All posts from “October 2009”

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October 30, 2009

Things that caught my eye this week…

A new 'Avatar' trailer, remakes of 'Footloose' and 'Mad Max,' a 'Pi' director, and more


After several wholly unimpressive weeks, the movie news has come roaring back these past few days (warning: the word of the week is “remake.” Can you say that with me boys and girls? "Remake!" Good, I knew you could).

The first full-length theatrical trailer for Avatar, the first film from James Cameron since Titanic, is finally out. (The film opens Dec. 18.) I've always said I love animation because it is hindered only by the filmmakers' own imagination. More than any film I can think of--even ones such as Lord of the Rings and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow--this feels like that very movie brought to life through a computer rather than ink. Please be good … please be good … (Meanwhile, the Avatar trailer will be broadcast on the world's largest video display on Sunday, Nov. 1, at the new Cowboys Stadium just before their game with the Seahawks -- while millions also watch it from their TV sets at home.)

And now for those remakes . . .

Continue reading Things that caught my eye this week…...

October 30, 2009

One for the iPod


In this podcast, Dick Staub speaks with Jeffrey Overstreet, film critic and author of Through a Screen Darkly, Jennie Spohr, producer of The Kindlings Muse, and Gregory Wright, managing editor of Hollywood about the three best movies about God they suspect many people have never seen: Wings of Desire, The Decalogue and Babette’s Feast.

October 29, 2009

Law & Order Takes On TV's "Most Persistent Taboo"

Surprisingly sensitive portrayals of pro-life views . . . on network TV?

You may be surprised at what many prominent women’s groups are protesting as “anti-choice propaganda.” It’s not a new book, or a graphic display; it’s a recent episode of NBC’s Friday night staple, Law & Order.


The show, which often rips its story straight from the headlines, recently aired an episode clearly based on the murder of late-term abortion provider George Tiller. The episode, titled “Dignity,” offered sensitive portrayals of pro-life views that result in two characters who originally take the pro-choice side to reconsider their views.

For one character, a police detective, it is the revelation that his partner was born two months prematurely after his mother tried to end the pregnancy that forces him to think differently about the subject. For another, ADA Connie Rubarosa, it is the testimony of a nurse who witnessed and assisted in late-term abortions and ultimately left the practice. After hearing the nurse’s graphic description of a botched abortion that resulted in a post-delivery murder of the newborn child, she says, “I grew up thinking Roe v. Wade was gospel and that a woman’s privacy was inviolate. But after hearing that woman on the stand, talking about her baby dying in her arms, I don’t know. I don’t know where my privacy ends and another being’s dignity begins. On one side they’re talking about abortion never, and on the other side it’s abortion whenever, meanwhile the rest of us are just stuck in the middle trying to figure it out.”

After her partner asks her to “do her job” and “put the bad guys in jail,” Rubarosa's response is quite stunning, considering her point-of-view just hours before:

Continue reading Law & Order Takes On TV's "Most Persistent Taboo"...

October 28, 2009

Lessons from the Cinema: How NOT to Preach

Blogger spotlights 'Three Amigos,' 'Ferris Bueller,' and 'Princess Bride' among examples

Gospel coalition blogger Kevin DeYoung says preachers should turn to movie clips for their sermon illustrations -- er, for illustrations on how NOT to preach, that is.

He starts with some Steve Martin silliness from Three Amigos, then Ben Stein's droning ways in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, followed by (bad) examples from The Karate Kid, Star Wars, and The Princess Bride.

Funny stuff -- and instructional. Pastors, take note!

October 27, 2009

Forgive Someone Who Murdered Your Family?

Yes, it's possible. And it's happening all over Rwanda, as shown in upcoming documentary.

I spent almost two weeks in Rwanda earlier this year with my good friends Troy and Sara Groves and a team from Food for the Hungry. While there, I met a man named Marc who in 1994 had killed 15 people during that nation's genocide. I also met a woman, Felicita, who lost many family members in the killings, including her father -- all of them at Marc's hands, which were wielding a machete.

When I met Marc & Felicita, they shared beers and laughter over lunch while telling me their amazing story of how hatred and murder had transformed into forgiveness and reconciliation -- and how they're now sharing their story with others throughout Rwanda, riding a bike together (see picture) from village to village with their incredible true tale.

You'll be able to see their story soon on a new documentary, Wounded Healers, which premieres Dec. 3 at the Seattle International Film Festival. It's a production of Rwanda Partners, which was very helpful in assisting me in my reporting in Rwanda, and introducing me to Marc and Felicita and their incredible story.

I can't wait to see this documentary. Watch the trailer here. And while you're waiting for this film to arrive, be sure to check out another great documentary about reconciliation in Rwanda, As We Forgive.

October 23, 2009

Wanna Be a Movie Producer? Now You Can!

Marchiano seeks 4.5 million 'producers' for Jesus movie . . . and other Christian film news.

Remember Bruce Marchiano and his winsome performance as Jesus in 1993’s The Visual Bible: The Gospel According to Matthew?

For years, Marchiano has wanted to do something similar with the Gospel of John -- a word-for-word adaptation of the book to the big screen. Finding deep-pocketed investors, however, has been another story. So Marchiano has recently changed his strategy: He's now calling the hoped-for film Jesus . . . No Greater Love, still a verbatim adaptation. But how's he going to pay for it? That's where you come into the picture . . .

Continue reading Wanna Be a Movie Producer? Now You Can!...

October 23, 2009

'Letters to God' Gets a Date, Distributor

Directed by Fireproof's David Nixon, film to hit about 800 theaters in March

Several months ago, we visited the set of Letters to God, an upcoming Christian film directed by David Nixon, who was a producer for the indie hits Facing the Giants and Fireproof.

The film, based on the true story of a 9-year-old boy with cancer who writes his prayer letters to God, was recently picked up by Vivendi Entertainment for U.S. distribution. The movie will open in about 800 theaters on March 12.

Vivendi's Mark Kristol told Variety that Letters can tap into the same market as Fireproof, the Sherwood Productions feature that grossed $33 million for Samuel Goldwyn last fall, after being made for a mere $500,000.

See the Letters to God trailer below:

October 20, 2009

Heartland Gives Big 'Welcome' Gift

Indianapolis film fest honors French flick with $100,000 grand prize

The Heartland Film Festival, now in full swing in Indianapolis, held its annual awards banquet on Saturday, Oct. 17, giving the French film Welcome, directed by Philippe Lioret, its $100,000 Grand Prize Award for Best Dramatic Feature.

P-Star Rising by Director Gabriel Noble was the winner of the $25,000 Award for Best Documentary Feature, and Bicycle (Jitensha) by Director Dean Yamada was the winner of the $10,000 Vision Award for Best Short Film.

Heartland also honored Dr. Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, with the Pioneering Spirit Award for his creative spirit in filmmaking and his contribution to Heartland’s mission.

October 19, 2009


A new documentary ponders the nature of God


The new documentary Oh My God, due out next month, interviews men and women from all walks of life, from atheists to devout believers of a myriad of faiths, in an attempt to get to the bottom of the age old question, "What is God?" Director Peter Rodgers, frustrated over how God is increasingly politicized in our culture, spent more than two years making the film in a journey that crisscrossed 23 different countries.

Continue reading OMG!...

October 12, 2009

'Love Boat' Captain Finds Reel Love

Gavin MacLeod (aka Captain Stubing) finds Jesus, stars in new film -- and other tidbits of interest

Remember that cheesy '70s TV show, The Love Boat? And its lovable pilot, Captain Stubing? Of course you do.

These days, Stubing -- er, actor Gavin MacLeod -- is making family-friendly movies with Christian themes, including The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry, now showing in limited theaters. Set in 1970, it's a story about a young boy who befriends an old man.

"The film is about forgiveness," MacLeod, a Christian, told Fox News. "Forgiveness is one of the greatest tools God has given us."

> The Great Reverse is a compelling documentary about nine students who take a months-long missions trip to West Africa, experiencing culture shock and God's grace along the road. It's worth watching for anyone considering a short-term missions trip. The soundtrack features artists as diverse as MercyMe, Seabird, Sara Groves, Jars of Clay, Sleeping At Last, Jon Foreman, Lori Chaffer and more.

> The Fabric of Time, a docudrama which examines physical evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is being re-mastered in 3-D by Grizzly Adams, gearing up for an April 2010 release. The European release is timed to coincide with the first public viewing in more than a decade of the Shroud of Turin, believed by millions of Christians to be the burial cloth of Jesus.

October 12, 2009

'The Ten Commandments' to be remade as "300"?!

Fox also to add info not from the Bible, but from Rabbinical Midrash and other historical sources


Variety is reporting that 20th Century Fox is remaking Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments!


But wait, it gets weirder...

Continue reading 'The Ten Commandments' to be remade as "300"?!...

October 7, 2009

Beware the Hair!

Chris Rock's new flick about 'black hair' raises good questions about the definition of beauty

CT Movies didn't review Good Hair, the new docu-comedy by African-American funnyman Chris Rock. But we've heard plenty of good things about it, and it's getting excellent reviews.

Today, my friend Ed Gilbreath, editor of, posted a few thoughts on the film, including his concerns about how the $9 billion-a-year "black hair" industry is affecting young girls' ideas of what it means to be beautiful--especially as they see role models (Beyonce, Tyra, etc.) with their perfectly straight (and perfectly unnatural) hairstyles.

Ed writes: "There are few things more central to the daily experience of a black woman. A good-looking 'do plays a pivotal role in both her personal and professional happiness. Yet an ominous theme undergirds the entire enterprise. Why do so many women spend so much time and so much money trying to attain what's essentially a "white" look?"

Good question, and Rock, in his inimitable (and often hilarious) way, sets out to find the answer.

Watch the trailer here:

October 6, 2009

'The Great Divorce' to Get Movie Treatment

Film rights to C. S. Lewis's classic fantasy secured by Beloved Pictures

Heaven has been depicted on the big screen before, but never quite like this -- as the most beautiful landscape you've ever seen, but every blade of grass is so hard it actually hurts your feet to walk on them, and a single leaf so heavy you can't lift it.

Such is the creative depiction of heaven by C. S. Lewis in The Great Divorce--great fodder for a filmmaker with a rich imagination and a love for the work. And now it appears that the story has found just that.

Beloved Pictures announced Monday that it has secured film rights to the story, and that David L. Cunningham (To End All Wars, Seeker: The Dark Is Rising) will direct. Cunningham, 38, is a Christian and the son of Youth With a Mission co-founders Loren and Darlene Cunningham.

The Great Divorce tells the story of one man's journey--on a bus!--from the post-apocalyptic wasteland of a grey town to the outskirts of heaven.

"We are tremendously excited to bring one of Lewis's most profound stories to the screen," said Beloved Pictures CEO Michael Ludlum. "We believe that this story, much like the Chronicles of Narnia, will resonate with a global audience."

Beloved is currently seeking investors for the film, which may begin filming sometime in 2010. A release date has not yet been determined.

October 3, 2009

Family-friendly horror movies?

Will family-friendly horror movies take the place of slasher films and the like? Variety magazine seems to think that that is a possibility -- and at least one of the filmmakers leading the charge just happens to be a Christian.

The trade paper reports that Scott Derrickson, who has discussed his faith and filmmaking with CT Movies a couple of times, has signed on to direct a remake of the Danish grade-school thriller The Substitute for Spooky Pictures, a brand-new outfit set up by Sam Raimi and Columbia Pictures.

Derrickson has plenty of experience as a maker of horror movies for grown-ups -- among other things, he directed the R-rated Hellraiser: Inferno and the PG-13 The Exorcism of Emily Rose (which is also available on DVD in an "unrated" edition) -- but this new venture, according to Variety, is aimed at "family audiences".

Continue reading Family-friendly horror movies?...

October 2, 2009

Things That Caught My Eye This Week


What do Mel Gibson, vampires and green aliens have in common? They all caught my eye this week...

Continue reading Things That Caught My Eye This Week...