Friday, August 31, 2007

Another Ultimate reference!

Montgomery Brewster is a failed baseball player who inherits a fortune from his late uncle but there's a catch to it all. He must spend 30 million dollars within 30 days in order to receive 300 million..oh, wait a second. That's Brewster's Millions, this is The Ultimate Gift. Jason Stevens is a spoiled rich kid who inherits...something....from his late grandfather, but there's a catch. He must go through several other "gifts," life lessons designed to make him a better person, before he finally gets The Ultimate Gift. Starring Drew Fuller(Charmed) as Jason, with Abigail Breslin(Little Miss Sunshine), Brian Deheney(First Blood, Tommy Boy) and Bill Cobbs(A Night at the Museum). Special Apperance by James Garner(Maverick, Rockford Files). And lets not forget D. David Morin from The Time Changer(review) in a small role!

Ok, some notes for the show, if I can remember them all: *** The film's official website, and the product page that I mentioned. And let's not forget The Ultimate Gift store at Once Upon a Family, where you can buy a $99 scrapbook kit. ***

The album I mentioned as my golden calf of the week is A Fine Frenzy's "One Cell in the Sea". A Fine Frenzy - One Cell In the Sea

*** The post with information about The Ultimate Gift producer Rick Eldridge's problems with Fox Faith is here. If you liked The Ultimate Gift and want to get a jump on the sequel before they make it into a movie, you should read The Ultimate Life. *** Oh, and did you know that there are 9 versions of Brewster's Millions on film? Holy cow! The first one was filmed in 1914(!) by Cecil B. DeMille(!!!).

- Jon

*** Don's 'Golden Calf'... The Top 10 Most Incredible Recordings, as deemed by some guy on the internet. Though I was certainly incrediblised by them!

*** Intro: "Fight To Save Your Life" by EleventySeven from 'Galactic Conquest' Outro: "15" by Surrogate from 'Love is for the Rich'

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Somewhere, beyond the sun...

A while back we mentioned on the podcast a pastor from Florida who had written a screenplay about Darfur. We actually have an update on a previous story today!

Pastor Art Ayris' screenplay, Beyond the Sun, is being produced by Future Films(Bend it Like Beckham), Sixth Sense Productions(the fantastic Hotel Rwanda) and is set to be directed by Mennan Yapo(Premonition, the Sandra Bullock time-travel movie).

This isn't Aryis' first film. A few years back he wrote The Touch, which became a hit in the Middle East after it was translated.

It sounds like this movie is moving along pretty well. It has its own IMDB page, and Ayris has collaborated with author Ninie Hammon(God Said Yes) to novelize the screenplay.

Looks like First Baptist Church of Leesburg is giving Sherwood Baptist Church a run for their money in the competition to be the number one movie church.

Oh, and that image is from the comic book "The Beginning," produced by Ayris' production company Kingstone Media Group.

(Kingstone Media Group, via FilmStew)

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Touchdown, Jesus!

OneNewsNow is reporting that Sherwood Baptist Church has received its first royalty check of $855,000 as part of its money share from Facing the Giants(review here). The church is using $600,000 for church debt and the rest is going towards a sports complex. A sports complex, huh? Maybe they're going to film a sequel after all...

This is the kind of info you don't normally get, since most independent filmmakers who hit it big are pretty mum about the money side of things. Since Facing the Giants did go so big I hope this is just one of several royalty checks they receive.

Ok, so this post is really just an excuse to link to this new line of awesomely wierd action figures, Fishermen. As you can see, Touchdown Jesus(aka "I am Faith") is just one of the many strange Jesus action figures. I can't decide which is more bizarre, the Rodeo Jesus("I am Strength") or the gun-toting G.I. Jesus("I am Peace"). The Homeless Jesus("I am Hope") is actually pretty cool in a Matthew 25:35 kind of way. These are not to be confused with the other, more famous, Touchdown Jesus.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Ultimate Scoop!

Unfortunately, we got scooped. I read this story over the weekend, and I was intending on posting it as we got closer to our own review of The Ultimate Gift (produced by Rick Eldridge, pictured at right) this Friday, but the Christian Cinema Blog scooped us by posting about it today. The good news is that not only is their post really interesting, but it takes a completely different approach then I was(and will) take on the story.

First, the original story from Scripps Howard News Service(owners of local Albuquerque fish wrap the Tribune [I kid, one of my good friends works at the Trib]) and my take on it. The story is an interview with The Ultimate Gift producer Rick Eldridge (Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius and about a million Hermie and Friends films). In the story Eldridge complains that because his film was transferred from 20th Century Fox's main film division to the sub-division of Fox Faith it lost its chance to appeal to a mainstream audience. According to Eldridge, they were trying to make a mainstream movie with mainstream actors, and instead got "pigeon-holed" into the "Christian" market. He says that this impacted the reviews, which from then on attacked the film on its spiritual grounds, instead of addressing it even-handedly.

I haven't seen the film yet(but will by Friday), but as you know we at the Supercandid podcast have no great love for FoxFaith. I mean, come on, they put out some of the worst DVDs in history, DVDs that would be embarrassed to be released in 1998, when I first bought a DVD player. I haven't seen The Ultimate Gift DVD yet, but I'm not expecting it to blow me away with its extra features. Hopefully it will at least have a trailer for itself, as the Fox Faith of End of the Spear had only trailers for other films.

I don't entirely agree with Eldridge, seeing as how over at Rotten Tomatoes the film got a 33% fresh rating, which isn't too shabby for a Christian film. Granted, a few of the negative reviews mention the Christian context, but so do some of the positive reviews. It got a good write up from Variety, one of the least Christian of all movie reviewers that specifically mentions the fact that the Christian elements don't detract from the film at all.

It seems to me that Eldridge is implying that people don't want to see a film that is described as Christian. I'd disagree, as films about Christians and religious themes can, and have been, very popular. On the other hand, perhaps Eldridge was upset because The Ultimate Gift seems about as cookie-cutter a Christian film as you can get(at least from the description) and that would turn off just about anyone. Personally, I'm looking forward to it because of the cast, but the marketing for this movie has made it pretty clear that I don't fit in the target audience.

Speaking of target audiences, lets get back to the Christian Cinema blog. Their write up goes down the track that the problem is that not all Christians want to see the same movies, an idea that I agree with wholeheartedly. They use the lovely example of Hollywood logic based upon The Passion, similar to what Bill Ewing(producer and writer of End of the Spear did when we discussed a similar topic during our interview. Angela Walker over at Christian Cinema uses the lovely example of how this misguided logic works. To quote; "assuming that because I want to see a film masterfully done about the crucifixion, I’ll want to see a film about football, or an inheritance, or a Jewish girl who becomes a queen, assumes that all of those stories have as much importance in my life of faith as Christ’s death on the cross. I’m a Christian but I’m also an individual with individual taste in entertainment. Thirdly, it assumes that when I become a Christian, I put my personal likes and dislikes behind me and will buy every Christian CD that comes out, and attend every Christian film that is released into theaters."

Well said, Angela. I'd like to add that because I want to see a great film about Jesus doesn't also mean that I want to see a film about sin eating, hangman's curses or ridiculous and derivative serial killers.

I might add that this sounds very similar to the argument that Michael Landon Jr. used when he bemoaned the box office failure of The Last Sin Eater, another Fox Faith film. Landon Jr. gave a radio interview in which he suggested that Christian critics were wrong to criticize his film. A similar situation occurred this summer when Evan Almighty bombed despite desperately trying to reach the "Christian" audience. I can't wait to review that one, since no matter how good or bad the film was, there are some really sad examples of the film just grasping at straws.

This is actually a discussion that is important in current film theory, since the old model was that there are certain audiences you can identify and analyize(such as the male audience, the female audience, the white audience, the black audience, etc.). Film theory is just now catching on to the obvious truth that there is no such thing as a monlithic audience and that people are, *gasp*, individuals.

So the lessons we can learn from The Ultimate Gift(and similar movies) are:

  • Don't assume that all Christians want to see the same movie
  • Don't assume that because your movie is labeled "Christian" that Christians will want to see it
  • Don't take any responsibility for your movie losing money and instead blame the bad box office on others
  • Don't trust Fox Faith

What do you think? Good lessons? Christian filmmakers take note! Not really, Christian filmmakers should take notes from people like Bill Ewing, who was frank about mistakes that were made and accepted responsiblity himself instead of trying to blame the audience. Note that Ewing's film End of the Spear was made for a tiny budget and recouped the full amount easily, as well as getting great reviews despite being both a film about missionaries and a Fox Faith release.


(original story from Scripps Howard News Service, with additional content from the Christian Cinema Blog)

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New Releases...

Call me lazy, but there are like 50000 new releases this week. It's probably the biggest Christian record release date of the year. I'll just touch on a couple big titles... SURROGATE! - Love Is for the Rich! - see previous blog post. Casting Crowns - The Altar and the Door - Will probably be the biggest album of the year. If you like their old stuff, you'll love this one. If not, don't expect it to change your POV. ALSO! Go check out your local Christian bookstore (shamless plug), not only is my store personally selling it for less than even Amazon, you get a free, decent looking, t-shirt! Caedmon's Call - Overdressed - Derek Webb returns. Nice album cover. It sounds like every other CC record. Grits - The Greatest Hits - So their last few albums were duds... they had some SOLID singles early on. And the second disc is packed full of rare and unreleased material. A must for any fan, and worth a look if you dig hiphop. Audio Adrenaline - Live from Hawaii - So, they broke up, they got their SECOND greatest hits album out of the way, here's the live record contract-filler. Dare I say, expect a b-sides collection soon! Needtobreathe - The Heat - I dig the album title, and more than that, I actually dig the album! I was pretty surprised as well, but its got a good sound, the singer has a nice, deep, different voice. Nothing groundbreaking, but it's actually a pretty great little record. You can find at full list, courtesy of, here. I've got some BioShock to play before work! Have a wonderful SUPER Tuesday! Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites

Surrogate Link Dump

SURROGATE - 'Love Is for the Rich' is in stores today! It's the best Christian record I've heard this year, but don't take my word for it, check out their MySpace for a few cuts from the record. And for your viewing pleasure, a blinking MySpace ad!!! Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites

Monday, August 27, 2007

Moses, Moses....MOSES!!!!

Do you know what the world needs? What cinema needs? A movie version of the story of Moses! Boy, wouldn't that be a great movie! Imagine all the miracles, plagues, the epic story of a people rescued from bondage and taken to the Promised Land. All wrapped around the fascinating character of a Jew who was raised in Pharaoh's court, only to return to challenge Pharaoh himself in an epic power struggle between the gods of Egypt and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!

Well, now you can get your wish. Promenade Pictures is starting a 12 part series titled "Epic Stories of The Bible." Naturally, you don't get much more epic than the Exodus, so their first film is The Ten Commandments. This story takes the unusual tactic of focusing on the relationship between Moses and his half-brother Ramesses and the film is almost unique in having an all-star cast of actors. Even more unusual, the film is animated! How crazy is that! Watch the trailer at the bottom of this post.

You may have noticed my sarcastic tone...not...uh...not again. Ok, I'm more than a bit skeptical about this film. It is being released in September 2007, supposedly in theatres, but most likely you'll see this on DVD. This is the 3rd film titled The Ten Commandments to be released in the past 2 years. The first and most famous is the 2006 tv-miniseries version starring Dougray Scott, entitled <The Ten Commandments (read the review over on Bible Films Blog(he also does a good job of overviewing most other Moses films recently) Also in 2006 was the supposedly awful The Ten Commandments: The Musical, starring Val Kilmer. This was basically just a DVD of the stage production.

So what does the new The Ten Commandments have that these others don't? How about really bad CGI(looks to be somewhere below Saturday morning cartoon CGI(think ReBoot and Beast Wars)? Or a has been actor phoning it in as Moses's voice(Christian Slater)? The best moments in the trailer simply remind me of the better stuff in films such as The Prince of Egypt(which is even name dropped in the trailer). The actors make a big deal in the trailer about how this film "humanizes" Moses, but that is the tactic taken by just about every adaptation of this story, from the The Ten Commandments (50th Anniversary Collection) all the way to the Moses (The Bible Collection) from 1997. This one just seems to be a cash-in by some studio looking to line it's pockets by simply rolling out another cheaply produced re-make. This actually reminds me quite a bit of what happened with Inspired By The Bible Experience: New Testament and The Word of Promise: New Testament Audio BIble (Tnew Testament Audio Bible). Pretty much identical products, with identical concepts. Why are there two? Because someone saw the first one( Inspired By The Bible Experience: New Testament in this case) and thought they could throw together a rip-off and cash in on customer confusion.

The story of Moses is really done to death. Even Battlestar Galactica did a version of it( Battlestar Galactica - Battlestar Galactica, Season 3 - Exodus, Pt. 1)! If you don't have anything new to say don't bother! At least stuff like The Decalogue and The Ten take a new tactic on this story by transferring it to a new setting. This film has a lot of work to do for me to like it.

Ok, on top of all its other obvious problems, I'm now mad that The Ten Commandments website is so bad. It has a link to embed the trailer but instead of just giving it to you it demands your name and email, and it has now been 45 minutes since I provided that and I still haven't received the embed code. So chalk up another victory for Christian movies with awful website design. You'll have to go there to see the trailer.

Since I can't embed that, I'll post this youtube video instead. Warning, it does feature one cuss word.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Does anyone remember a movie called Davie and Golimyr?  I remember about a year ago or so it was being advertised heavily in Century Theatres.  It seemed that every time I went to see a movie this would be one of those annoying things that plays before the previews start.  This was one of the few that actually caught my attention, with its innovative animation style and Biblically themed story. 

Well, I was thinking about this movie the other day so I looked it up.  Turns out it is now available on DVD for only $14.95.  A bit steep for a 46 minute movie, but how can you beat that style?  The film re-tells the story of David and Goliath with the basics kept the same but really cool and imaginative riffs, like a boat made of stone and some fantastic creatures.  It was produced by Lumenas Studios and Ageless Animation.  You can learn more on the official movie site, which probably won't be up too much longer since it's already buried in the studio's page with no links to it.  If it matters to you, the Dove Foundation gave Davie and Golimyr a 5 Dove rating, their highest. 

A couple of cool bits about the movie.  Lumenas Studios has a free download on their official website.  It is a bit misleading, since they say it is the full verison of the movie, but it is actually the first 12 minutes.  The link they sent me in the email didn't work, but I emailed them about it and they sent me a working link really fast. 

You can see a preview for their previous work , Jonah: A Great Fish Story, here.  This one seems to stick much closer to the Bible story.

I might have to buy that DVD, not only to watch the movie but to support a studio that is producing innovative stop-motion animation.  Their next effort is scheduled to be a feature length epic about Santa Clause.  Hopefully it will be better than Santa Clause: The Movie.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

  No, this isn't another blog post to the mac vs. pc commercials.  However, I would like to note that I've been a proud mac owner since 2002, and that my now 5 year old mac is still serving my needs quite nicely, except that the hard drive is gradually getting quite full. 

This is a post about the Christian version of the mac and pc ads.  You all know the ads, and if you don't, well, then you're probably not reading this on the internet but instead found a crumpled up print-out that someone dropped in your hole in the ground and are reading this as a preface to using it for some unspeakable purpose, hopefully related to improving your own personal hygiene.  Anyway, the group Faith Visuals has produced a series of Christian parodies/homage's to the famous Apple ads. 

I'm not sure how to feel about this particular video, since I can sympathize and even agree with both sides.  Sure, it shouldn't matter if you don't dress up for church, but shouldn't you dress up if you can?

Faith Visuals has a website full of pretty interesting clips, ranging from humorous like these to some more serious ones, like this effective one about Jesus or this kind of bizarre one about love.  They offer them for sale for churches to use as visual aids.  You have to pay to download(hence no youtube link) but you can watch online for free.

I can't say that I'm a big fan of this kind of stuff in church(I'd rank it somewhere below a skit and above a plug for a local car dealership), but I think they'd be interesting for getting a good discussion going in a Bible study when you're running short on big ideas yourself.  As someone who's led Bible studies in the past, having a great topic or outline every week is not easy and sometimes you need something to help you when you have to, or just feel like, phoning it in a bit. 

Ok, that last bit probably lost most of my credibility with our core audience, so if you're still reading go to John Hodgeman's website and check out his other work.  Aside from being a funny guy on TV he's also a funny guy on the radio and in print. 

(Faith Visuals "Christian vs. Christ Follower)

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I watched a snail crawl along a straight razor, and it was still alive.

Sorry for the super late post, but today was just insane. I found out yesterday that my wife's car's registration is expired, and we don't have a lot of free time during hours that we can get business stuff done, so we had to run around a lot during our little bit of free time before 5 PM. That, and having to work at 6 AM each day takes a bit of a tool on a night owl like me. So, the post today is the second in a row about The Interior. I've been watching the episodes while editing some of my own independent cinema stuff, and it's kind of growing on me. I've always liked serialized stuff when it's done well, and this one does a decent job of keeping the story moving in 4-7 minute segments. The only problem so far is that in 4 episodes, out of a planned 12, we haven't gotten too far character wise. Lots of standard "white people in the jungle" cliches, but not as much character development as I'd like. The Heart of Darkness(name dropped in the title song, natch) vibe is increasing as the series continues. Also, the Christian stuff gets really as the episodes continue. Surprisingly, episode 4 has a nice little dig on prosperity gospel Christians. Christanity Today Movies had a recent interview with series creator Geert Heetebrij. He has a few interesting things to say, some of which don't really make sense. For example, he says "I wouldn't label it as such because it might give the idea that this is a movie only for Christians, and it's not. It is a movie about Christians." This may be true in a sense, but the Christian content is pretty heavy, although it does keep from getting preachy by grounding the characters as completely human. He also describes it as "Little House on the Prairie meets Sin City." It does have a lot of Little House similarities, but so far the Sin City similarities have been limited too a brief trip through a gold mining camp and some topless natives(right out of National Geographic from the 1970s). As I finished this post I watched episodes 2-5(told you they were short), and episode 4 is actually pretty great. It has some really nice character moments that I mentioned earlier. I think I'll keep up with it, and it's short enough that if you have, literally, 6 minutes a week to spare, it'll be worth your time too. (interview from Christianity Today Movies) Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites

Monday, August 20, 2007

Facing the Giants:The Book:The Behind the Scenes Story:From Some Guy Who Met the Kendrik Brothers

Wow... two 'Facing the Giants' books in one week! 'Prepare for Rain' by Michael Catt is the true story of the making of the film. It's written by the pastor of the church that funded the film and from which most of the cast and crew attend.

Stay tuned for the breakfast cereal, pajamas, action figures and naturally, the sequel!

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Ever hear of a movie called A Foreign Affair, released on DVD as 2 Brothers and A Bride? Neither had I. But apparently it got good reviews when it played at Sundance and limited release.

Now the writer, Geert Heetebrij, a graduate of Calivn College, is back with a Christian movie that is actually at the forefront of cinematic innovation. He has re-teamed with Helmut Schleppi, the director of A Foreign Affair to create a internet based series titled "The Interior."

The series is about a young couple that travel to South America(clearly 20th and 21st century missionaries answer to 19th century Africa) to be missionaries. Once they get there things are not all that they seem and they have trials of faith and other missionary adventures. The series is being released episodically on the internet, with a DVD of all the episodes edited into a 90 minute film forthcoming.

The casting was done via Youtube, where you can still go and watch a bunch of horrible casting call videos. They are casting now for season 2, so there seem to always be more.

I've watched the first episode, and it didn't really hold my interest that well. Pretty standard stuff, with a really low budget(although they did travel to Panama to shoot, ala End of the Spear [review]), with the expected bad acting that comes from finding actors on Youtube. But, the episodes are only 6-7 minutes long, so I may give the first few a shot to see if it goes anywhere. Once they have a full "season" out I'd like to review this on the show.

The official site has all the episodes, plus some "blogs" by the actors and producers. Unfortunatly, as is typical of movie website "blogs," most of the entires have just one post and none have more than a dozen.

At the very least its nice to see a Christian film at the forefront of cinematic innovation. Now, if only Justin and I can put together our Christian version of 300...

The trailer for "The Interior:"

(The INTERIOR: A unique new drama official site)

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bibleman - A Fight for Faith (and some untithed Christian dollars!)

So, Kotaku posted a clip of the new Bibleman game... and it looks hilariously miserable. We're going to have to get this in Justin's hands ASAP. Imagine the Sims mixed with Diablo mixed with your fathers tears and some inexplicable laser-blaster-gun-things. I guess this will have to do until Lucasarts finishes up that Bibleman lightsaber game for the Wii. RATED 'E' FOR EVERYONE (except Wacky Protesters) If you hate yourself, you can download a demo here. Whit must be rolling in his grave. Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites