Posts Tagged ‘Christian films’

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Noble” tells the true story of Christina Noble who overcomes the harsh difficulties of her childhood in Ireland to discover her destiny on the streets of Saigon. It is a very smart film, a wonderfully artistic movie, and is highly recommended.
When this film and press materials first arrived in my inbox, I must admit I was not excited with the synopsis. It is not the type of movie I would gravitate toward, but how wrong I was. This is an excellent motion picture, and one of the best films I have seen this year.

“Noble” follows three segments of Christina Noble’s life. We first meet young Christina (Gloria Cramer Curtis) during her early childhood in Ireland where she struggles to survive without a mother or father, forced to live in an orphanage, abused and alone. The next Christina (Sarah Greene) we meet is the seventeen-year-old young lady struggling to survive in the early 1960s. She is homeless and attacked, but it is here where she receives a vision of living in Vietnam, a place she would never have considered, seemingly out of nowhere. Regardless, the strange vision has a huge impact on her and it becomes her focus, and Christina (Deirdre O’Kane) eventually journeys to Vietnam, where we find her in the 1980s helping abandoned children living on the streets. The film moves back and forth in time, and this nonlinear editing approach by Mags Arnold works wonderfully. You know it works when, as a viewer, you are not hoping to get back to one of the other stories, but each one is enjoyable in it own right.
The acting in “Noble” is flawless, not a missed beat in the film. The three Christina’s are fantastic, and it is easy to move from one to the other. And director Stephen Bradley should be commended on keeping everything consistent. Good support from the other characters, too, with a stand out performance by Ruth Negga as Christina’s firecracker friend Joan.
The set design of Cristina Casali is also splendid, and particularly fine is the early Ireland time period, which is reminiscence of something out of Dickens – creating a great atmosphere and mood. One of the most impressive features of “Noble” is the sharp cinematography by Trevor Forrest. His use of the jib is very artistic, but all of the shots are topnotch, with wonderful lighting, too. It is a very pretty film visually, but not at all pretentious. Great stylistic approach, and it is consistent throughout the film. Even the use of stock footage from the Vietnam War mixed with new shots during her dream sequence is dynamite. Now mix in smart writing and dialogue and you have a great film. Kudos to director/writer Stephen Bradley.
“Noble” is not a Christian family film. It includes mature subject matter including rape, child abuse, prostitution, and drunkenness. That said, it handles these with taste and discreetness, but this is a film more for the high-school student and not the middle-school one. There are several moments of spirituality and faith, most notably when Christina talks to God, complete with her doubts and anger – very realistically and not “in your face” at all. I like that “Noble” is not afraid to consider spirituality and faith.
“Noble” is a top-notch film – quality all around – and one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Check it out – it will surprise you and leave you wanting more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or
services mentioned above in the hope that I would mention it
on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally
and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance
with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

PTL

“Pass the Light” revolves around Steve Bellafiore (played by Cameron Palatas), a high school senior who takes issue with a local politician’s political campaign, using Christian beliefs as an excuse to instill hate and belittle those who do not agree with him. Steve thinks Christ would follow a more loving road, and Steve hopes to debate the politician, Frank Baumann (played by Jon Gries), on this very issue. Thus begins Steve’s campaign for congress, albeit unrealistic given his age is seven years short of the required 25. But along the way he is able to stir up his fellow classmates in this campaign to live life under love and not hate – a worthwhile endeavor indeed.


“Pass the Light” is a well-directed and acted movie with a great message, wonderful production values, and a nice, polished look to it. Directed by Malcolm J. Goodwin, the movie moves along at a crisp pace, and the attention given to the acting is spot on. Cameron Palatas does an exceptional job as young Steve, the anchor – it seems – for his family as well as his high school’s student body. His out-of-work father is played by Colby French, and the range of emotion he has to display is wide ranging, and the subtleness he dedicates to each is rich. Steve’s mother Anne is played by Milena Govich, and she, too, hits her mark consistently. The rest of the cast is made up mostly of young actors in high school roles, and director Goodwin helms this young cast exceptionally well. Other than Cameron, stand outs include Alexandria DeBerry as the popular girl, and Dalpre Grayer as the friend and sidekick. A good, strong young cast.
The biggest downfall of “Pass the Light” is the story itself, and not so much the story arc and character development, but the plausibility of the story. You have to enter in with a high level of suspension of disbelief; otherwise you will be distracted. Beside the fact that the law requires a candidate be 25 (the movie actually plays this concern off fairly well), there are other factors that are hard to swallow: some of the characters are harsh stereotypes, and the mass movement by the entire student body is challenging, but if the viewer allows these discrepancies and just sits back and the enjoys the ride, “Pass the Light” will draw you in well enough to spend a couple of pleasurable hours exploring this message of hope. “Pass the Light” of this message.

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or
services mentioned above in the hope that I would mention it
on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally
and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance
with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Identical

“The Identical,” now available on Blu-ray and DVD, tells the compelling story of Ryan Wade, a young man of many musical abilities hoping that these talents will take him to the big time. What stands in his way is his father, a successful pastor whose dreams for his son are much different and center around the ministry and pastoring a church. Meanwhile, another young man is taking the world by storm with his new style of music, and not only his appearance, but also his talents, mirrors those of Ryan. Ryan is a dead ringer for this superstar, Drexel Hemsley, in both sounds and looks, and he builds a successful career as a Drexel impersonator – known as The Identical. It’s the secret behind this similarity that propels the story forward.

Newcomer Blake Rayne plays Ryan (and Drexel), and viewers will certainly notice parallels between this fictionalized account of Ryan and Drexel and that of the real-life Elvis Presley story, in part due to Blake’s resemblance to Elvis, and the fact his real-life career is as an Elvis impersonator. But the story content parallels Elvis, too, and embracing this element of the film allows the viewers some “inside” fun as it progresses. As an actor, Blake holds his own and carries the film well. He does a great job with the emotional roller coaster of his on-screen characters, and he handles the dual roles with equal aplomb. It doesn’t hurt to be surrounded by an all-star cast featuring Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Seth Green, Joe Pantoliano, Brian Geraghty, and Amanda Drew. Ray Liotta (“Goodfellas,” “Field of Dreams”) is incredible in his juicy role as Ryan’s preacher father: from fire and brimstone preaching to delicate counseling, through anger and sadness, all the while aging from a young man to an old man, he is phenomenal as Reece Wade. Equally impressive and enjoyable to watch is Ashley Judd (“Divergent,” “Dolphin Tale 2”) as Ryan’s mother and the preacher’s wife. She too moves through the ages and the emotions in this convincing portrayal, arguable one of her best roles in years. Rounding up the stellar all-star cast is Seth Green (“Austin Powers,” “Family Guy”) as Ryan’s friend and band mate Dino, who introduces Ryan to the “worldly joy of rhythm and blues;” Brian Geraghty (“The Hurt Locker,” “Ray Donovan”) and Amanda Crew (“Charlie St. Cloud”) as Drexel’s father and mother; Joe Pantaliano (“The Sopranos,” “The Matrix”) as Ryan’s employer and mentor; and Erin Cottrell (the “Love Comes Softly” series) as Ryan’s wife. This all-star cast is top notch.

“The Identical” is an extremely good-looking movie with a well-executed production, and the attention to detail in recreating several historical time periods (yes, not one, but four) is stunning. No short cuts here: using many period automobiles and trucks (and one gorgeous motorcycle), the sets are simply amazing; the costuming is spot-on and very detailed (an afro comb, no less, from the ’70s; groovy psychedelic ’60s garb; as well as precision period costumes from the ’40s and ’50s). Soaking in the recreations from the past is just one more joy while watching “The Identical.” Five stars for Production Designer Keith Brian Burns and Costume Designer Karyn Wagner.

On another note, this film is being promoted as a faith-based film, and certainly there are elements of religion throughout this picture, but it is not an in-your-face conversion sort of picture, nor one filled with sermons from the pulpit. No, this movie merely tells a compelling story wrapped in a religious worldview, filled with religious people, and with religion presented as “normal” or a basic way of life. Refreshing indeed, and the kind of movie that many in the industry say is lacking, with most movies being extremely secularized or extremely “religious,” with nothing in between: good solid family fare movies with a moral worldview. “The Identical” is this sort of a family fare picture. Kudos to the producers for this, and hopefully this will be a trend in Christian and Hollywood films.

“The Identical” is the perfect movie to enjoy with your family, appropriate for tween, teens, parents and grandparents. Pick up your copy of “The Identical.” There’s nothing quite like it.

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As a lifelong student of film, I love the idea of telling a story visually. I believe the more you can tell a story through the visuals the better the movie will be. (And I hate voice-overs telling me – what I already know – the action I am looking at on the screen…) So I was excited about seeing “The Good Book,” a feature film done completely silent except for the music soundtrack. Of course, this isn’t the easiest thing to do, but “The Good Book” handles the challenge quite well.
The story itself is also very ambitious; in fact, it is not one story, but several stories revolving around more than a dozen characters. “The Good Book” follows a copy of the New Testament on a journey that begins with a young boy named Daniel (Evan Fielding), who runs away from home after committing a horrible accident. He finds sanctuary in a homeless camp and is befriended by Esau (Torry Martin). From there, the book is handed off to a public defender (BK Bomar) and his wife Marion (Apolonia Davalos in a moving and strong performance). “The Good Book” goes from person to person, including Sarah the homeless lady (Amanda Penticost giving a standout performance herself), Jenn Gotzon as a woman scorned, and Leah (Rebecca Lines) dealing with addictions. When “The Good Book” makes its way overseas and into the hands of a persecuted missionary (Josh Childs), the impact of this book truly hits home. It is enjoyable to see how a book and its message can have a ripple effect, as it touches lives wherever it goes.

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“The Good Book” is one of the most ambitious movies I’ve recently seen, and my hats off to the filmmakers for pulling it off as well as they did. “The Good Book” is written and directed by Sharon Wilharm, and it is produced by her husband, Fred Wilharm. With this many stories and with so many many actors, especially for an independent film, some of the acting will be stronger than others, and this is the case. A couple of the characters seemed a bit over-the-top, and a couple of the transitions are strained. Rick Holets is the composer of the music for this film, which underlies the action quite well. All in all, “The Good Book” is a solid production. You will not be disappointed, and again, a very ambitious undertaking, and one that is very well done.
“The Good Book” will be making its LA premiere at The Pan Pacific Film Festival at the end of July, and you can see this movie on the big screen this Thursday July 17 at The Bedias, Texas, Christian Film Festival. Showing with “The Good Book” will also be the short films “Ragman” (This film with very little dialogue itself.) and “Paid For.” If you cannot attend one of these festivals, you can find out more about “The Good Book” and where it will be playing (or how to get your own copy) at The Good Book website. A copy of “Ragman” can be found at www.RagmanFilm.com. Finally, I will be having a drawing for one free DVD copy of “The Good Book.” I will randomly select one winner from all of the subscribers at the new DWardMedia.com newsletter. Sign up here for your chance to win. The drawing will be July 27 and announced on that week’s newsletter.

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“Moms’ Night Out” is a fun movie, filled with lots of laughs and a lot of heart. Well-paced and well-acted, with smart dialogue and enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes: yeah, I really liked this movie. And yes, this is coming from a guy. Of course women of all ages will relate to the foibles and chaos on the screen, but guys will find it fun, too.

Sarah Drew plays Allyson, a young mom with her hands full and no downtime for any kind of R and R. All Allyson and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and conversation . . . a long-needed moms’ night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult conversation and food not served in a paper bag, they need their husbands to watch the kids for three hours—what could go wrong?

Plenty…and it is hilarious. “Moms’ Night Out” is directed by the Erwin brothers, the same duo that brought us the excellent “October Baby,” this outing has the same top-notch quality, plus a van-full of fun. The guys and the cast must have had a blast making this film, and it shows. The cast includes Sean Astin as Allyson’s husband; Andrea Logan White as Allyson’s comrade in arms and BFF Izzy, who is married to Robert Amaya; and third mom out Patricia Heaton, as Sondra the wife of the pastor (Alex Kendrick); add a dozen or so kids, a bird, a police department, a tattoo artist, a lost baby, and Trace Adkins as a helpful (albeit scary) biker dude, and you have a concoction for chaos. Speaking of Trace Adkins: his is one of the most unlikely characters in one of the most unusual settings to have a gospel moment you can imagine in a film, and nothing could work better or more authentically than it does in “Mom’s Night Out.” Bravo.

“Moms’ Night Out” is an endearing true-to-life family comedy that celebrates the beautiful mess called parenting. Take a night off and have a night out with “Moms’ Night Out.” You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

 

For a great interview between Patricia Heaton and Sonoma Christian Home TV’s Erica Galindo, check out:

 

 

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If you like westerns then you’ll like “The Redemption of Henry Myers”. It is a good Western in the classic sense, complete with gunfights, damsels in distress, and yes, even an antihero in the Clint Eastwood mode. There are plenty of nice twists and turns to keep you on your toes, and a whole plethora of characters to love and to hate. There’s even a nod to the classic film “Shane,” and arguably maybe too big of a nod, but this is a Western, so strap on your six-shooter and come along for the ride.

Synopsis: Henry Myers (Drew Waters) lives a hard life, and he gets through life on the frontier anyway he can…even if it means robbing a bank. His latest heist goes wrong, and his partners betray him and leave him for dead. Henry survives, thanks to the extraordinary kindness of a widow (Erin Bethea) and her two children (Jaden Roberts, Ezra Proch), and influenced by this family, Henry begins to question the choices he’s made in his life. Just when things begin to make sense again, it’s all ripped away when his old partners show up.

I really appreciated the depth of characterization from the actors involved. Drew Waters, who has been racking up credits in many film and television shows, takes the rein of the main character in stride. The role takes him through the entire arc of a character, from bad to good, from death to life, from emptiness to fullness, and Waters handles all the emotions with aplomb. As the widow Marilyn, Erin Bethea, does an excellent job of handling the kids and this stranger who falls into their lives, and all the emotions that go along with this. (Most viewers may best remember her as Kirk Cameron’s wife in “Fireproof.”) And the two children do great work and their protrayals are realistic and to the point. A special thumbs up to Jaden Roberts as Laura, who will most likely steal your heart away (and who provides most of the moments of lightness and laughs). I think much credit is due director Clayton Miller, and we can expect great things in the years to come from him. (I remember seeing his short film “Forgive Me” several years ago, and it deservedly ran away with many awards from the various festivals where it appeared. Seek this film out for a viewing – mature audiences only.) The cinematography is topnotch in “The Redemption of Henry Myers,” and it is quite obvious that great attention to detail was taken to insure the best camera point of views. And included along the way are nice visual symbolism within the props and the set design.

There are plenty of Bible stories shared within the film, and they are inserted in a way that makes them a part of the story and not at all heavy-handed. This is a very nice touch. And the “redemption” (yes – a conversion moment) was handled in one of the best ways I’ve ever seen in a film (and this coming from someone who rarely appreciates these moments in a film). It is slid into the film in a very honest way, again very much a part of the storyline, and handled in a very realistic manner.

Things get wrapped up nicely and in a very satisfying way (even though I was looking for a different outcome, and maybe this would have felt more authentic? but surprises are nice, too). The John Williams-esque music is what would be expected in a sprawling Western, and I really appreciate the end credit song: “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzGAYNKDyIU), a great song in its own right. All-in-all, two thumbs up for relative newcomer Clayton Miller and “The Redemption of Henry Myers.” If you like a good Western, you’ll like this – a good Western.

World Premiere March 23 at 9/8c pm on The Hallmark Movie Channel.

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“God’s Not Dead” is a very well-made and well intentioned movie about a college student and devout Christian, Josh Wheaton (good performance by Shane Harper), who finds his faith challenged on his first day of Philosophy class by the dogmatic and argumentative Professor Radisson (solidly played by Kevin Sorbo). Radisson begins class by informing students that they will need to disavow, in writing, the existence of God on that first day, or face a failing grade. As other students in the class begin scribbling the words “God Is Dead” on pieces of paper to turn in as instructed, Josh find himself at a crossroads: having to choose between his faith and his future. Josh offers a nervous refusal, provoking an irate reaction from his smug professor. Radisson assigns him a daunting task: if Josh will not admit that “God Is Dead,” he must prove God’s existence by presenting well-researched, intellectual arguments and evidence over the course of the semester, and engage Radisson in a head-to-head debate in front of the class. If Josh fails to convince his classmates of God’s existence, he will fail the course and hinder his lofty academic goals. With almost no one in his corner, Josh wonders if he can really fight for what he believes. Can he actually prove the existence of God? Wouldn’t it just be easier to write “God Is Dead” and put the whole incident behind him? Of course, the easy road is not necessarily the right road.

The “God’s Not Dead” cast includes Kevin Sorbo (SOUL SURFER, HERCULES, ANDROMEDA), Shane Harper (GOOD LUCK CHARLIE, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2), David A.R. White (BROTHER WHITE, REVELATION ROAD), and Dean Cain (LOIS & CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN), with special appearances by Christian band Newsboys and “Duck Dynasty’s” Willie and Korie Robertson. The subplots include a young lady (Trisha LaFache) facing life and death issues, as well as wonderful fun from David A.R. White and Benjamin Ochieng as two reverend friends trying to get out of town for a little R and R. The subplot of the muslim daughter struggling with her strict father seemed rather unnecessary and should’ve been cut. It added nothing to the story and the movie would’ve been shorter and tighter. And the ending is a little too tidy, but it does take everything to a firm conclusion. All in all, “God’s Not Dead” is well-acted and the movie moves along briskly.

The biggest concern for “God’s Not Dead” is that this whole idea of wrapping a story around apologetics is dicey at best. The audience is forced to watch a preplanned debate from the sidelines, and if any questions or concerns are not addressed, the viewer feels unsatisfied and empty. That said, this weakness can also be the movie’s greatest strength in that “God’s Not Dead” can definitely be a conversation starter once outside the theater. It can also be a good discussion stimulator for Youth or Bible Studies groups. If you’re looking for this kind of material this movie is dead-on. And there are great resources available on-lne at the website. Because of all this, “God’s Not Dead” gets three out of five stars.