Alissa Wilkinson has good words criticizing Christian movies, like the one that came out last weekend.
God’s Not Dead encourages its audience to participate in the film’s “challenge,” an equivalent to those chain letters that claimed if you didn’t forward the email to 10 people something terrible would happen to you. Many complied. “Are YOU up for the challenge?” asks the Facebook page. “Text ‘God’s Not Dead’ to 10 friends RIGHT NOW! Then leave a comment below!” The image that accompanies the challenge includes this quotation from the movie’s cheeriest Christian character, Pastor Dave: “So your acceptance of this challenge, if you decide the [sic] accept it, may be the only meaningful exposure to God & Jesus they’ll ever have.” . . .
Ultimately, what the increasingly profitable “faith film” industry machine wants to do is sell me an idea of what “taking a stand” for Jesus looks like. That involves buying a ticket, sharing a Facebook meme, going to a concert, and texting a bastardization of a late 19th-century philosophical proclamation about the bleak condition into which we humans have painted ourselves to 10 people RIGHT NOW.
Knight of Cups: “Man must be willing to commit to love and open himself to new life. More specifically, he must cleave to a woman and be ready to have a child. . . . [Terrence Malick’s] Knight of Cups not only states this truth, it dramatizes our resistance to it. ”
Zootopia: “The beautiful bit is that despite the heavy themes, Zootopia never comes off as preachy or pandering. This is one of the strongest bits of Mouse House storytelling since the first Toy Story. Every scene works, the tension is effective and the payoff is more than satisfying. In the process, kids might not even notice the “good-for-you” messages throughout. But they are likely to experience the emotions that surround issues of racism, sexism and community.”
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) has announced a new film award “to highlight Hollywood’s feats of cluelessness, naïveté, and deceit when telling the history of socialism, communism, and the Cold War.” The Duranty Award is named for reporter Walter Duranty, who took what Stalin said as gospel and used his reports as PR for the Soviets.
“With each passing year, Hollywood’s historical amnesia about communism and the Cold War grows more disturbing,” said Marion Smith, VOC’s executive director. “The film Trumbo portrayed Hollywood’s most influential communist as an American martyr for free speech, ignoring the fact that communist regimes were—and from China to Cuba, still are—serial abusers of human rights and freedom of conscience.”
The award is an attractive chunk of fool’s gold to be given this year to Trumbo, a film about a communist screenwriter, and that film’s lead actor.
The case of the missing Encyclopedia Brown movie is explained by Mental Floss. Cutting to the chase a bit:
Finally, Deutsch reached a deal with HBO in 1988. The network that put Fraggle Rock on the map was interested in expanding their children’s entertainment brand and ordered a live-action Encyclopedia Brown special that led into a recurring series. Producers filmed the pilot in Provo, Utah, and the episodes were well-received.
Deutsch then did something unexpected. After just six episodes, he insisted on breaking away from the network, which puzzled them. “The idea of a producer taking his show off the air that was successful, that was so good, and so far ahead of its time that it made my career is [mind-boggling],” show co-producer Ned Kandel told The New York Times in 2005.
There’s a lot more drama in the article.
I loved these books when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure I bought them with my own money at the school book fair. I don’t remember which ones.
From our Tell Us That Story Again desk come these headlines:
- Greatest American Hero is returning to TV under the direction of Rick Famuyiwa, Phil Lord & Chris Miller. Lord and Miller are the men behind The LEGO Movie and several other laudable efforts.
- Col. Steve Austin is returning to the screen in 2017 as The Six Billion Dollar Man. There’s a rumor he will have to deal with hundreds of angry cowboys before wrangling thousands of deadly aliens. And there may be ninjas too.
- CBS is going to return to classic Star Trek and create new stories with familiar characters. Rumors say a recurring storyline will have the Enterprise crew wrangling a pesky cyborg on Earth.
- And believing the public may be tiring of all this new stuff and have a hankering for the return of a classic favorite, the sci-fi/fantasy series Amazing Stories has been approved for a return. Furious D spells out how the show might work and some pitfalls to avoid. I’d love to see a series of individual episodes that touch on a larger story, which may eventually take over every episode, but if it’s truly an anthology series with different kinds of stories, then they may want to break it up a good bit.
Many Christian artists want to tell the Gospel in a compelling story in order to win readers or viewers to Christ, but can the gospel, which is the power of God for salvation, be Trojan-horsed into a new audience? Is there a delivery mechanism that can slip the gospel through cultural barriers and catch those who are tired of their church experience or unfamiliar with Christianity entirely?
Watch this video from a Christian filmmaker. He urges us to believe the moment is right for exploiting technology for the sake of the gospel. We must not be a divided house, he says. We must not hold ourselves to low standards. We must rally around a good, moral film and make it an international blockbuster.
George Whitefield recently tweeted from beyond the Pearly Gates, “Self-indulgence lulls the soul into a spiritual slumber.” I think that may apply here. What do you think? (via Jeffrey Overstreet)
Early drafts of Pixar’s wonderful movie WALL-E were very different from the final film. The key robot wasn’t playing Hello, Dolly everywhere, but “leading a Spartacus-like robot revolution.” There was a Planet of the Apes vibe to the storyline, and the writers hoped to make the entire film dialogue free. For a time, they threw around alternative titles, like Trash Planet, but eventually they worked a fix for their original title and along with it, a better story.
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In case you didn’t see this at the beginning of summer, here’s the teaser trailer for the next animation from the people who brought us The Secret of Kells.
“SONG OF THE SEA tells the story of Ben and his little sister Saoirse — the last Seal-child — who embark on a fantastic journey across a fading world of ancient legend and magic in an attempt to return to their home by the sea. The film takes inspiration from the mythological Selkies of Irish folklore, who live as seals in the sea but become humans on land. SONG OF THE SEA features the voices of Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, David Rawle, Lisa Hannigan, Pat Shortt, Jon Kenny, Lucy O’Connell, Liam Hourican and Kevin Swierszsz. Music is by composer Bruno Coulais and Irish band Kíla, both of whom previously collaborated on The Secret of Kells.“
The movie project about America’s worst serial killer is moving forward with the announcement that Andrew Klavan will write the script. He says the challenge will be writing a movie that people will want to see, because the base story is almost too repulsive. He tells NRO what’s most important about the Gosnell story:
I’m a crime writer. It’s a great crime story. But you know, I notice I’ve gone through this whole interview without saying the words “abortion” or “abortionist.” But that’s a part of it too, a central part. I’m in a sort of — I won’t say “unique” but certainly strange position on this. I’m a natural-born libertarian. With every fiber of my being, I want people to live the lives they want to live, whether it suits me or not. You want to be gay? Have a good time. You want to condemn gays? Knock yourself out. You want to dress up as Beyonce and get a tattoo of Louisiana on your forehead? I’m the guy who’ll buy you a drink and say, “Nice tat, Yonce.” I know a lot of women who’ve had abortions — people I like and love. I know a lot of people who are pro-abortion, likewise. But moral logic has convinced me that this is wrong — more than wrong – as wrong as a thing can be. It’s not about your feelings versus mine. It’s not about social conservatism. It’s not about libertarianism. And it’s not about feminism either or “women’s health care.” What nonsense that is. It’s an actual question of good versus evil. And listen, in the end, that’s what all great stories are about.
Two films, Tolkien and Tolkien & Lewis, are being developed by small companies with the hopes of capturing the ticket money of a bunch of us Tolkien/Lewis fans. (via Overstweet)
Scott Derrickson is the writer and director of the new movie, Deliver Us From Evil. He was also the man behind for Sinister , The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and The Day the Earth Stood Still. He believes fear strips away the lies we usually tell ourselves and forces us to face reality. He sat down with Steven Greydanus to talk about his style and the new movie.
Jeffrey Overstreet has started a 12-step group for “More Rewarding Moviegoing.” He says, “Sight Club is like a 12-step program. We’re here to cultivate ‘eyes to see’ and ‘ears to hear’ in a world full of darkness and noise. Movies give us a world of opportunities.”
Alan Jacobs is laying out the facts on Twitter right now.
“Noteworthy: the real problem with YA fiction (much of it is bad) is the same as the problem with superhero movies (most of them are bad).”
“If you think there is something *intrinsically* juvenile about stories that concern beings with superhuman powers, then you’re committed to saying that the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid, the Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, etc. etc. are juvenile. Which is manifest nonsense.”
“So the problem is not that we have too many superhero movies, but that those movies are unimaginatively conceived and incompetently written.”
“Much dislike of YA fiction & superhero movies is grounded in two things:19c pref. for realism & Modernist pref. for ‘difficult beauty.’ But if you go pre-c19 you can find plenty of aesthetic models that don’t privilege either realism or difficulty. The Modernist preference for difficulty was consolidated by the professiorate: we need difficult texts to justify our jobs.”
“But some of the most beautiful poems I’ve ever read are perfectly clear and call for little or no professional interpretative assistance.”
And Alex Knapp chips in: “Clarity doesn’t mean simplicity and difficulty doesn’t mean complexity. But oh how critics love to assume that this is the case.”
15 book-to-film adaptations coming out before the end of 2014. Children’s books have been popular. Why hasn’t anyone approached me about adapting “Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb”? It would make an awesome comedy trailer or short film.
One film not on this list is Edge of Tomorrow, which looks fun. It’s based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel All You Need Is Kill. Get a brief review of the book here.
This is where we are in the world today. We self-publish our own books. We can solicit our own funds for movies. We can circumvent the nightly news, if it still exists.
Here’s a trio, who have made award-winning documentaries in the past, wanting to blow the lid off the media silence on the man they call the most prolific serial killer in America.
There are at least two angles on the media silence on this case. The biggest one is that Gosnell is an abortionist operating within the scope allowed by those who have argued they want abortions in our country to be safe and rare. This man’s clinic was nowhere near safe, so the political agenda doesn’t support exposing him at the risk of undermining the most scared battleground for the political left.
The second angle is not as politically defined as the first. It’s what Ann McElhinney describes in the video below. The women who were murdered were poor, unseemly, and minority–the kind that gets killed everyday in some cities, so what’s the news? You might think those who cry loudly about the rights of woman and minorities would cry out about this too, but perhaps their classism gets in the way. Maybe it just doesn’t trump the first angle. Abortionists are priests in the Church of Ne’re Do Ill. The blood on their hands is only red fruit punch.
If you have the funds to contribute to this, I encourage you to consider it.