Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a deacon dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Category: Film (page 1 of 16)

Pete’s Dragon and the Magic of Believing

The little boy wanders through the forest, alone and scared. Unsure what to do or where to go, he clings to a book about Elliot the dog. It is the only source of comfort he has. There is a wide range of dangers lurking in the darkness. Among them  lurks a little magic.

This is how Disney’s new Pete’s Dragon begins. It is gripping, demanding the audience to settle in to their seats and throw a few more pieces of popcorn in their mouths. Before the title appears on the screen, we have been introduced to the main character, a little boy named Pete, and met the mysterious creature in the woods. This magical creature shines compassion, erasing any fears we may have.

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Do You Believe? (2015)

Do_You_Believe?_filmAfter the unexpected success of God’s Not Dead at the box-office, Christian movie-makers attempted to capitalize on this success with Do You Believe? 

The film is set in Detroit and is one of those multiple-narratives film (think Crash or Babel). There is the minister who is inspired by the challenging words of a street preacher and his carrying of a large, wooden cross. The minister and his wife take in a runaway, pregnant teenage girl. The church janitor sleeps on a bench so that a homeless mother (Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino) and her child had a warm, safe place to sleep.

The gang members, one of whom absent mindedly ends up in the church during an evening service while running away from the police. Bobby, an EMT, saves a victim from a car accident which results in a lawsuit, him being abandoned by his union, and tense moments with his wife.The victim’s wife hires a lawyer who is anti-religion and is married to a cynical doctor (Sean Astin) who refuses to accept that prayer or miracles are a thing.

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Galaxy Buck: Mission to Sector 9 (2015)

fa7edbd0-gb-section-mobilePhil Vischer, one half of the creative team behind VeggieTales, stepped out in faith after loosing his big dream of Big Idea productions and started Jellyfish Labs. Through this new production, he created What’s in the Bible?, which introduced kids to the character Buck Denver.

Buck is the main character in the new film from Jellyfish Labs and Phil Vischer, Galaxy Buck: Mission to Sector 9.  If you are familiar with the What’s in the Bible? series, you will recognize some of the other characters.  Buck works for the “Gospel Galaxy with Pastor Paul” television program in the call center. He spends his day answering telephones, taking orders, and sending out tote bags in exchange for donations.

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Where Hope Grows (2015)

I wrote the following review of the film “Where Hope Goes” for ScreenFish.net.

Where Hope GrowsCalvin Campbell (Kristoffer Polaha) is a former baseball player who is searching for a new purpose in life. After his formative career ended, a drinking problem began. This added to his struggles as a single father to his teenage daughter, Katie (McKaley Miller). Katie is dating a boy that Calvin knows is no good, but the more Calvin tries to steer Katie in a different direction, the wider the gap between the two becomes. While the character of Calvin is a bit of a cliche, he provides the foundation for what will be a warming tale of hope.

Everything begins to change for Calvin when he meets a young man whom everyone calls Produce.

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Pirate’s Code: The Adventures of Mickey Matson (2015)

mickeymatsonpiratescode-smPirate’s Code is a sequel to the earlier film Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Treasure. This time Mickey (Derek Brandon) comes face-to-face with the evil Admiral Ironsides (Frank Collison) and his gang of misfit pirates. Their goal? Destroy civilization by removing technology. Their invention, the Tesla Coil, will send out an electromagnetic pulse throughout the world, destroying every electronic device.

Mickey and his best friend Sully (Francesca DeRosa), along with the secret government organization they belong to, set out to stop the pirates from stealing the last needed part for their weapon of mass destruction.

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American Sniper (2014)

AmericanSniper_PosterNo matter where you stand on the war in Iraq debate, American Sniper is a film worth watching. I was torn when the film was released. Did we need another war film? Did we need a film before we were out of Iraq telling us whether the war was good or bad?

So I waited for the film to come out on DVD and Blu-ray, which happened this week, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

I was surprised at how good the film was. I know, I know, it was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor in a  Leading Role (Bradley Cooper).  (It only won Best Achievement in Sound Editing). American Sniper is not an analytical film about war, instead war is the reality of the narrative. It is the story of a father, a husband, and a service man, Chris Kyle (Cooper).

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“We’re Home”: Star Wars 7 & Vocation

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This week the second official trailer for Star Wars VII was released. In no time, Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere were alive with comments and thoughts about what this means for the movie coming out in December 2015.

In case, some how, you missed it, here it is:

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Answers to Nothing (2011)

large_onho6lqX4UAsMiQ9LdLhUJqyAKKAnswers to Nothing join films like Crash and Babel in the multiple-stories-that-interlock genre.  In this Crash-like (or lite) film, director and co-writer Matthew Leutwyler interweaves various lives in Los Angeles to tell a story of loneliness and brokenness.

Ryan (Dane Cook) is having an affair with rock singer Tara (Aja Volkman), all while trying to have a child with his wife Kate (Elizabeth Mitchell). By day, Ryan is a psychologist who is treating Allegra (Katie Hawk), the only African-American writer for a television show. Allegra meets Evan (Zach Gilford) while walking her dog, and they begin a relationship. Evan is the sound engineer for Tara’s band. In the meantime, Kate is a lawyer whose client Drew (Miranda Bailey) is fighting with her parents for custody of her ex-marathon-running, now-paralyzed brother Eric.

Kate is also friends with Officer Frankie (Julie Benz). Frankie is investigating a missing girl case. Frankie’s daughter is in Carter’s (Mark Kelly) class. Carter is a school teacher who rushes home to get on his computer and play an online fantasy video game. One of Carter’s neighbors is Jerry (Erik Palladino) who ritually gets ready each day by putting his police uniform on and walks his beat around his apartment.

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London Boulevard (2010)

affiche-London-Boulevard-2010-2London Boulevard is the directorial debut of William Monahan.  Monahan won an Oscar for his script for the film Departed, which would explain the similarities between the two films.  The cinematography drapes the London cityscape with blood, grime, and smeared lipstick.  At other times it is reminiscent of The Bodyguard—the protector and the protected falling in love.

Mitchel (Colin Farrell) has been in jail for three years for “grievous bodily harm.”  His buddy Billy (Ben Chaplin) picks him up and immediately begins coercing him into criminal work.  Mitchel tries to explain to him that he is never going back to jail.  Billy, however, doesn’t seem to care.  He continuously puts Mitchel is awkward situations where he has to defend himself.  Eventually, Billy will make it near impossible for Mitchel not to confront Gant (Ray Winstone), the gang boss.

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Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (2010)

poster212x312Serge Gainsbourg, born Lucien Ginsburg in Paris in 1928 to Russian-Jewish emigrants, was possibly the greatest European cultural icon of the twentieth century, most widely known (and celebrated) for the songs he wrote for beautiful female singers. Not to mention the affairs he had with each of them. This French film follows the life and career of this cultural icon, including his troubled relationships, bouts with depression, and abuse of alcohol and drugs.

Just as celebrated in France is the writer-director Joann Sfar who is a comic book artist and musician.  The animated opening of the film is all the work of Sfar.  Throughout the film an animated version of Gainsbourg might pop up here and there.  When we consider Sfar’s artistic inclinations, it becomes clear that he is the perfect candidate to explore Gainsbourg’s roller-coaster of a life and career.

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