How Hollywood Abandoned Honor in the New ‘Ben-Hur’

Movie remakes proliferate because they inherit a recognizable brand and can therefore tap into a ready-made viewer constituency. But they face the challenge of constant comparison to a more illustrious progenitor. And when that progenitor is the 1959 11 Oscar-winning Ben-Hur, a four-hour epic often called one of the best movies of all time, those … Continued

Entertainment, Movies

The Faithlessness of ‘Sausage Party’

Religion, we are told, is a prickly, sensitive topic to address in public. Unless, of course, you are pot-obsessed “stoner comedian” Seth Rogen and you get Sony Pictures to allow you to publically address it via an animated movie about talking hot dogs who want to have sex with hot dog buns. Ladies and gentlemen, … Continued

Entertainment, Movies

‘Midnight Special’s Supernatural Faith

It’s a good time for faith-based films in America. No, I’m not referring to the ghastly God’s Not Dead 2, but rather to the indie sci-fi movie of the moment, Midnight Special. A Texas-set adventure with humble production values befitting its rural American setting, Midnight Special tells the story of quasi-supernatural eight-year-old Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) … Continued

Entertainment, Movies

Later, Kirk Cameron: Christian Films Come Into Their Own

Faith-based movies may be all the rage now, but in recent years they unfortunately have been divided into two distinct, unsatisfying camps. On the one hand are big-budget Hollywood epics like Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings, made by non-believing filmmakers whose subversive treatment of the Biblical source material has turned off Christian audiences. On … Continued

Entertainment, Movies

Is This Satan’s—and Feminists’—Favorite Movie?

Millions of Americans are fascinated by horror-filled, demonic movies (remember The Exorcist?). Although admittedly a “niche market,” the supernatural thriller genre has become a big moneymaker for movie studios. As well, many directors make their creative debut behind the lens of such movies because these are the films that studios will entrust to otherwise unproven … Continued

Entertainment, Movies

Shonda Rhimes’ New Habit? Nuns

ABC has just bought a new series from Shonda Rhimes—whose Shondaland production company has created such hit shows as Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder—on nuns. Yes, nuns. Something in Variety‘s announcement of Ms. Rhimes’s latest venture makes me think the show isn’t going to be much like PBS’s endearing Call the … Continued

Entertainment, Movies, Television

Wes Craven’s Nightmare Faith

Over centuries, we are told, fire-and-brimstone preachers have perfected the art of exploiting our darkest fears—damnation, hell, torture, exposure, guilt, transmission—to pack the house and fill the coffers. Some of these hucksters may be more obviously fraudulent than others (Sinclair Lewis’s Elmer Gantry has nothing on James Joyce’s Fr. Arnall in Portrait of the Artist … Continued

Culture

A Lesson for Faith-based Filmmakers from ‘The Book of Eli’

Last weekend I re-watched The Book of Eli starring Denzel Washington, one of my favorite action films—although lumping it into that genre doesn’t do it justice. Labelling it a “faith-based” movie isn’t quite right either, although it serves as a good model for how filmmakers dealing with Christian themes can reach a wide general audience … Continued

Entertainment, Movies

‘Old Fashioned’: If You Get It, You’ll Love It

Mark Tapson’s recent post alerted readers to the Valentines’ weekend release, opposite Fifty Shades of Grey, of a low-budget indie called Old Fashioned.  For readers who pay attention to the movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the Fifty Shades vs. Old Fashioned showdown could have been billed as the clash of the, shall we say, … Continued

Entertainment, Movies

An ‘Old Fashioned’ Valentine Alternative to ‘Fifty Shades’

This Valentine’s Day weekend the most-hyped date movie is, of course, Fifty Shades of Grey, based on the wildly popular, widely ridiculed, S&M erotic novel of the same name. But for those couples whose vision of romance doesn’t include bondage fantasies, there is a more traditional romantic movie alternative: Old Fashioned, whose tagline is “Chivalry … Continued

Entertainment, Movies