Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sara Groves - When the Saints

New, FREE, Sara Groves song is now up on iTunes. Check it. It's not the greatest thing she's done, but it's free!

Today is dead, new release-wise. Which I guess is the Retail Cosmic giving our wallets a break after Guitar Hero III dropped on Sunday. Right? oh... no.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Episode Nineteen - Evan Almighty

With Jon in the Middle East, we here at the SuperCandid Podcast were left to our own devices. As such, I recorded a show with Justin, then crashed my computer before saving it. So what you're getting here is myself and my wife sharing our vastly different opinions of Evan Almighty, the most expensive comedy ever made, and one of 2007's great box office flops.

'Evan Almighty' is the spiritual sequel to the Jim Carrey vehicle 'Bruce Almighty'. Both films were written by Steve Odenkirk and directed by Tom Shadyac. 'Evan' follows congressman Evan Baxter in his first few days in office, while at the same time being hassled by God to build a modern day Noah's Ark. He's got the big boat, the two of every animal, crazy bible beard, old robes, everyone thinking he's a nut, etc. Everything that made the original story a classic, with one glaring ommission... having a POINT AT ALL.

You didn't see it. You don't care. After seeing the film, I don't either.



'The Christmas Card' DVD that I mentioned has a page detailing the use of AnySoldier.com to send a card or note to a soldier overseas, serving our country.

Demon Hunter's 'Storm the Gates of Hell' IS COMING OUT NOV. 6th! In three editions at that... Limited w/ bonus songs and a DVD, Deluxe w/ bonus songs, DVD, postcard, extended liner notes, super big box, pendant, etc., and a vanilla version.


Check out that Outro! 'Back to Dust' by Sev Statik and DJ Dust... man... GREAT song.



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Monday, October 15, 2007

Last post for a while

I'm leaving tomorrow to serve our great nation in our great national endeavor overseas. I don't know if I'll be able to update often or at all, but we'll see. I'll leave you with this article that Christianity Today has about Fox Faith. We've written previously about Fox Faith and some of the filmmaker's problems with the label. I've had a lot of problems with Fox Faith, particularly, as a film lover, with their awful DVD features. But cheap, poorly produced DVDs aside, they also have a string of uneven releases. Their biggest hits were One Night with the King and The Ultimate Gift, although neither made their budgets back in theaters. They've also had a string of (deserved) flops with The Last Sin Eater, Thr3e and Love's Abiding Joy(full disclosure, I haven't seen Love's Abiding Joy). So their two latest films, The Redemption of Sarah Cain and The Final Inquiry, are either confirmed as direct-to-video(after TV in the case of Sarah Cain) or in limbo(which is too bad for The Final Inquiry since it actually looks interesting, sort of a 1st Century The Case for Christ). Anyway, the article doesn't make judgments, so I'll feel free to. I predict that Fox Faith will, barring a huge, The Passion-level hit, simply fade away and be absorbed back into the more general Fox Family label. The most blatant attempt by business to cash in on Christians will be a failure and people will predict the death of Christian films. Meanwhile films like Facing the Giants(distributed by Sony) and End of the Spear(distributed independently) will continue to prove that a measure of quality will be rewarded more than a "Christian" label. My proof of this? As the article points out, and I have noticed, the Fox Faith website is woefully out of date and just awful in general. They obviously don't care. And maybe we'll get better DVD releases. (Christianity Today article) Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites

Friday, October 12, 2007

Episode Eighteen - Beyond the Gates (aka 'Shooting Dogs')

This week we're reviewing Beyond the Gates(aka Shooting Dogs), the 2005 movie from director Michael Canton-Jones(Memphis Belle, Rob Roy, Doc Hollywood, Basic Instinct 2(WTF?) and starring John Hurt(The Elephant Man, I, Claudius, V for Vendetta) and Hugh Dancy(The Jane Austen Book Club). It tells the story of a veteran Catholic priest and an inexperienced young teacher who find themselves caught up in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. You might already know the basics of the story if you saw Hotel Rwanda, but you might not(as my co-host didn't). This film also takes some interesting turns exploring the role of religion and the presence(or lack thereof) of God.

Show Notes:

Learn more about Inspired by: The Bible Experience, the best selling audio Bible of all time, by visiting their website. Or purchase it from Amazon! Christianity Today review of Lake of Fire, new documentary on abortion by Tony Kaye(American History X). Christianity Today review of The Seeker: The Dark is Rising, the new film that is being hyped as "Christian Harry Potter." Learn more about Don's Golden Calf, The Orange Box, by visiting the official website. Watch the trailer for Jon's Golden Calf, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, at Apple's Quicktime website. Intro: "When I Learn to Sing" by Starflyer 59 from 'Leave Here a Stranger' Outro: "Story About a Man with a Bad Heart" by Emery from 'I'm Only a Man' BUT I've taken the song down since I'm paranoid about the watermark on my copy. How far does the eye of EMI reach? So, as a substitute, here's the end credits song from 'Portal' in the Orange Box, which was my Golden Calf this week. It's catchy, but contains some spoilers... so head's up geeks. Download the podcast directly here, or subscribe with your favorite podcatcher. Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

88 Reasons Left Behind will have 88 Books

We received a rather negative comment the other day in response to our post about the threats of legal action emanating from Left Behind Games against various video game websites that have made unspecified "false and misleading" statements. Let me clarify why it bothers me that they(the game company) are doing this:

1. It's whining. They are basically pulling out the lawyer card to fight off misrepresentations in the media instead of letting their game speak for themselves.

2. They weren't specific. In none of the complaints that were posted online was a single specific instance cited. This leads to number 3.

3. This isn't that bad, since I can understand and even respect it from a commercial standpoint; they have a new, "gold" edition of the game coming out in a short while and this is easy, free, publicity. Nothing wrong with that, at least commercially. The morals of it are more debatable.

I'll admit that I haven't played Left Behind: Eternal Forces. Not even the demo? Why? There is no Mac version yet. Maybe when I can afford a new Intel MacBook I'll install XP and play it on there. My co-host actually has a copy of the game, but he lent it to our sometime guest host to play, and I spoke with him yesterday and he said his computer can't run it. So, for the moment, we don't have any informed thought on the matter.

I will weigh in on the most troubling aspect of the game, in my opinion. For a long time I've had a love/hate relationship with Christian post-apocalyptic movies. I love post-apocalyptic movies in general. Mad Max, The Road Warrior, the Terminator series, The Quiet Earth, Damnation Alley, The Omega Man, Warrior of the Lost World, Waterworld, Nausicca: Of the Valley of the Winds, (Spoiler)The Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, The Stand, the list goes on. I love them all. The idea is just cool, running around a lawless world, scavenging gasoline, shooting evil biker gangs to defend beautiful damsels and their mutant children. It's the ultimate escapist fantasy.

But it has its problems. Max Brooks, author of the excellent World War Z, said it best when discussing the popularity of his books: "I don't know what's scarier, the fact that zombies could rise or the fact there are actually people out there that can't wait for it to happen. So they can just start loading up with guns and get on their motorcycles..." Recently, I read the letters column of The Walking Dead, a zombie comic book, and they had a totally insane letter from some guy who had built his own zombie proof fortress in a cabin high in the mountains. I'm waiting for the follow up when he gets into a shoot out with ATF agents. If you take this type of fiction too seriously, then it can have highly negative effects on your worldview. Suddenly, a nuclear exchange with another country not only seems survivable, it might seem likable.

This problem is more extensive in Christian post-apocalyptic(or you might call it apocalyptic) fiction. It has many of the same appeals(lawless land, fighting for survival, good vs evil in a final struggle, beautiful damsels, biker gangs) and many of the same drawbacks. However, since it is explicitly Christian it, in my opinion, is much more dangerous. It isn't based upon conjecture or redacted Civil Defense plans from the 1950s; it is based upon an interpretation of the revealed Word of God. If it is possible to believe that a post-nuclear situation like Mad Max is plausible, how much more so for the Christian to believe that a Left Behind type of situation is possible, even inevitable.

It is a problem; how do you have escapist apocalyptic Christian fiction without becoming a dangerous influence on young people? How do you balance entertainment with a desire not to have a generation of readers who want to launch nukes at Mecca in a effort to "hurry up" the 2nd Coming? Or bulldoze the Dome of the Rock so that the Temple can be rebuilt. The conclusion I came to long ago is that this kind of fiction is best avoided. The Bible is not very explicit about the end times, leaving much open to conjecture, but it is very clear that it will not be pleasant. Men will wish for the rocks to crush them so that they might escape. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. People will long for death but will not die. Pretty awful, right? I've decided that I won't support and apocalyptic Christian fiction unless it makes it quite clear that it will be, literally, hell on Earth during the end times.

But I still love apocalyptic fiction. Hence, my dilemma with Left Behind: Eternal Forces. I like the fact that they are making a RTS set in this environment. It is a great idea. But a part of me still recoils from the romanticizing of the end times. I think that weaving in religion just puts it too close to doctrine and too far from entertainment, and it is a dangerous doctrine.

That said, our commenter, Jason, has an amazingly in-depth overview of the the game at his blog, Shock & Blog. He covers the controversy, reviews every mission(!) of the game, and generally comes across that the world's biggest fan of Left Behind: Eternal Forces. He does a good job of responding to criticism of the game, although at times he comes off as simply repeating the PR line from the game company. Check it out if you're interested in the game. He obviously loves it, and has some good information. Thanks for the comment Jason!

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Monday, October 8, 2007

Salvation from the barrel of a gun

Regular readers and listeners will know that don and I are both avid video game players. In addition, as a filmmaker I look at videogames a lot for ideas on where film may be headed in the future. 300, for example is, in my opinion, the best video game movie yet made and it's not even based upon video game source material.

You might also know that we've referenced the Left Behind films several times. I specifically mentioned it when I was talking about art and Christians.

Well, the Left Behind: Eternal Forces video game is in the news recently. For those who don't know, the game is a tactical strategy game that puts the player in command of a small army of christians to work against the anti-christ. Your primary weapons in the battle are prayer and worship(singing to convert enemies) but you also have the ability to simply kill the non-belivers. Apparently an expansion to the game is being released soon, and in order to head off bad publicity(mainly since the game was highly criticized and recieved generally bad reviews), the producers have decided to address criticism directly, contacting websites that have made negative comments about the game.

What did they say? Did they accept constructive criticism and go forward in the spirit of, as Paul said, "Live at peace with all men?" Not exactly.

They sent out letters threatening legal action for the websites hosting "false and misleading" information.

That seems like just what Jesus would have done in such as situation, doesn't it? I believe the Gospel of Luke records Jesus sending several strongly worded legal letters to the Phairsees informing them that it was in fact libel for them to say that he was "a madman" and "the Devil."

The really funny(and sad) thing is that the letter doesn't specify what "false and misleading" statments are being made. Gameology has posted all their stories on the game, and a quick perusal doesn't reval anything that bad. All christians are white, all women are barred from leading christian forces. It is possible to kill the bad guys but not necessary. All that jives with what I've seen from the game.

So, just for the record, Left Behind: Eternal Forces does not stink like a 3 week old dead lion with a beehive inside its festering torso. Not literally.

(Gamepolitics story)

(Gameology story)

(Kotaku coverage)

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Most Historical Post of All Time

Another slow news week. Nothing really to report, at least nothing I'm interested in reporting. Yet another Noah's Ark movie(apart from Evan Almighty, Darren Aronofsky's proposed sci-fi take and the other animated one from the people making that awful looking Ten Commandments CGI). This one is told from the point of view of the animals. Blah. Who cares? This has been done before(Fantasia 2000, Madagascar was similar as was The Wild). Unless it features dragons biting the heads off mermaids(Robot Chicken) then I'm not interested in more talking animals.

Uh, what else? Two movies about the adolescent years of Jesus. One is a supremely boring looking documentary called Jesus: The Lost Years. It traces the "most historical journey of all time"(WTF does that even mean?) from Palestine to Egypt. The preview talks of Jesus doing miracles in Egypt and founding churches, you know, all the stuff that was cut out of the Bible by the council of Nicaea in order to cover up the evidence of alien landings in New Mombassa. Or something.

The other is called The Aquarian Gospel, about Jesus's years from 13-30. A lot of the same territory that Ann Rice covered in her no-longer-going-to-be-a-film Christ The Lord. I've heard Rice's book is good literature and not bad theology, so I guess there is some potential here. However, it should be noted that The Aquarian Gospel is directed by the guy who directed The Secret movie, which is one of the most anti-Christian and anti-intelligence projects to be shoved into popularity through Oprah and good marketing.

There is a part of me that wants the "lost" years of Jesus to be some kind of Kung Fu meets Highlander, where Jesus wanders the earth, learns martial arts, fights bad guys and the occasional dragon. Basically Samurai Jack with a few people raised from the dead. Or something close in tone to Xena, with Jesus meeting everyone from Abraham to Emperor Caligula(Xena actually did all that).

Or we could go the modern route like Mark Millar's Chosen(source of the picture), except that has a killer twist at the end, which, for me, brought the whole sacrilegious nature of the project full circle and it actually made sense.

I have a podcast to recommend, but I'll save that for tomorrow.

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