Archive for January, 2009

Cult of Sincerity Q&E Review Show

January 28, 2009

What Is It?

 

This is an independent film with the distinct honor of being the first movie to be released on YouTube.com. Now it is available for sale and download. It is about a 20 something “Hipster” who gets up at open mike night and talks about how everything they are doing is stupid. He says that their entire generation is just a bunch of sarcastic, whiney, sad people and he wants to find sincerity. Within a cast of Zany Characters, just toned down enough to be real, he sets out to do nice things and put the most sincere statements on his t-shirts.

 

How Was It?

 

It was very funny. The acting was good and all the characters, though each very specifically represents a line of thinking, were believable and fun. It had a lot of great moments and quotable lines.

 

Is It Good For Kids?

There is no violence and the only nudity is his out of shape male roommate who plays gimmicky video games in his boxers and socks. What it lacks in the first two vices it makes up for in cussing. No one ever takes the Lord’s name in vain but every other major cuss word is represented. (With movies like this and “Juno” doing Sweet and Personal, riddled with cuss words, how will hard boiled directors show that their characters are “bad”?) There is also a character who explains that she is hoping to find love by sleeping with multiple people. In a very funny scene, the main character is trying to apologize to anyone who has been wronged by society. A Jewish man holding hands with a black man come over and the only comment is “I just don’t know where to start.”

 

What About Spiritual Issues?

 

This is an oddly interesting point in the movie. In this film, almost every major wrong idea people have about Christianity and philosophy is broken down. From “Christian’s are bad because of the crusades” to “whatever makes you happy is the thing to do.” It’s all torn down. You see a person try very hard to live to serve others and it starts to make him happy.

(Spoiler)

The major philosophical revelation comes from a guy at the bar. He explains that there has always been over privileged kids who think they are the only ones who know what is wrong with society. He ends with a story that tells you the world is awful but makes sense if you believe in love. When the man is asked if he believes in love he lets them know that he is a Christian. The odd thing here is that the line is “I’m a Christian you m—– —-er.”

 

What Is Your Recommendation?

 

This is a fun little film. It is reminiscent of Chillicothe (but not as good as Chillicothe). It also has a lot of good things to say as well as things that will leave you scratching your head wondering “Why did they say it like that”?

If this is something you are going to watch with your older kids, you will want to talk about the issues. Otherwise, it might settle in their minds as the “hipster posturing” that it is trying to rebel against.

B001MBTT3U Cult Of Sincerity – DVD

B001LU295C The Cult Of Sincerity –  Video On Demand rental

B001LU295C The Cult Of Sincerity –  Video On Demand  Download to own

THE CULT OF SINCERITY  
  Home Story Characters Filmmakers   Extras   News   Contact  
  item1

 

Advertisements

Frank Peretti’s The Visitation

January 26, 2009

visitation

What Is It?

Ralph Winter made a lot of money when he produced the critically acclaimed X-Men Movies, and more money when he produced the critically disdained Fantastic Four movies. After X-men, he was looking for other work that could be brought to screen. Literary work that, like comic books, would have a built in audience to make the movie an immediate success (moviegoers would then tell their friends , thereby spreading the movie’s fan base) . This search led Winter to the supernatural thrillers of Christian author Frank Peretti. The rumored goal here is to make two low budget films (2003‘s Buffy-esque “The Hang Man’s Curse” and this film) to prove to Hollywood that there is money to be made in Peretti’s books. This realization of profit will be Winter’s ammunition to make a big budget version of Peretti’s mega hit “This Present Darkness”.

So, to the subject at hand

… This is a “direct to video” horror… e r… creepy film. A Midwest town is put on the map when miraculous signs start invading their benign existence. From supernatural healings to the likeness of Jesus’ face in the stained tile of the bathroom wall, everyone is touched by the accompanying message : “He Is Coming.” .

Revival meetings start. One pastor (Randy Travis) believes this may be demonic. One former pastor (Martin Donovan) believes this may be linked to the ritualistic murder of his wife. One mom  (Kelly Lynch) is fearful her son (Noah Segan) is in danger and the son, along with most the town, believes that a messiah has come for them… and maybe he has.

How Was It?

This comes off like a good episode of the WB’s “Supernatural” with a side of “CSI” for spice. It’s a little rough at the beginning . Some of it is cool. Other parts, particularly the “shocking” bits, come out flat. As the film goes on, it finds its pacing and starts to entertain in a worthwhile way.

Is It Good For Kids?

The movie is very clean. Still, this may be disturbing, especially (spoiler) the child abuse crucifixion scene. Though this film is fiction, it deals with demons and the spiritual realm . The idea that some of this may “be possible” may be scarier than the actual movie.

There are also some allusions to sexuality.

What About Spiritual Issues?

They are monumental. This film deals with spiritual warfare. It clearly shows Satan as evil and Jesus as the only real and logical answer to that evil. The only issue here is that it may overemphasize evil. Still , instead of totally reveling in it, we see the that evil is there and that it needs to be dealt with.

What Is Your Recommendation?

It’s not “The Exorcism of Emily Rose ”, “The Green Mile” or “Signs ” but it’s still fun. If you are looking for something to rent, and you are free of younger kids, it would be worth picking up. And hey , if you like it, you can support the prospect of bigger, cooler movies, with a Christian theme, hitting the theater.

Did I mention that the screen play was done by Brian Godawa who also wrote “To End All Wars “? (I can’t believe you haven’t seen “To End All Wars ” yet!)

B000BZISXK The Visitation

1595541209 The Visitation by Frank Peretti

1581345283 This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti

B00021R7BM To End All Wars

C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia Prince Caspian Q&E Review Show

January 20, 2009

Also, you can read the full review/analysis of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe

ABIGAIL ROONEY’s jewelry from www.liasophia.com/abigailrooney

B00005JPH2 The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

B000HC2LVM The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

0061231657 The Chronicles of Narnia Book Set

0066238501 The Chronicles of Narnia in one volume

Walk The Line

January 19, 2009

What Is It?

The long awaited (at least by me) bio-pic of Johnny Cash and his rocky relationships and eventual redemption. The story starts with him as a child, where we meet his hymn loving mother and alcoholic father. We follow him through his early years and his rocket to success, all leading him to June Carter.

How Was It?

The story was intricate and interesting. The acting was superb. There are a lot of people calling for Oscar nominations, and I have to agree. These people become the historical figures that they are portraying. They will take you on a sometimes fun, sometimes tragic, always emotionally engaging ride, with a whole lot of great music along the way.

Was It Good For Kids?

This would be very hard for kids to follow. Younger people may find the story “boring” for that reason. (Though, they could be hooked by the fabulous music). I think the main problem is that we are shown Mr. Cash springing down into depravity. It is shown as bad, but he is still the likable hero. Most children will not be able to separate the “value judgments” made about his actions from the actions themselves.

You can get a complete breakdown of what is on the screen at Screenit.com.

What About Spiritual Issues?

In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Bono of U2 said that the songs that most “get him going” are the ones about people running toward God or running away from God, because both “put God at the center”. I kept thinking about that throughout this film. God seems to be a constant looming presence in all the activities. His brother wants to be a preacher, his mother gives him a hymnal, and Johnny is running, either moving away or toward God.

On the way to a concert, Jerry Lee Lewis says something to the effect of (I can’t remember verbatim): “We are all going to Hell. We are not supposed to eat the forbidden fruit, we are not supposed to touch it, come near it or sing about it. (It was much better worded in the film.). This idea permeates the film. Most of the characters (or people portrayed in the film) come out of a church culture. They see what they are doing as sinful, but then handle it differently. Some feel separated; others are still looking for something. Johnny suffers from a feeling of inferiority, that he cannot do any good, because he is not good enough.

The other great thing about this film is that they show sinful behavior, but only enough to make the point, not enough to be tantalizing. Particularly with his extramarital affairs, they show you that they are happening, or have happened, but we never need to see the actions themselves. They also show that it was “fun” but that the joy of the sin is fleeting. It was one of the best depictions of sin I have seen in a long time.

The problem is the dichotomy between salvation from God and salvation from finding human love and morals. It may be that they are saying that the God thing was a part of his life, but it was more about morals and June Carter. Though Johnny, in real life, never strayed away from the darker side (hey, he was the Man In Black), after his conversion/ re-dedication his faith was always a constant part of his life and music. They seem to have taken a lot of the emphasis off his spirituality (especially in the short portion they showed of his Folsome Prison show).

When he was alive, he and producer Rick Ruben came out with a 3 disc retrospective of his life. The discs were called “Love, Murder, God” because they felt that all of his music could be categorized in those three. It seems the producers of this film lost there third disc.

What Is Your Recommendation?

This is a very, very good movie. Brian Godawa charges the filmmakers with “raping the story of its spiritual content”. I would have to see it again to agree or not, but he does make a lot of great points.

The movie defiantly puts less emphasis on his spiritual life than was there (from what I know of the man). Though, the way the spirituality is there, brooding under the surface, reminds me of one of Johnny Cash’s own albums.

I’m not sure if it is a positive movie. I don’t know what Mr. Cash would have thought himself, but this movie defiantly brings up a lot of issues surrounding God and grace. This movie could spark some great thoughts and great conversation. If you go, you will be very entertained. You’ll also get a lot more out of it if you go with someone willing to talk it through afterward.

B000E8QVWY Walk the Line

P.S. If you see it, and then are scrambling for some of the music, I suggest “The Legend Of Johnny Cash*” “American IV: The Man Comes Around” and “My Mother’s Hymn Book” After that, if you need more, just start with his Final album and work your way back.

*You will want to shield your kids from the photo under the disc and the song “Delia”.

P.S.

When he was alive, Mr. Cash did make his own movie about life, sin and redemption.

B000E8N8SE The Gospel Road

Ok, This may be unrelated, but here are his last two music videos:

and this was my take on “Hurt”

Harry Potter Year 1-3

January 17, 2009

 

What Is It?

This is the super popular series about an average boy growing into teen and adulthood while attending a boarding school for “witches.” The series seems to hook you with the fantasy aspects and then keep you with the true to life coming of age stories.

It starts in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with the discovery of his (Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter) powers and his integration into a new world. He discovers that his parents died to protect him from the most powerful evil wizard ever. He is thus the only one to ever survive an encounter with the evil wizard Voldemort. This makes him a celebrity for a little while, but he quickly falls in with the underdogs.

In the second film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, he goes back to school and has to deal with strange voices and people being frozen. It seems that a secret chamber has been opened, and it causes a new wave of prejudice against Mudbloods (a half mortal, half wizard – a “mud blood”).

Then, in the third year, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, he runs away from his “mortal home” only to find a former friend of his dad’s is now an escaped wizard coming to kill Harry. Now that this wizard, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), is on the loose, the school is being guarded by dementors – dark robed figures, a cross between “The Grim Reaper” and a “Ring Wraith“. With the help of the new “Defense against the Dark Arts” teacher (the third in so many years.) Harry will try to overcome all that is coming for him.

In all three movies, Harry continues to be picked on by Malfoy (Tom Felton) and other peers at the school. He is intimidated by a teacher named Snape. (Alan Rickman) He is mentored by a professor named Dumbledore. (Michael Gambon) At the center of it all, he is has a growing relationship with the too smart for her own good Hermione  (Emma Watson) and the upper-average Ron.(Rupert Grint)

How Was It?

(NOTE: at this point I have only read the first and third book.)

There is a huge effort to stay true to the source material. The author, J.K. Rowling,  is consulted on all the films. If you have read the books, you will get to see everything. In the first movie, there was a plot line about a pet dragon that was cut out, but they made sure that it was mentioned and that we got to see the dragon on the screen. It almost seems as though the books and movies are made to be used together.

They have a “live action cartoon” feel, and include long dialog explaining all the new rules for the world so that some of this makes sense. This makes more sense in the first movie, but becomes tiresome as things go on.

The acting is stellar – if these kids can break the typecast their careers are unstoppable. (And if they have a good accountant, after this series their bank accounts will be unstoppable.)

The first was the best. They continue to get darker, which isn’t a bad thing. Still, it can feel like they are adding “darkness” to make up for any absence of continuing depth.

The effects get better as their budgets grow. Though the subject mater will draw constant comparisons, this series will never get to the technical level of Lord of the Rings, but that doesn’t matter if you see it as a kid’s movie with an edge.

Is it good for Children?

I have a few thoughts on this:

First, some of this may be scary to kids. Unfortunately for the worried parent, each movie is a step deeper into the wood, so if one film seems okay for your child, the next probably will not be.

You can check Screenit.com for a complete break down of what is on the screen.

My second thought is just my “artsy snob” side coming out. These are well done films based on well done books. This being said, these themes and styles of characters are done much better in other places (The Chronicles of Narnia, Dracula and The Lord of the Rings). It’s sad to me to see so many kids with this as the standard to which all fantasy is judged.

And finally…

What About Spiritual Issues?

The first problem most of the Christian community sees in this series is the use of magic. Yes, the Bible condemns it. Yes, it is flaunted in these books and movies and the only people who think poorly about witchcraft are given a horrid sounding name and are characters of unthinking hatred, fitting of a Roald Dahl book.

The magic here is from an undetermined source. (This differs from “Lord of the Rings” where all power is attributed to either the Author of Evil, or the Creator and Ruler of Good.) Yes, this uses the term witch, and yes, this could cause a child to look into or stumble upon the fastest growing religion in American high schools. (I personally know a witch who first though to leave the church for a coven after being introduced to Harry.) This becomes more confused in the third film. There is a creature that has no power but to come to you in the form of whatever scares you the most. The spell to defeat the boggart is to think of the object of your fear in a silly way (such as imagining the scary man in a funny dress or the giant spider flopping around on roller skates). Once you have the silliness in mind you say the magic word “Riddikulus.” Though your child will never be attacked by a “boggart” this does include some advice with a lot of common sense. But that is not the point of these stories.

The thing that will continue to draw people to Harry is the familiar in the midst of that fantastic. Harry lives his life in a school. He’s not the most popular, he’s not the teachers pet, and he’s not the smartest. He’s just a regular kid trying to deal with life as a student. The way he interacts with his teachers and fellow students is what kids are going to take out of this. Here we see that as long as you have a “good” reason for it, breaking the rules is not only okay, it’s necessary. This begins at Harry’s first broom class where they are told to stay off their brooms until the teacher returns. When a bully steals a boy’s glasses, Harry mounts his broom and retrieves the glasses. He is caught on the broom. The consequence – he’s made the seeker on the Quiddich team (the equivalent to a freshman being named quarterback.) Hermione tells him that this may make him think that breaking rules is good, but he will find out otherwise. I though the story would play out to teach Harry that lesson. Hermione and I were wrong. In a scene where the truth is very reasonable, Hermione makes up a lie for the teachers to keep her friends out of trouble. From there on in we know that deception and rule breaking for the sake of friends, family and justice is the only rule to follow at Hogwarts School. In fact, in the book it specifically states (around page 96) that Hermione was a much better friend now that she knew the rules were not that important.

Even if this line is not in the film, the idea is reinforced again and again. At the end of the first movie, Headmaster Dumbledore explains that he hid things in places that were off limits knowing Harry would need them and find them there. The second movie ends with Dumbledore explaining to Harry that he has broken almost every rule in the Hogwart’s book. After this mock scolding Harry is told that he will be receiving the highest award a student can receive. In the third film Harry is restricted to the school for his own protection. He is given a map that shows him where everyone is, thus allowing him to be able to sneak out at will. (In the book you find out that this map was authored by Harry’s father.) The sneaking around then helps the real bad guy get caught. The map is called “The Marauder’s Map” It is opened by solemnly swearing that the user is “up to no good” and closed by saying “mischief managed.” These magic words also open and close the cast and credits rolling at the end.

What Is Your Recommendation?

I do not think that we need any more encouragement to think that we are a law unto ourselves. Children and young people are at stages where they are still deciding if they will fight their impulses to disobey their teachers and authorities. I can not see this series helping them to make the right decision. (It blows my mind to think that there are teachers all over this country embracing and encouraging a series about a kid that accomplishes good by means of disobeying his teachers.)

Still, there is an interesting twist to all this. Though most of the “magic” has unknown origins, there is a power that Harry has that can fend off the most powerful of evil. This power comes directly from the sacrificial love of his parents. In a story that rebels against all the basic tenants of Christianity, it’s fascinating to see that at the center there is a longing for love that is embodied in the person of Jesus.

To End All Wars

January 15, 2009

teaw

What Is It?

During World War II, a group of Scottish solders have surrendered. One American, cut off from his own troop, has joined them. Now, in a Japanese prison camp, the men quickly realize there is no escape, so they look for a way to survive. Here we see personalities, cultures, and world views clash, not just between the captors and their captives, but between the individual characters. Based on a true story and book by the same name, this is the first film by screenwriter Brian Godawa to make it to production (he also adapted “the Visitation“by Frank Peretti).

How Was It?

This was a bit slow at first. The film makers seem to be trying to preserve the book by using lots of voice overs. It gets going though as you meet all the players and see who they are. Then it is just exciting. The film uses actual photos from the prison camp along with photos of the actors. These blend very nicely and provide for a great effect. There is also Kiefer Sutherland, While he’s not the main focus here, he is always entertaining and adds some great mood to the film.

Is It Good For Kids?

It’s an R Rated P.O.W. film. www.ScreenIt.com does not seem to list this film, but it contains cussing, violence, and war atrocities….

(Though I do not believe anyone ever takes the Lord’s name in vaine, wich is very cool.)

How about Spiritual Issues?

(Anything I say here is going to be a SPOILER.)

The P.O.W.s start a school as a way for them to keep their dignity and to grow mentally. They begin with a study of Plato‘sRepublic and the question of “What Is Justice?”. Soon they add Shakespeare and The Bible (That’s right!). The Bible then teaches them how to do things like be self-sacrificing and love your enemies, which they live out to an amazing degree.

What Is Your Recommendation?

If you can handle a well done P.O.W. film (nothing is gratuitous, but it is a P.O.W. camp), then there is so much here. This is an inspiring film that you need to see.

 B00021R7BM To End All Wars DVD

0007118481 To End All Wars Book

0830823212 Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom & Discernment by Brian Godawa

Burn After Reading Q&E Review Show

January 14, 2009

B001JIE7JC Burn After Reading

Looking back into the Bible

January 14, 2009

I received a great message from a pastor friend of mine, and I wanted to share it with you.

 I like your above Scripture verse for testing movies and I would add a few others as well – here they are –

  • Psalms 101:2-4;
  • 2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
           when will you come to me?
           I will walk in my house
           with blameless heart.
     3 I will set before my eyes
           no vile thing.
           The deeds of faithless men I hate;
           they will not cling to me.

     4 Men of perverse heart shall be far from me;
           I will have nothing to do with evil.

  • Rom. 12:1-2;
  • 1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
  • Prov. 4:23;
  •  23 Above all else, guard your heart,
           for it is the wellspring of life.
  • Phil. 4:8;
  • 8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
  • Matt. 6:22-23;
  • 22“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
  • Ps. 11:5;
  •  5 The LORD examines the righteous,
           but the wicked [a] and those who love violence
           his soul hates.
  • Eph. 5:3-7, 11-12;
  • 3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a] 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be partners with them.
  • 11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.
  • Ps. 141:4;
  • 4 Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil,
           to take part in wicked deeds
           with men who are evildoers;
           let me not eat of their delicacies.
  • Ps. 119:101;
  •  101 I have kept my feet from every evil path
           so that I might obey your word.
  • Hab. 1:13;
  • 13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
           you cannot tolerate wrong.
           Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
           Why are you silent while the wicked
           swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
  • Prov. 16:17;
  • 17 The highway of the upright avoids evil;
           he who guards his way guards his life
  • Prov. 14:9;
  •  9 Fools mock at making amends for sin,
           but goodwill is found among the upright.
  • 1 Cor. 6:12;
  • 12“Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
  • 2 Peter 1:4
  • 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

 – check these verses out and let me know what you think.

I would add the next verses to Ephesians 5:11-12

 13But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:
   “Wake up, O sleeper,
      rise from the dead,
   and Christ will shine on you.”

And I would love to hear what you think of this. Let me know in the comments.