Posts

Showing posts from 2016

A Tale of Two Sexual Assaults on Jennifer Lawrence

Image
The first assault against Jennifer Lawrence was heavily discussed in the news and on social media. The second has received comparatively little fanfare. The first incident resulted in an FBI investigation, subsequent prosecution, and an upcoming sentencing. The legal ramifications of the second incident are practically nonexistent. The overall response to the first was outrage. The response to the second was indifference.

What were these two incidents? The first, as you may have guessed, was the 2014 iCloud hack in which private/nude photos of several female celebrities, including Lawrence, were stolen and published online. The second incident involved the filming of Jennifer Lawrence’s first sex scene (for the sci-fi movie Passengers). Let me set the stage by sharing three similarities between the photo hack and the sex scene.
First, in the aftermath of the photo hack, Lawrence experienced anxiety. “I was just so afraid,” she later said. “I didn’t know how this would affect my caree…

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016) – Film Review

Image
When it comes to movies featuring the Avengers, I’m definitely in the minority. My emotional response has wavered only between mild disinterest to outright boredom—especially when it comes to anything related to Thor and/or The Hulk. Similarly, Captain America: The First Avenger left me completely underwhelmed. I loved the character of Cap himself—how could I not?—but found his origin story uninteresting.
That all changed when I saw Captain America: Winter Soldier. With tense action sequences, a healthy dose of espionage, a palpable sense of danger, a deliciously entertaining supervillain, and deft handling of moral/political themes, Winter Soldier rocked my socks off. My wife and I wanted to watch the film again even before it had finished.
The announcement of Civil War thrilled me with the possibility of watching another Cap-centric Avengers film. At the same time, I knew the bar had been set quite high. Could Cap (the superhero) entertain Cap (the moviegoer) as much as he did the …

“God’s Not Dead” and the Bastardization of Christian Filmmaking

Image
If you’re a fan of the 2014 film God’s Not Dead, and if you’re excited about its upcoming sequel, you and I probably have several things in common. We likely agree that historic Christianity is becoming less and acceptable in the public sphere. We likely agree that many of our nation’s college campuses are becoming more and more hostile to individuals who adhere to any form of absolutes. We also likely agree that there is an increasing need for believers of all types—students, teachers, pastors, filmmakers, etc.—to engage with our world in an effective and countercultural way.
It’s actually because of these shared beliefs that I’m majorly concerned with the popularity of God’s Not Dead (and other movies like it). And it’s because of these shared beliefs that I want to explain my concerns to you.
I’ll put aside most of the artistic issues I have with the film. (For that, I’ll direct you to my cyber friends Steven D. Greydanus and Peter T. Chattaway). My main focus here will be on the mov…

RISEN (2016) – Film Review

Image
They could have called it God’s Not Dead. But then it would have been cheesy, corny, and other food-related adjectives. Risen is devoid of most cheese and corn: no caricatures, no wish-fulfillment fantasies, and no deceptive ethos-building. It’s not a perfect film, but it is a welcome addition to the faith-based genre.
As a reminder, I rate movies based on three criteria: potentially objectionable content (C), artistry (A), and my personal preference (P).
CONTENT (C): 10 out of 10 Believe it or not, faith-based films often have questionable content—not the typical sex, violence, and profanity, but something just as problematic. What they often do is jettison artistic nuance and subtlety and instead beat audiences over the head with a blatant message that, true or not, alienates skeptics and ends up preaching only to the choir. Such tactics are morally and artistically deficient.
In the case of Risen, no such overt message exists. The film is obviously sympathetic to Christianity, and…

Ten Year Anniversary: My Decade of Blogging “Silence”

Image
I recently came across a fascinating study by psychology professor John Hayes at Carnegie Mellon University. He evaluated pieces of music written from 1685 to 1900 by composers who are now considered successful. The focus? To answer the question, “How long after one becomes interested in music is it that one becomes world class?”

Professor Hayes narrowed the selection down to 500 compositions, written by 76 different composers, all of which are performed regularly in modern times and are generally considered to be the cream of the crop. He then created a timeline for each composer’s career, seeking to determine how long they had been composing music before writing these masterpieces. Here’s what he discovered:
[V]irtually every single “masterwork” was written after year ten of the composer’s career. . . . Not a single person produced incredible work without putting in a decade of practice first. Even a genius like Mozart had to work for at least ten years before he produced something t…

Promoting Porn for the Glory of God?

Image
Pornography and Christian films. There’s a connection between the two that most people miss. And the longer we’re unaware of it, the more we’re hurt by it.
Last fall, the folks at Covenant Eyes graciously allowed me to explain this connection on their blog. (I—ahem—forgot to post a link to it here until now.) Here’s how the article begins:
It has happened too many times to count: professing Christians have defended the use of porn as a tool for truth and beauty. That may sound like an absurd statement, but it is not unfounded. In order to properly illuminate the problem, we need to address something that will initially seem off topic: the ways Christian film critics respond to faith-based films. (Please bear with me.)
If you’re embarrassed by heavy-handed Christian-themed movies, you’re not alone. The subtext of many faith-based films—poor acting, a mediocre script, perfunctory production values, and the like—indicates that Christians value substance (right thinking) over style (good aes…