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Something Old, Something New, by Reed Lackey

28 Feb

AmberandClayOnSteps

One of my biggest criticisms of the genre known as the “Christian film” is that the films too often feel reactionary. Rather than being created from a desire to tell a good story and tell it well, many films in the “Christian” genre are responding to a specific cultural condition with a specific message and an undeniable agenda.

The latest film to fall into this category is Old Fashioned, written and directed by Rik Swartzwelder, who also stars as the lead role opposite Elizabeth Roberts. The film centers around a couple whose romance is more akin to “courtship” than dating and was specifically marketed as the Evangelical response to 50 Shades of Grey. I should be upfront about the fact that I wasn’t expecting much from it.

But the marketing campaign was probably a disservice to the film because what I saw offered me a few surprises, which not only endeared it to me as a positive entry in the “Christian film” genre, but also gave me some glimmers of hope for where that genre might be headed.

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For Mr. Nimoy, by Reed Lackey

27 Feb

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For most of my life, and likely for all of the rest of it, I have been torn between whether I will be governed by my reason or by my emotions. I’m a critical thinker and a logical problem solver with a deductive-reasoning mindset. I’m also a highly sensitive and often emotionally vulnerable man.

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An Open Letter to Christian Filmmakers, by Joe Zaragoza

20 Feb

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I just got out of seeing the movie Old Fashioned. Here are some things I noticed: It was a Monday morning and the theater was packed. The movie was getting laughs from the audience throughout. When the movie ended, people applauded it. Also, as I was leaving, an older woman sitting in my aisle with her husband asked me, “Wasn’t that a wonderful movie?” while I heard another person say, “There needs to be more movies like this.” Now, if this is your audience, if this is who you are making movies for, then good job! You guys are succeeding. Not just Old Fashioned, but all Christian films. I remember leaving God’s Not Dead and seeing people genuinely excited about it, pulling out their cell phones, I’m guessing to text people, “God’s Not Dead” as the movie instructs, and then myself receiving the text “God’s Not Dead!” for several weeks after that from random Christian friends. You have an audience. Christians are going to your movies and they are going to continue to go to your movies.

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18 Feb

Puzzle Maker, by Reed Lackey

3 Feb

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Picture with me, for a moment, a machine. It has its own circuits, electrical impulses, and energy source. But this machine’s purpose extends beyond programmable functions to re-programmable functions. In other words, this machine can learn, can reason, and can deduce. It can evolve.

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Tolerance, by Robert Hornak

1 Feb

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Whether or not you are Charlie Hebdo, current events make it obvious that comedy can be a lightning rod for dubiously justified anger.  It’s always been so, as Mike Celestino’s ambitiously-scoped documentary That’s Not Funny illustrates, but the shock is that these days the expression of that anger can run the broad gamut from heckling a comedian to storming the offices of a leftist humor magazine with automatic weapons.  Perhaps perversely, one aches while watching the film, which was produced before the Paris attack, wishing Celestino had just waited a few more months so he could include that most tragic of examples.  But there’s enough grist for the mill in the history of American comedy to help him preach his sermon, and Celestino covers it all.

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Growing Up, by Reed Lackey

20 Jan

For about six months now, I’ve been trying to figure out what the big deal is about Boyhood. I had heard about the inventive filmmaking technique (segments filmed once a year for twelve years so that the actors age with the story), and that concept thrilled and fascinated me. I’ve enjoyed most of director Richard Linklater’s other works– particularly his Before trilogy of movies with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy– and the initial critical praise was overwhelmingly positive.

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Jim’s Seventh Favorite Film

29 Oct

When it’s all said and done, John Carpenter likely won’t go down in history being spoken of in the same breath as Martin Scorsese, Orson Welles, John Ford or any other director whose name is synonymous with path paving, pioneering or inspiring future generations. Despite directing a few titles that have resonated with audiences enough to be re-visited and reshaped by others (Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog), Carpenter has also directed his fair share of clunkers (pretty much his entire output since the 90s minus In the Mouth of Madness) or titles that aren’t easy to classify by the mainstream (Big Trouble in Little China, They Live).

Because of this, it’s easier for people to overlook Carpenter’s legacy or discredit his successes as anomalies than it is to admit that the man who wrote, “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubble gum” is a skilled filmmaker. But if one wanted to prove that Carpenter’s success and worth were warranted, he or she would have to look no further than The Thing as Exhibit A, B and C.

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We’re All Mad Here, by Reed Lackey

28 Oct

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Besides Stephen King, the name in literature most synonymous with the macabre and horror genre would have to be Edgar Allan Poe. And like King, Poe’s work has been siphoned for decades to fuel film adaptations, mostly in the 1960s by Roger Corman starring Vincent Price.

The latest adaptation from this notorious master of the grotesque is Stonehearst Asylum, directed by Brad Anderson. It boasts a notable cast, including Oscar winners Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine and a rich choice of source material in Poe’s story, “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether.” If you are at all familiar with that story, then much of the film’s conceit will already be known to you, but since that story doesn’t involve a pendulum, a heart, or a raven, I’ll assume you haven’t read it.

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We Are Our Own, by Reed Lackey

7 Oct

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They used to tell me something about spiders when I was a kid—something they still say, actually: “They’re more afraid of you than you are of them.” I never believed that for a second. Sure, I was a giant in their world, but they had the ability to hide and the speed and the fangs. They were venomous.

Something else “they” used to tell me growing up—whoever “they” happened to be—was not to be my own worst enemy in life. They meant, of course, that people have a tendency to sabotage the good things in their life, whether they do so intentionally or not. This idea is explored in both literal and metaphorical ways in Enemy, last year’s film by Denis Villeneuve starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

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