Movie Review: Weepy ‘Fault in Our Stars’ Exceeds Weepy Lovesick Teen Genre

The Fault in Our Stars works excellently as a teen love tearjerker, but good acting, a lively script, and great source material elevate it to a story about the risk of loving at any time and at any age.  [Read more...]

Christian Film Briefly Nominated for an Oscar, ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ To Make Theater Run

Audiences will soon see for themselves the film at the center of all the fuss during Oscar season. Alone Yet Not Alone, the movie that was nominated, and quickly denominated, for a Best Song Oscar, comes to theaters on Friday, June 13.

George Escobar, c0-director of Alone Yet Not Alone, says his head is still spinning from the very public controversy. [Read more...]

Watch Heartbreaking Tiananmen Square Documentary ‘Moving the Mountain’ if You Can Find It

25 years ago, brave college students paid a terrible price for standing up for freedom in China’s Tiananmen Square.

One of the few movies I can honestly say has changed my life is this documentary, called Moving the Mountain, by Michael Apted about Tiananmen Square. Released in 1994, he interviewed surviving student leaders, who spoke of their passion for freedom, their deep grief at the crackdown, and their guilt for surviving. He interwove the film with footage from that fateful day.

This is a movie every American should watch, every person should watch. To say it’s inspiring is an understatement.

Unfortunately and almost criminally, it’s out of print in the United States and very hard to find. If you can find a copy, it is worth your time and effort.

For some reason, IMDB has 14 minutes of a poor quality copy of the film up on their site (labeled that it’s the entire film, but it’s not). Since it’s on IMDB, I’m going to assume it’s legal and embed it here.


 

Ann B. Davis aka Alice from ‘The Brady Bunch’ Left Hollywood for Faith: ‘I was Born Again’

Ann B. Davis, who played the beloved housekeeper Alice in The Brady Bunch, died over the weekend.

New information is coming out about her faith and her life. The Associated Press reports:

For many years after “The Brady Bunch” wound up, Davis led a quiet religious life, affiliating herself with a group led by [Episcopal Bishop William] Frey.

“I was born again,” she told the AP in 1993. “It happens to Episcopalians. Sometimes it doesn’t hit you till you’re 47 years old. [Read more...]

Four Awesome Campy 1970s Christian Movies That Hollywood Should Totally Remake (Like Left Behind)

Maybe you’ve seen the trailer for Left Behind starring Nicolas Cage. It got me thinking, the current day doesn’t own the rights to all Christian campy movies. Here are four movies from the 1970s that Hollywood should remake. Why? Because they’re awesome possum! And I still have nightmares from a few of them. That’s got to count for something.

A Thief in the Night

Before Left Behind, there was A Thief in the Night. A whole generation of children was scared into the church by this horror/suspense movie about a girl who missed the rapture. Here’s the entire movie, in case you’ve got an afternoon to kill.

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By the way, there used to be these things called cords that connected phones to walls. And when you left a phone handle off the hook, which means you physically did not hang it up and break the connection,  it would beep to let you know. You need to know that going in.

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Brother Sun Sister Moon

You will learn everything you needed to know about hippies from this 1972 biopic of Francis of Assisi.

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This movie is very timely due to the popularity of Pope Francis. But you need someone who can sing and who can look longingly into a camera.

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The Cross and the Switchblade

The true story of David Wilkerson and his mission to help the thugs, gangs, down and out, and street people of 1960s New York City.

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It’s a tough story in a tough city. There can only be one…..

The Hiding Place

Another true story of Corrie Ten Boom and her family, ordinary boring Dutch Christians who sheltered Jews from the Nazis. The story isn’t really campy. It’s remarkable. It doesn’t end when the Ten Booms are arrested and sent to concentration camps. It’s just getting started.

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Ok. The trailer is a little campy. But the story is so inspiring, it’s beyond inspiring. It’s superspiring. This one has Oscar written all over it. I said OSCAR!

 

Review: Angelina Jolie stars in ‘Maleficent,’ an Irony-Free Answer to ‘Wicked’

2001 brought us Shrek on the silver screen and 2003 Wicked on stage. Both stories made the case for the villain, how society is so twisted that evil is good and the villain really the hero.

The wind has shifted again and 2014 brings us Angelina Jolie in Malificent, the story of the fairy who curses the princess known as Sleeping Beauty.

Malificent isn’t misunderstood or disguised good wrapped in black leather. She isn’t a victim of circumstance. She isn’t delightfully evil or wickedly charming. [Read more...]

Review: X-Men Days of Future Past Fun for Fan and Novice Alike

Don’t worry  if you confuse Flash and Quicksilver or if you spend half the movie waiting for Avenger Thor to walk in to this X-Men story.

We can’t all be fanboys and girls.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is such a flawlessly executed movie that even if you don’t know your Loki from your Magneto, you’ll still have just as much fun as the guy next to you in full Bishop cosplay.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s enough comic winks and nods to draw even the most rigid nerd out from his mom’s basement. But, perhaps to his chagrin, he’ll have to share the movie with mere mortals that just come for a good time.

Taking a cure from 2009′s Star Trek, this film uses the device of a trip into the past to potentially rewrite the history of the franchise. As the movie opens, the mutant heroes from 2000′s X-Men huddle in a bunker hiding from powerful droid thingies that will destroy them. Dr. Xavier (Patrick Stewart) is there with Magneto (Ian McKellen), as well as Storm (Halle Berry) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Looking into the face of certain defeat, they pinpoint the one event in history that led to their dark future.

It has to do with Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and an event that convinced humanity that mutants were too dangerous to tolerate.

So off one goes Wolverine, into the consciousness of his younger self, on a mission to unite the younger X-Men and stop Mystique.

He meets up with young Dr. Xavier (James McAvory) and his nemesis Magneto (Michael Fassbender) from more recent movies. Those are just the main characters. In the past, as in the future, there are a host of mutants and humans that weave in and out of the story. If you’re up on the lore, you’ll get your chuckle as they make their cameo. If you’re not, no worries. They move a plot point along and then dissolve into the background. No chance to feel lost.

Except for one. Faster-than-sound Quicksilver (Evan Peters) almost steals the movie with his ADHD teenage persona. He pulls off a supersonic ballet, rendered in fantastic super slow motion: part rescuing hero, part teen rebel, part merry prankster. He’s only in the film for a few scenes, but I could watch those scenes again and again. If you go for nothing else, go for Quicksilver.

The year of this past key event? Well, it just happens to be 1973 and Xavier, Wolverine, and the rest are just too groovy for words. The film plays with the setting, just as it plays with everything: Playing a top disco hit of the era with an ironic twist, plopping Wolverine into a particularly unseemly moment in his past, even casting new mutant light on Kennedy’s assassination and presidency.

The movie has heart, with the eternal conflict between Dr. X, who wants to find a way to peace with the human race, and Magento, who wants to preemptively destroy them.

But it’s also a lot of fun.

In fact, it’s pretty close to flawless. Sure a few questions arise, as they always do, with the time travel situation. “What happened here?” asks Wolverine upon arriving in the past. Wouldn’t he already, by definition, know the answer?

As much as I like Peter Dinklage, his villainous Scientist Dr. Trask was only ho-hum, although his 70s style was good for a chuckle.

But those moments are few and far between. The vast bulk of the movie is perfect pacing, great characters, funny lines, and exciting special effects. At some point, as Magento tosses DC landmarks around, Mystique shifts in and out of peoples’ bodies, and Dr. X looks to himself for inspiration – literally – it becomes everything you want in a comic book movie.

 

Rated PG-13, this film is quite a bit edgier than the squeaky-clean Spiderman 2. Wolverine wakes up in a sexually compromising situation and there’s a shot of his bare behind, a shot that drew appreciative cheers from the audience, no less. That’s the only sexuality in the film, though. It does include as many swear words as it can get away with and maintain the PG-13, both of the s and f variety, but still only an occasional event. The opening scene has some disturbing shots of piles of dead bodies and violence is fairly intense throughout. Some characters are killed repeatedly as part of the charm of time travel.  Plus, there are pretty obvious drug references, usually in a negative light, but still present. It’s one of those movies that will make you squirm in a few spots if your kids are there, but not so pervasive or overt that you absolutely want to keep teens from seeing it.

The Top 5 Most Fascinating Documentaries That Will Screen at the AFI DOCs Festival

Yesterday I attended the luncheon to announce the slate of films screening at the American Film Institute Documentary Festival (formerly Silverdocs). The festival runs June 18-22 in Washington, DC and Silver Spring, Maryland. With 84 films scheduled to run, there’s lots to choose from, but here are the five that look best to me:

1) Life Itself, Director Steve James

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I usually don’t like films in which Hollywood celebrates itself, but this is an exception. This documentary looks at the life and work of Roger Ebert, someone with whom I often disagreed but always respected.

2) 112 Weddings, Director Doug Block

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As a sidejob, a documentarian videographed weddings for decades. Now he goes back and sees how those marriages turned out. This trailer made me choke up a few times, seeing the emotion on people’s faces. I am curious what he found. I can’t wait to see it.

3) 1971, Director Johanna Hamilton

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I’ll be honest…five years ago I would have rolled my eyes at this story of hippies breaking into a FBI office to expose the way the government was spying on its own people. After Snowden, the IRS scandal, the phone tapping scandals, the email hacking, and so on, I wonder why we’re not all fighting back.

4) Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus, Director Madeleine Sackler

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If 1971 is about privacy from the government, this documentary about performers who speak out against a restrictive regime is about freedom of speech. It’s a value I never thought would be questioned in America, but I’m beginning to wonder.

5) I am Big Bird: The Carol Spinney Story, Director Chad Walker and Dave LaMattina

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Caroll Spinney has been portraying Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since the beginning, and still keeps going at 80. This story is more than an actor. It’s the sweet, gentle, optimistic thing that somehow became Sesame Street and Muppets. I quibble with Sesame Street from time to time, but in general, it is the best of what the Baby Boomer generation wanted to be.

Review: Action and Special Effects Save Kinder, Gentler ‘Godzilla’ of 2014

Godzilla is a sort of modern day Grendel, the monster from Beowulf, or Minotaur, one boogieman from Greek myth. Born of the deep, subconscious grief and terror of nuclear war, the myth of Godzilla is primal and powerful. We all know who Godzilla is, even if we haven’t watched the multiple movies exploring him.

We all have the giant radioactive lizard in the back of our minds.

So it makes sense that a new age with new terrors that no longer place nuclear war at the top of the list would recast the creature in the role of hero.

Director Gareth Edwards brings us a Godzilla who, despite his destructive tendencies, is less a mutant force of nature and more a balancer of nature.

Edwards manages to fit this kinder, gentler Godzilla into a movie with exciting action scenes, stunning images, and an occasionally intriguing human story.  [Read more...]

New ‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay’ Images – See Julianne Moore as President Coin

Lionsgate has launched a cool new website with stills, interviews, and other deets from the upcoming The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. 

Julianne Moore is seen as the perhaps noble, perhaps sinister President Coin. Woodly Harrelson returns in his role as Haymitch Abernathy. And, saddest of all, the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman looks like he never left us as Plutarch Heavensbee.

Plus there’s a very cool animated poster.

Check it out at http://www.thehungergamesexclusive.com/.

The movie hits theaters November 21.

All images via Lionsgate.


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