Monday, June 30, 2008

Not an easy job

Sorry for the lack of posts Friday & today.  I've been working insane hours to get the film festival I'm working on ready for its premiere on Thursday in Chicago(any SC fans in Chicago send me an email!).  

Anyway, I've got stuff for the week ready to go, so there will be posts all week.  Enjoy, and have a happy 4th of July!

Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites

Thursday, June 26, 2008

L.A. Times profiles Kirk Cameron of Fireproof

Kirk Cameron, the star of the upcoming Fireproof, is the subject of a profile in the L.A. Times.  You can read the profile online, where Cameron talks about his forthcoming book (Still Growing), and about his journey of faith.  

The only real nugget about the movie is that Cameron acted without fee in Fireproof.  Maybe he realized that he needed some quality product to legitimize his Christian acting career after 3 Left Behind movies.   

Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Beliefnet's Top 10 Apocalyptic Movies

You know that I love apocalyptic movies.  Even bad, Christian end times movies that hardly justify the term apocalyptic(from a greek word="uncover"; also a movie term=awesome sci-fi action).  

In that spirit, let me direct you to Beliefnet's Top 10 Apoclayptic Movies.  They have them listed on unhelpful separate pages, so I'll mention them with my comments below.  They make some half-hearted attempts to connect these films with Christian apocalyptic teachings, but mainly its just for fun.  

10.  When Worlds Collide:   I saw this years ago, and hardly remember it.  I read the book recently and it was a bizarre work of 1930s sci-fi, when the government was weak compared to the international scientific organizations(IEEE ruled the world), and minorities were suspicious and were excluded from the missions to save humanity.  

9.  War of the Worlds(1953):  Some of the best alien spaceships ever, but the rest of the movie is rather lame.  It leaves out most of the chills of the book, but the early sections do have a kind of intensity from the unstoppable nature of the alien ships.

8.  The Birds:  This movie understands what many modern movies don't:  you don't have to explain things.  Birds turn on humans, forming killer swarms that act with malovelent intelligence.  Not knowing why just makes it all the scarier.  I've always wanted to go to Bodega Bay, CA, just for this movie.

7.  Night of the Living Dead(1969 original, duh):  Single-handedly transformed zombies from the realm of necromancers and voodoo to the area of sci-fi.  Sets the standard for isolated siege movies, but also sets a precedent by expanding it to a global scale through the news reports.

6.  Beneath the Planet of the Apes:  A mostly awful movie, enjoyable only for the brief time that Heston is chewing scenery.  It also asks, in a post-apocalyptic world, can there be another apocalypse?  The final confrontation, featuring a crazed Heston, belligerent Gorillas, and A-bomb worshiping telepathic mutants, must be seen to be believed.  

5.  Mad Max 2:  The Road Warrior:  This movie made the apocalypse seem not only fun, but awesome.  It also stirs my imagination when I see stuff like this on the flickr.  

4.  Reign of Fire:  One of the best concepts ever, ruined by awful direction and a budget hundreds of millions short.  I wish they would do a big budget remake of this, with the same cast and a better director.  Everything about it is great, until you realize that you'll hardly see the actual dragons, and the final confrontation is just terrible.   However, Matthew Mcconaughey and Christian Bale are terrific in this, and Gerard Butler shows up in a small part.  

3.  The Day After Tomorrow:  The less said about this movie the better.  If it had taken place over a couple hundred years, perhaps with several stories at different stages, then it could have been cool.  Instead they pull out a ridiculous scientifc premise of everything happening in a matter of days, if not hours, and use it to make a movie that follows the Disaster Movie Cliche Bible to the letter.  Don't bother, for any reason. 

2.  Children of Men:  T.S. Elliot said "this is how the world ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper."  A masterpiece, mostly quiet, but loud in the right moments.  Alfonso Curan took the premise of P.D. James' book, and not much else, and crafted an love poem to the promise of children.  The essential concept is:  "what would it feel like if we couldn't hope that our children would learn from our mistakes, and all we were left with was our mistakes?"

1.  I Am Legend:  A really, really good movie, but not a masterpiece like the book.  My views on this are colored by reading the novel, seeing 3 movie versions, and reading the amazing 1996 screenplay that was custom written for Arnold.  The book is the best, by far, and the only one that uses the striking title in a way that makes sense.  That said, the quiet scenes in the first half of this film are shockingly powerful.  

Monday, June 23, 2008

God & Hollywood - The Kindlings Muse

The Kindlings Muse is one of my favorite podcasts, but on a recent episode they highlighted how little the wonderful diversity of the Christian movie world is known, even by Christian movie critics.  

On the episode entitled God & Hollywood, posted June 17, host Dick Staub gathered a group of movie critics to talk about the trend of "Christian" movies produced by Hollywood.  The discussion of Hollywood produced Christian movies was good, and called to my mind our conversation with Bill Ewing of Everytribe Entertainment, who said that the success of The Passion was "a fluke."

However, when the discussion turned to independent Christian movies, the critics revealed their ignorance.  Host Staub mentioned One Night With the King, but none of them had seen it, although that didn't stop them from dismissing it as having no "big-name stars."  I would have thought a group of movie critics would consider Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif and John Rhys-Davies "big-name stars."  They continued by bad-mouthing Facing the Giants, admittedly not my favorite film, but one with many redeeming qualities.   They even made the claim, that I'd not heard anywhere else, that Facing the Giants was polished by Sony when they picked it up.  If that is so, which I doubt, the Kendrick bros. didn't mention it on their director's commentary.  

They do have a good discussion on Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, but they don't give the film enough credit for its marketing.  If you put in "expelled" on google, the entire first page of links are all related to the movie.  That's pretty good marketing if you ask me.  Try putting in "Get Smart," a huge movie that opened this past weekend, and had a highly successful and still popular TV-show in the 60s.  Only a couple links down on the first page of google you'll find a link un-related to the movie or the tv-show, a link to some sort of banking service.  

I guess I should be glad that they got so much wrong about Christian movies.  Otherwise, we might be out of a job, and I'd have to get filthy rich doing something else.  

(The Kindlings Muse - God & Hollwood)

Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Episode Twenty Nine - The Wager

This week we tackle the latest Randy Travis masterpiece 'The Wager'... Michael Steele (Travis) has it all, fame, fortune, but in a strange turn of events, his world comes crashing down on him. This is his story of loss, love and things unseen. Or something. We had a time deadline looming and a bizarre set of circumstances clouding the show. Also, Don had his mic on the wrong setting. Enjoy awkward pauses and poor audio! *** Here's the new Bon Voyage album cover Don mentioned. *** The intro and outro musics can be heard in their entirety on our muxtape. ***

*** Contest Win your very own (preowned/SC reviewed) copy of 'The Oath of the Desormeau'! Just leave a comment on this post naming your favorite Christian film. If you do not have a blogger account, you can comment anonymously, but make sure to leave your name. Also, it would help to leave your email address. We will randomly select an entry and announce the winner on our next episode. Apparently, Duckbill is really, really, really on the ball, and entered the contest before we even made a post about it. Nice job!
ps.  Sorry for the late post, but I didn't realize that Don was so on top of things. *** Direct Download Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Ultimate Jesus Movie

This is a really unusual thing to link to, but I think a few of our readers might enjoy this, and I know I did, so here we go anyway.

You might have noticed that we haven't reviewed the most "obvious" Christian movies, the Left Behinds, the Thief in the Nights, the Omega Codes.  

I've always thought that they were too easy, since all those films are so low budget and the theology is too easy to pick apart.  

But, as I mentioned the other day, I love post-apocalyptic movies and stories, so I've always wished that we could get a really great Christian end-times movie.  

It isn't for those who take themselves too seriously, but if you like movies like Kevin Smith's Dogma then you'll probably like this.  It has lots of cussing, lots of sex references, but it also has the kind of discussion that I used to have with my friends in our youth group classes.  You know the discussion I'm talking about, the one that starts with, "wouldn't it be cool if Jesus came back and the Devil tried to shoot Him with a tank and Jesus just turned it into bees and the bees swarm the Devil's head..."

I laughed.  But I also wished that the film would be made.
Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Jonah: A Veggietales Movie for Free

Remember when we reviewed Jonah: A Veggietales Movie?  Maybe you were dissapointed because you wanted to see the movie but couldn't afford the $8.50 price tag? Be dissapointed no more, because thanks to the wonders of Hulu(where I get my Battlestar Galactica fix every week), you can watch it for free!  Enjoy! Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Christian Theatre

Christian movies may be popular, but what about older forms of Christian drama?  

There is a nice mention of one Christian play in particular, Second Bloom, about a "dying woman, her estranged daughter, and the realization that there is still time for God to work in their lives."  
My sister's church has a theatre program called Freedom Community Theatre, which puts on high quality productions featuring local actors.  She's getting geared up for their production of The Crucible, which will be premiering this summer.

Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites

Monday, June 16, 2008

Christian Drive in Stays Dark this Summer

If you have as many fond memories of drive-ins as I do, then this story will make you sad.  

A drive-in theatre in Manitou Beach, Michigan, has closed.  This particular drive-in had been dedicated to screening only Christian movies since its founding in the late 1940s.  Tragically, the current owners, Terry and Olive Lytle both died recently, less than 6 weeks apart.  

Drive-in movie theatres are rare enough as it is, and seeing a Christian film at a drive-in is an experience shared by few people.  I'll be praying that new owners will step in to keep up the Christian drive-in experience in Michigan.  

Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Wrap up & editorial

This is the new idea that I have to try to do something different with this blog, an original essay each Friday. The topic will be either related to the week's news, or it might be completely random. I don't know, or really have any idea at all. I just wanted to try to bring more content to the blog that isn't just news items.

So this week I want to share a few thoughts on the pricing of Christian movies. These days, most new release DVD movies will debut at about $20, with some big-box stores having specials to lower the cost as loss leaders. After a few months the price drops to $15, and it usually stays there for a while. If the film has been out for a long time and sales are slipping then it will often drop to $10 or so. I often have the bitter feeling of lost money when I walk into Best Buy or Circuit City and see a movie I paid $20+ for on release in their $10 bin. But I suppose I got my value by having it then, being able to watch it when I chose.

Some film studios eschew this format in order to retain a perception of value in their titles. Disney's animation titles are the best example, and if you ever see them for less than full retail count yourself lucky. The maintenance of higher prices is done for a couple of reasons. First, it keeps the marquee Disney films from ever being thought of as cheap, the idea being that if something is expensive than it must have some sort of intrinsic value. This is true for their fabled "vault" films, as well as the Pixar titles that are perpetually available. The other reason is the reason why they get away with it; there is always a market for Disney films. As long as people have children, there will be new audiences for Disney films. A film like The Matrix will eventually reach a point where most of the people who might want to buy will own it. A Disney film has new customers being made in maternity wards every moment of every day.

Christian films have a similar pricing scheme, but different reasons. You will very rarely find a Christian film at below full retail price of $15-$20, unless it is a really old catalog title being re-released on DVD from VHS. Some of the film's we've reviewed, like the excellent Power Play, are like that, most likely because they are over 10 years old and have already re-most of their costs in home video sales. Newer films, especially any made after the advent of DVD, are still higher in couped cost. Even some older films, like the End Times set that we mentioned earlier, are released at high prices. Why? In this case I think(bear in mind I have no way of knowing), that the smaller market dictates higher prices. That End Times set won't be showing up on the shelves of CostCo or Wal-Mart, and most likely only a handful will ever be made when compared to a Hollywood release. The smaller number drives up the per unit cost of producing the DVDs, which drives up the cost. Also, these are older films that will generally only appeal to a certain type of audience that is likely pre-disposed to purchasing them, not unlike the Disney films.

The whole problem with this is introducing new audiences to the films, no matter if the audiences are Christian or non-Christian. Especially an older set such as this End Times set, which features much lower production values than many new Christian films. I can't imagine anyone seeking out this set other than someone looking for a nostalgia fix of 80s Christian films that they sat through in youth group meetings. On the other hand, Christians like a good bargain as much as anyone, and a set of adventuresome films from a bygone era might attract impulse buyers if it was listed at a lower price. Sales of books like Left Behind indicate that there is a huge market for Christian post-apocalyptic fiction, and these films would appeal to someone who has seen Tribulation Force 3 times and can't wait for the next sequel. But at $62? or even a single film for $15? Never going to happen. I'm sure that these aren't that cheap to produce, but I have a hard time believing that the producers can't get a deal where a $8 DVD wouldn't break even. And for $8, I'll try almost anything that even remotely appeals to me.

I'm sure I'm not alone.

Weekly Wrap Up:

Monday, 9 June: We talked about The Master Plan, a pseudo-Christian film that could have some interesting perspectives on faith.

Tuseday, 10 June: Some info on the really good looking Wait Your Turn.

Wednesday, 11 June: My vote for worst DVD deal of the year, aside from a box set of M. Night Shamylian movies, the $62 End Times DVD set.

Thursday, 12 June: A news item on Matchmaker Mary, a new film that is being distributed by Pure Flix, the makers(or at least distributers) of The Wager.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Matchmaker Mary

Matchmaker Mary, the story of a 12-year old who orchestrates a romance between 2 lonely people, recently finished shooting in Kansas City. The directoro, Tom Whitus, has also directed a docuementary, More than Puppy Love, and several Kansas City based thrillers, including Threat of Exposure with Sean Young, and Silence, starring Bruce Boxleitner(Captain Sheridan!!!).

This new films stars Jeff Fahey of Lost and Dee Wallace of E.T.: The Extraterrestrial. The film will be distributed by Pure Flix, who also distribued INSERT FILM TITLE HERE. Whitus said that Pure Flix initially wanted to change the script to reflect the religious themes the company is known for, but after reading it they decided to keep it exactly as it was, a good sign, for both the company and the script.

This sounds like a family-friendly romance that has the usual themes of older single-people, a cute kid, and a late-life romance. Might be all right. No word on when it will be released.

Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

End Times Box Set

You might have noticed that we at the SuperCandid Podcast don't care much for so-called "end-times" films. Its not to say that I haven't seen many of them; being a sci-fi fan of apocalyptic movies like Mad Max, The Terminator and I am Legend, I used to watch a lot of end-times movies in search of some great Christian sci-fi.

Unfortunately, the only decent Christian sci-fi I've seen so far isTime Changer(podcast episode), and even that is fairly silly. Movies like I am Legend, a Hollywood production, have Christian themes without becoming as involved with so-called "prophecy" as Christian films.

However, I'm always willing to give more a try, so I was fairly excited when I saw that Christian Cinema is carrying a special 5-movie set of end-times films. The film in this set that I've seen before is Final Exit, a really low-budget film a only bout 3 people in purgatory awaiting judgement(odd that it gets play with evangelical audiences with that concept). Final Exit has a lot of elements that are borrowed by "hell-house" productions, and some truly bad effects, consisting of mainly a smoke machine and colored lights. I might be remembering it wrong, but it's been years since I saw it.

The others are all new to me: End of the Harvest, which use the creation story to tell the story of the end-times(sounds interesting), Escape from Hell, another judgement experience like Final Exit, The Gathering, where a man has visions that Jesus' return is imminent, and Years of the Beast, which begins during the tribulation.

Some of these sound like they have interesting concepts, especially End of the Harvest(although I smell a plot twist in that one), but some of them like Escape from Hell and Final Exit have almost nothing to do with the end times!

Then, the real kicker: this set costs $62. How can they justify that? That's essentially $12, about $7 more than any of these is worth paying for. Even if one or two were really good, you're still paying full price for the rest of the set. What kind of deal is that?

If this set was like the one's at Wal-Mart or Best Buy sell for $10, then it would be a bargin of classic Christian sci-fi. As it is, it's 5 bad movies for one high price.

Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wait Your Turn

Another new Christian movie, Wait Your Turn, has just premiered its trailer!  

From screenwriter Maude von Ehnrekrook(awesome name!) and director Ron Newcomb, this film tells the story of "Eve Cassidy... young, single and disappointed by the dating scene until an old friend from college, Thad, comes suddenly back into her life.  Eve rediscovers the joys that chastity brings as she and Thad grow ever closer, but can it last?  Thad's shadowy past has broken her heart before.  To solve that question, both must decide if the other is someone worth keeping..."

Sounds like a pretty awful romance-tearjerker, but the trailer is actually really good.  The acting looks top notch, and the films looks like it could be interesting.  The only gripe I have is that the video quality is all over the place in the trailer, ranging from looking great to looking awful.  Not sure if that is the fault of the trailer being put online poorly, or if the film has visual issues.  Also, the trailer doesn't hint at what Thad's "shadowy past" might be, but I'd wager that its not all that shadowy.  Be sure to check out the trailer at the film's official website.  

The only bad news is that there is no set release date for this film yet, so who knows when we'll get a chance to see it.

I find it interesting that this is the second Christian romance movie of 2008 that has a theme of Christian singles(or divorcees) re-connecting with that "first love" from their youth.  The other film that I'm talking about is Me & You, Us, Forever(due out on DVD Sept. 9).  Interesting that this seems such a strong theme, but I guess first loves are always something that you remember for the rest of your life.  High Fidelity taught us all about that.  We really need a Christian High Fidelity, preferably directed by Stephen Frears and starring John Cusack.  Maybe more Christian writers just need to read Nick Hornby for inspiration.  

Anyway, check out Wait Your Turn's website, where you can read some cast and crew blogs(which haven't been updated since filming wrapped, unfortunatly), as well as read about the usual cast & crew info.  

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Master Plan

A new, independent, "Christian-oriented but not Christian film in the classic sense" has just completed production.  The Master Plan is a film about suburban evangelical youth in America, specifically Kristi, a high schooler with supernatural powers, mystic dreams and a fondness for existential detectives.  Sounds like the director, Aron Campisano, watched the I Heart Huckabees at some point.  Campisano is a first-time director, having previously run his own internet video company, worked for Disney Interactive & CNET, and is a grad of NYU film school.  

The story for this film sounds really interesting, and although the teaser, posted below, is rather cryptic and doesn't tell you anything about the film, it piqued my curiosity(especially the strange repetition of "76 light years" over and over at the end).  

Campisano also has an interesting answer to the question "Is this a Christian film?"  You should read his version, but I'll sum up:  It's about Christians, by a filmmaker who isn't a Christian but is interested in Christian belief.  

Watch the trailer and decide for yourself.  I'm looking forward to this film.  

Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites

Sorry for the delays

Just a quick note.  Sorry for the lack of posts/podcasts.  I got swamped with work, and then left on a trip to visit family, and this job, despite its high pay and huge financial rewards, had to be put aside for a time.  Anyway, I'm back from my family and, although I'll be out of town this week again, I should have more reliable internet access.  

Regardless, I've got 2 posts already scheduled to be published, so check back later today and tomorrow morning for 2 winning posts! Save This Page Add to Technorati Favorites