Posts

Showing posts from April, 2012

Upcoming Releases — May

Image
So, April's past and the summer season at the Box Office is about to begin. There are plenty of overstuffed choices for all during May, as well as a few other gems for everyone else. Take a look at what's coming.

Friday, May 4
The Avengers — So the summer gets kicked off with a big, sprawling, superhero adventure. Makes sense. What makes this special is who it's from — Joss Whedon — and what it entails — several major Marvel properties. When Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, and Nick Fury get together, it's a party. This has a big cast and is an ambitious project that's been years in the making. Here's to hoping it lives up to the hype.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel — This certainly qualifies as counter programming. It's got an older, British cast. It's an independent comedy set in India. In other words, it's about as far from "The Avengers" as you could get. It looks to be pretty funny too, and it has a charming cast.

Friday, M…

The Voice of Compassion

Image
"“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." — John 13:34.

There are a lot of complicated ideas to study in Christianity, but when it comes to how we're to convey our faith to the world, it's pretty simple. And it's also really difficult. The verse above is inspiring in that it paints a picture of what the world could and should be. It's challenging because it can be hard to put into practice.

Of course, that compassion begins in our own back yard. One of the things that I have often found frustrating and sad is what the typical American idea of missions is. Missions is helping spread the Gospel through acts of love for those in need.

However, most frequently, when people think of missions they think of going to some far reaching climb. Some place in Africa or Asia. But you know what, according to recent surveys from the Pew Forum, Christianity is spreading incredible fast in Africa and Asia. However, it&#…

Wedding By The Lake

Image
"Love one another and you will be happy.  It's as simple and as difficult as that." — Michael Leunig

Today my sister got married. It's still a little hard to believe. In September 2010, I had the opportunity to come to Lake Tahoe for the first time. I went to a conference at Zephyr Point, and I couldn't help but think it would be a beautiful spot for a wedding.

Little did I know, less that two years later, I would be back for a wedding. My sister and her husband, Nick, have had a whirlwind romance. They met, dated, and fell in love quickly. Two Sundays ago she told me they were engaged. Today, they were married in a beautiful, intimate ceremony at the beach at Zephyr Cove.

It is amazing to see how God works in our lives. Sometimes he can take you from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs in a matter of months, which is certainly what happened for my sister. And it was amazing to be a part of it.

I wish the happy couple all the best, I'm grateful to hav…

Realizing God Thinks More of Your Abilities Than You Do

Image
I've spent the last week reading a book called "Stuff Christians Like." It's a comedy book written by Jonathan Acuff. I had a chance to see Acuff at the Catalyst conference, and I've been reading his book ever since. The book is really a collection of short, satirical truths about Christendom that are from his Website, www.stuffchristianslike.net. After reading the book for a few days, I went on the site and read some more. One of the things I saw was that Acuff allows for guest writers.

This, of course, appealed to me. I'm a Christian and I think I'm funny. I'm also a writer who has spent enough time honing my craft that I think I'm malleable when it comes to style. So I decided to give it a try.  Below is the piece I submitted today. It may never make it to Acuff's site, but it was still a little fun.


Anytime you are feeling overwhelmed, you can always count on your Christian friends to make you feel better. They just remind you that God nev…

Now Playing

Image
Here's a look at the full-length review for "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen." One of its stars, Emily Blunt, also has a cool new movie opening Friday called "The Five-Year Engagement." Additionally, due to travel, reviews of other new movies will appear next week. That being said, I'll leave you with a joke. "It seems to me that the 'Lucky One' is really the man who's wife/girlfriend doesn't know this Nicholas Sparks film is being released!"

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Starring: Ewan McGreggor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked, and Kristen Scott Thomas
Synopsis: Over the years, Lasse Hallstrom has delivered a number of emotionally moving films. His films have developed characters, emotional conflict, and a bit of humor. That’s certainly the case with his latest film, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.” On the surface, it seems like a strange title and a strange film. It’s about a British investment advisor and a British scientist helping a Yemen ro…

Films of Summer, Pt. 2

Image
I continue my look at the summer of 2012 today with some highlights from July and August! And, as before, some to fear.

July 2012:
The Amazing Spiderman — Tuesday, July 3
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, and Rhys Ifans
Synopsis: Setting aside the fact it doesn't feel like it's been long enough since "Spiderman 3" to completely re-boot the series, this does look good. I wasn't sold on the first trailer, but the latest footage has me legitimately excited. Garfield looks like a decent choice and this take on "Spiderman" looks to be a bit more like Christopher Nolan's take on Batman. I'm not wild about the whole 3D thing, but this looks like a promising re-boot and a potentially awesome summer thrill ride.

Ted — Friday, July 13
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, and Seth MacFarland
Synopsis: This looks like one of the strangest films, but also like a lot of fun. The film comes from "Family Guy" creator M…

The Films of Summer, Pt. 1

Image
So, the summer movie season begins with the first Friday in May. That's right, the summer blockbusters will start rolling out in less than two weeks. Over the next two days I'll be walking you through 10 films to get excited about and a few to fear. Today, we'll look at May and June.

May 2012:
The Avengers — Friday, May 4
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson, and Chris Evans
Synopsis: This is a big super hero tent pole film from writer/director Joss Whedon. Whedon is a great and clever writer, and so I have high hopes for this film. This is an all-star cast, combining the featured heroes from a number of different Marvel franchises. This is also the kick start to the summer season, so it needs to get going on a good note. All the trailers and pre-release information indicate that this will be one of the better action pieces of the summer. Let's hope that holds true.

Dark Shadows — Friday, May…

The Flagging AMC Brand

Image
There was a point in Sunday night's episode of AMC's "The Killing" where Councilman Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell), who had soiled himself in his wheelchair and looked haggard and disheveled, said to his aide, I don't want anyone to see me like this. Of course, his character was referring to the nurse his aide wanted to call in to render aid, but he very well could have been referring to audiences watching the second season of the biggest train wreck on television.

But, you see, the quality of season two of "The Killing" is only part of the problem for AMC. The network used to be known for showing classic movies, but over the last few years it had a very successful foray into original programming. But, it feels like the network has moved to a place where the feeling about the brand exceeds the quality of the programming being offered.

AMC built its critical acclaim thanks to "Mad Men." Though the show wins awards, has a loyal following, and…

The Importance of Confession

Image
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." — 1 John 1:8-9.

As we continue to talk about the way God speaks into our lives, we turn our gaze to confession. When people hear the word confession, likely the first thing that comes to mind is entering the confessional in a Catholic Church. And while that's part of it, real confession is something we all need to do, and more importantly all need to do with God.

But there are a couple things that come to mind when I think of the way confession works in our lives. There are a couple things we need to remember that are important in thinking about confession as a way that God speaks into our lives.

First, confession is good for the soul. As humans, we have a tendency to hang on to things. We obsess about things, think about things, and replay things that didn't go well in …

Catalyst West Coast 2012

Image
Whenever you go to a conference as packed and informational as Catalyst, it takes a few days to decompress. To really pull out all the learning and nuggets, to really evaluate what happened, it takes some distance. I like to look at stuff a few days, weeks, or months later to see what sticks.

But that doesn't mean you can't pull some fun nuggets out right away. So here's a few things I got out of my two packed days at Catalyst West Coast.

1. Christian Comedy Exists. That's right, I said it, Christian comedy is real. Jonathan Acuff, who created the blog Stuff Christians Like and turned that into a book of the same name, is hilarious. He's also real. Reading his book of posts has been funny and insightful, so was his talk. He had a couple nuggets that hit me square — namely that if you have 1,000 compliments and one critique you still only have one critique.  Your message won't connect to everyone, there will always be some critics, but you can't let that do…

All In The Translation

Image
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." — John 3:16 (NIV)

"For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life." — John 3:16 (The Voice)

So, just one day through Catalyst West Coast, something became abundantly clear — this next generation is losing its grip on the Bible. I don't mean they're forsaking the Word of God, but rather the classic translations.

It used to be that using the NIV (New International Version) of the Bible meant you were "progressive." That, of course, is not a word you want to hear put on you if you're a conservative Christian. Then you come to a place like Catalyst West Coast, and it turns out that if you use the NIV, you're just old.

I was blown away by the varied, common-language, watered down versi…

Now Playing

Image
Here's a look at the new movies I saw this week.
The Cabin In The Woods Starring: Bradley Whitford, Richard Jenkins, Amy Acker, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, and Kristen Connolly Synopsis: Few genres have encountered the titanic shifts in format that horror films have over the last 40 years. Early slash films were, in their own way, morality tales. In the 1990s, the new wave added a layer of character sophistication and clever dialogue while morphing the formula. More recent entries have split into two camps — those that are focused on gore and spectacle driving the story and those that have kept costs low and tensions higher through the found footage phenomenon. But that’s what makes “The Cabin In The Woods” so fascinating. During a time when horror films have degenerated to low concept, cheap to produce franchises for mass consumption, “The Cabin In The Woods” offers a vision of a high concept film. Though it’s too soon to tell if this is a trend …

Strength of Schedule

Image
We are a few months from the real beginning of Denver's grand Peyton Manning experiment, but the hype, the excitement, and the fretting has already begun. That's because the NFL finally unveiled the 2012 schedule on Tuesday.

Last year the Broncos opened the season to little fanfare. Outside of opening night on Monday Night Football, there weren't a lot of nationally televised games... that is until Tim Tebow and the team caught fire at the end of the season. Then the Broncos were everywhere.

My, how times have changed. Winning the West guaranteed the Broncos a tougher schedule, but who knew the NFL would front load the challenges this way. The Broncos will be in prime time four times in the first eight weeks, facing five teams that were in the 2011-12 playoffs and a schedule that features each team in the first eight weeks having finished .500 or better in 2011. Yikes. No time to ease into it Peyton.

The Broncos open on Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, head t…

Shots Across The Bow

Image
Tim Tebow may be a New York Jet, but he's still the topic of conversation for Denver Broncos players. Last month, when modeling the new uniforms, Champ Bailey offered praise for Tebow, saying he thought Tebow would someday be a good starting quarterback.

Demaryius Thomas had something different to say. Thomas, of course, benefitted greatly from the Broncos' run last season, including catching a game-winning over time pass in the playoffs. Yet, when questioned about Tebow, Thomas had some unflattering things to say about the quarterback, his accuracy, and his role in helping the Broncos reach the Post Season.

Funny, considering that Thomas was drafted ahead of Tebow and has NEVER lived up to his pre-draft promise. Funny, considering Thomas routinely dropped passes, missed routes, and generally had little impact in games. Thomas has been oft injured and hasn't exactly set the world on fire when he's played. He didn't have a great impact for Kyle Orton, and aside fro…

100 Years And Counting

Image
On Saturday and Sunday, ABC aired Julian Fellows mini-series "Titanic." The four-hour production followed crew and passengers on the infamous ship. It followed groups of every social sphere, showing how they ended up on the ship, what their time on the ship was like, and how the fateful night ended.

I found myself drawn to the production. One of my favorite documentaries in recent years is "Ghosts of the Abyss," which follows James Cameron and Bill Paxon as they dove on the wreckage to explore the ship. To this day, a century after its sinking, there remains a certain allure about the ship.

At the close of the mini-series, Fellows offered a final thought. He noted that 2,200 traveled aboard Titanic and about 1,500 never survived the sinking of the ship. And, he noted, 100 years later we still haven't forgotten.

That is true. And hopefully we never will.

Hearing the Voice of God

Image
"I want to talk to God but I'm afraid cause we ain't talked in so long." — Kanye West, "Jesus Walks."
Today we begin the series The Voice, a series about hearing the voice of God in our lives. Though it's not always an audible voice, or a burning bush like Moses got, we all receive God's calling into our lives. The problem is, we don't always recognize it.
And worse, sometimes we're afraid of it. I love the earnestness of Kanye West's lyrics in "Jesus Walks" because it's a reflection of our human tendency. We need God's voice in our lives; we want God's voice in our lives; but sometimes we aren't sure we can get it or, worse yet, we're worthy of receiving it.
In the text today, with Samuel, it was a matter of not even knowing it was God's voice. Yet another problem we have to overcome. Sometimes we can be so focused on what we're doing that we forget to stop, sit, and listen. But that's important. G…

Reinvigorating a Genre

Image
"There are certain RULES that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie." — Randy, "Scream."
Throughout the years, horror films have maintained a similar formula, but they've undergone some significant changes. It is a genre that has taken a big step backwards in recent years.
I have always been a fan of horror films. In fact, in college, I wrote a communications paper on the evolution of slasher films. I love the genre, but I haven't loved what it became.
In the 1970s and 1980s, horror followed a familiar pattern. In some ways, they were strict morality tales. If you transgressed, you died in a gruesome fashion at the hands of some kind of supernatural monster.
In 1996, the genre got a shot in the arm with "Scream." I noted that "Scream" is one of the most important films of the 20th Century because of how it revitalized the horror genre. It acknowledged the almost absurd rules and formula of the genre, while twistin…

Misfires

"Well, the way they make shows is, they make one show. That show's called a pilot. Then they show that show to the people who make shows, and on the strength of that one show they decide if they're going to make more shows. Some pilots get picked and become television programs. Some don't, become nothing. She starred in one of the ones that became nothing." — Jules, "Pulp Fiction."
It's Pilot Season, a time when networks spend money making the first episode of potential series. Then, next month, the networks will decide whether to keep their old shows, or kill them based on the potential offered by these shiny, new pilots. Some of the pilots make the air and become TV series, others never see the light of day.
Well, almost never.
Back in 1997, "L.A. Confidential" was one of the most buzzed about movies. From a quality standpoint, it was probably the Best Picture that year, however that honor went to a little sea misadventure called "Tita…

Now Playing

Image
Here's a look at the new movies I saw last week!
American Reunion Starring: Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Seann William Scott, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Alyson Hannigan, Tara Reid, Mena Suvari, John Cho, Jennifer Coolidge, and Eugene Levy Synopsis: In 1999, a modest teen sex comedy called “American Pie” established itself in a surprising way. It cost about $11 million to make and took in more than $100 million at the Box Office, creating an unexpected franchise. What appealed to people most about “American Pie” was the way that it modernized a traditional teen comedy genre, updating it to connect to a new generation. Theater sequels followed in 2001 and 2003, continuing the journey, then a quartet of direct-to-video releases beat the remaining life out of the franchise. Which is what makes “American Reunion” interesting. It reunites all the characters and actors from the first film and attempts to capture the familiar formula while updating the story to mirror where these c…

Faith in Film

Image
The wait is almost over! Faith in Film returns to its original day and time, Mondays at 6:30 p.m., beginning on May 7. I'm excited to bring this eight-week journey to Highlands again, with another set of interesting and challenging films.
Below is the full list of films for this round complete with dates. Please let me know what you think. Can't wait to dive in on Monday, May 7 at 6:30 p.m.
Week 1: “Atonement,” Monday, May 7 Week 2: “Devil,” Monday, May 14 Week 3: Screening: “Get Low,” Monday, May 21 Week 4: “Get Low,” Monday, May 28 Week 5: “Tree of Life,” Monday, June 4 Week 6: Screening: “Soul Surfer,” Monday, June 11 Week 7: “Soul Surfer,” Monday, June 18 Week 8: “Watchmen,” Monday, June 25

Cable's Hidden Gem

Image
"I'm going to need an ambulance and a coroner." — Raylan Givens, "Justified"
FX made it's reputation with edgy shows. It's probably most famous for Ryan Murphy's weird plastic surgery tale, "Nip/Tuck," and for the Dennis Leary tribute to New York firefighters, "Rescue Me." Then there's always the gutty, gritty cop drama, "The Shield."
But for me, it's another of FX's shows that has me hooked. "Justified," based on a short story from Elmore Leonard, wraps up its third season tonight. And, through it's first 39 episodes, the show has fast become one of my favorites and is easily one of the best shows on television.
That may have seemed hard to believe when it premiered. It follows a quirky group of U.S. Marshalls as they battle hillbilly drug dealers and petty criminals in Kentucky. That doesn't exactly scream the basis of incredible television, but the production crew — headed by creator Graha…

Honor Among Villainy

Image
"You love your children. It's your one redeeming quality; that and your cheekbones." — Tyrion, "Game of Thrones"
I like "Game of Thrones." It might be HBO's best new show in a while. But, that being said, there aren't a lot of redeemable characters on the show. It's a fascinating study. It's well acted. It's a fascinating story. But it is filled with disreputable, vile characters. In fact, the most likeable character in the show was beheaded to end the first season.
This second season has been even more brutal, as people all over the seven kingdoms have thrown their hat — and armies — into the ring to rule the lands. And they've resorted to some brutal methods of gaining and keeping power — including the mass baby slaughtering that closed the premier on April 1.
Which is what makes the development of Tyrion, played by the fantastic Peter Dinklage, so fascinating. He is seemingly an outsider in the game of thrones. He's disrega…

He Is Risen!

Image
Happy Easter all. Today is a day for fun and family, but most importantly to reflect on the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

Christ is risen from the dead Trampling over death by death Come awake, come awake! Come and rise up from the grave
Christ is risen from the dead We are one with him again Come awake, come awake! Come and rise up from the grave
Oh death! Where is your sting? Oh hell! Where is your victory? Oh Church! Come stand in the light! The glory of God has defeated the night!
Oh death! Where is your sting? Oh hell! Where is your victory? Oh Church! Come stand in the light! Our God is not dead, he's alive! he's alive!
Christ is risen from the dead Trampling over death by death Come awake, come awake! Come and rise up from the grave Christ is risen from the dead We are one with him again Come awake, come awake! Come and rise up from the grave
Rise up from the grave...

Good Season for Fairy Tales

Image
It's quite possible that 2012 will be remembered as the year that fairy tales exploded. That is live-action takes on the classic fairy tales that have long comprised Disney animated features and children's books.
Consider the evidence. During this TV season, we have not one but two prime time shows built around modern takes on fairy tales. And each has found an audience and gained success by building the show in a different kind of way.
On NBC, one of the few successful new shows of the season has been "Grimm." The show, set in moody Portland, Oregon, follows a detective who is a Grimm, a special warrior who can see all those creatures that try to hide in plain sight. He keeps the public safe, and keeps his family and friends in the dark, as he tries to deal with this new ability and all the creepy people who are crossing his path. The show feels like a more accurate rendition of the classic "Grimm's Fairytales."
On ABC, we have "Once Upon A Time,&quo…

Back Aboard the Titanic

Image
"Fifteen-hundred people went into the sea, when Titanic sank from under us. There were twenty boats floating nearby... and only one came back. One. Six were saved from the water, myself included. Six... out of fifteen-hundred. Afterward, the seven-hundred people in the boats had nothing to do but wait... wait to die... wait to live... wait for an absolution... that would never come." — Rose, "Titanic"
100 years ago, the unsinkable ship sank. It was hard to fathom at the time, and is still a fascination for many 100 years later. That ship, of course, is the Titanic.
Three years ago, when I took a vacation to Las Vegas, one of the things I was most excited to see was the exhibit on the Titanic. It contained items pulled up from the ship's watery grave in the Atlantic Ocean. It included a piece of the hull, which I reached out and touched. There is something magical about getting an up close look at a piece of history. I couldn't help but think of the ship, what…

Now Playing

Image
Here's a look at the totally unnecessary sequel, "Wrath of the Titans."
Wrath of the Titans Starring: Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Liam Neeson, and Ralph Fiennes Synopsis: The last few years have brought renewed interest in Greek and Roman mythology when it comes to action blockbusters. The original “Clash of the Titans” appeared in 1981, and was viewed as something of a cult classic. In 2010, the film was re-made in 3D with plenty of modern special effects. A similar story was told in 2011 with “The Immortals,” which looked as slightly different parts of the mythology. And now, in earlier 2012, we have a sequel to the original re-make — “Wrath of the Titans.” Of course, if that’s not enough loincloths, 3D creatures, angry gods, and bloody fighting for you, there are rumors of a third “Clash of the Titans” film in 2014. “Wrath of the Titans” isn’t a deep film. It’s not complex. It doesn’t spend hours developing its characters. It doesn’t make a big social statement. It’s…

What "The Hunger Games" Says About Our Society

Image
"We cheer for our favorites then cry when they get killed, it's sick. If everyone just stopped watching they'd have nothing." — Gale, "The Hunger Games"
Without a doubt, "The Hunger Games" is the best movie of 2012 so far. It hits all the marks for creating a film franchise aimed at prime young adult demographics — and it has the DNA of those stories — but it's also so much more. The film provides a commentary on our world today and the trajectory of where it is going, and it is that last aspect that is worth consideration.
The film depicts a futuristic society where the slaughter of teens is a televised event. That sounds grotesque to us today, and probably seems like something that could never happen, but I contend the elements to create a world like this are already in place in our society. That's what makes this film a fascinating social study.
Let me explain.
The first thing that jumps out is the class disparity in the film. The roots of …

Orange Crush Is Back!

Image
"Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in!" — Michael Corleone, "Godfather 3"
It has been an emotional roller coaster with the Denver Broncos in recent weeks. Peyton Manning came. Tim Tebow left. I resigned myself to a team that everyone in the media thinks is great that sort of bums me out.
Then Nike, the NFL's new uniform and apparel sponsor, unveiled the new uniforms for every team. And there I was, feeling a familiar Broncos sensation — Joy!
When I first fell in love with the Broncos, it was because of their uniforms. Granted, I was about 6 at the time and pretty orange uniforms were more appealing, visually, than silver and black. Of course, my fandom has grown deeper since then, but I still love the orange. When the Broncos changed in 1998, I accepted it. And those blue tops carried the team through two Super Bowls. But I always looked forward to the alternate orange jersey games.
When I saw the new look for the Broncos, I couldn't help but fe…

Killing Us Slowly...

Image
"Who Killed Rosie Larsen?"
That's the central question in "The Killing." At least it should be. That's the question posed in the marketing materials and was the hook for the AMC crime drama. And when it premiered last spring, most people who saw the show were excited for the journey.
Somewhere about the middle of its 13-hour run, it felt like the show was meandering. It wasn't all that great, there were too many red herrings, but at least the killer would be revealed at the end of the season. Except, that didn't happen.
The lack of resolution created an outcry, one that didn't disappear quickly. The producers, in all fairness, didn't promise to solve the case at the end of the first season. But they didn't deny that would happen when people assumed — even critics and reporters writing about the show.
Now, the producers have promised that the case will be solved at the close of the second 13-hour season (the first two of which aired last nig…

Palm Sunday

"The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” — Matthew 21:9
Whenever I think of Palm Sunday the triumphal entry, I can't help but think of Superman. Now that's not as crazy as it sounds. Let me explain.
You see, to understand it's helpful to know the background of the creation of Superman. Superman is one of the oldest superhero characters in our cultural history. The “Man of Steel” made his debut in June 1938. The character was created six years earlier, in 1932, by writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born artist Joe Shuster in Cleveland, Ohio. Superman also tends to be one of the most deistic of all superheroes. Where as D.C. Comics contemporary Batman was more reflective of the desire within us all to rise up against oppression, Superman satisfied another need — that of a supernatural savior. In some ways that iconography makes sense.…