Archive for December, 2009

Bella

December 28, 2009

 

What Is It?

Bella is the simple story of a man who walks out on his job for a day to comfort a waitress who has just been fired. While they go one a trip through the city they also explore their own souls.

How Was It?

Many people like independent films because they go places that Hollywood can not. Places that are not obviously marketable but are instead real, emotional, beautiful, and gripping. Bella charts it’s course too slowly but beautifully though issues of life and death, love and family. I enjoyed Eduardo Verástegui as Jose the main character who serves as the shuttle in this movie’s weaving loom of a story.  His performance helps bring out all the other characters. It’s wonderful to get to know these people (and wounder what the soccer players have to do with it all.)

Is It Good For Kids?

The thing that will mostly alienate younger viewers is simply the maturity of the story and the issues they are dealing with.

There is no cussing or sexuality shown, though the waitress (Tammy Blanchard) is pregnant and talks about here boyfriend not wanting it. The “option” of abortion seems to be her only choice. Still, the cause for kids would be

SPOILER

a seen where a little girl is run over by a car and killed in front of her mother. It is not gory. In Fact it is quite tasteful in its presentation. Even with that, it is as emotional as that subject matter should be. I think some adults will have a hard time with this scene, some kids will definitely have a hard time with it.

What About Spiritual Issues.

This film does slowly reveal it’s correct Christian world view.  Not only in word but in dead. This is not a fluffy “I have Jesus, now everything is as shiny as a Lisa Frank  sticker.” Instead we see real people make hard choices because they trust in what is right and more important than their circumstances.

What Is Your Recommendation?

This film will require your attention but will not arrest it like films on a higher scale. Still I think you will be richly rewarded for your time with this deep emotional film.

Bella

The Polar Express

December 22, 2009

What Is It?

The movie is based on a children’s book about a doubting boy who travels on a magical train and finds that, if he believes, that there really is a Santa. The story is stretched over an hour and utilizes a new computer animation technique. Actors have little sensors put all over there face and body. Then their performances are digitally entered into a computer and rendered as the computer characters. This allows Tom Hanks to play 5 characters including the child we follow throughout the film.

How Was It?

The animation was well done, but a little creepy. The people are almost real, but just plastic enough to be strange ( not to mention that they never blink). There are several scenes where things just degenerate into first person roller coaster effects. I found out that it was originally presented in IMAX 3D , which would make this repetitive effect a little less pointless.

The plot feels very contrived. There are several other kids added who each have “life lessons” of their own. Songs are trite and pointless. There is a moment with the train conductors looking for some part of the train (that causes another roller coaster screen) that is almost genuine cartoon fun. For the most part though, this is just numbing animation that tries to be deep, but mostly becomes confusing and contrived.

On top of it all, the charming “Classic Christmas” motif was nice until they shattered it with a weird cameo by Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler as a rock singing elf.

Tom Hanks is a good actor, but the others….

Was It Good For Kids?

There is nothing particularly vulgar about the film.

You can check Screenit.com to see what exactly happens on the screen.

I have had kids tell me they liked it, but not have a lot to say about why. The issues here may be much more in the dizzying spiritual ideas that make as little sense as the rest of the poorly contrived plot. So without further ado ….

What About Spiritual Issues?

This film seems to have a lot about “belief” in it, not “believe in anything” but ” belief” for the sake of “belief” itself. The child does not believe in Santa, so he is whisked off to learn the power of “Belief.” At the end (spoiler) there is a bell that only those who “Believe” can hear. The boy learns to hear it and as he gets older, though most can no longer hear the bell , our hero can for his entire life.

The idea that belief is a power that needs to be applied for no reason, is not one that goes with the Bible. Our God is a specific being that gives proofs from the logic of the Bible to the wonder of creation. Our faith is not blind but educated. We can know God is there and our belief grows out of trust. Although some of the statements from the movie, if taken out of context, are true, it is still offer s you a “belief” in nothing.

The only time that the there is an object to of the belief is when a homeless man asks if the hero boy believes in ghosts. Though the boy says “NO”, he learns to believe in them as he is talk s to one who gives him aid throughout the rest of the film.

Still this is just Belief as the idea that you know something is real. Not belief in the sense that you have put your trust and hope in it.

What Is Your Recommendation?

This is just the slow moving, overly analysed and specialized humanism that Writer/Director Robert Zemeckis brought us in Forest Gump. There are a lot of good holiday films. This is not one of them. Though your children may be willing to be quiet for the time that the film is running, there are much better options for kids’ films. People will continue to say that they find “Christian Themes  in this film, but that is because they are not paying attention. They heard a word they knew and instead of seeing how the film was defining it, they inflicted there own definition on the movie. I can not see how this can be healthy or worth while.

#31 – Top Money Makers of the Decade – The Incredibles

December 21, 2009

We have taken the list of the Top Money Makers of the Decade and we are doing the “Question Entertainment Lightning Round”
I hope you like it. Let us know your thoughts.

See them all at http://www.youtube.com/user/1ThessFIVE21and22#p/c/A4E6B15329949FF4

The Incredibles

#33 – Top Money Makers of the Decade – Hancock

December 20, 2009

(I want sunglasses like that)

We have taken the list of the Top Money Makers of the Decade and we are doing the “Question Entertainment Lightning Round”
I hope you like it. Let us know your thoughts.

See them all at http://www.youtube.com/user/1ThessFIVE21and22#p/c/A4E6B15329949FF4

Flushed Away

December 20, 2009

What Is It?

This is the first computer animated outing for the Aardman Animations, the English animation group, who have been doing Claymation for years, including Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit. Headman Nick Park was not involved (though he does the voice a slug) in this American made film. It was instead, overseen by his partner Peter Lord.

Flushed Away is the story of a well-to-do mouse (Hugh Jackman) who is flushed right out of his plush lifestyle and into the buzzing dirty metropolis of sewer rat existence. (It is all very “Bug’s life” “Flintstones”.) He then has a run in with the Frog Mob Boss (Ian McKellen) running the town…. adventure and antics ensue.

How Was It?

This was fun. It was the same kind of English humor you are used to from Aardman Animations but with the American pacing your used to from every other* kids movie. (*At least the well done films, like those from Pixar.)

Odd Note: I think this is the first Aardman Animations film where some one eats meat.

Was It Good For Kids?

For the most part it is fine, though they will probably pick up on lines like “the booty is in the booty” and that could become annoying. Two characters are on a “zip line”, with the girl grabs holding line and the boy holding on to her pants, that expectedly give way. Still nothing is “Sexy” it’s just silly and is followed by the line, “that’s something else I didn’t want to see.” There is also a Tom Jones parody where a grandma screams with delight and then “Tom” is hit in the face with a large pair of underwear.

For a break down of everything on the screen look at Screenit.com.

What about Spiritual Issues?

This film does have some solid Christian tie-ins (Which made it even more odd to me to find out that Nick Park was not really involved.) There is a “Doom’s Day Prophet”  (Sam Fell) letting people know that the flood is coming. It is played for laughs. (Slight Spoiler) Though he looks silly, he turns out to be exactly right. (Big Spoiler) At the end he prophesied that help would come, in a way that points out Roddy’s (Hugh Jackman) self sacrifice. This points to Jesus. (Roddy is a freedom bringer.)

What Is Your Recommendation?

This is more fun with less problems than most kids films. Add a connection to Christ and you have the value of your rental and some great conversations about family, “stuff” vs relationships and self sacrifice.

Flushed Away

#33 – Top Money Makers of the Decade – Ratatouille

December 19, 2009

 

We have taken the list of the Top Money Makers of the Decade and we are doing the “Question Entertainment Lightning Round”
I hope you like it. Let us know your thoughts.

See them all at

 http://www.youtube.com/user/1ThessFIVE21and22#p/c/A4E6B15329949FF4

What Is It?

This is the second collaboration between Pixar and writer/director Brian Byrd. Their first outing, The Incredibles, lived up to it’s name. Now Ratatouille… um… does not easily lend itself to pithy comments.

It is the story of a rat (Patton Oswalt)who wants to be a gourmet cook, a boy (Lou Romano) who does not know how to cook, nor does he know that he is the heir to a restaurant dynasty, and finally the evil, short chef (Ian Holm)who wants to simply cash in on his late mentor’s reputation.

How Was It?

This was not the achievement that the Incredibles was, but it is much better than Byrd’s early film, The Iron Giant. The movie is altogether fun to watch with enjoyable characters, whimsical story twists, and great visuals. I especially liked Anton Ego’s (Peter O’Toole) house. To complement his corps like presents, his hall is coffin shaped and you can see the smile of a skull in his old typewriter. I also appreciate the fact that they have someone who they say is a great writer, and instead of just leaving it at that and showing people’s reaction to his writing, we actually hear his entire article. It is at the climax of the film, making it even more daring a move.

Is It Good For Kids?

There is no cussing (other than the line “welcome to hell” referring to work), violence in minimal and slapstick and no one is shown inappropriately. The rats occasionally “Steal” food, but every time the action is condemned in explicit terms with negative consequences following directly. There is also an Aladdin style racism, where they are in a foreign country, all the evil characters and comic relief people have thick accents and the two hero’s have the American TV “No-accent”

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

What About Spiritual Issues?

Stealing is show throughout the film but, as I said, always with a verbal rebuke and eventually with negative consequences. This movie is very careful to explain itself at many points. Similarly, Remy the Rat (Patton Oswalt) talks with Gusteau (Brad Garrett) a dead chef. Gusteau has lots of lines pointing out that he is not a ghost but only imagined by Remy. He even goes so far to state that Gusteau only knows what Remy already knows himself, because Remy is making him up. I appreciated the distinction, because it is one distinction people often do not understand.

Gusteau is not the only brush with death we have. When we meet Linguini for the first time, his mother has just died. When explaining this, he tells the kitchen staff that she “believed in Heaven” so she is all set, as far as an afterlife is concerned. This line caught me off guard. On one hand, it was great to see the concept of heaven and that death is not to be looked at as an ending but a new beginning. Still the idea simply believing in the concept of heaven will ensure you go there is a frighteningly simplistic one. Jesus said, in John 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Also look at James 2:19.

There is also an odd undercurrent of sexual immorality. Linguini’s mother had been the girlfriend of Gusteau when they were both alive. Linguini and Gusteau did not know it, but Gusteau was Linguini’s father. This concept is tossed around in those terms throughout the film, without moral comment. This is stands out, considering they go out of their way to explain other actions as being wrong.

What Is Your Recommendation?

It’s a fun and well made film, which is the norm for Pixar. Still, there are pitfalls within the plot. If you are going to enjoy this cinematic dish with your family, you will want to talk about ghosts, Heaven, true salvation, stealing, and “love”.

I would instead look to any other Pixar film free of fishy-automotives or the other CG rodent themed  film “Flushed Away

Flushed Away

Hoodwinked

December 17, 2009

What Is It?

A computer animated cross between a Shrek-style twisting of faerie tales and a Pulp Fiction-style story line. Each character tells their story completely, then, we start over from another perspective. Each story is different, but intersects with the other characters and their stories. It’s fun to see things that didn’t make sense before explained later.

The story line is simple. The cops show up to find a tied up grandmother, (Glenn Close) a wolf (one of my favorite voice actors, Patrick Warburton) dressed in her clothes, a little girl in a red hood (Anne Hathaway of the Princess Diaries) and a woodsman (James Belushi) who has recently burst on the sceen with ax in hand. The police think that this mess of fairytale endings will be the key to discover who has been stealing the secret recipe books from all the good ie shops in the wood. Chief Grizzly ( rapper Xzibit , in a part that has nothing to do with hip-hop) just wants to book the wolf, but the frog (David Ogden Stiers) wants to get the real story.

How Was It?

I expected to find this movie lame. The ads did it no favors. I don’t know if this was helped by my lowered expectations, but I found it entertaining. The animation is nothing special (especially with Pixar running around) but the story is creative. I really enjoyed the interacting story lines. The pop culture references were good but not so overwhelming that it bogs down the plot . They more use popular movie/tv short hand in ways you would not expect to see it in a faerie tales. The plot is predictable, but fun.

Is It Good For Kids?

It is made for kids to enjoy with enough other things going on that adults will be ok ay (or have fun), too. There is never a moment where the joke is such that you will just hope your child will “miss it”. There is no cussing and all violence is very much good vs.bad or accidental and very cartoony. (Spoiler) We do find out that the grandmother has lied to her granddaughter about parts of her life. This is shown to hurt the relationship, but they do work it out. Beyond that, Red seems to be a “teen” character. She is updated to be hip Still yet , her shirt MAKES IT ALL THE WAY TO HER PANTS !!! Not only that, she’s going for the ultra hip – and ultra modest – bell

bottom jeans with a denim skirt.(Hopefully Red will be a good influence on Jasmine, Ariel, and those “Bratz” dolls.)

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

How about Spiritual Issues?

The wolf makes the statement “With God as my witness, you will learn to speak ” to the fast talking chipmunk. There is also a character who claims a witch has put a spell on him, but he then does something that proves there is no spell, but pretends not to notice so he can continue with his funny quirk .

The real lesson is “don’t judge a book by its cover” wh ich can have a spiritual application, especially if you bring up verses like John 7:24 .

What Is Your Recommendation?

If you have kids who would want a fun, bright film, or teens who are up late with alot of soda, this would be a good one to rent.

Hey , I was looking at the credits and noticed that the soundtrack was done by John Mark Painter. He’s from the band Christian band Fleming and John. This made me pay more attention. The Goat is voiced by Benjy Gaither (son of gospel singer Bill Gaither ) and the brothers who wrote and directed this film also hosted and edited (respectively ) CCM-TV, the short lived Christian music video show based on the magazine. It’s always great to see Christians put out something that does not make you want to gag.

I have since bought the Sound Track. It’s a lot of fun. 

Fleming and John’s Myspace page says:

 You can download a bootleg of their Awesome “Hoodwinked” Soundtrack here

PS

Did you know that Hercules Goes Bananas was the original title for Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s first film where they dubbed his voice to take care of his accent . I never thought I would see a movie with a HGB joke!

Hoodwinked DVD

Hoodwinked CD

Delusions of Grandeur

by Fleming & John

Download Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

December 16, 2009

I have found that a lot of bands like doing Christmas music and just putting it out their on the web. I suspect the is a mixture of Generosity and marketing, still I have discovered great (often odd and eclectic) music for the holiday that is only a point and a click away.

sufjan stevens – songs for christmas vol.8

Very different with erry similarity to his Christmas Box Set

(Thank you drivebyMEDIA)

A Familyre Christmas – Volume 3

by Sounds Familyre

 

I Heart Lung- I Heart Christmas

0DD80CF7-BDD7-4EF4-BA46-62E37CBB495C.jpg

Schlarb Family Christmas Album 2008

schlarbfamilychristmas2008.jpg

A Familyre Christmas-Vol. 1!

A Familyre Christmas - Vol. 1-Cover

A Familyre Christmas-Vol. 2!

A Familyre Christmas-Vol. 2

Blah Blah blog Christmas *

*This one is worth it for Sufjan Stevens – “Come on! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!” alone

Paper Route –  thank god the year is finally over

Soul Junk

The Way Of Peace .mp3

my soul does magnify the Lord .mp3

Fleming and John

Winter Wonderland /Misty Mountain Hop .mp3

Carol of the Bells .mp3

(not Christmas but You can download a bootleg of their Awesome “Hoodwinked” Soundtrack here)

LA Symphony

It’s Christmas .mp3

Calibretto 13

Merry Freaking Christmas (Santa Clause is just a Man) .mp3

 

Also check out my posts

and

Christmas Music 24/7!

Merry Christmas From Q&E

December 15, 2009
two cute little girls re-enact the angel Gabriel telling Marry that she will have a child from Luke Chapter 1
Luke 1:26-38
Luke 1:46-55

The music is Protected by Angels – Black Dyke Band, The Chieftains from Babe: Pig In The City – Music From And Inspired By The Motion Picture

You can see all three Christmas Cards Here

His Dark Materials Trilogy: The Golden Compass / The Subtle Knife / The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

December 15, 2009

 

What Is It?

This is the very popular, yet still somewhat underground book trilogy about a little girl named Lyra Belacqua. In a world that seems to be antique modern with magical properties, s he finds out that her estranged father is on some bizarre quest, thinking he knows the meaning of Dust and the locations of parallel worlds. Lyra decides she needs to intercede and take on her own quest.

She has the aid of Pantalaimon : her dæmon. The dæmon is the creature that each person has as a personal companion. They are usually animals of the opposite gender and have a spiritual link to the owners. (Only witches can go any significant distance from there dæmon.)

She also has the Alethiometer or the golden compass. This is a device that can tell you information about truth and what to do next. For some reason Lyra is able to use and read the device with an amazing intuition.

Furthermore the adventure makes constant reference to the Bible and the Church which looks very similar to the same entities in our world.

How Was It?

This is a first class fantasy adventure. The characters are deep, well written and fascinating. The worlds are very intricate and exciting. With books like this floating around, it makes me wonder why we have time for boy wizards who look more than second rate compared to this modern fairy tale.

This reminds me of Tolkien where it’s not that they find a monster because we needed a monster here. Instead the world is so “real” and such a true work of “sub creation” that it seems like that monster just existed and they had to deal with it the same way someone would have to deal with a fierce reptile should they fall into the water while running through the Florida E verglades.

Is it Good for Children?

They are long books , but they would keep their attention. There are some scary / abusive situations, but they are handled well. There will be a lot for you to talk about, especially when you ask…

What About Spiritual Issues?

This is a major plot point.

One of the things that gives these stories such depth is that, to solve the mystery, to know what’s going on , is to know the way the spiritual world works. So, knowing that this is the key to the story, let’s move to the SPOILERS –

Through their adventures they meet everyone, from the harpies that guard the afterlife , to the angels and Enoch (now head of the angels). They even meet God himself.

What you find out is that every world has a story where there was something that a snake told them to partake in. This was the thing that would help people become everything they are. The church would then go in and teach the people that the snake was lying and the object of their fulfillment is actually a sin. So we must go with our passions. This becomes more complete when she travels to the afterlife. There everyone is stuck until Lyra convinces them to stop torturing people and lead them out to where they can become one with the universes. The creatures agree as long as people have good stories of their life to tell them in exchange for their guiding.

When people from our world come to theirs , they find that their soul is an animal and the opposite gender. They also learn that what they had always been told was evil ( namely, dæmons) are is actually your true self guiding you.

All of this sounds like the gospel according to Neitchze but then, how does God fit in? Turns out he’s just the oldest angel, so everyone thought he created everything. Now he’s a feeble old man being kept ceremoniously alive – what to do? Euthanasia!

What Is Your Recommendation?

This is wonderfully written and phenomenally entertaining. This is also a well crafted explanation of a philosophy. In a way that is understandable and lasting, we learn that we just need to do everything we feel, and anyone telling you that you shouldn’t is lying to you so they can have power over you. It also explains that the most blatant offender calls themselves the church. Those who say the serpent lied, are liers themselves.

Thus this book series is a well crafted gun aimed at the ideals of your children. Like the idols in the book of Jeremiah, the fact that it is well crafted by skilled men should not blind us to the fact that it is evil.

This book series may have gained the popularity the writing deserves when the first movie came out, but the movie just fizeled. It is put out by New Line Cinema and the first adds for it use “the one ring” from Lord of the Rings to try to connect the two series. These films will appeal to kids who liked the others (LotR, Narnia, Harry Potter), but they are not the same.

The Golden Compass will provide another reiteration of a sad philosophy that can only hurt. Oddly enough, despite the humanistic philosophy (and the mercy killing of God) , I have had many Christians recommend this book as Christian Fiction. We need to take this for what it is, good literature with bad theology. If people you know are into this book, it is well worth lots of discussion. If you kids are not yet into this book, it is well worth preparing now to shield them from the forth coming advertising onslaught.