Faith & film

The unexpected success of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ proved that it’s no longer taboo to make faith-based entertainment and that there’s a huge Christian market just waiting to be explored. So it was only a matter of time before major corporations, who already own some of the biggest Christian book and music labels, turned their attention to film.

Sony Pictures – the studio that made The Da Vinci Code – also promotes Christian movies through its Provident Films label. They had a huge success last year with the low-budget sports movie Facing the Giants, which was produced by a church in Georgia for only $100,000 and went on to gross more than $10 million.

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“What parent desires their kid to hug a plush toy rat?”

That’s the question Nikki Finke asks today, in a post at Deadline Hollywood Daily on the disadvantages that Disney has had to deal with as it markets and merchandizes Ratatouille, the only Pixar film that ever went into production without Disney’s approval.

And to that, I can only answer: My kids have been playing with a plush toy rat ever since their Auntie M gave them one months ago! Here it is, in a picture with my daughter Elizabeth, who is especially fond of sucking on the tails of her stuffed animals:

As for Ratatouille itself, I liked it, but I’m not as ga-ga for it as a lot of critics seem to be. (Do they like it so much because the film, in its own way, celebrates the power and discernment of critics?)

It’s a definite improvement over Cars (2006), though. I’ve got all of Pixar’s films on DVD, and all through Cars, I kept asking if I really wanted to get it on disc; however, for much of Ratatouille, I found myself looking forward to buying the disc some day.

The first act and the third act are both delightful — but the story sags in the middle, as plot mechanics threaten to take the place of character dynamics, so it ends up being a merely good film overall, rather than a great one. But good is still, y’know, good.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age — the trailer!

Yes, even historical costume dramas have sequels — so behold the trailer for Elizabeth: The Golden Age, which premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

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Click here if the video file above doesn’t play properly.

The film is a sequel to Elizabeth (1998; my review), which was one of two Oscar-nominated Elizabethan period pieces co-starring Joseph Fiennes and Geoffrey Rush that year — the other being the ultimate Best Picture winner Shakespeare in Love (1998).

More fun trivia: The actresses who played Elizabeth in both films were both nominated for Oscars; Shakespeare‘s Judi Dench won in the supporting-actress category for her eight minutes of screen time, while Elizabeth‘s Cate Blanchett lost the lead-actress award to Shakespeare‘s Gwyneth Paltrow. Blanchett went on to win a supporting-actress award for The Aviator (2004) and to co-star with both Paltrow, in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), and Dench, in The Shipping News (2001) and Notes on a Scandal (2006).

Prince Caspian: “Battles all the way through.”

Narnia fans — especially those who quibbled with the recent film’s emphasis on pseudo-Spielbergian and pseudo-Jacksonian battle scenes and other gratuitous action setpieces at the expense of character, tone, and thematic significance — might want to note the last paragraph in this story from Variety the other day:

Also given a big push was “The Chronicles of Narnia” sequel. Helmer Andrew Adamson delivered a taped message saying that, unlike the original, “Prince Caspian” will feature “battles all the way through.”

Oh joy. Add this to the list of what are sure to be lame revisions.

(Hat tip to Jeffrey Overstreet at the Looking Closer Journal.)

More Indiana Jones IV rumours and spoilers.

This article in yesterday’s New York Observer about the upcoming Yale University shoot mostly talks to giddy extras about their costumes and so forth, but it does offer these plot details:

Filming of the four-quel, tentatively titled Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods and directed by Steven Spielberg, begins June 28. “It’s the opening scene of the movie,” Ms. Dunn burbled excitedly. “[Harrison Ford] is teaching a class and he hears some noise outside, which turns out to be an anti-Communist rally, and he goes out to investigate and he recognizes one of his old rivals from one of the other movies and he jumps on a motorcycle and ends up being chased by some guys in a car.”

That’s not all. “I’ve heard rumors that the archeological artifact that they’re looking for is the fountain of youth,” Ms. Dunn said. “But I don’t know.”

Take this with the usual grains of salt. Me, I’m wondering if any of Indy’s “old rivals” were left alive in the other movies.

Exclusive pics from the set of Tin Man.

Some friends of mine live near a park in New Westminster, where the mini-series Tin Man is currently being filmed. So they sent me these pictures — and of course, I was immediately envious, because, as I have said here before, I adore Zooey Deschanel.

Deschanel is playing DG, the Dorothy surrogate, and that’s Raoul Trujillo as Raw, the Cowardly Lion surrogate, next to her. My friends also posed for another picture with Alan Cumming, who plays Glitch, the strikingly effeminate Scarecrow surrogate.


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