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REVIEW: Only You (1994)

Only You (1994)Directed by: Norman Jewison
Produced by: Robert N. Fried, Norman Jewison, Charles Mulvehill, Cary Woods
Written by: Diane Drake
Edited by: Stephen E. Rivkin
Cinematography by: Sven Nykvist
Music by: Rachel Portman
Starring: Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey, Jr., Bonnie Hunt, Joaquim de Almeida, Fisher Stevens, Billy Zane, Siobhan Fallon, John Benjamin Hickey, Tammy Minoff, Adam LeFevre
Year: 1994

 

I’ve never seen this movie before recently, though I was completely aware of its existence, as it’s been in my mom’s collection since I was a kid. I was never very interested in seeing it at the time because it was a “chick flick” romantic comedy, and I was a boy and not having any of that (though I made plenty of exceptions at the time to justify calling me a hypocrite). Through a number of circumstances, however, my mom ended up buying the movie a second time – a habit she has because, like her son, she has a very large library of movies and sometimes raids the bargain bins, but, unlike her son, she doesn’t keep tabs of which ones she already owns very well. As a result, it’s not abnormal for my sister and I to come visit now and then and point this out to her, and, because the movies are opened, they can’t be returned, either, so we end up taking the copies off her hands, regardless of whether we really wanted the movie in the first place. Read more…

REVIEW: The Santa Clause

December 4, 2015 3 comments
The Santa ClauseDirected by: John Pasquin
Produced by: Robert Newmyer, Brian Reilly, Jeffrey Silver
Written by: Leo Benvenuti, Steve Rudnick, Karey Kirkpatrick
Edited by: Larry Bock
Cinematography by: Walt Lloyd
Music by: Michael Convertino
Starring: Tim Allen, Eric Lloyd, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, David Krumholtz, Paige Tamada, Peter Boyle, Kenny Vadas, Chris Benson
Year: 1994

 

It occurred to me while watching The Santa Clause that the film, thematically, has a surprising amount in common with another holiday classic (albeit a film dealing with a far more tedious holiday than Christmas) that was released just the year prior: Groundhog Day. No, really, think about it. Both films center upon a self-centered jerk who alienates those he would otherwise get along with and even grow to love if only he would give into the spirit of the holiday. Both films also feature comedians who were incredibly popular at the time the movies were made. And both films feature some kind of inexplicable supernatural/magical device which is foisted upon them, to their comedic chagrin, throughout their daily lives until they get the lessons right and embrace it. Both films obviously differ quite a bit in terms of their respective target audiences (though there is a surprising amount of adult humor in Disney’s film that will supposedly go over the kids’ heads), but, as with most holiday films, both are also about the importance of not becoming jaded with life and use their holidays as metaphors. Read more…

REVIEW: The Exorcist

October 6, 2015 5 comments
The ExorcistDirected by: William Friedkin
Produced by: William Peter Blatty
Screenplay by: William Peter Blatty
Edited by: Jordan Leondopoulos, Evan Lottman, Norman Gay
Cinematography by: Owen Roizman
Music by: Various; Theme by Mike Oldfield
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, Lee J. Cobb, Mercedes McCambridge, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran, Father William O’Malley, Vasiliki Maliaros
Based on the novel by William Peter Blatty
Year: 1973

 

The Exorcist is yet another movie on my list of movies that I don’t know how I managed to not watch until recently. Unlike, say, The Godfather (put your pitchforks down, I saw them all years ago, but still after a while) or Braveheart, however, the reasons for not seeing it wasn’t simply because I was tired of hearing people talk about how great it was, but rather due to the fact that the subject matter and reputation The Exorcist had for being one of the most terrifying horror films of all time really freaked me out. As some of you may know, I was never really a horror film fan in the first place until I started writing this blog and forced myself to watch films from the genre for the month of October, and while this was partly because I thought less of the genre than I should have, I’d be lying if there was some part of me that was genuinely terrified of certain movies – and chief among them was The Exorcist.

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The Empathy Machine

June 11, 2015 Leave a comment

There was another version of this article that actually went on quite a bit of a rant, but I had to scrap it. I scrapped it not just for you, my reader, but also for myself, as I was writing more out of impassioned irritation than I was to make a coherent article about my relationship with film, as I had originally set out to do. I think this is a bit more focused, and a bit more biographical than that lecture, which I am honestly glad I had second thoughts about – and I do mean lecture as in “scold,” not “educational speech.” Part of what I almost lost sight of was an expression of my love for the medium of film, which, let’s face it, is the main topic of this blog is, after all!

Wall-E - Watching Hello Dolly

Wall-E

I do love film, though. I even admittedly sometimes love watching bad films, when the mood strikes, despite the fact that I usually end up griping about how awful they are by the time the credits begin – oftentimes earlier. I guess I’m a part time hate-watcher. That being said, however, I am admittedly an amateur when it comes to film appreciation. I’m rarely driven by more than gut instinct when it comes to analyzing the individual parts of a film, so I’m often left feeling quite inadequate to judge things like the composition of shots, the quality of the score, and the inventiveness of certain other techniques unless they really stand out to me. And, honestly, so long as those elements are either so well done that they either don’t call attention to themselves or are so transcendently novel that I can’t help but notice, I’m largely okay with that. For me, film has always been more than just the sum of its parts and more about what it’s actually saying on behalf of the artists involved and the subject it’s covering. (And, sometimes, films are mostly just entertaining, and that’s honestly okay, too!) Read more…

2014 IN REVIEW: The Worst Movies of the Year

February 15, 2015 3 comments

The Purge: Anarchy - gangster

This 2014 in Review series is taking me a lot longer than I anticipated, but such is life and work. After this, we’ll be getting to my favorite films of the year, but before I do that, it’s time to pass judgment on some of the worst films released in 2014.

These are the movies that bored me, that angered me, that were so bad they left me bewildered as to how they even got released in the state they’re in. For your reference, this year I have also included the Rotten Tomatoes score for each movie. While I cannot say that the order I’ve placed them in is definitive, even for me, they are arranged roughly from worse to worst, ending with my pick for the #1 worst film of the year. I have more picks for 2014 than I ever have in the past, but it was a pretty easy and obvious pick, though some of you might be thinking of the movie I put in the #2 slot. I have my reasons why it went there and not at the top, but you’ll just have to read to find out.

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2013 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (September – December)

January 25, 2014 1 comment

Inside Llewyn Davis - Oscar Isaac

Oscar season! This is when the studios want to release the best films of the year (or so they say). Why? Because they want the films to be fresh in the voters’ minds. Prestige films and the like. Indie dramas, historical period films, war films, controversial films… If it can make you cry, your heartbreak, your spirit lift with joy, make you see things from a new light, this is the season.

It’s also a good time for seasonal holiday films. You’ve got your horror films to cover Halloween, your Christmas films for Christmas, and this year we even got an animated Thanksgiving film (though I’m not certain that all you people looking forward to a big piece of juicy turkey are going to love it). Meanwhile, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa get left out, once again. For some reason, this season was also rife with Christian films, from Kirk Cameron, to Miley Cyrus analogs, to Christmas miracles, the industry that claims to represent my faith has got you covered in that area. Woo.

It’s not all your typical films, though. More and more, Hollywood is figuring out that you should spread your action films and your romantic comedies throughout the year, rather than bunching them all into the middle. Consequently, we got a few Sylvester Stallone-involved flicks this season, a sequel to Robert Rodriguez’s Machete, as well as the latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: The Dark World.

Nevertheless, as with the first and second entries, I couldn’t see them all, so, as with the last time, here are the films that, as of this writing, I did not see from May– August 2013, in order of release, as noted on Wikipedia. Please note that, as in the past, I still reserve the right to watch any film that is listed here and then re-remark on the film in one of the upcoming articles on films I did see from 2013. So, yes, again, you might see some of these films again, and soon, since this is the last of the films that I haven’t seen from the year. Enjoy! Read more…

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REVIEW: The Nativity Story

December 23, 2013 5 comments
The Nativity StoryDirected by: Catherine Hardwicke
Produced by: Toby Emmerich, Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Cale Boyter, Catherine Hardwicke, Mike Rich, Tim Van Rellim
Written by: Mike Rich
Edited by: Robert K. Lambert, Stuart Levy
Cinematography by: Elliot Davis
Music by: Mychael Danna
Starring: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Oscar Isaac, Stanley Townsend, Clarán Hinds, Shaun Toub
Year: 2006

 

“Jesus is the reason for the season.” That’s what you always hear this time of year, isn’t it? And yet it seems like it’s pretty hard to find many movies exclusively based on the story of the birth of Christ, as opposed to His entire life or crucifixion. The Nativity Story is undoubtedly one of the few that does focus on this one aspect. I had actually meant to review this film long ago, when I first started this blog, but the movie’s always been checked out indefinitely this time of year on Netflix and Blockbuster (back when they, you know, actually did the whole physical movie renting). This was the first year I actually managed to be proactive and get a copy, and so I guess it’s only appropriate that I actually make good on that and finally review the film, right? Read more…

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…

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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