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GRUDGE MATCH REVIEW: Fifty Shades of Grey vs. Old Fashioned

July 2, 2015 1 comment
Fifty Shades of Grey vs. Old FashionedFIFTY SHADES OF GREY (Unrated)
Directed by: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Produced by: Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti, E.L. James
Screenplay by: Kelly Marcel
Edited by: Anne V. Coates, Lisa Gunning, Debra Neil-Fisher
Cinematography by: Seamus McGarvey
Music by: Danny Elfman
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eloise Mumford, Jennifer Ehle, Marcia Gay Harden, Victor Rasuk, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Max Martini, Callum Keith Rennie, Andrew Airlie, Dylan Neal, Anthony Konechny, Emily Fonda, Rachel Skarsten
Based on the book Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Year: 2015

 

OLD FASHIONED
Directed by: Rik Swartzwelder
Produced by: Nathan Nazario, Dave DeBorde, Nini Hadjis, Rik Swartzwelder
Written by: Rik Swartzwelder
Edited by: Jonathan Olive, Phillips Sherwood, Robin Katz
Cinematography by: David George
Music by: Kazimir Boyle
Starring: Elizabeth Ann Roberts, Rik Swartzwelder, LeJon Woods, Tyler Hollinger, Nini Hadjis, Maryann Nagel, Lindsay Heath, Joseph Bonamico, Dorothy Silver, Ange’le Perez, Anne Marie Nestor
Year: 2015

 

This review contains spoilers, including the movies’ endings.

 

Alright, everyone, listen up! Things are about to get ugly in here! I’m going to be fanning the flames of a culture war, and it’s bound to make some people kind of angry!

In one corner, we have the inexplicably popular, smutty to a fault movie adaptation of a book that was itself originally an online Twilight fan fiction, written by someone who didn’t seem to catch on to that franchise’s coded abstinence message: Fifty Shades of Grey! In the other corner, we have that film’s chaste, Christian-targeting, message-laden morality tale counterpart, meant to provide a more wholesome alternative for anyone who proudly proclaims that they’ve kissed dating goodbye: Old Fashioned!

… Okay, I can’t keep up that boxing announcer façade. …

Anyway, I’m reviving a very old (and once-used) feature on this blog that I really didn’t enjoy doing the first time around but recently figured would be kind of interesting to try again. (It’s something I’d been meaning to try for a while, anyway, back when I thought about doing it for the original King Kong and its remakes.) The concept behind this grudge match review works pretty much like you’d expect. There will be a series of rounds in which I compare the two movies to one another, and there will be a winner for each round based on which movie succeeds more in that area. What will make this a bit more interesting, however, is the fact these two films aren’t remakes or adaptations of the same source material, but rather polar opposites! The marketing for Old Fashioned proclaimed “Chivalry makes a comeback,” while the BDSM-themed, sex-and-nudity laden Fifty Shades demanded audiences “Lose Control.” As if its obvious opposition weren’t enough, the films were only released one week apart, with Old Fashioned beating Fifty Shades to the punch in an effort to overtake it and likely to encourage people to not give in to the smut.

I’m of the opinion, however, that too often Christian films try to take on too much of a counterculture stance, to the point where they’re not even willing to study the very thing they’re opposed to or portray it in a fair light. As I’ve pointed out countless times before, I am a Christian, and yet I am more often than not finding myself at odds with the image the Christian pop culture industry and the people who consume it propagate for themselves, and flaunting it in non-Christians’ faces (and even the faces of Christians they disagree with), prideful in their willful ignorance. So, I am trying to do something different and see it from all sides in comparing the two movies. It’s actually kind of funny how they actually have some things in common! To be quite honest, though, I’m also trying to have a bit of fun at their expense, too. I mean… neither one of these movies is really any good, so I’m really not going to take this too seriously. I’m also just here to let you know which one is better than the other, too – or, in this case, which one is the least bad.

Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas

December 7, 2014 6 comments
Kirk Cameron's Saving ChristmasDirected by: Darren Doane
Produced by: Raphi Henly, David Shannon, Darren Doane, Amanda Rosser
Written by: Darren Doane, Cheston Hervey
Edited by: Postmill Factory
Cinematography by: Andy Patch
Music by: Brian Popkin
Starring: Kirk Cameron, Darren Doane, Bridgette Ridenour, David Shannon, Raphi Henly, Ben Kientz
Year: 2014

 

The so-called “War on Christmas” has long been the butt of many jokes, particularly because a select number of Christians have taken issue with stores switching from having their employees say “Merry Christmas” to the more generic and all-inclusive “Happy Holidays!” and they have made their voices heard by shouting about it on network news over the years (yes, especially on one in particular). These days, that war still seems to be ravaging on in the minds of many, as indicated by some of the Facebook posts I continue to see every year. I saw my first in early October, actually. “Man, the War on Christmas seems to get started earlier and earlier each year!” I joked in the comments section. The humor and irony was seemingly lost on all but one person, who merely Liked the post. I am unappreciated in my time, it would seem.

Seriously, though, you gotta find some humor in the concept of a group of people who claim that “Jesus is the reason for the season” getting so upset about people not “Keep[ing] the Christ in CHRISTmas!” while binging on material possessions. I concede, however, that it’s equally annoying that anyone would get offended by someone wishing them a “Merry Christmas!” just because they don’t share that belief. In my eyes, yes, Christ should be at the center of Christmas, but when we complain about the rest of the world not sharing in our beliefs, it becomes more about us rather than Him. This whole concept of a “War on Christmas,” as a result, really puts a damper on my Christmas spirit – it even makes me a bit embarrassed as a Christian, to be honest. So when I heard that Kirk Cameron was featuring in a feature length movie about “Saving Christmas,” I couldn’t help but burry my head in my arms and beat the back of it with my fist in frustration. Read more…

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…

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