Posts Tagged ‘Brian Godawa’

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

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”

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