Watch: Four new TV spots, behind-the-scenes footage and a new featurette linking Risen to The Passion of the Christ

risen-clavius-sword

It’s going to be a very Risen-heavy week here at FilmChat. The film, which stars Joseph Fiennes and Tom Felton as two Roman officers who go looking for the body of Jesus, opens next Friday, with advance screenings in some cities on Thursday night — so the studio is releasing new promotional videos on an almost daily basis.

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Watch: New featurette uses evangelical jargon to sell Risen

risen-pastor

If you’ve been following the arts-and-faith debate for any length of time, then you know that there is a strong, strong impulse on the part of some of the faithful to either reject the arts as something scary and ambiguous or to embrace the arts for purely utilitarian reasons. Art, it is often felt, must have a clear message — ideally one that furthers “our” agenda — and if the message in any given work of art isn’t clear, then it is something to be avoided and distrusted, lest it take us off-message.

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A few brief words on horror and scary movies for Halloween

exorcist-lindablair

Today is Halloween, so the good folks at Context with Lorna Dueck in Toronto asked me if I could talk to them for a few minutes about scary movies and why a Christian would watch them (or, in some cases, why a Christian would make them!).

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The prophet Isaiah at the movies: a quick round-up

killingjesus-isaiah

Today is the feast day for the prophet Isaiah in the Orthodox Church, so I figured it might be good to round up a few films that have referenced and depicted him.

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National Geographic unveils the cast for Killing Jesus

killingjesusThe National Geographic Channel’s adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus is now filming in Morocco, and thanks to The Hollywood Reporter, we now know who many of the actors are — and they’re an eclectic bunch, to be sure.

In keeping with other recent efforts to depict Jesus as something other than a blonde-haired, blue-eyed European, the part of Jesus will be played by Haaz Sleiman, an actor born in Lebanon who is perhaps best-known for playing a Syrian immigrant in Tom McCarthy’s The Visitor.

Herod the Great, on the other hand, will be played by Kelsey Grammer, who doesn’t seem like a particularly Middle Eastern kind of guy to me. (The fact that he’s best known for his comedic roles on Frasier and The Simpsons doesn’t help!)

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“Drug dealers, money launderers, and kidnappers”: Esquire looks at what happened to Benedict Fitzgerald and his proposed prequel to The Passion of the Christ

benedictfitzgeraldThe Passion of the Christ was such a huge hit ten years ago that many people wanted a sequel. Mel Gibson never showed any interest in making one, but his screenwriter Benedict Fitzgerald certainly did — or, to be more precise, Fitzgerald proposed making a prequel about the mother of Jesus, which he initially called Myriam, Mother of the Christ.

I have been keeping tabs on this film ever since it was first announced in January 2007, but the film itself has never been made. Instead, there have been persistent rumours and reports — the title has changed a couple times, and different actors were rumoured to be up for the part of Herod the Great, etc. — and now comes the wildest, craziest report of them all. Esquire magazine posted a story yesterday with the headline ‘How the Mother of All Sequels Crashed and Burned’, and it explains in some detail how Fitzgerald’s ambitions were derailed by “drug dealers, money launderers, and kidnappers”. It also gets into his lawsuit against Gibson.

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