Paul: Apostle of Christ – The Profound Victory of the Gospel in the Midst of Persecution and Suffering.

 

The true story of the apostle Paul’s last year of life before martyrdom in Rome. Luke the physician visits him as Christians in Rome struggle with secrecy and survival in the midst of great persecution.

I recorded a podcast on the movie with Nate Sala’s A Clear Lens here.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my notebook with me when I saw the movie. And I don’t have time right now to detail everything, but we touched on everything in the podcast.

Listen to the podcast here.

I wanted to write this for the headline: This persecution of Christians is what we have to fear coming true again, NOT the ridiculous delusion of The Handmaid’s Tale that will never happen.

This is a must-see film for Christian believers. Well-written and well-acted profound wrestling with the issues of persecution and retribution, violence and non-violence, in the context of the Neronic persecution of the first century.

Realistically biblical dialogue that captures the language of the Pauline epistles and makes it come alive in a way that I have not seen done before. Paul’s most theologically rich phrases, like, “to live is Christ, to die is gain,” and “Christ in me,” etc. are woven into the dialogue in a way that are satisfyingly realistic and illuminating. It gives flesh to abstract theological concepts.

This is not a feel-good movie. This is a profound spiritual exploration of suffering. Its theme is about finding the victory of faith in Christ in the midst of suffering and persecution; an ironic paradox that unbelievers cannot grasp, and even most believers have a hard time living out. That’s why this story is so valuable.

It is a low budget movie, and though it deals with the Neronic persecution, we don’t get to see the full brutality of the arena, which would have hit home the visceral depth of evil done against Christians. But it does a great job of capturing the internal and spiritual struggles faced by those under assault, and how faith in Christ carries one through to the end.

Paul: Apostle of Christ is an excellent example of how Christians can make better movies with better quality and integrity. Support it, so we’ll get more of them.

 

To get the big picture of the first century suffering of the early church, you can read the novel Tyrant: Rise of the Beast, which chronicles the details of Nero’s persecution of the Christians in a way that speaks the Gospel to Power. It’s the big budget version I wished these filmmakers would have been able to afford.

 

The 15:17 to Paris: How God Prepares the Heroes We Need Right Now

The true story of how three American friends stopped a terrorist attack on a train to France and saved 500 lives. Directed by Clint Eastwood, written by Dorothy Blyskal from the book.

Clint Eastwood is one of the most courageous and bold filmmakers in Hollywood. He defies the hegemony, goes against the grain, speaks truth to power.

The 15:17 to Paris is no exception. This is a story of American exceptionalism, positive Christianity, pro-military and salvific masculinity.

Like Owen Wilson would say, “Wow.”

It follows the ordinary lives of three boys from grade school up to adulthood and how the simple and sometimes frustrating obstacles of life are providentially used by God to create ordinary heroes. I use that ironic term “ordinary heroes” deliberately because, not only is this a true story, but it is one that shows us being a hero is not something for comic books and movies, but is part and parcel of a life of traditional American Christian values that have been lost in our culture.

The Gimmick

All right, I have to say this right up front, the acting is not Oscar-worthy. It’s mediocre, and a bit of a weakness of the film. But I am totally okay with it because Eastwood cast the actual three men to play themselves in the movie.

It’s a gimmick that works because it carries with it a certain sense of authenticity that A-list actors would not carry. Of course, I love what A-list actors can bring to true stories as well. But in this case, it’s okay that they don’t. And the reason is because the whole point of the story is that ordinary average citizens without privilege can be real heroes.

So, you’ll have to have a little patience with these first time thespians. But trust me, it will be worth it.

Salvific Masculinity in an Emasculated World

Leftists and America-haters will hate this movie with all the hatred in their black little hearts.

Patriots and reasonable Christians will love this movie because it showcases God’s providential control in our lives and defies the political correctness of cultural Marxism that is destroying our society.

Here’s how it does that… Continue reading

12 Strong: Salvific Masculinity Destroys Islamic Imperialism & the War on Men

The true story of the first deployment of a special forces team in Afghanistan after 9/11. A mere 12 American soldiers, led by a captain without field experience, join local forces to take down a major Taliban target.

War Movies and the Zeitgeist

I wrote a post on war movies a decade ago, wherein I argued that their themes often reflect current political attitudes of the era — or at least of Hollywood in that era. This isn’t absolute. There is some diversity of views, but there are also clear patterns.

In the 1940s and 50s, war movies tended to support the narrative that war is glory. Killing Nazis after all is a glorious good thing. World War II was indisputably righteous war. There were some “war is hell” themes, but it was a hell worth fighting.

Then in the 60s and 70s the Hollywood slogan became, “war is insanity,” because of the politics of Vietnam. Movies from Dr. Strangelove to Apocalypse Now reinforced that anti-establishment narrative. Sure, there were always some exceptions, but it wasn’t until Saving Private Ryan that war movies could be heroic and patriotic again.

But Ryan started a new kind of diluted patriotism, with a shift away from the higher cause of one’s country to the individualistic commitment to one’s fighting buddies, the man next to you, became your purpose, not the flag. The patriotic value of a higher cause faded into the background of relativistic rejection of transcendent causes. It was a movie version of being against war, but “supporting the soldiers.” Even good war movies like We Were Soldiers and Blackhawk Down suffered from this myopic individualism.

In recent years, Hollywood has tried to cast the American military as a tool of a nationalistic imperialistic military industrial complex of sadistic corrupt leaders and poor sucker soldier pawns destroyed by PTSD. Witness movies like Redacted, Lions for Lambs, War Machine, In the Valley of Elah, all failures because Americans don’t believe the Lie.

Return to a Higher Cause

But recently, with American Sniper, Hacksaw Ridge, Dunkirk, 13 Hours, and now 12 Strong, we have a resurgence of a more nuanced balance of just war theory. These movies deal honestly with the imperfections of humanity, but focus on a return to an understanding of righteous violence and the transcendence of a higher cause of fighting for freedom and one’s country again.

They do not shy from showing the truth that even though we are morally obligated to kill evil men and evil communities bent on destruction and murder, it is not without collateral damage on the human psyche of those involved. But these movies affirm that the noble cause of one’s country, the higher purpose of freedom and justice, is a price worth paying to protect the innocent.

Of course, these were all elementary ideas of yesteryear. But in today’s climate of American self-hating War on Masculinity, and left wing postcolonial Marxist university theories indoctrinating the youth from high school on, those elementary truths are now a sort of profound divine revelation into a world of darkness.

Not to mention how the notion of confronting widespread Islamic imperialism and oppression around the world has become a No-No for Left Wing Hollywood, bent as it is on hating Judeo-Christian western civilization.

Justice is Masculine

But there are exceptions. Thank God. Hollywood may be dominated by Anti-American regressives, but it is not monolithic. There is a resistance within. Truth does get released at times. There are individuals who do not follow the herd off the cliff of left wing delusion.

12 Strong is a rare example of that unleashed truth.

It is a return to masculine righteousness in the face of worldwide Islamic evil.

And boy, do we need this right now. Not just because of the war on masculinity that wants to turn all men into women because of the evil excess of the Harvey Weinsteins of the world, but because of our culture’s cowering to Islamic supremacy. You know, criticism of Islam is “Islamophobia,” and Feminist submission to Islamic oppression of women.

12 Strong is a battle movie, plain and simple. Lots of gun battles, soldiers’ comaraderie, and strategy meetings of generals over maps discussing the odds. And cool action sequences of modern soldiers on horseback in rugged terrain shooting automatic rifles. In other words, a classic war movie about a small unit of American soldiers fighting the real enemy that exists in this world, with grit, honor and duty.

We see the captain taking the lead in battle, men considering it an honor to do a mission that they will most likely not survive, and all of them doing it for their loved ones and their country. Yeah, that’s right, the country that too much of Hollywood considers a shithole.

Well, not this time. Thanks, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Nicolai Fuglsig, writers Ted Tally, Peter Craig, and the cast for your courage.

The heart and soul of this story is justice, as embodied in the simple talisman of a piece of twisted melted metal from the Twin Towers that a general gives the captain of the unit, played brilliantly by Chris Hemsworth.

At the end of the story, after conquering the enemy, the captain buries that piece of metal into the dirt of Afghanistan as a spiritual homing beacon for justice.

But as one of the soldiers says at the end, “We won the battle. We still gotta win the war.” And that is a near impossible war to win in the Afghan “graveyard of empires.” A land where the Afghan warrior tells them, “There is no right choice. Today, you are my ally, tomorrow, you are my enemy.” It is a complex world that illustrates just how difficult it is to win over entrenched evil. Just how impossible are the odds.

But impossible odds are precisely what are overcome in this true story of 12 Strong men, exemplars of the masculine righteousness that is needed to save the world. The impossible can be done when you fight evil for a just cause.

And yes, the price is worth it.

It’s something left wingers and feminist man-haters completely miss with their propaganda of how “white male privilege” is the root of all evil.  When they try to deconstruct masculinity into toxicity, when they try to argue that it is men who cause the wars and violence in the world, they suppress the truth that it is also men who stop all the wars and violence in the world. Righteous, masculine men of strength.

And that is what we need more of. 12 Strong is an antidote to the toxic anti-masculinity of the left wing social engineering that is seeking to sissify our culture.

Watch it. Be strong.

Only the Brave: Extinguishes the Flames of Toxic Feminization

True story of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots, an elite group of firefighters facing one of the worst fires in Arizona.

I have big deadlines and don’t have the time to give to this that I wish I could. But I just wanted to say that this film has an essential quality that I have not seen in a loooong time in movies: a real heroic masculinity. I’m not talking about fake karate fights and sci-fi effects and comic book silliness. I mean the kind of heroism that inspires you to be a strong man in the self-loathing, self-destructive society that we live in.

If you are sick of the infantilization of colleges, the sexist attack on masculinity by feminism, the attempt to emasculate all males based on the sexual depravity of some in power, the agenda to destroy God’s image by gender confusion, and the outright cowardice of our politically correct, SJW society, then you must see Only the Brave.

It highlights not merely bold, gritty courage and bravery in men, but it gives honor to their women, and even shows the men’s flaws and how they seek to address them to become better husbands and fathers and role models.

Heroism, courage, love, comradery, maturity, masculinity, it has it all.

And we need it all.

Go see this movie.

 

Please Support these Most Courageous Storytellers in Hollywood

Here is an opportunity to do something active regarding changing our culture for the better.

Phelim McAleer and his wife Ann McElhinney, are the most boldly courageous filmmakers I have met. I am working with Phelim on a project so this is very personal to me. This is not just an idea or a distant and cold cultural observation.

Take a look at their trail of storytelling righteousness…

They spoke truth to the power of Big Green by making the documentary Frack Nation. This doc uncovered the malicious lies of the anti-fracking movement and “documentary” Gasland. They raised their own funds through Kickstarter to make it. It’s now on Netflix and Amazon Video. They showed the truth about fracking, that quite literally has saved our nation.

Phelim and Ann made history by raising their own funds of a couple million dollars to make a feature film (and book) about America’s worst serial killer, Hermit Gosnell. The press and everybody ignored this monster because he was an abortionist who engaged in infanticide. You read that right. Infanticide, not merely abortion. I’ve seen the movie, called, Gosnell. It’s a good movie. And it’s a courtroom drama, not a politicized piece. It has no gruesome pictures. It’s about the humanity of those who uncovered his dark crimes. But no distributor in Hollywood will touch it, because, well, Infanticide is a woman’s right to the Left. So Phelim and Ann are raising their own funds to distribute.

The New York Times suppressed their book about Gosnell from their best-sellers list, because, well, infanticide is a woman’s right to the  NYT.

When Kickstarter found out about the Gosnell project, it banned them from their website, because, well, infanticide is a woman’s right to Kickstarter. So Phelim and Ann went to Indiegogo, a more tolerant and inclusive fundraising website for their next projects… Continue reading

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

patriots-day

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

to-end-all-wars-poster

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.