Review: Fireproof (dir. Alex Kendrick, 2008)

Two years ago, there was a big controversy when Facing the Giants, an ultra-low-budget movie produced by a church in the Bible Belt, was rated PG, allegedly for its spiritual content. Pundits and politicians railed against the MPAA and its ratings board for its perceived bias against religious themes, and moviegoers rallied to the film’s defense at the box office, making it one of the most successful Christian movies of all time. But as the debate over the movie’s rating subsided, another controversy emerged. Some Christians praised the film for its positive, family-friendly values, while others condemned it as bad art, a bad story badly told that would only encourage the worst artistic instincts of the evangelicals who saw it.

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VIFF 2008 — movie-going schedule

I was busy with work, alas, but this year’s edition of the Vancouver International Film Festival kicked off today, so it’s about time I posted the first draft of my movie-going schedule. As with the schedules I posted in 2005, 2006 and 2007, this list is highly flexible and will be revised continually often over the next two weeks, as I juggle family and work obligations and so on. Any films that I do not end up seeing will be deleted from this list. Any articles I write shall be linked to from here. And as I blog the films that I see, I shall link to those posts from the titles listed here.


Blindness a subtle, challenging highlight of Film Fest,’ BC Christian News, Oct 2008 — my monthly film column highlights Blindness, The Desert Within, Birdsong, Waiting for Sancho, The Longwang Chronicles and Ctrl Z.

Summer Hours and Happy-Go-Lucky film fest highlights,’ BC Christian News, Nov 2008 — my monthly film column highlight Summer Hours, Happy-Go-Lucky, I’ve Loved You So Long and Religulous.



Happy-Go-Lucky (dir. Mike Leigh; UK, 118 min.)
Religulous (dir. Larry Charles; USA, 101 min.)

Busy with work.

19:00 — GR7 — Stone of Destiny (dir. Charles Martin Smith; Canada, 96 min.)
21:30 — GR2 — The Wrecking Crew (dir. Denny Tedesco; USA, 95 min.)

21:30 — GR7 — JCVD (dir. Mabrouk El Mechri; France, 102 min.)

Church and family.

19:00 — GR2 — Summer Hours (dir. Olivier Assayas; France, 102 min.)

16:30 — PAC — In the Daytime (dir. misc.; Canada, 93 min.)
19:00 — GR7 — I’ve Loved You So Long (dir. Philippe Claudel; France, 115 min.)
21:30 — GR7 — Three Monkeys (dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan; Turkey, 109 min.)

14:30 — GR3 — Wendy and Lucy (dir. Kelly Reichardt; USA, 80 min.)

Busy with work.

18:45 — RID — Fifty Dead Men Walking (dir. Kari Skogland; UK, 118 min.)

Slightly delayed birthday party with friends and family.

Church and family.

19:00 — GR7 — Rachel Getting Married (dir. Jonathan Demme; USA, 114 min.)
21:30 — GR7 — Adoration (dir. Atom Egoyan; Canada, 100 min.)

Busy with work.

Busy with work.

Busy with work.

Busy with work.

Mary, Mother of the Christ — an update

Nearly two years ago, back in January 2007, I mentioned that MGM had bought a spec script called Myriam, Mother of the Christ, which was written by Benedict Fitzgerald, who had earlier co-written The Passion of the Christ (2004) with Mel Gibson. (He is now suing Gibson for a share of the profits from that film.)

I have since wondered what became of that project, especially since it was originally slated for an Easter 2008 release which never materialized, and also because several other biblically themed projects that were announced in the wake of The Passion‘s box-office success seem to have fallen by the wayside.

Now, however, Catholic screenwriting guru Barbara Nicolosi says she has just finished “probably the fifth version of the rewrite” of the script for this film, and she links to the film’s IMDb page, which seems to indicate that the film is now called Mary, Mother of the Christ and is currently slated for release sometime in 2009.

Here’s hoping the film does get made at some point.

Kirk Cameron — the interview’s up!

My interview with Kirk Cameron, who stars in the Left Behind films and the upcoming Fireproof, is now up at CT Movies.

One thing that did not come up in our conversation was the bit in his autobiography where he talks about how he refuses to kiss any actress except for his wife, Chelsea Noble, and how he always keeps his wedding ring on, even if the character he is playing is single and he has to hide the ring under a flesh-coloured bandage or something.

I have to admit that a part of me is kind of amused that he goes to those sorts of extremes, but a part of me also respects him for it. I mean, I played with my own wedding ring for the first week or two after I got married, but except for one time when it slipped and fell into my lap, the ring never left my hands, and since the honeymoon itself, the ring has never left my finger — and I frankly hope it never does. So if I am amused by Cameron’s dedication on this point, it is only in the most appreciative way possible.

And because nit-picking is something of a hobby for me, I can’t resist noting that, when I saw Fireproof a second time, after I had read Cameron’s book and done the interview with him, I noticed at least one scene in which he does seem to take his ring off — even if it was for a scene in which a doctor tends to his character’s hand, and the ring stays on a table right there in the room with him:

As for the kissing thing, if you can handle a spoiler that probably isn’t much of a spoiler anyway, Cameron recently told WENN about a scene in the film in which the two main characters kiss, and how the scene was shot in silhouette so that Cameron’s real-life wife could take the place of the actress playing his character’s wife, just for that one shot.

I would post a screen cap of that scene, too, but like I say, it might be a little more spoiler-ish. So for now, I won’t.

Interview: Kirk Cameron

Kirk Cameron may be best known as a former teen idol and as one of the stars of the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains. But over the past decade, he has been cultivating another, very different fan base, as the star of several Christian movies — including the Left Behind series and Miracle of the Cards — and as an evangelist with The Way of the Master, a ministry he shares with Ray Comfort.

Cameron, who turns 38 in October, became a Christian while still in his teens, and he has been married to the actress Chelsea Noble — who he met when she guest-starred on Growing Pains — since 1991. He recently published a book about his life and career, called Still Growing: An Autobiography (Regal).

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Quantum of Solace — the makers speak.

Several online writers went to London recently to take part in a roundtable interview with some of the key people involved in Quantum of Solace. Three bits from their collective reportage leapt out at me.

First, Ain’t It Cool News quotes producer Barbara Broccoli to the effect that the storyline begun in Casino Royale (2006) will come to an end with this new film:

This is a continuation, but I think the story kind of completes here. I think you know we had a lot of unanswered questions at the end of CASINO ROYALE, and this story just kind of completes that cycle and will go on to other different stories from now on. . . .

And remember, CASINO ROYALE ends with “The bitch is dead.” And you know that his heart’s broken, and we don’t really believe him when he says that. So this is sort of his journey to understanding what happened and putting it to rest.

So it sounds like the first two Daniel Craig films will be pretty closely linked, but any further films will revert to the more episodic formula that characterized the franchise prior to the reboot.

Second, quotes director Marc Forster, who is better known for his arthouse fare, on the sort of creative freedom he had while making this presumptive blockbuster:

I really made the movie I wanted to make, so if the movie doesn’t work it’s really my responsibility because they gave me the tools and the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. They supported me and fought for my vision to the end, and the great thing is why I put myself in this situation because before in all my films I had creative freedom, I had final cut, control; on this film they, on that size of film – over 200 million dollar movie – the great thing is about that they basically are the ones I’m dealing with. Usually on that size of movie I’m dealing with the studio and the bureaucracies of the studio and a room of executives asking me questions and, because it’s about so much money that there’s the anxiety and the pressure is so much higher. Here in this situation I’m just dealing with Barbara and Michael, and basically they’re dealing with the studio, but it’s their sort of the family franchise, and that’s makes it much easier because [if] I have an issue I can’t get done, I said ‘Look I need this, I need this, I need this, can you get it for me?’ And they say ‘Okay, let us look at it, we will try to make it.’

Finally, reports that the film will be only 106 minutes long, and thus it “looks to be the shortest but most action-packed Bond movie yet.”

That’s interesting, since Casino Royale was the longest of the Bond movies to date — so they’ve gone from the longest film in the franchise to the shortest film in the franchise, just as they have gone from the oldest director in the franchise to the youngest director in the franchise.

And just for the record, here are the previous Bond films — including the “unofficial” films that were not produced by the Broccoli family! — with their lengths as reported on the backs of their DVD covers:

1962 — Dr. No — 110 minutes
1963 — From Russia with Love — 111 minutes
1964 — Goldfinger — 110 minutes
1965 — Thunderball — 125 minutes
1967 — Casino Royale — 131 minutes
1967 — You Only Live Twice — 117 minutes
1969 — On Her Majesty’s Secret Service — 142 minutes
1971 — Diamonds Are Forever — 120 minutes
1973 — Live and Let Die — 122 minutes
1974 — The Man with the Golden Gun — 125 minutes
1977 — The Spy Who Loved Me — 126 minutes
1979 — Moonraker — 121 minutes
1981 — For Your Eyes Only — 128 minutes
1983 — Octopussy — 131 minutes
1983 — Never Say Never Again — 133 minutes
1985 — A View to a Kill — 131 minutes
1987 — The Living Daylights — 131 minutes
1989 — Licence to Kill — 133 minutes
1995 — GoldenEye — 130 minutes
1997 — Tomorrow Never Dies — 119 minutes
1999 — The World Is Not Enough — 128 minutes
2002 — Die Another Day — 127 minutes
2006 — Casino Royale — 144 minutes

For what it’s worth, I do think it’s interesting that the two films in which Bond has had his most serious relationships to date happen to be the two longest films in the history of the franchise.

I also think it’s curious that, with one exception, the 1960s spoof version of Casino Royale was longer than any of the “real” films until the 1980s. Don’t comedies normally err on the side of brevity?