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: Mediocre ‘American Hustle’ Does Not Jive with Oscar Expectations

Create a movie with a fantastic cast, wonderful character development, and a wry take on past government scandals in a time of current frustration with government, and you’re sure to have a huge hit and Oscar contender, right?

Not necessarily.

On paper, American Hustle should be the movie of the year, but its supreme promise fades once the lights go down in the theater. The romp through the real-life 1980s political ABSCAM scandal, 70s and 80s disco fashion, and casino-mob scene is fun. It’s often funny. It’s a good movie. But it is not great and should not be an Oscar contender.

Overweight, bald, and bold Irving (Christian Bale) is a con man with a gold core. He finds his perfect match in Syndey (Amy Adams), a stripper who has found her power over men can lead to more than just singles in her g-string. Their union as man and mistress leads to great things, con-job wise.

Just as the future looks rosy and all is merriness and joy, two flies land with a thud in their ointment. The first is Irving’s wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), a necessary evil in order for Irving to keep his beloved son close at hand. Unpredictable, manipulative, and beautiful, she’s itching for some excitement even if means added risk of violence in Irving’s life. Especially if it means added risk of violence in his life.

The second burr under the lovers’ saddle is FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). His low level bust of the con couple has him dreaming big of fame, fortune and excitement of even bigger busts.

As Irving would say, someone has him by the cajones. More accurately, Rosalyn has one and DiMaso the other.

DiMaso’s ambition leads to Jersey politician Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) and even bigger politicians in his sights. Rosalyn’s own game means not only the Feds but also the Mob may come down on his head.

All this and Bradley Cooper in a tight perm and polyester too? What a movie!

The acting is stellar. Christian Bale particularly shines as a doofus who just oozes sincerity and trust-worthiness, all the while sneaking his hand into unsuspecting friends’ pockets. Amy Adams sizzles with a sexiness we have not yet seen from her. It’s easy to see why both Irving and DiMaso would risk all for her. Bradley Cooper completely convinces as an overly-eager, overly-self-assured good boy gone rogue. The real star, however, is Jennifer Lawrence, who takes silly, vapid, dangerous, and slightly vulnerable Rosalyn to a whole other level.

That said, the problem with the movie is three-fold.

First, if this awards season is teaching us anything, it’s that good characters do not a fantastic movie make. See Inside Llweyn Davis. See the upcoming Wolf of Wall Street. A story needs characters, but it needs more than just characters. It needs plot. The plot of American Hustle peters out. Too much stock is placed in the characters rather than in the story itself.

Secondly, Director David Russell loves his characters a little too much. They’re good and gripping characters, but they’re not allowed to be complicated. For all his con-artist ways, Irving has a pureness of heart that is a little too perfect for a movie with these ambitions. It doesn’t jive right. He should be darker, really darker in ways that matter.

The most stark example of this overindulgence to the characters is the sympathy in the film that is built up for the politicians caught in ABSCAM’s web. The movie is so totally on their side that it excuses the fact that these characters, each of them, walked out of a room with suitcases of cash. They accepted bribes and are hardly innocent. The film does not address this, either to excuse them somehow or allow them some darkness. They are victims. The actual scandalness of the scandal is almost a side note, hardly worth the movie’s attention. It could have been more deftly handled, more courageously handled, and been a better movie.

And that leads to the final, fatal flaw. The film sets up all sorts of heavy-duty Oscar-alert themes. What is reality, it asks. Aren’t we all really mini con artists, it asks. Do we really know the people we love? Now that we mention it, what is love, anyway? What is ambition? Can those things exist with open polyester shirts and lots of gold chains?

It suggests ideas about the role of government and whether it’s a beneficial or detrimental force in our lives.

And then, it just whiffs.

Those themes, those questions, once raised, fade away like the one-time popularity of macramé plant holders.

There’s no there there.

Go, enjoy the movie. Laugh and the fashion and marvel at the acting. Don’t expect any more than that.

Hustle, indeed.

American Hustle is rated R for pervasive language, sexuality (implied and not realized but pervasive) and some violence.

Review: Let the Revolution begin! “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” Inspires

The future does not look blight in Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second installment of the movies adapted from the popular book series.

It’s a cold, bleak life for Katniss when she returns to District 12 after co-winning the televised battle to the death in the first movie. Through threatening to commit suicide rather than fight each other, she and her co-conspirator-TV boyfriend Peeta forced the Capitol in general and President Snow in particular to accept one less death.

President Snow is not happy.

While Katniss moons around her impoverished mining town, seethes with rage at the ordeal she was forced to suffer, takes a supposedly celebratory victory lap around the country with Peeta, and tries to figure out how she feels about her erstwhile boyfriend Gale, Snow plots his revenge.

And it’s a doozy:

A new Hunger Games, built expressly for the purpose of putting Katniss in her place.

But Snow has problems of his own. He’s having more and more trouble suppressing the restless and angry populace. They’ve found a hero in Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire, the girl who honored Rue, the girl who forced the Capitol into a draw. Despite his brutal and totalitarian efforts to put down the people, they rise up.

The revolution is coming. All it needs is a spark to start the blaze.

This adaptation stays true to the plot and tone of the popular book by Suzanne Collins, making minor changes and consolidations but keeping the overall trajectory intact. As with the source material, the film is intense, dark, exciting and gripping. It’s excellent.

A large part of that excellence comes in the form of America’s current darling Jennifer Lawrence in the titular role. It’s hard to  remember back when she was cast that many thought she was too old to play Katniss. Now, with two movies of the eventual four complete, it’s impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. Equal parts strength and vulnerability, rage and woundedness, fear and rebellion, Lawrence’s Katniss is a confused whirlwind with an iron core. Of course they would build a revolution around her.

Liam Hemsworth as Gale and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta are very much supporting characters to Lawrence’s Katniss. It’s fun to see the boys revolving around – and depending on – the girl for a change. They could be played by other actors and have  much the same effect. Not so with Jennifer Lawrence.

A supporting character that really comes into her own in this film is Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket. The primped, painted, fluffed, and aptly named promotional agent has a story arc in which her assumptions and emotions about the games are challenged for the first time, and Banks pulls it off with a humor that turns to pathos. Well done.

The Games are as much about spectacle as anything, and director Francis Lawrence puts that wonderfully into life: A dazzling but decrepit Capitol full of balls and fur and glitter, a superficial and hammy TV show hosted by Caesar Flickerman (the delightful Stanley Tucci), and a dramatic and dismaying arena with plenty of surprises.

Everything is well done. I have no complaints about this movie. If I had any, it would be that occasionally Jennifer Lawrence’s face looked a little too post-production enhanced, a sad thing to do to the natural beauty, but that is  a minor, minor complaint on what is a fantastic movie.

Like the books, this movie is unrelentingly dark in tone. Comparable to the tone of Ender’s Game or the last two films of Harry Potter, the world of the Hunger Games is hard-scrabble, desperate, frantic, fearful. There are no moments of levity, and only a few snatched periods of relative peace. Rated PG-13, there is no language or overt sexuality, although Katniss does kiss both Gale and Peeta. The confusing love triangle is a large part of this story. She sleeps – chastely – with Peeta in the same bed, overcome with dread and fear and in need of company. However, the violence and oppression of this film is quite intense for a kids’ movie. There are numerous beatings, whippings, and one gun to the head execution that happens just barely offscreen. I would not recommend it for grade school kids and would use caution for young teens.

Ultimately, the darkness only serves to highlight the light of bravery as those around Katniss risk everything for a shot at freedom. This is a movie that makes you believe in revolution.

Read More:

My review of the first movie “The Hunger Games” 

Discussion of politics in The Hunger Games. Is it liberal? Libertarian? Communist? Conservative?

Parents’ guide to “The Hunger Games.” A brief, but helpful, primer. 

Matilda Star on Why she Left Acting: Theater is More Fun than Film

Mara Wilson, who at seven starred in Matilda, doesn’t regret leaving acting behind. In a post on her blog, she compares it to fingerpainting. It was good for a time, but not “her thing” now.

Imagine that when you were a child, you liked to finger-paint. It was a fun pastime, but it came easily to you, so you never took much pride in it. Regardless, you got a reputation for your finger-painting. Now imagine that, fifteen to twenty years later, people are coming up to you and telling you that they have your finger-paintings up on their walls and that your finger-paints changed your life. It’s flattering, but you haven’t finger-painted in years, and it seems like something you did a long, long time ago. You’ve realized you don’t particularly enjoy getting your hands dirty and that there are other outlets for your creative urges. But people are adamant: are you going to finger-paint again? When? Wait, you’re not? Why not?

She says it’s a little secret of the film world, but film acting is not as fun as theater.

Here is something no real celebrity will ever tell you: film acting is not very fun. Doing the same thing over and over again until, in the director’s eyes, you “get it right,” does not allow for very much creative freedom. The best times I had on film sets were the times the director let me express myself,* but those were rare. In terms of sheer adrenaline, film has absolutely nothing on theater. Theater is about connection with an audience, being in the moment, and living a live moment onstage. It’s thrilling and terrifying and ephemeral. It’s life. But I’m digressing. My point is that film can be exciting, but more often, it’s tedious. The celebrity aspect is nothing short of ridiculous, and auditioning is brutal and dehumanizing. Every time I see a pretty young girl on the subway reading sides for an audition, my only thought is, “Man, am I glad I’m not doing that anymore.” I never feel nostalgia, just relief.

Plus, she adds, there are plenty of good actors available for roles she would have been offered. She’s content to let them have those roles.

To paraphrase the showtune, anything I can do, Anna Kendrick or Ellen Page or Jennifer Lawrence (or any actress from the plethora of actresses waiting to be “discovered”) can do better.

Sounds like Matilda, er…Mara, has a good head on her shoulders.

via “Are You Still Acting?!” : Mara Wilson Writes Stuff.

Barbie Just Got Tough: Katniss from Hunger Games Gets Her Own Doll

Tired of overly pretty, brainless, wimpy Barbie?

Feel like reenacting the struggles of Panem with Katniss? Want to relive the Hunger Games?

Luckily for you, or for the Hunger Games fan in your house, Mattel has just released the first look of the Katniss Barbie doll.

EW reports:

She’s wearing what she wore into the Games and comes complete with a miniature mockingjay pin, bow and arrow, forest-tromping boots, and that one, plump braid.

Designer Bill Greening: “I chose to dress her in the outfit she wears during the games, since this is where all the non-stop action takes place and is instantly recognizable by fans,” says Greening of the Katniss Barbie. “Of course, she wears her mockingjay pin proudly on her lapel.”

The face looks like Jennifer Lawrence to me, after a bit of Barbieizing. The clothes look fantastic.

No word yet on Peeta or Gale dolls. I guess good ole Ken will have to fill in.

The doll will release in August, or you can pre-order on various Barbie websites.

via ‘The Hunger Games’: Mattel debuts Katniss Everdeen Barbie — EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK | PopWatch |

Is Jennifer Lawrence too Fat to Play Katniss?

It seems everyone has seen and is talking about “The Hunger Games” after its unthinkable $155 million domestic box office weekend.

My friend and colleague, Movie Mom Nell Minnow of Belifenet, called out multiple sources for calling Jennifer Lawrence too fat or large to play Katniss Everdeen, even soliciting a grudging apology of sorts from one. Good job, Nell!

For her part, Jennifer Lawrence seems to be fine with her figure.

‘The Hunger Games’ New Trailer Released

It’s 50 days until the March release of “The Hunger Games” and Lionsgate just released a new trailer.

What do you think?

I love Jennifer Lawrence (do yourself a favor and check out “Winter’s Bone”) and the tone of panic in her voice when she volunteers to be a tribute sends shivers in my spine. I like the look and simper-y-ness of Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket. And anything with Stanley Tucci? I’m there. He looks amazing as the TV host of the brutal hunger games, Caesar Flickerman.

“The Hunger Games” is the first movie adaption of the popular book series about Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence), a poor girl who is forced by a bloodthirsty capitol city to fight to the death in televised battles. It’s gonna be huge.

Terrifying vs Twiggy: Are Today’s Female Action Stars too Scrawny to Believe?

I saw Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Haywire’ last night and while I’m not allowed to review it yet, I will say this: unlike many recent action flicks with high profile female stars, I believed it. Gina Carano dished out a world of hurt on some unfortunate double-crossers and I never doubted for a minute they felt the full effect of her intentions.

Some of this is good directing, but a large part of it has to do with Carano’s athletic, healthy body.







Look at those thighs, that butt. She looks like a woman who, when she kicked you, you would know it.

Contrast that with other recent action vixens:

Angelina Jolie in "Salt"

Angelina Jolie at the Russian photo call for "Salt"

Zoe Saldana in "Colombiana"


Zoe Saldana in "Colombiana"

Angelina Jolie, who I admire in many ways but who could use a few trips to Cracker Barrel, did a good job in “Salt.” She was committed to the character and to the action. She played it like a man would: taking lots of hard hits, jumping off of tall objects onto moving trucks, and dishing out punishment when needed. Likewise Saldana in “Columbiana.” I could never quite believe them, though. Zoe is beautiful, but she looks like she might topple over from the weight of that gun. I have no problem believing she can crawl through tiny ducts. Busting her way out, however, seems impossible. When Angie fell onto that moving truck, I was worried she had snapped a twiggy limb. When she out ran a pack of nefarious do-badders, I just couldn’t believe her frail body had the stamina to do so.

Gina Carano, I had no trouble believing. I wouldn’t want her after me.

Plus, she’s beautiful and fills out an evening gown nicely when the plot required it (as they so often do). I know Angelina is the sexiest woman in the world, but I suspect most men in real life would prefer a Carano body over a Jolie body. Ok, maybe that’s overstating it, but if you took away the names and the allure…

For instance, Plus Size Model magazine is getting a lot of attention for this photo spread comparing plus size models with “normal” fashion models. Who wouldn’t prefer the plus size girl on the right? The other one looks like she needs a quick trip to the hospital.






So, hooray for Gina Carano. Let’s keep the believable action chicks coming. Who do you believe? Here’s a few more I believe:

Jennifer Lawrence, star of the upcoming "The Hunger Games"

Michelle Rodriguez, pictured here in "Avatar"

And I couldn't leave out the one, the only Linda Hamilton of "Terminator."