great and Powerful
Our age venerates self-expression—something our technologies make possible—but we're rarely about whether anyone is actually on receiving end of our Tweets and blogs and podcasts. Connection, then, can suggest a providential, invisible hand operating beneath the surface of apparent randomness. There is nary a reference to religion in The Call; Jordan's strategy for giving Casey hope is not to invoke God but to remind her that they are both Sagittarii—which means they are both fighters. But when Casey's call first come in, Jordan, who has given up taking calls, only happens to be walking past the operator. That seemingly random act is a message pointing her in the right direction.
The providential coincidence, a staple of Victorian literature (and recurs in modern, theistic films such as Bresson's A Man Escaped), was used to reassure an increasingly doubting age that there was rhyme or reason to events that seemed increasingly random or inexplicable. But the modern and postmodern age tends to dismiss coincidence as meaningless clusters within large pools of data (or sloppy writing by lazy writers). So while The Call flirts with the notion that the identity of the speaker offering reassurance on the other end of the line actually matters, it never really addresses the implications for those outside the story—for the scores of those crying out for help who get routed to a different operator.
Oz the Great and Powerful
Oscar Diggs (a.k.a. "Oz") calls out to an unnamed and otherwise unacknowledged God at the end of the prologue to Oz the Great and Powerful, a sort of prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Having used a hot air balloon to escape the circus strong man—who is threatening to injure him for pitching woo at the wrong young lady (and jeering at the jilted lover from a safe distance)—he is buffeted by a CGI tornado that throws 3D shrapnel through his basket and threatens a little more than his pride.
"I'll do great things!" Oz promises whoever or whatever might deliver him, a better illustration of the Kubler-Ross principle of the bargaining stage than of repentance. Lest we get too distracted by the special effects, Oscar repeats, "I can change!" He responds to a scary but safe crash landing with "Thank you, thank you. You won't regret this!"
If the viewer harbored any hopes that this conviction will last longer than the scene itself—that Oz the Great and Powerful might turn into a tale of redemption or reformation—are quickly dashed. Once Oscar sees a pretty girl (Mila Kunis as Theodora), he falls easily back into his rakish ways. "Don't think of them as lies," Oscar insists to one character who tries to nudge him towards the straight and narrow path. "Think of them as stepping stones on the road to . . ." Yes, yes, we get it, truth and goodness are for rubes and simpletons; does it really matter how he ends that sentence?