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REVIEW: Chariots of Fire

September 25, 2013 2 comments
Chariots of FireDirected by: Hugh Hudson
Produced by: David Puttnam
Written by: Colin Welland
Edited by: Terry Rawlings
Cinematography by: David Watkin
Music by: Vangelis
Starring: Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Nigel Havers, Cheryl Campbell, Alice Krige, Ian Holm, Nicholas Farrell, Henry Stallard
Based on a true story
Year: 1981

 

I have a bit of a weird relationship with Chariots of Fire. The first two times I saw this movie were each divided across multiple classes in two different Christian schools – once in 8th grade, and again in 10th. Each time, I found the movie ridiculously boring and overlong, little more than an excuse to tune out and passively watch the screen as the time ran out, making sure to at least get as much in as possible so that I could turn in a respectable enough paper that was assigned both times. Both times, we were expected to reflect upon the Christian themes, primarily related to Eric Liddell, whose religious beliefs put him at odds with his passion and talent for running at one pivotal point in the film. Read more…

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REVIEW: Fireproof

September 21, 2013 4 comments
FireproofDirected by: Alex Kendrick
Produced by: Alex Kendrick, Stephen Kendrick, David Nixon
Written by: Alex Kendrick, Stephen Kendrick
Edited by: Alex Kendrick, Bill Ebel
Cinematography by: Bob Scott
Music by: Mark Willard
Starring: Kirk Cameron, Erin Bethea, Ken Bevel, Jason McLeod, Perry Revell, Stephen Dervan, Harris Malcom, Phyllis Malcom, Renata Williams
Inspired by the book The Love Dare by Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick
Year: 2008

 

Fireproof was reportedly the highest grossing independent film of 2008 – a year that included indie runners up Vickie Cristina Barcelona from Woody Allen and the lauded Slumdog Millionaire, which won the Oscars for Best Director, Adapated Screenplay, and Picture. While I’ve yet to see Allen’s contribution, I’m a bit baffled to have learned that Danny Boyle’s harrowing, inspirational epic was outperformed by a megachurch-produced film based on a Christian self-help book that relied upon donated time and money to be made. I’m not saying that such a film would inherently not deserve such success based solely on those factors, but when you consider the fact that Fireproof relied not on TV spots and theatrical trailers but primarily upon word of mouth that began with screenings for church leaders, it really says something about the zeal Christians will put on display for anything potentially popular that they think will get the message out about their beliefs. As a Christian, however, I think it’s my duty to point out that I’m fairly certain that many of them have also deluded themselves into thinking that this cinematic equivalent of panhandling the congregation for an offering is also somehow a good film. Read more…

REVIEW: Johnny (2010)

September 16, 2013 10 comments
Johnny (2010)Directed by: D. David Morin
Produced by: Byron Jones, Tom Saab, Michael Scott, David A.R. White, Russell Wolfe
Written by: David Michael Anthony; D. David Morin, Alan Smithee (screenplay)
Edited by: D. David Morin
Cinematography by: Todd Barron
Music by: David Miner
Starring: Jerry Phillips, Mel Fair, Musetta Vander, Aubyn Cole, Lee Majors, Lonnie Colón, Leslie L. Miller, Brandon Klopot
Year: 2010

 

A couple weekends ago, I had spent a great deal of time watching gritty, dark sci-fi/action movies – Event Horizon, Dredd, the new Riddick – and so, searching for a change of tone, I went searching through my Netflix suggestions and came across the “Sentimental Tearjerker” section. Figuring that was completely opposite of what I had been watching, I decided to peruse the selection and came across this movie called Johnny, which had the goofiest looking artwork, which just screamed “low budget Christian cinema.” The synopsis was even worse: “Still reeling from his 10-year-old son’s tragic accidental death, Dr. Drew Carter attempts to assuage his family’s grief by adopting Johnny Bell, a terminally ill foster child suffering from leukemia.” So, basically, the kid’s being treated like a therapy dog? Read more…

REVIEW: Across the Universe

September 10, 2013 Leave a comment
Across the UniverseDirected by: Julie Taymor
Produced by: Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd, Charles Newirth
Written by: Julie Taymor, Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais
Edited by: Françoise Bonnot
Cinematography by: Bruno Delbonnel
Music by: The Beatles (songs written by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr), Elliot Goldenthal (original score), T-Bone Burnett (music producer), Matthias Gohl (songs producer)
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood, Joe Anderson, Dana Fuchs, Martin Luther McCoy, T.V. Carpio, James Urbaniak, Bono, Joe Cocker, Eddie Izzard, Lisa Hogg, Robert Clohessy, Salma Hayek
Year: 2007

 

I remember being incredibly excited upon seeing the trailer for Across the Universe for the first time. Coming at a time when it looked like musicals were really and truly going to be the next big thing in Hollywood, here was a musical where I already knew I was going to love the music featured, so the movie already had me halfway. The promise of merging The Beatles’ music with a tale of two star-crossed lovers and friends getting caught up in the Sixties looked to be a promising experiment, if nothing else – some of the more visually engaging moments gave me visions of a Beatles-themed, live-action Fantasia with a narrative. While something of this nature has been attempted before, with the 1978 Peter Frampton/Bee Gees-starring Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band serving as a cautionary tale for just how badly something like this can go, Across the Universe looked to be going in the complete opposite direction with its tone, ditching the ridiculous fantasy world and the campiness by taking its era-spanning narrative seriously and The Beatles’ music with respect. Read more…

Special Review: “Daredevil” / “Daredevil: Director’s Cut” – Blind Judgment

September 4, 2013 3 comments
DaredevilDirected by: Mark Steven Johnson
Produced by: Avi Arad, Gary Foster, Arnon Milchan
Written by: Mark Steven Johnson
Edited by: Armen Minasian, Dennis Virkler
Cinematography by: Ericson Core
Music by: Graeme Revell
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau, Joe Pantoliano, Leland Orser, Erick Avari, Derrick O’Connor, David Keith, Scott Terra, Coolio
Based on characters created by Stan Lee, Bill Everett, Frank Miller, Marv Wolfman, John Romita, Sr., and Jack Kirby
Year: 2003 (Director’s Cut: 2004)

 

Is it safe to come out now? … It’s been about two weeks since the news broke that Ben Affleck was playing the new Batman in the Man of Steel follow-up – a proposition that would seem to suggest that, yes, he would also be playing him in future films, as well, both standalone and, more significantly, together with other heroes in a Justice League film. At the time the news broke, I had been taking a nap after a long, hard day’s work and saw that a friend on Facebook had posted about it. Facebook being what it is, I had to check for myself for confirmation before I fully bought in. Sure enough, this was true. And the internet was not happy – at all. Any goodwill (…pun?) that the actor had earned as a director seemingly went out the window as everyone started reminding everyone else that he was once in movies like Armageddon, Surviving Christmas, and – more damningly – Gigli, the infamously awful Bennifer rom-com that was more known for its awful script and Jennifer Lopez’s turkey impression than it was for being a competently made film. That’s not exactly the makings a prestigious career. Read more…

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