A Clear Lens Podcast: I just can’t shut up about Silence or The Shack.

I love these guys. They love movies and Jesus, and we don’t always see eye to eye, but that’s what makes it such engaging discourse. We talked about how powerful the Shack was, but where it failed in a full picture of the Gospel. And with Silence, we dug deep. Some of them liked it more than I did, but after talking, we did agree on the most important thing of all, and that was quite profound…

Take a listen to us talk about The Shack and Silence on their podcast here.

OSCAR WATCH: Hidden Figures – Fighting Prejudice with Beauty and Grace

The true story of the positive influence that African-American women had on the success of the early years of NASA’s space program.

WOW. Watching this movie made me tear up with hope over the heroic dignity of its characters more than I have in a long time. (Well, actually, Hacksaw Ridge moved me as much, but before that, not in a while).

We follow the stories of three particularly brilliant young black women: Katherine Johnson, played with graceful fortitude by Taraji Henson; Dorothy Vaughn, portrayed with courageous strength by Octavia Spencer; and Mary Jackson, played with witty womanliness by Janell Monae.

The three are friends whose mathematical intelligence is each off the charts, but whose status as black women in 1950s America does not afford them much opportunity for advancement or success, as they face the prejudices of a society that still needs change in its treatment of women and the black community.

As the women go to work at NASA, we see them face the everyday prejudice of segregated “colored” water fountains, bathrooms and schools. But also, they suffer under the compounded factor of women in a male-dominated workforce, where they just don’t have the respect they deserve. The title of the movie, being a clever double meaning of how these women, along with many others, were “hidden” in the background of the achievement of America because of social prejudice.

But this isn’t a propaganda film of the SJW grievance industry. Quite the opposite… Continue reading

OSCAR WATCH – Silence: Scorsese’s Epic Apostasy

In the seventeenth century, two Jesuit priests face violent persecution to their faith as they track down their teacher and predecessor who is rumored to have apostatized.

I confess I have not read the book, so I do not know how faithful Scorsese is to Shusaku Endo’s original novel. But in movie adaptation, stories are shaped to the vision of the director, oftentimes subverting the original. So, despite some helpful appeals to the source material, a movie must nevertheless be understood in its own context and presentation apart from the book. And Scorsese seems to have made this story his own.

Christian Bashing is Nothing New

Silence is a timely and poignant, though at times overly long, exploration of the nature of faith in the face of persecution and suffering. For that reason, I applaud the discussion that Silence raises and the soul searching it inspires in the faithful.

Especially in this era of rising Christophobia and persecution of Christians by all forms of fascism worldwide. From the Muslim torturing and murdering of Christians in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and other Islamic nations, to the growing tide of violence directed at believers in America, hatred is being increasingly focused on Christians, not for being hurtful in their actions, but simply for believing in God’s Word. And such spiritual devotion is considered a hate crime by many in our culture.

The ultimate end of demonizing Christian beliefs as “racist, bigoted, homophobic, sexist, Islamophobic” and other phobias, is the justification of violence against Christians, the elimination of Christian cultural artifacts and history, and the suppression of the Judeo-Christian faith.

That is why Silence is so poignant at this time. Remember my mantra, movies are not made in a cultural vacuum. They often reflect the zeitgeist of the era, the spirit of the age they are made within. And this era no longer believes in freedom of thought and speech and the free exchange of ideas. It now says to Christians, “Shut up. Your beliefs are bigotry, so you must renounce them and outwardly support the zeitgeist.”

We are not in a post-Christian culture, we are in an anti-Christian culture.

But the trials and tribulations experienced by the Roman priests in this story are rooted in a deeper struggle that all honest believers wrestle with: the silence of God in the face of suffering, spiritual doubts, and weakness of faith.

Christian Lives Matter

Continue reading

Patriots Day: This is What Makes America Great

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I saw an advance screening of Patriots Day, the dramatization of the Boston Marathon Bombing and the hunt for the young Islamic terrorists who perpetrated it. I must say that this is a movie that ALL Americans need to see when it is released. Put it on your calendars and keep an eye out for opening weekend December 21.

You Need to See Patriots Day.

With Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, and now Patriots Day, Peter Berg is fast becoming the official great all-American movie director in my book, along with Mark Wahlberg as the great All-American actor. Berg seems to understand the courage, sacrifice, and exceptionalism of American heroism, and he is unafraid to tackle the most important villain on the earth today: Islamism.

(We must forgive him for Battleship, as that was a studio monstrosity that I am sure he only did to be able to make the movies he really wants to.)

The movie’s first act introduces us to some of the lives of the victims and heroes of that fateful day, and gives us a taste of their desires, their loves, their hopes for life. We are made to care for these everyday people and first responders before we see them go through the horrendous attack and aftermath. Wives, families, parents and lovers, all, with dreams and plans. The emotional power in this story is thick and human and deeply moving.

He even gives us a glimpse into the Tsarnaev brothers “everyday life” that leads up to their Islamic everyday terror. Though not with the kind of typical Hollywood “terrorists are people too” moral equivalency.

Mark Wahlberg plays a character who represents a composite of a couple different homicide detectives for narrative flow. But the attention to accuracy and detail outside of the necessary creative license is strong. This movie is true to the facts, but more importantly to the spirit of this important historical event.

And that spirit is the American spirit of banding together, something we desperately need right now in our country. Continue reading

To End All Wars Voted One of 29 Best WWII Movies on IMDB

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See the Wrap’s list of 29 WWII Films with a 7/10 rating on IMDB.

Woo Hoo! After all these years, it’s become a classic. Check it out. It’s 5th on the page list.

To End All Wars was my first feature film that I wrote that got produced.

It stars Kiefer Sutherland in one of his best roles ever, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you can on Amazon Video here.

ONLY $1.99 to Rent. What are you waiting for?

Makes a nice compliment to the awesome Hacksaw Ridge out in theaters now.

 

Hacksaw Ridge: Intense Podcast Discussion of Its Worldview

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This is one of my favorite podcast interviews I’ve done.

The guys at A Clear Lens talked with me about the movie Hacksaw Ridge.

We discussed everything: The themes, Christian faith, persecution, worldview, politics and acting and casting!

You will love this one. It’s deep.

Click here to listen.

I may start a podcast about movies with a friend of mine, Mark Tapson. What do you think?

Hacksaw Ridge: An Epic of Christian Faith and Heroism

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I just saw Hacksaw Ridge again. I posted about an early screening, and I am reposting that with expansions here.

It’s the true story of Desmond Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist Christian who joined the US military in WWII, but refused to carry a weapon and never fired a bullet. He became a medic who “saved lives instead of taking lives.” He suffered persecution within the system and from his fellow soldiers, but ended up saving 75 of his company’s men in the brutal bloodbath of Hacksaw Ridge on Okinawa.

This is the best war movie about Christianity in a time of war since To End All Wars (Go ahead, mock me, accuse me of self-promotion, but it’s true, regardless of who wrote it. And it was a true story too).

Mel Gibson’s Redemption

He’s done it again. Mel Gibson has crafted one of the most inspiring movies for this generation.

If you want to see Christianity respected in a movie, then you will definitely want to see Hacksaw Ridge.

If you want to see Christianity lived out in grace and sacrifice, then you will definitely want to see Hacksaw Ridge.

If you want to be inspired to be a better person, then you will definitely want to see Hacksaw Ridge. Continue reading

The Birth of a Nation: Black Braveheart or Black Paul Hill?

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True story of a Virginia slave uprising in 1831, led by literate religious slave Nat Turner, who, with a group of seventy slaves, rose up against their slaveholders and killed close to sixty men, women and children in a 48-hour period. The rebellion was quashed before Turner and his men could attain their goal of securing artillery from a local armory to advance their cause.

Though not the only slave uprising in the Antebellum South, the Nat Turner Rebellion was certainly one of the most tragically fascinating.

Monsters That Should Not Be Downplayed

I got to see an advance screening of the movie, and I have to say first off, that the title of this movie is a brilliant subversion of the old 1915 silent epic, The Birth of a Nation, a racist tale of the rise of the Ku Klux Klan of the Democratic Party depicted as heroic. D.W. Griffith’s groundbreaking filmmaking techniques gave the film historic significance as a landmark in the history of cinema. So it is only apropos that this new film reclaims that title, subverts it, and redefines our nation properly, by illustrating some of that origin as drenched in the blood of black slaves.

Writer-director Nate Parker reveals the atrocities of Southern slaveholding with artistic restraint. Rather than exploiting the suffering of Nat and his fellow slaves with gratuitous shock and gore, he effectively captures the mounting violence against them without losing the horror so necessary to the heart of this story. He deals with the monstrous evils of sexual abuse of slave women, the gang rape of Nat’s wife, and the brutal whipping of Nat, by showing the aftermaths rather than the unwatchable acts themselves.

Unfortunately, one of the monsters that is also not portrayed in the movie is Nat Turner… Continue reading

Deepwater Horizon: Explosive Portrait of Heroism and Survival

The true disaster story of the 2010 explosion and destruction of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, that became the largest man-made disaster in history.

Watching the first third of Deepwater Horizon was like watching The Big Short or Wall Street. After a brief introduction to the protagonist, Mike Williams, played by Mark Wahlberg, and one other female character, we are plunged into the politics aboard the semi-submersible oil rig, famous for its safety awards, but now facing the mounting pressure of corporate executives trying to skirt safety regulations on a delayed project versus the safety concerns of rig chief, Jimmy Williams, played by Kurt Russell.

Insider lingo and tech talk fills the screen in such a way that the viewer cannot quite understand, making him feel immersed in an authentic environment, but not so detached as to be unable to interpret the emotions and tense human drama that are occurring.

Tension mounts with rising concern under the direction of Peter Berg, a fine visual director of past films like the phenomenal Lone Survivor.

When the series of explosions begin that will utterly destroy the rig and ultimately kill eleven of the workers onboard, the movie becomes a non-stop, white-knuckle ride of terrifying real life disaster, accompanied by acts of heroism, as Mike and other workers pull together to save as many people as possible.

I’ll admit it, I am a sucker for true stories of heroism because they move me, they inspire me, and they give me hope that men and women can pull together in crisis for the better part of our humanity. That’s the second best kind of transcendence in a story that makes it worthy.

So I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure and the human will to survive. We need more of these movies to counter the nihilism and cynicism that permeates our culture.

Godawa’s Quibble Corner

What did not inspire me was the very thin development of character, not merely of the protagonist, but of all of the characters. There were no significant personal internal journeys that would have created a much more human interest story. It amounted to an explosively well-filmed disaster survival documentary with two dimensional characters. I longed for the kind of transcendence that movies like these can attain, if they only seek the deeper meaning that is waiting to be discovered embodied in the event.

One particular moment at the end of the film was like a loud backfire of missed opportunity. After most of the men are aboard the rescue ship, and the proper villain is shamed, all the men kneel down and pray the Lord’s Prayer together. But there is nothing prior in the movie that would set up for this otherwise moving scene. What a powerful spiritual potential to a story that was never set-up to be released with real impact. Patronizing instead of inspirational as it could have been.

Well, counter that with the pleasant surprise that the end credits did not blame the big bad oil companies involved with causing global warming, and my respect for Berg just rose several notches. It’s gotta be difficult to keep insane Hollywood politics out of your movie, and that’s about as heroic as you can get in my book.