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REVIEW: The Passion of the Christ

March 24, 2016 Leave a comment
Passion of the Christ, TheDirected by: Mel Gibson
Produced by: Bruce Davey, Mel Gibson, Stephen McEveety, Enzo Sisti
Screenplay by: Mel Gibson, Benedict Fitzgerald, William Fulco (translation)
Edited by: John Wright
Cinematography by: Caleb Deschanel
Music by: John Debney
Starring: Jim Caviezel, Maia Morgenstern, Monica Bellucci, Hristo Zhivkov, Francesco De Vito, Luca Lionello, Hristo Shopov, Rosalinda Celentano, Claudia Gerini, Fabio Sartor, Luca De Dominicis, Mattia Sbragia, Chokri Ben Zagden, Toni Bertorelli, Jarreth Merz, Sergio Rubini, Sabrina Impacciatore
Year: 2004

 

It’s been 12 years since Mel Gibson’s adaptation of the gospels’ account of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, which would go on to divide audiences over its theology, brutal violence, and even accusations of racism (which were later vindicated when the director’s own demons made their very public appearance soon after the film’s release). Each Easter since I’ve started this blog, I have thought about doing a review of this film, and each time I held back because I simply was not in the mood, nor did I think I had the stamina, to endure this film again. This year, I don’t really know what’s changed – perhaps it’s the political climate and the fact that so many people are willing to marry their faith to their political stances, and I’m feeling particularly opinionated, perhaps it’s the Tyler Perry modern day musical retelling on TV, or perhaps it’s simply to get this annual inner debate in my head over with already – but, yeah, I decided that now was time to review one of the most famous and infamous Christian-targeting films of all time. Read more…

REVIEW: The Bishop’s Wife

December 11, 2015 4 comments
The Bishop's WifeDirected by: Henry Koster
Produced by: Samuel Goldwyn
Written by: Leonardo Bercovici, Robert E. Sherwood, Billy Wilder (uncredited), Charles Brackett (uncredited)
Edited by: Monica Collingwood
Cinematography by: Gregg Toland
Music by: Hugo Freidhofer
Starring: Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven, Monty Woolley, James Gleason, Gladys Cooper, Elsa Lanchester, Sara Haden, Karolyn Grimes
Based on the novel by Robert Nathan
Year: 1947

 

[Some spoilers ahead!]

 

Cary Grant really could sell movies. Want proof? This film did not live up to expectations when it was first released in the U.S. under its normal title, as it was presumed to be too religious (Go figure, America – we weren’t all enamored with religious movies, even back then!), but when the studio had posters’ reflected title changed to Cary and the Bishop’s Wife, ticket sales reportedly jumped by 25%. The film would go on to be nominated for a few Oscars, including Best Sound, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Music Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, and Best Picture. It only won in the Best Sound category, but the nominations are still quite impressive. And, when I did a Google search for “Best Christmas Films” this year and pretty much every year past, The Bishop’s Wife was always up there alongside some of the greatest and even some of my favorites. Having reviewed most of those, however, this year, I figured, was The Bishop’s Wife’s year, particularly since I’ve been meaning to review some older films, anyway. Into the Netflix DVD queue it went! Would it be worth it? Read more…

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…

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.

Read more…

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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: The Nativity Story

December 23, 2013 4 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…

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