I recently saw the Christian film “Running the Bases”. I can’t go into the plot without giving it away so this will be short. It’s a nice movie to watch if you’re bored. It’s light but dramatic. It’s family friendly. It was OK. “Running the Bases” was entertaining and watchable the way most Christian films are. However, the movie has some theological issues and has MAGA delusions.
Winter (Retro) Review: Kingdom of Heaven
“Kingdom of Heaven” is a 2005 Ridley Scott film starring Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons and Eva Green. “Kingdom of Heaven” is a good movie and you will enjoy it if you like these kind of movies. By that I mean historical, action packed historical dramas, involving warfare.
“Kingdom of Heaven” is about a young French widower, Balian de Ibelin who joined The Crusades in the 1100s. Balian was the illegitimate son of a nobleman Godfrey de Ibelin. Due to the high status of his father Balian was allowed in elite social circles once he reached Jerusalem. Balian became a military leader in the Christian army against Muslims in the battle for Jerusalem.
I decided to start slowly reviewing films from the early 2000s. The early 2000s was a golden era of cinema in many ways. I enjoyed “Kingdom of Heaven” both times I watched nearly twenty years apart. This movie has been on my mind recently because of current events in Israel. The fight over the Kingdom of Heaven continues.
Little Girls in Horror Movies Dress How Girls Dressed in the 80s
Little girls in horror movies all dress like little girls from the 80s. That’s true even for upcoming releases like M3Gan . But why? I don’t think young girls have dressed like that for decades. I usually see young girls dressed in hoodies, jeans and leggings. You don’t see bows, mary janes, ankle socks and dresses a lot anymore. Why does feminine clothing for little girls give people the creeps?
I dunno. It’s just kind of unfortunate that an old fashioned visual of girlhood is presented as evil and destructive. My thinking could be dated but I like to think of young girls as sweet and innocent people who are vulnerable and in need of protection. Perhaps that’s why this horror movie trope works. But it’s worth it to question what these stories of creepy and evil young girlhood do to our perception of feminine youth and innocence. What does this imagery do to young girls?
The evil little girl film trope is not new but it is enduring. In films like “The Bad Seed” and “The Shining” the creepy little girls were typical looking little girls for that time. Young girls now commonly wear clothes that are unisex or mature. So I think the choice to style creepy girls, even if they are an AI robot, in traditional little girl clothing is a deliberate action. I’m likely over thinking this. But I consider myself to be a film scholar and critic. Let me know what you think. Do you think horror films about scary little girls that actually look like little girls have negative connotations and ramifications?
Fall Movie Review: The Laureate
This weekend I watched “The Laureate”. It was a little dry at times because I don’t care for films in this setting but it was an interesting story. “The Laureate” is about an English writer named Robert Graves who suffered from PTSD after fighting in WWI. At the start of the film he was a married man with a young daughter. His career and family life was respectable but he wasn’t satisfied.
Robert and his wife Nancy allow an American poet named Laura to move into their home and act as a tutor for their daughter. Laura is manipulative and a user. She also has mental delusions. Laura says she likes to challenge societal conventions but she is really just a selfish social climber. Her ambitions are more important than morals or family.
Laura thought she could position herself near Robert in order to achieve greater success for herself. Robert was in the flop era of his career. Nancy use to be cool but now she was a mousy housewife with a young daughter.
Nancy is a sucker who wants to be edgy so she opened her home and slowly her marriage to Laura who wreaked havoc on her life and ultimately destroyed her family. However, Laura was an effective muse and Robert’s career took off after meeting Laura. He is a writer of influential works from the WWI era.
The draw back of ” The Laureate” is that I don’t care for stories that take place in England around the 1920’s. Shows and movies like “Downton Abbey” and “Atonement” are very boring dark, quiet and dry to me. “The King’s Speech” would be an exception.
There was a point in this film that remind me of “The Color Purple” due to the exotic and exciting woman that moves into a married couples house. Both films take place around the same time period but the parallels end there. “The Laureate” is a good film. It’s interesting and it could start some good conversations. I recommend it.
Fall Movie Review: “Umma”
I watched “Umma” starring Sandra Oh over the weekend. This is a great movie and I highly recommend it. “Umma” is a psychological thriller with many layers. This film touches on matters of family dynamics, particularly the mother/daughter relationship, ethnic identity, spirituality and paranormal activity. It would be a great film to watch with a friend or group because it could initiate interesting conversations.
Amanda and her daughter Chris live in isolation in what seems to be rural California. They raise bees for a living on a farm. Chris grows up believing her mother is allergic to electricity. This is a great setting and set of circumstance for an eerie film.
Chris grew up without modern conveniences and technology which makes her a social outcast among her peers. She is home schooled and her only companion is her mother. Chris later finds out with the help of a visitor to the town she befriends that her mother’s allergy is a lie. It’s unclear if the lie is deliberate or a figment of Amanda’s imagination.
Amanda had a tense relationship with her domineering Korean mother. In an effort to be different from her she distanced herself from her mother, extended family. In the process she rejects society as a whole. Amanda never married. She had her daughter with a White man who played little to no part in Amanda and Chris’ lives. She didn’t teach her daughter anything about her Korean heritage.
Amanda’s attempts to not be like her mother failed. She was similar to her mother in some ways and had a complicated and controlling relationship with Chris. She also had old world expectations of her daughter who was born and raised in California.
I hadn’t heard of this film at all before running across it at the library. This is a great film that I think you will enjoy. It is creepy and has scary moments so it’s suitable for this time of year. It’s also an interesting commentary about family relationships especially the ones we have with our mothers. I highly recommend it.
Fall Review: The Northman
This will be short. This movie is terrible. I don’t have much to say because I can’t really tell you what happened in the movie. It was about Vikings doing Viking stuff but I don’t know why they were doing it.
I thought I would enjoy this film because I enjoyed the TV series “Vikings” but this isn’t that. The movie had an impressive cast with well known actors. They couldn’t help. It was terrible and a waste of time.
Summer Movie Review: American Gospel
I watched the film “American Gospel” over the weekend. I would recommend the film but wouldn’t describe it as good or enjoyable. The film is sad and disappointing but it is informative and eye opening. “American Gospel” is worth the watch.
“American Gospel” does a good job of presenting the gospel. Then it goes into the way the gospel is shared by well known American pastors. There are sharp differences. America’s most well known pastors are sharing a false gospel and their message gets shared around the world.
This movie shows clips from celebrity preacher sermons. The sermons can be described as blasphemous. They can also be described as scams. There are testimonials from people that have followed the teachings of mega church pastors and their regrets. A nephew of so called faith healer, Benny Hinn, who worked in his uncle’s ministry also tells his story in hindsight.
I don’t follow the ministries of celebrity pastors but for the most part I’ve given them the benefit of the doubt and hope that some good comes from their ministry. The exception is Benny Hinn who is obviously a long time charlatan. The revelations by his nephew are worse than I imagined. They are heart breaking.
There were people in “American Gospel” who shared their experiences following mega church teachings. One woman ruined her career and financial standing. I don’t think she worked for the church but she followed the teachings of a popular preacher and quit her job believing she would be miraculously provided for. She wasn’t.
The bottom line of the film is that the popular American Gospel isn’t following scripture at all. They preach a message that is designed to sell books, get clicks and views and garnish donations, not teach the Bible and save souls.
The film also includes the testimony of a family where the wife is terminally ill and their faith and studies of the Bible. Their story isn’t miraculous and wouldn’t make anyone feel like a special snow flake. But they share what God’s word did for them and their family.
I would recommend watching “American Gospel”. It’s well researched and presented. I think it is fair. I think that viewers can learn a lot about the gospel and the difference between what the Bible says and the message being shared by popular preachers.
Summer Movie Review: The Batman
I recently watched “The Batman”. It’s the newest installment from the Batman movie series that was released earlier this year. I’ve seen all of the Batman movies including “The Joker”. I wanted to like the movie but I didn’t.
The movie is very long and had about four or five different undeveloped plots and an undeveloped. The director was indulgent and threw in action sequences that are unnecessary and and others that are unrealistic. I understand that it’s a super hero movie but within suspended reality things need to make sense. There were gun fights in pitch darkness and an entire police precinct shooting upward on a flight of steps at Batman but no officers got shot. The writers and director probably just thought it was cool so they just threw it in.
This film had about four different underdeveloped plots. The movie just kind of meandered along. There was a kidnapping and a hostage taken, there were shootings, there were explosions and at the end there was a flood. It didn’t tie together very well.
Zoe Kravitz played Catwoman. I’m not sure she was even referred to as Catwoman in “The Batman”. I think she went by Selina Kyle throughout the story. She wasn’t very cat like and her depiction of the character was kind of flat in comparison to other actresses who played that role. Catwoman is usually over the top.
There was also an underdeveloped love story between Batman and Selina. There was a point where she kissed him and it seemed to come out of the blue. Zoe Kravitz and Robert Pattinson didn’t have a lot of chemistry as a couple.
Paul Dano is a great actor but his talents went to waste in “The Batman”. That’s the most I can say about that. Paul played The Riddler but there really isn’t much to say about that role or Paul’s performance. His face was covered during a lot of his screen time and it was hard to understand what he was even saying.
I kind of liked Robert Pattinson as Batman. The best way to describe his performance is Emo and it works out of the bat costume. However, his vehicles and tools weren’t as cool in this movie and this version of Batman isn’t as macho as others. I think he needed more machismo in the Batman outfit. But then again I’m old and kids are different these days.
If you’re a fan of the movies or comics it may be worth it for you to watch “The Batman” but it’s not a very good movie.
“Discarded Things”: A Review
Discarded Things is a part of the genre that I will call Christian movies. I enjoy Christian movies. They are the English language equivalent of Mexican soap operas. Christian movies are a bit campy, dramatic, kind of over the top with a limited budget. Yet the are quite entertaining. They always have an inspirational message. God always prevails after all.
I’m going to avoid spoilers because this film has an ending that will knock your socks off. I’ll keep this brief. I enjoyed this movie. It was a bit corny but I enjoyed the acting and it was a good story. The lead actress is named Karen Abercrombrie. She plays Grace Wyatt who is a teacher for trouble children. She’s fifty eight and a real fox. She was foxy in the movie and they styled her down. Check out her IMDB. Karen is fire.
Cameron Arnett plays a pastor named Solomon Grant and the father of Grace. He was in the film briefly but his performance was memorable. He did a great job in this film and played a great villain. I hated him with passion. Cameron did his job. I think he deserves an Oscar.
My criticism of the film is that Grace is a teacher for troubled youth but the youngsters are super sweet and squeaky clean. They aren’t believable as juvenile delinquents. The other criticism is that the film almost feels like it’s two distinct films. I wish the first act that involved Grace’s childhood could have lasted longer. The middle dragged a bit until it picked up at the end.
Check it out if you get the chance. Regardless of your beliefs explore Christian films. They are wholesome albeit a bit corny. They are family friendly and always have an inspirational ending.
Over the Limit
Over the weekend I watched the documentary “Over the Limit” about gold medal winning Olympic rhythmic gymnast Margarita Mamun. This is a good sports movie and I recommend it. It is in Russian with no subtitles or voice overs. The film is an hour and fourteen minutes long and I didn’t understand a word except for a scene where Rita’s family sang “Happy Birthday”. The film was engaging and easy to understand despite the language barrier. I think not understanding what anyone is saying may have made the film more intense.
The thing I appreciate most about “Over the Limit” is that the subjects of the film had no discernible awareness of the camera. The audience observes Rita, her coaches and other people in her life as if we are flies on the wall. Watching Rita’s dedication to her sport takes the audience through a range of emotions. Throughout the film we admire Margarita and at times we felt bad for her. Her coaches are very stern and stoic. It’s hard to judge the coaches since I am not of the Russian culture or an athlete but at times they seem borderline abusive.
Margarita is surrounded by coaches, team mates, fans, a seemingly loving family and a dreamboat boyfriend who is an Olympic swimmer yet her journey was lonely. The visuals or the film are stark. It takes place in Moscow. Rita spends all of her time in the film in small apartments and gyms.
She competes in a solitary sport and she spends much of her time outside of the gym alone in her quiet apartment preparing her props for practice and competition. At times Rita seemed distant from her coaches while having conversations with them and looking into their eyes. The most warmth in the film comes from her relationship with her boyfriend who is now her husband.
If you get the opportunity check out “Over the Limit”. It’s a good sports movie. It’s fairly quick, interesting and enjoyable even if you are not a Russian speaker.