Review: Shake Hands with the Devil (dir. Roger Spottiswoode, 2007)

AT LEAST one new movie about the Rwandan genocide has been produced each year for the past four years, ever since Terry George directed Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo to their richly deserved Oscar nominations for Hotel Rwanda — and to the casual viewer, it might seem like all these films are beginning to blur together.

All of these films — including Shooting Dogs (released in the United States as Beyond the Gates), A Sunday in Kigali and the newest film, Shake Hands with the Devil — have depicted the shock and horror felt by whites and blacks alike when Hutu extremists began killing Tutsis by the tens of thousands in April 1994.

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Review: A Man Called Peter (dir. Henry Koster, 1955); End of the Spear (dir. Jim Hanon, 2005); Saint Peter (dir. Giulio Base, 2005)

HOLLYWOOD studios are increasingly aware there is a market for religious films.

So lately, they have been making a point of creating special video labels, such as Fox Faith, and reissuing classic religious films – in addition to newer efforts. Here are a few such films.

A Man Called Peter, Fox, 1955

There is a big, big problem with the cover of this DVD: it shows Peter Marshall (Richard Todd) wearing a suspiciously large clerical collar, even though the film makes a big, big deal of the fact that Marshall – a popular Scottish Presbyterian minister who became chaplain to the United States Senate – was a spirited nonconformist who refused to wear such things.

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Interview: Tom Shadyac (Evan Almighty, 2007)

LOS ANGELES, CA — It has been four years since Bruce Almighty conquered the box office, and a lot has happened at the intersection of faith and film since then.

Many Christians were leery of the film when they heard that it starred Jim Carrey as a man who is endowed with supernatural powers after he complains that God isn’t doing a good enough job of running the world. But many Christians were pleasantly surprised to discover that, despite its bawdy humour, the movie raised serious questions about love, free will, and the need to submit to God’s plan for our lives.

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Review: Spider-Man 3 (dir. Sam Raimi, 2007)

GIVE the Spider-Man series points for good intentions. Ever since director Sam Raimi first brought the web-slinging super-hero to the big screen five years ago, he has made a point of emphasizing the character’s humanity, indeed his fallibility. In doing so, he has shown how we, too, can learn from our mistakes and live more virtuously.

Even better, Raimi has given these virtues a distinctly Christian flavour. Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the science student who fights crime as Spider-Man, clearly owes his sense of right and wrong to the uncle and aunt who raised him after the death of his parents — and the films have depicted Aunt May (Rosemary Harris), in particular, as a devout woman who says her prayers and thanks the angels for their help.

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Review: Amazing Grace (dir. Michael Apted, 2006)

‘AMAZING GRACE,’ the song, is a beloved gospel classic; but once in a while, someone complains that it isn’t Christian enough — at least not in that first, famous verse.

Words like ‘grace’ are too vague, and phrases like “I once was blind, but now I see” could refer to just about any spiritual experience — or so the argument goes.

Amazing Grace, the film, has provoked a similar debate. Evangelicals have welcomed the film with open arms — partly because it shines a light on William Wilberforce, the Christian politician who brought an end to slavery in the British Empire in the early 1800s, but also because it is made with production values much higher than those of the typical Christian movie. In short, it feels like, and is, a ‘real movie.’

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All things are possible for Facing the Giants director

A LITTLE controversy can go a long way.

Facing the Giants, a modest evangelical film made by a church in Georgia with a cast and crew made up almost entirely of volunteers and amateurs, got loads of free publicity last summer when it was rated PG for “thematic elements” — a rating that many pundits and politicians interpreted as a slam against Christianity.

As a result, the movie — produced by Sherwood Baptist Church for a mere $100,000 and released on only 441 screens — went on to gross over $10 million.

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