Archive for September, 2009

(Why You Should Go See) DISTRICT 9 – Question Entertainment Christian Movie REVIEW (spoilers)

September 28, 2009

 

district9_poster-689x1024

District 9 

Signs

The Boy vs. The Cynic

John Reuben

Did you see the District 9 Tribute over at “Lunch Bag Art“?

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Help MAKE A Movie!

September 22, 2009

As most of you know, the film “To Be” is in script form and we are planning to make the movie. I’ve been in contact with a couple people who have experience in getting independent projects off the ground.

 Recently, one of those individuals had this to say about the film.

“I sat in on a reading of the script and thought it was fantastic, funny and would appeal to teens like no other Christian film I’ve yet to see. It’s titled TO BE. Here’s a brief summary: Graf Dorin feels alone, empty and dead. He thinks that ‘To be or not to be,’ are more options than he has ever had. Tormented at school, he finds comfort in the campy horror films of the 1920’s – 1950’s. Graf wonders if he himself is simply one of the Undead-a vampire-and sets out to uncover the truth. During his quest for truth, he is befriended by Roselin, who lets him know that he is ‘dead in his transgressions and sins’ and can be ‘alive in Christ’ through the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice. Vampires are the current top media attraction for teens right now, and will be for a few more years, so I think it’s extremely timely in addition to entertaining. It’s edgy and quirky enough that teens, believers or not, would check it out.”

 Best Selling Author, Jeremy Robinson http://www.jeremyrobinsononline.com/

I have read over the script again, myself, and I still believe in the story and I think it is worth pursuing. I am putting together a package to start shopping the film around to investors.I am editing together some “Test” scenes that we shot to show to investors with the script. You can see them online at

http://www.youtube.com/tobethemovieofficial

 and

http://www.tangle.com/dialtoneproductions.

 It would help a lot right now if you would watch the videos, rate them, comment on them and share them with others. I am very excited about this new opportunity and I hope you will be as well.

inCHRIST christopher

If you would like to help in with a donation of any amount, we will start shooting as soon as we know we can afford to make the movie.

Iron Giant

September 13, 2009

What Is It?

First, it is not a Disney Cartoon. It does have a similar style of animation, and a single mother showcased, but it does not have a song and dance number or any talking animals. It is a Sci-Fi cartoon about a kid in the 50’s who befriends a Giant Iron robot who has bumped his head, so does not remember what he is there for. He hides the robot in a scrap yard with the help of the Beatnik owner (who serves as a bit or a brother/father figure) and is pursued by a government agent who thinks all foreign robotics are evil weapons of the enemy.

This film has been out on video for a while but has recently been re-released because it’s writer/director, Brad Bird, has recently come into the spotlight as his second venture of this type”The Incredibles” which has rightfully gained him a lot of attention. Bird has also worked on “The Simpsons” and wrote 1987’s “*batteries not included

How Was It?

It was a fun movie, references to Superman and 1950’s sci-fi were very cool. I was particularly reminded of 1951’s”The Day The Earth Stood Still.” The acting was good. I didn’t recognize the voices until the credits (Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., Cloris Leachman and Vin Diesel as the robot.) Though set in the 50’s, the film moves very much like a modern cartoon. The only really hokey plot point was that the robot has bumped his head and thus has forgotten who he is and why he’s there. (He regains his memory later and the dent on his head pops back out.)  This is a kid’s story an adult could enjoy.

   Is It Good For Kids?

Unlike “The Incredibles” that was written for a more adult crowd, this film was aimed directly at kids. I think most kids (especially boys) would like this film. Still there are some minor crude words and a lot to do with guns and death (from shot guns to big lazers).  You can check www.ScreenIt.com for a complete break down of elements shown on the screen.

How about Spiritual Issues?

First, there is a funny scene where the boy is asked to say grace. Though played for laughs, I though it was cool to show prayer (even if it was just before a meal) as a normal part of life. The robot’s giant hand is walking around in the kitchen and the boy covers his yelling at the hand with prayers (Oh My God! we thank you. Hey Stop That!.. Satan,)

 Later the boy and robot witness a hunter shooting a deer. They are both sad. The boy explains that guns are bad because they kill. Killing is bad, but death isn’t. This is because all good things (including the robot) have a soul and live forever.

This light explanation does not seem to be educated from Scripture. First of all, in the story of Noah, God gave us the animals of the earth to eat. (Genesis 9:3) Even in this movie, do they want us to believe that the “cold chicken” mom tells him to eat for dinner, died of natural causes?

 Then there is the soul issue. The idea that animals and robots have souls is a very weird one. Still the worrisome part is that the film implies with its “soul lives forever” idea that “If you are good you go to heaven.” This goes against scripture that states Romans 3:12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. This movie-theology also is saying that heaven is possible without the redemption of Jesus. (John 14:6).

Finally the other mantra of the film is that “You can be whoever you decide to be.” (This next part is a spoiler.) Its culmination at the end when the robot remembers it is a Gun. When an atomic missile is launched at it, the robot chooses to be “Superman” instead of a gun. Flying up to meet the bomb in space, the robot sacrifices itself for the rest of the people in the city. (Sounds familiar? It gets more so.) The film ends a couple of days later, when the one piece of the robot the boy has, rolls away. It goes to a far off planet, where all the parts of the robot are coming together. The Robot is once again, alive.

   What Is Your Recommendation?

With the odd view on guns, followed by the incorrect view on Souls and Heaven, resulting in and ending making the Robot the Christ Figure of this new theology… I would say, don’t bother. You would be better off with the less incorrect Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow“, or the totally campy and almost devoid of meaning, send up of 50’s sci-fi “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra” Hay, maybe I’ll just go for the real thing and re-visit “The Day The Earth Stood Still”

Napoleon Dynamite

September 13, 2009

What Is It?

This is a low budget independent film about kids in school, so uncool they are almost cool. It’s an hour and a half of semi-random events befalling Napoleon and his two friends as life just happens to them. They bumble through school, family life and social orders, coming up with little less than very quotable lines and catch phrases

   How Was It?

After that description of “what is it” you may think this question is unnecessary, but… It was hilarious. If you watch the film knowing it’s tacky for the sake of tacky and that it’s character driven to the almost total exclusion of plot… you will have a fun time, and at the end you will start saying things like “sweet bike” and “gosh” (with a sharp tinge to it.) Reports say this film cost about $14,000 to make and then earned around 48 million before being released to video.

   Is It Good For Kids?

The film is very clean. There is a section where the unlikeable Uncle Reco hands out 3 fliers offering Herbs to enhance a woman’s figure, and illustrates briefly with 2 cooking pots. Later the leading lady of the film explains that she is just fine the way she is and doesn’t need anything like that to be accepted.

You can check www.ScreenIt.com for a complete break down of elements shown on the screen.

Though it does not relay anything that would be harmful for kids, its delivery and style would probably bore younger kids. This film is relay geared toward teens and up who want to root for the anti-cool and laugh at well crafted meaningless silliness.

   How about Spiritual Issues?

Though there are no spiritual issues raised (there are almost no issues raised, period). The writers do come from a Mormon background (and have worked on Billy Graham Films as camera men). This seems to have no influence on the film, other than to keep it clean.

   What Is Your Recommendation?

I have already put a “Vote For Pedro” bumper sticker proudly on my guitar case. (That will make more sense after you see the film.) If you want a film you don’t have to think much to enjoy (which is rare) and you are a big enough person to realize they are just having fun and not trying to insult your intelligence… then rent this film and sit back with some junk food and friends and laugh.

Here is a Taste Of Napoleon from David Letterman’s Top Ten List

Napoleon Dynamite

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

September 4, 2009

Alexis_Bledel_in_The_Sisterhood_of_the_Traveling_Pants_Wallpaper_2_1280

What Is It?

This is a film being advertised as a “must see” for mothers and daughters. It’s the story of 4 friends who have known each other since birth. (There mom’s were in the same aerobic class.) They are all near 16 years old when they have to spend their first summer apart. Before leaving they find an amazing pair of jeans that fits them all perfectly. They come up with rules and decide that the magic pants will be kept with each one for a week, then mailed (unwashed) to the next with a letter about their adventures. After this it becomes 4 separate stories that are shared as they all come home.

How Was It?

First, I am NOT this films target audience.

The girls were likable. The idea of a sisterhood, having friends who will be there no matter what, is very appealing. This may be enough to ride people through the film. One of the down points for me was that the two actresses who I was most excited about seeing (Alexis Bledel of the “Gilmore Girls” and Amber Tamblyn of “Joan of Arcadia”) both turned in excellent performances but had stories that seemed to be throw away plots from their respective TV shows.

Each girls’ story seemed to be an attempt to hit the major concerns of most girls, though the resolutions seemed to be the kind that would have been written by a young teen girl, and totally unsatisfying to anyone looking a little deeper than “awwh, they are all happy now.” I’m not opposed to simple happy endings, but the situations they brought up were so complex, and the solutions were not only too simple, but lacking in depth. (HUGE SPOILER)

Girl

Earth Shattering Problem

Neat Solution

Amber Tamblyn
Tibby

Thinks the little girl she’s with is a pest

finds out she’s dying of leukemia

Alexis Blede
Lena

afraid to love, dresses in baggy clothes

wears clothing that shows her shape, disobeys her grandparents and dates a cute Greek guy.

Blake Lively
Bridget

Wants to deal with her mother’s suicide and dad’s emotional absence by sports and throwing herself at boys

goes to soccer camp, loses her virginity to a college boy

She’s 16!

decides it didn’t help because it was for “the wrong reasons.” (Later agrees to date the boy when she’s 20)

America Ferrera
Carmen

Betrayed by dad who walked out and now just wants her around to have a token spot in the his wedding to his new girlfriend

throws a rock at her dad through a window, yells at him over the phone,

decides it’s all better when she gets a token spot in his wedding.
(Hu?)

Is It Good For Kids?

Though there are many (too many) teenaged girls dealing with all these issues, they are definitely too “adult” for most younger kids.
You can check www.ScreenIt.com for a complete break down of elements shown on the screen.

Is It Good For Teen Boys?

There are far too many attractive girls wearing way to little: trading pants in front of the camera, checking to see that “everyone’s butt looks great in these pants,” soccer camp with girls in sports bras and hot pants jogging, and Lena getting over her baggy clothes thing by stripping to her underwear and swimming off a dock. (She is then joined by the cute Greek guy.)

I spent way to much time having to look at the walls until my wife told me they were clothed again.

Really I don’t think it’s good for teen girls to have this as an example either….

 

How about Spiritual Issues?

There is a lot of talk about faith, but there seems to be no reason for their faith. It is never clear what their faith is in. Then the dad that is living with his girlfriend has become a Christian (praying “in Jesus’ name”) to fit in with the family he now lives with.

I am also just bugged by Bridget’s experience. First there is nothing to deal with the fact that it’s statutory! Second, the Bible says that it will make you one with the other person. Even if it’s used wrong, it still creates an emotional bond, especially in an emotionally needy 16 year old girl her first time… The glib way this is handled robs it of all its power and sends a very wrong message… Its just something you can do, but don’t do it to escape other things.

What Is Your Recommendation?

I would say, if you are going to give some of your summer to the sisterhood, make sure you do go with your daughter, and talk about the huge issues they bring up and the simplistic Brady-esk solutions that answer them.

Though if you would like a fun film for “Girls Night” that deals with social pleasures or teen life, and even sex, but with better answers and a seemingly correct view, check out Jennifer Garner in “13 going on 30” on DVD.

13 Going On 30

The Simpsons Movie

September 3, 2009

What Is It?

The TV series started in 1989 and is still on the air. The characters were actually invented for skits on the Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. This has been a long time coming. The dysfunctional yellow cartoon family, with heart, that started the Cartoons for adults (mostly watched by teens, then marketed to younger kids when their fan base wanes) craze that has given us Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and direct rip offs like “Family Guy”.

How was it?

It was like a well done episode of the show. It did not just fill the time in the screen, but used the extra time and extra large screen to do more of “what ever a Simpson episode does.” The fact that it was a movie let them put in more crude things and more violence and socially unacceptable behavior than they seem to feel they can do on TV. For example, in the show there is an episode that deals with Homer doing drugs, in the movie there is a shot of the bus driver with a bong and there is no further comment. All in all this is just what I remember from the show in a bigger way. (The stuff with the punk band “Green Day” at the beginning is very clever.)

Was It Good For Kids?

While, it’s a cartoon with silly meal prize tie ins at fast food stores, the reality of it is, that the film was made for adults and older teens. There is a bedroom scene with Homer (Dan Castellanetaand) Marge  (Julie Kavner) being assisted by “Snow White” style animals, Bart Simpson (Nancy Cartwright) skateboards naked, there are gay police kissing, drug and alcohol use and misuse, lots of weapons, and references to anatomy. The popular cuss word is “God” and the tension of the final confrontation is broken by Marge (one of the two main characters we can respect) yelling G…D…. There is a lot presented as irony here that kids will pick up as suggestions.

Look at Screenit.com for a complete break down of the elements shown on the screen.

What about spiritual issues?

Oddly, there is only one reference to the Simpson’s sanctioned Buddhism, and it’s not even from Lisa (Yeardley Smith). Ned Flanders (Harry Shearer) is still the sole “Good Christian” (apparently, an average evangelical, until the writers are unsure of what an evangelical would do, then he’s a Catholic). He is actually the voice of reason and the example of true fatherhood throughout the film. However, that seems to just be an amusing coincidence. Young teen, Bart (Nancy Cartwright), gets drunk when he thinks that he prefers someone like Flanders over his cool, but clueless, Dad.

The Church scene is pivital. Homer states that it doesn’t matter that they are late to talk about this “phony bologna God”. While they are in church, Grandpa (also Dan Castellanetaand) is struck by a light from the window, and starts to give a wild prophesy, while falling on the ground and convulsing. When Marge tells Homer to help, Homer exclaims that he cannot because, “There aren’t any answers in this book!” Yes, he is holding the Bible. The joke here is not “Look how dumb Homer is, he thinks the Bible has no answers and that God is not real.” The joke is “Look how dumb Homer is, he doesn’t know that you are not supposed to admit those things in church.”

I very much dispise this view of the church (particularty when I see it in the church itself). The Bible is useless but someone’s personal religious experience is “right” or “real”. In actuality, any experience we have should be checked against the Bible for interpretation, not the other way around. 2 Timothy 3:16 Romans 3:4

And just in case you get confused and think that despite the Bible slam, Grampa’s prophesy makes this film Pro-God, Homer is later rescued by a large chested Medicine woman (Tress MacNeille), who aids him with his self revelation, through mysticism.

What is your recommendation?

This is a funny movie with some good ideas and a lot of bad ones.

Though, I must say that I was fairly warned. The movie opens with Homer Simpson rebuking the viewing audience with the words, “If you ask me, everybody in this theater is a giant sucker! Especially you!”

Who am I to argue with the experts?