19 March 2007

Amazing Grace: The Movie

A few thoughts on Amazing Grace: The Movie, after taking in the flick this past weekend.

It's the story of William Wilberforce, the 18th century evangelist, and his campaign to end the slave trade. Also featured is John Newton's authoring of the famous hymn from which the film takes it's title. I heartily endorse this picture — while it's not the greatest movie ever by any stretch, it's quality fare and of great redeeming value.

Some tidbits that struck me:

  • How American centric my study of the history of slavery has been. I was vaguely familiar with the John Newton story, but I must write that William Wilberforce was unknown to me. From brief bouts of study post-film viewing, I haven't read much that differs from the film account, spare a few details that were obviously finagled for the sake of feature film presentation, certainly no more than is typical in these productions.

  • The more that things change, the more they stay the same. Just like the times of today's world, the interests of freedom and justice take a backseat when war erupts. There, and now, when fear reigns, injustice, intolerance and hate mushroom. Righteous folks are tarred and threatened, some even to the point of ruin. In Amazing Grace, it was the conflict with France that set back Wilberforce's reform movement.

  • A great job was done in tackling a topic that at the core, at least for the cinema, is a dry and boring progression of events — parliament gatherings (though the British government going-ons are much more entertaining that those here in the states), conversations with those allied to the cause, and the protagonist engaged in meditation and prayer. Yes, it was cheesed up a tad, but again, nowhere near the extent other similar production efforts on topics of this sort have carried forth.

All and all, a delightful film with a positive bent, historical and artfully done.

29 March 2006

Why We Fight opens Friday

My 7 March post said that "the Eugene Jarecki documentary Why We Fight is scheduled to open at the Camelview 5 in Scottsdale Fashion Square on Friday, 24 March." (Here's the original post, which includes a synopsis and a link to Information Clearinghouse, where you may view the film online.)

When I discovered from Harkins early last week that WWF's opening had been delayed due to market demands for other films, I failed to post an update here. Please forgive me.

The good news is, the film has arrived in the Valley! It opens at Camelview 5 on Friday 31 March, and is scheduled at least thru Thursday 6 April. Market forces will determine how long the film continues beyond that date.

All I can say is, Get out there and see this film -- and take a friend.

No, take two friends.

7 March 2006

Why We Fight scheduled for Phoenix

According to Harkins Theatres main office, the Eugene Jarecki documentary Why We Fight is scheduled to open at the Camelview 5 in Scottsdale Fashion Square on Friday, 24 March. Here's a synopsis from its entry at IMDB.com:
Is American foreign policy dominated by the idea of military supremacy? Has the military become too important in American life? Jarecki's shrewd and intelligent polemic would seem to give an affirmative answer to each of these questions.

Dwight D. Eisenhower may have been the ultimate icon of 1950s conformity and postwar complacency, but he was an iconoclast, visionary, and the Cassandra of the New World Order. Upon departing his presidency, Eisenhower issued a stern, cogent warning about the burgeoning "military industrial complex," foretelling with ominous clarity the state of the world in 2004 with its incestuous entanglement of political, corporate, and Defense Department interests.
In the meantime, you can also view Why We Fight online at Information Clearinghouse. (Runs 1 hour 39 minutes.)

25 January 2006

Now we walk his trail

End of the Spear is a must see film, a compelling testament to the power of love and forgiveness over the self replicating cycle of hate and violence.

Prior to my viewing, I was completely unaware of the history of events that comprise the true story behind the movie. But, being based on a true story, I reckon most watchers knew the history and anyway, the story progresses in a most predictable fashion I was able to conjure the exact ending scenario shortly after the beginning. Yet, even so, it was an effective and gripping presentation of the story of the reclusive Waodani tribe's contact with Christian missionaries. Though being a Christian film, it is devoid of preachy prattling, as the creators chose deliberately to reflect Christ as the Waodani came to know him. The center of focus is the Waodani, and their quest to escape the self destructive realm of "spear or be speared". I believe the framing works in a stunning fashion, with the Waodani contemplating those who don't spear back, and how can one "jump the great boa" if not mightier than foes in a physical presence. There is another scene, where the Life Magazine article is given prominent screen space, and sheds a stunning contrast to the understated theme.

Despite being an independent production with what I presume was a relatively low budget, the film is remarkably done, with all the visual splendor of a top notch National Geographic feature, an excellent script and decent acting performances. End of the Spear was filmed in Panama, not Ecuador, due to logistic concerns. None of the leading role actors are well known, and Panamanian natives, coached by Waodani, played many of the Waodani warrior roles.

Some controversy has embroiled the picture some Christians take umbrage at Every Tribe Entertainment's choice to cast a homosexual in the role of a Christian missionary.

7 January 2006

We're being robbed of our freedom of choice because we're not told when the actual movie will begin

By not being provided movie listings that print the start time for the main feature?
Frustrated with lengthy advertisements and previews that delay movies and chew up viewing time, a state lawmaker wants theaters to be honest about when a movie actually starts.

State Rep. Andrew Fleischmann is proposing legislation to force movie listings to print the time the previews start, and when the movies start.

Even if it is an annoying practice that dissuades theater attendance, this probably isn't the best use of legislator resources. Anyway, declining ticket sales, in my estimation, are more due to the lackluster quality of recent releases. And the forecast for 2006 isn't any rosier.

Of course, some argue that the age of the blockbuster is over, given the mushrooming of on-demand content.

19 May 2005

Twisted by the dark side young Skywalker has become

Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith opened today to record crowds, in what must be a welcome respite for theater owners across the USA.

I've had the opportunity to see it twice already, taking in a midnight showing early this morning and back to the theater again this afternoon for an encore viewing. It was truly entertaining, and far better than the previoius Episode I and Episode II prequels. Many excellent battle scenes and special effects eye candy, minus the annoyances of Jar Jar Binks in Episode I and the incessant whining of a younger Anakin Skywalker in Episode II.

I'll not say too much as anything I write here is a spoiler, given the nature that it is a prequel, afterall, so most all who are familiar with the George Lucas Star Wars movie realm know where this story is headed. In this installment, it's the big schism that erupts between light and dark, and Mr. Skywalker is transformed into Lord Darth Vader. However, it's Ian McDiarmid who plays Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, who steals the show, putting on a performance far more stellar than any other on the cast. Every line he spoke or facial twinge he displayed was indeed epic.

It was thrilling viewing, for the simple fact that even though you know how things are going to play out, you still view in anticipation of subsequent action.

Even if the science and technology presented in the movie are comical anachronisms or even if its just a sorry George Lucas pushing one of the most downer and anti-modernist messages of all time.

Of course, there was some hullabaloo about Star Wars being a piece of anti-Bush propaganda. I didn't get that from my viewing, it just seemed like standard fairy tale story schlock dressed all up with snazzy special effects, lots of battle scenes and eye catching CGI.

24 November 2004

AFI List of 400 nominated movie quotes

American Film Institute's list of 400 nominated movie quotes for the top 100 list.