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REVIEW – Mustang

April 28, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Deniz Gamze Ergüven
Produced by: Charles Gillibert
Written by: Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Alice Winocour
Edited by: Mathilde Van de Moortel
Cinematography by: David Chizallet, Ersin Gok
Music by: Warren Ellis
Starring: Günes Sensoy, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Tugba Sunguroglu, Elit Iscan, Ilayda Akdogan, Nihal G. Koldas, Ayberk Pekcan, Bahar Kerimoglu, Burak Yigit
Year: 2015

 

What does it mean to be a young woman in a Muslim community? I obviously cannot answer this myself, being a Christian male who grew up in a predominately Christian culture in America, but it’s nonetheless something that has actually crossed my mind a few times. Needless to say, there are certain stereotypes that exist, particularly (and often ironically) in the minds of non-Muslims, regarding Muslim women. This doesn’t hold up for me, though, as there are always exceptions, and, more importantly, there are also women who should be allowed to tell their own stories about growing up in their own culture without our presuppositions clouding our judgment. You’d think that such a thing wouldn’t be a rarity, given the widespread attention of, for example, Malala Yousafzai, who you may recall was nearly assassinated for her outspoken views on educational rights for women, but the rarity is still sadly the truth. Before I saw the film at the center of this review, the only other one that really came to mind is Haifaa al-Mansour’s 2012 film Wadjda, hailing from Saudi Arabia – a truly great story about a young girl who dreams of owning a bicycle, which is frowned upon for women in their society. Of course, now we have French-Turkish director Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang, which may not be as overt as Wadjda but is no less eye-opening in terms of the varieties of perspectives so often ignored in order to confirm certain biases. Read more…

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REVIEW – Darkroom (2013)

October 22, 2016 Leave a comment
Darkroom (2013)Directed by: Britt Napier
Produced by: Britt Napier, Ron Stein
Written by: Michaelbrent Collings
Edited by: David Leonard, Jim Mol
Cinematography by: Frederic Fasano
Music by: Anthony Lledo
Starring: Kaylee DeFer, Elisabeth Röhm, Christian Campbell, Tobias Segal, Geneva Carr, Britne Oldford, Natalie Knepp
Year: 2013

 

Alright, so let’s get this point out of the way before I begin discussing this movie: Yes, I went to school with the star of this movie. I did not, however, know her very well, and I didn’t even have many of the same classes as her during the time she was there, and so I am in no way claiming to know intimate knowledge – and, even if I did, I wouldn’t divulge, because I am not writing for a gossip rag, and I am not a shitty person. That being said, it’s still kind of weird knowing that I very briefly crossed paths with someone in such a tiny school (43 people or so in my graduating class – she moved halfway through high school, so there’s that, too) who went on to be a recognizable actress. Not the biggest, mind you, but she had a prominent enough role in Gossip Girl for a couple seasons (I didn’t watch it, but I know I’m not the only person who watches things), and she once played Michael Rappaport’s daughter in a shortlived Fox sitcom called The War at Home, wherein she kissed Seth MacFarlane. He apparently remembered her well enough to invite her to do some voice acting on Family Guy. Heck, she was even one half of an actually crucial puzzle piece in Ted meeting the mother on How I Met Your Mother. That’s not unimpressive at all! So, yeah, there are people who will point at her and say, “I recognize her!” and so it’s still a noteworthy anecdote from my life (and anyone’s lives, really, from our class), especially considering that I once briefly played one of the gravediggers from Romeo and Juliet alongside her in our freshman year of high school for a school assignment – during which I cut my hand pretty badly on the jagged metal pipe I was using as a prop shovel. No wonder which one of us went on to act for a living and which went on to merely talk about people acting… for a hobby. Read more…

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 1 comment
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…

SPECIAL REVIEW: Son of Rambow

Son of RambowDirected by: Garth Jennings
Produced by: Nick Goldsmith
Written by: Garth Jennings
Edited by: Dominic Leung
Cinematography by: Jess Hall
Music by: Joby Talbot
Starring: Bill Milner, Will Poulter, Jules Sitruk, Jessica Hynes, Neil Dudgeon, Anna Wing, Ed Westwick, Eric Sykes
Year: 2008

 

NOTE: I’ve been a bit hard pressed for time and energy lately, but I’m actually working on a new review at this moment for a certain big summer blockbuster superhero film that just released, so it’s coming but not quite ready yet. Looking back through my old notes on Facebook, however, I discovered that I’d written a couple of reviews there that I’d completely forgotten about, so I’m dusting one of them off and, apart from the images and my now standardized credits, I’m presenting it to you unedited. This review is being titled a “Special Review” as it was written quite a while ago, back in 2010, a few months after I graduated from college and almost exactly a year before I created this blog but was seriously considering it. This is a seemingly forgotten gem of a film that was among the first that I’d rented when I first got Netflix. The review here may not reflect my current opinion (though I have admittedly not seen it since), however, and I reserve the right to re-review it if I see it again and choose to do so. ‘Cause, you know, it’s my blog… That being said, I still have fond memories of this film and hope you’ll check it out, 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.

Read more…

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