Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Did You Understand the Message of Arrival Before They Departed?

arrival_movie_posterHave you seen the super highly rated, PG-13, 2016 sci-fi thriller, Arrival?
Or, maybe first I should ask if you watched the Academy Awards last night.arrival-posterArrival was nominated for 8 Oscars (although it’s only win was for sound editing), not to mention 184 other nominations in other venues,
and it already had 34 wins going in to the 89th Academy Awards. trying-to-decipher-language-in-arrivalMy son Joel
(who’s an editor at a local publishing house and is fascinated by language) arrival-dvd-2016enjoyed it so much that he bought a copy shortly after Arrival was available,
and we watched it as a family.arrival-amy-adams-as-linquistics-professorWithout spoiling the end (if you haven’t seen it), I can tell you that the story
is about a linguistics professor, Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams), arrivalwho is asked to leave her position teaching linguistics at a university arrival-jeremy-renner-as-ian-donnellyand join physicist Ian Donnelly (played by Jeremy Renner) base-camp-for-studying-aliens-in-arrivalas part of a special army task force assigned to a military base in Montana arrival-space-shipin response to a world crisis, where 12 extraterrestrial spacecraft appear hovering just above the earth at various locations around the globe. arrival-what-are-theyAlthough throughout the world people feel threatened by this extraterrestrial presence, and some nations prepare to attack in hopes of destroying them,amy-adams-in-arrival-2Louise and Ian work together for months trying to decipher the aliens’ language in the hopes of understanding why they have come to the earth. trying-to-understand-the-aliens-in-arrivalAre the aliens friendly or dangerous? arrival-hetapodWhat are they trying to say? arrival-louise-banks-enters-the-sphere-of-the-aliensWill Louise and Ian survive their encounters?extraterrestrial-spacecraft-in-arrivalWill the earth survive their encounters?

arrival-space-ship-landingThere’s a lot of suspense, a fascinating plot with a good twist at the end, and a subliminal message that the viewers are left to ponder for themselves. Without saying too much that might spoil the experience for those who haven’t seen it yet, the message I took from the movie is that of transcendence. To me, God is the timeless, transcendent One who knows the past, present, and future. He sees all and knows all, from the beginning to the ending.

This goes beyond the movie, but I believe we can know some things about the future even in our present if we’ll only study to decipher God’s handwriting on the wall. God tells us in the Bible that He’s the great “I am,” the beginning and the ending.

Is God friendly or dangerous? Although many people fear God as a potential threat (just like many of the nations feared the aliens), God is actually friendly now. God is Love, and God loves us!

What is God trying to say? He has come with a message:  There is a Day of  Judgment coming in the future, for which we need to prepare now.

Will we survive our encounters? Only you and I can answer that for ourselves by trying, but it’s scary to try before you know, isn’t it? Just like Louise and Ian demonstrated, it takes a lot of faith, courage, and hope. God entered time and space in the form of a man, Jesus Christ, who came to die in our place, making reconciliation with God possible if we are willing to repent (change our ways) and accept the gift of eternal life through faith in Christ.

Will the earth survive our encounters? There is an answer in the Bible. Do you know it? (If you don’t, try reading the last book in the Bible, called Revelation.) Finding the answer is a lot more thrilling than watching Arrival! arrival-skyNow unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,  To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).

Before Black History Month Ends: Take Time to be Charmed by the Queen of Katwe

queen-of-katwe Have you seen Disney’s Queen of Katwe?
It’s a perfect movie for celebrating Black History Month! queen-of-katwe-enjoying-her-first-snowQueen of Katwe is a glowing tribute to the brilliance and beauty
of African people, as well as their capacity for integrity and perseverance.

queen-of-katwe-accepting-recognitionWhen I first started preparing for this post, I was tempted to complain that the shortest, darkest month has become Black History Month, and that if I were running the country I’d choose March or May—long beautiful months…until I read the reason why. carter_g_woodson_portraitDr. Carter G. Woodson (African American with a PhD from Harvard who is known as the Father of Black History) chose the second week of February as “Negro History Week” because two men who were very influential in elevating African Americans, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, were born then.

lupita-nyongo-as-nakku-harriet-in-queen-of-katwe Do you get frustrated by my rabbit trails? I hope not. phiona-mutesi-in-queen-of-katweAt any rate, Queen of Katwe tells the true story
of a young girl named Phiona Mutesi, kampala-uganda-in-queen-of-katwewho grew up in “Katwe,” a slum of Kampala, Uganda. harriet-in-queen-of-katweHer father had died, and Phiona’s mother, Harriet,
fiercely defended the children, vegetable-market-in-queen-of-katweworking constantly in a street market selling vegetables so they could survive. phiona-at-mission-school-in-queen-of-katwePhiona and her little brother, hungry,
wandered into a mission school, where they were fed. missionary-with-child-in-queen-of-katweWhile there, they also met Robert Katende, a young missionary  robert-katende-praying-with-children-in-queen-of-katwewho coached soccer  chess-game-in-queen-of-katweand taught the children chess with the hope of helping them learn skills benjamin-in-queen-of-katwethat would enable them succeed in life generally. phiona-mutesi-and-madina-nalwanga-in-queen-of-katweThe rest is history
(current history:Phiona is only 21 today and still going strong!), returning-to-school-on-mission-bus-in-queen-of-katwebut I don’t want to say too much so you can fully enjoy the movie. receiving-prize-in-queen-of-katweAnd, if you have any school-aged children in your life, it would make a wonderfully inspirational movie to share with them too. Disney does it so well!

slum-of-katwe-in-kampala-uganda-in-queen-of-katweBear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:2-10)

(I took all the photos while watching the movie, except for the first [publicity poster] and the B&W of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, which is public domain, from Wiki.)

Loving: More than a Just a Name

loving-movie-posterMuch more than just a name, Loving is “an absorbing, beautiful piece of American cinema” (Paul Heath, The Hollywood News) based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving. marriage-of-richard-and-mildred-loving-from-loving-movieLoving is a PG-13, 2016 movie recently released to video that has been highly rated. It’s already won 19 awards and has been nominated for 82 more, including an Academy Award nomination for Ruth Negga in her leading role as Mildred Loving. February is Black History Month. If you haven’t watched this moving film yet, February would be a great time to see Loving and start putting love into action by understanding and loving our dark-skinned citizens more.   🙂  ruth-negga-as-mildred-in-the-movie-lovingAlthough I sat through the entire movie feeling petrified that something terrible would happen to this young couple—and they did suffer many hardships for their interracial marriage (which was still against the law in Virginia back in 1958), I was able to sigh happily at the end. Their case, trying to legitimize interracial marriages throughout America, went to the Supreme Court in 1967.   richard-loving-in-the-movie-lovingIf you’re a white supremacist, I beg you to look deep into your heart and try to figure out why. What makes you think white is superior to any other skin color?  I promise you that, apart from skin tissue, we’re all the same colors underneath.  richard-and-mildred-loving-with-lawyer-from-loving-movieCaucasians, Mongoloids, and Negroids are all similar in what’s inside our bodies, brains, and hearts. When I look into my heart, I find that I’m a sinner, just like everybody else. I find that I’m imperfect. I find that very, very little of what makes me “good” has anything to do with me. Some of it has to do with how I was created in the womb, who my parents were, and all the advantages I had as a child growing up. The rest is attributable to God’s redemption through Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. The only thing I can claim is believing and surrendering my life to Christ, and even that I know is a gift of God for which I can only thank Him.   mildred-and-their-first-child-in-the-movie-lovingIf you think whites are in any way superior to any other race, on what do you base that? Certainly not the Scriptures, which teach that God created all of us in His image, that we are all marred by sin and in need of a Savior, and that the death of Christ occurred to break down the walls between us and unify us into one glorious body, the Church of Jesus Christ, the bride of Christ. mildred-loving-in-the-movie-lovingIf you separate yourself from your brothers and sisters based on race, you’re separating yourself from the body of Christ and the love of Christ. God calls us to love and humility. Will you answer that call?the-lawyer-who-helped-in-the-movie-lovingBut now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
(Ephesians 1:13-22, ESV)the-movie-loving-mildred-feeding-their-baby

 

Sampling Courageous Love: Many Shades of Light

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I’ve been working on a lot of wonderful quotes to share about love tomorrow, but today I want to talk about what real love is, because I believe too many people have become confused and no longer understand the difference between love and lust. Case in point will be the contrast between two new releases that are coming out: Courageous Love, and Multiple Varieties of Blacker Evil…or something like that. If you’re wondering what genuine love looks like, here are a few examples from Courageous Love:

actress-addilyn-houk-with-actress-jessica-koloian-copyLove protects and is tenderhearted: “Love is patient and kind.”  courageous-love-protecting-sisterLove confronts possible evil and seeks truth…but for the right reasons:
“Love does not envy or boast.”  courageous-love-helping-serveLove serves humbly: “It is not arrogant or rude.”     courageous-love-administrative-assistantLove speaks wisdom but allows free choice: “It does not insist on its own way;” actress-jessica-koloian-playing-michelle-long-7 Love listens and cares: “It is not irritable or resentful;”  courageous_love-timkaiserLove demands integrity: “It does not rejoice at wrongdoing,” courageous-love-telling-the-truthLove sacrifices self-interest: “but [love] rejoices with the truth.” courageous-love-faithful-sisterLove is faithful: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,” courageous-love-keeps-working-hard Love keeps working no matter how tired: “[Love] endures all things.”  jaredwithrow-jessicakoloian True love is sincere…forever: “Love never ends…”  courageous-love-lawyer-helpsLove reaches out to help even when it doesn’t know all the answers:
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.” courageous-love-solving-the-mysteryLove never stops trying to figure out the truth and learn more:
“Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
  courageous-love-sisterLove is undyingly loyal: “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three;” courageous-love-shelby-engineeringLove leads to happy endings for all! “but the greatest of these is love.”courageous-love-cohort(Quotes above from 1 Corinthians 13)

I hope this inspires you to watch Courageous Love.
It would be a great way to celebrate genuine love this Valentine’s Day!  🙂

courageous-loveWoe unto them that call evil good, and good evil;
that put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20) courageous-love-knudsenSee that none render evil for evil unto any man;
but ever follow that which is good,
both among yourselves, and to all men” (1 Thessalonians 5:15).actress-kristina-kaylen-2Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

(The best photos were used by permission of Daniel Knudsen,
who directed the movie; the rest I took while watching the film.)

What Does Courageous Love Look Like?

courageous_love_movie_posterCourageous Love is being released on Valentine’s Day…perfect timing and perfect contrast with another movie just coming out that looks at “love” from a perfectly selfish (evil) standpoint. Mark A. Knudsen has written a powerful story to demonstrate what real love—courageous love—looks like. In this romantic drama, young Alex Shelby is shocked to discover that he’s become the CEO of his father’s engineering company following the tragic death of his parents.  alex-shelby-in-courageous-loveWhile relying heavily on the wisdom of the remaining executives, his own intuition, and guidance passed down to him from his father, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,” Alex learns to make the hard choices that integrity demands but could lead to bankruptcy for his company.  director-daniel-knudsen-with-actress-patricia-mauceri-1Monday I’ll share more about this inspirational movie (which I had the privilege of previewing last night), but today I want to spend a minute reflecting on the courageous love demonstrated by those who’ve written, directed, acted in, and produced such a movie! These are not Hollywood professionals. They are flesh and blood, every day heroes who have spent a tremendous amount of time and money, and they’ve invested heart and soul in developing a product to impact our culture for good…to give us a choice. Thankfully, I’m finding more and more such movies on the shelves of our local video store, which thrills me no end! actress-holly-houk-with-actress-kristina-kaylenAre we going to watch glamorous stars spewing profanity and teaching immorality as the new morality, or are we going to choose inspiring stories produced by a budding Christian industry that wants to exalt God and promote Truth? Courageous Love was developed and filmed right here in Michigan, and I hope a zillion people watch it, love it, and are inspired by it! Will you give it a try? It’s coming soon. Look for it! (It can also be pre-ordered now.) Please watch it, and let us know what you think!

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things:
and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things

(Matthew 12:35).

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing,
whether it be good, or whether it be evil
” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

Unsullied Sully: The Miracle on the Hudson

sully-front-coverOne of my favorite movies from 2016 is a thrilling biographical drama about American pilot Chesley Sullenberger, “Sully.” Sully was a 57-year-old fighter-pilot-image-from-sully-movieformer fighter pilot, glider pilot, and expert on aviation safety as well as the U.S. Airways pilot assigned to Flight 1549 on the morning of January 15, 2009. sully-and-jeffry-skiles-in-movie-sullySully and copilot Jeffry Skiles were commissioned to fly from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte, North Carolina with 150 passengers on board.airway-flight-leaving-laguardia-sully Just three minutes after takeoff, their Airbus A320 collided with a flock of geese and lost all engine power. air-traffic-control-officers-in-sullyAlthough some air tower control officers thought Sully
might be able to reach an airport, hudson-river-sullySully (who had logged 19,633 total flight hours) believed his only hope
was to land his craft in the icy waters of the Hudson River, preparing-for-crash-landing-sullywhich had never been accomplished successfully before. sully-passengers-preparing-for-crash-landingAlthough this event became known as the “Miracle on the Hudson” ditching-airplane-on-hudson-riverand was described as “the most successful ditching in aviation history,” ditching-aircraft-on-hudson-river-sullythe incident was carefully scrutinized and debated in court. ferrry-to-the-rescue-sullyI don’t want to ruin the suspense if you haven’t already read all about it passengers-on-wings-of-airbus-320-after-crash-landing-on-hudson-river-sullyor remember the incident when it occurred, but even if you have,rescuing-passengers-sully I still think the movie is very inspiring…waiting-on-the-wings-for-help-sullyto see the way people worked together to survive,emergency-helicopter-crew-to-rescue-sully and the bravery, valor, and courage of the many officers and citizens aquatic-rescue-helicopter-jump-sullywho were involved in the rescue. chesley-schIf you want to be inspired to live an unsullied life of integrity and heroism
…this is for you!

The integrity of the upright shall guide them” (Proverbs 11:3).interviewing-survivor-on-sullyHe [God] delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth
” (Daniel 6:27, ESV).

Have You Found The Crown?

the-crown-front-coverThe Crown is a fabulous historic drama about the early life
and reign of Queen Elizabeth II over the United Kingdom. winston-churchill-and-elizabeth-ii-from-the-crownMy daughter recommended it, and once Alan and I started, we could hardly wait to see the next episode…like a great book you don’t want to put down! from-the-crownThis 2016, 10-episode T.V. series garnered well deserved
but outstanding ratings: of 8.9 on IMDb and 90% on Rotten Tomatoes.The CrownThe first season follows the life of Queen Elizabeth from her 1947 wedding queen-elizabeth-ii-and-prince-philip-on-their-african-tour-from-the-crownto 1955, queen-elizabeth-ii-as-a-child-from-the-crownespecially focusing on her family relationships, flashbacks to her childhood, winston-churchill-and-queen-elizabeth-ii-from-the-crownand the development of her close alliance
with Prime Minister Winston Churchill. the-crown-being-madeThe producers expect to continue the series over six seasons,
each covering a decade of the queen’s reign up right up to the present day. preparing-for-a-state-dinner-from-the-crownThe Crown, which cost $130 million to produce,
is the most lavish TV series ever produced, and spared nothing, 1E61AFFAincluding $35,000 to make a wedding dress for the first episode…just one of 7,000 costumes used throughout the series. princess-margaret-and-vanessa-kirbyAlthough there was some Hollywood  sensationalizing, the overall consensus of critics is that The Crown gives a credibly accurate portrayal queen-elizabeth-ii-with-an-aide-from-the-crownand is without a doubt the most intimate and humanizing look queen-elizabeth-ii-and-claire-foyinto the royal family ever.young-queen-elizabeth-ii-from-the-crown If you’re interested in British history during the time when the United Kingdom was the greatest, most influential kingdom on earth, check it out! molten-gold-becoming-the-crownIt’s remarkable!

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,  and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:4-6)