Thinking Out Loud

April 6, 2018

Faith Films: We’ve Been Here Before

At risk of this becoming a one-note blog/site, with me constantly gushing over the Christian-themed films currently available, I want to simply point that we’ve been down this road before. The chart below, from Box Office Mojo, as posted in this 2014 article at Grantland, shows that in the Winter/Spring of that year, we had four major faith-focused titles in the space of 48 days; a situation not dissimilar to where we find ourselves this year.

 

Advertisements

April 5, 2018

Mercy Me! This is a Popular Movie

We continue our series of better-late-than-never movie reviews. Think of this as being an early review for the DVD release.

…So it turned out that I had a pass for I Can Only Imagine that I didn’t know I had. Going through some review books on a table, suddenly, there it was. I called Mrs. W. (whose birthday is today, BTW) and said, “Drop everything! We’re going to a movie.”

Okay, here’s the spoiler:

A guy in a band writes a song which becomes very popular.

Didn’t see that coming, did you? Okay, maybe you did. The plot of the movie is somewhat of a given, and the movie begins with a documentary style introduction which thankfully is mostly abandoned once the story starts to roll. So on the surface, this is a film about a song. A film anchored in a real-life story which takes place in recent history.

However, great songs are, nine times out of ten, born out of significant, intense, great experiences. There’s often a story behind the song, and the better the song, the better the story.

Furthermore, many of the songs we like are born out of a great deal of pain on the part of the songwriter. Even a song which on the surface appears to be a joyful (if mellow) composition anticipating the celebration which awaits us in eternity.

…This movie has had a very strong reception in North America. When we arrived at the cineplex and asked the ticket taker which theater it was, she just pointed and said, “Follow the crowd.” Greater success of faith-based films has allowed for larger budgets which translates into better quality.

The casting is great. The movie’s Amy Grant, while admittedly not the singer herself, is quite convincing; my own buy-in on her character is an example of the film’s credibility.

This isn’t Biblically based in the sense of Paul, Apostle of Christ but this contemporary story has had great impact on those who have seen it. I think it’s an example of God is using the large volume of Christian films currently available to reach all types of people.

J. Michael Finley as Mercy Me’s Bart Millard


Thanks (again) to Graf-Martin Communications in Canada for an almost-missed opportunity to see I Can Only Imagine.

March 29, 2018

Paul, Apostle of Christ

Luke (to Paul) – “There are men, women and children who will never meet you. There must be a handwritten account of your life.”

I’ve mentioned the film, Paul, Apostle of Christ several times, but now that we’ve seen the picture, I wanted to share some additional thoughts.

Like many others, I was expecting a movie based on the Book of Acts. While the stoning of Stephen, Damascus Road and Paul and Silas singing in prison were covered in a flashbacks, there were no shipwrecks and no one bitten by snakes. In many respects this is its own film.

But that’s as far as I want to take that because, despite a somewhat original screenplay, I found the film to resonate with the Bible at every turn. Rather than draw on Acts specifically, the film draws on all that Paul wrote and at no point did I find myself saying, ‘Paul would never say that;’ or ‘Paul would never do that.’ There were scenes of, ‘That’s not in the Bible;’ but playing that game was part of the fun, although I use that term loosely, this is a very sobering film to watch.

Of course, such script liberties might confuse people unfamiliar with the original text; people who would never think that a particular scene in the movie isn’t canon. (I wondered if I might myself, a few years from now, be in a discussion and start quoting a particular occurrence before realizing it was part of a fictional movie.) Hopefully, they are driven to read Acts for themselves.

In many respects, the movie could be called Luke, Apostle of Christ. Luke’s drive and determination to document all that is happening around him, and to get copies of that story out despite the danger the early church faced with travel is, well, inspired.

The scenes of early Christians suffering and dying for their faith were powerful. It’s a movie well-suited to watching during Lent. A few times I thought of the identification with Christ’s suffering for us. However, those who feared a certain goriness (because one actor was also in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ) needn’t fear that this is equally extreme if attending the film, though it’s definitely not for children.

The cinematography was excellent. The movie’s arrival in the middle of a 20-day period when three strong faith-based films were releasing is unfortunate, but I recommend making time for this one if it’s still playing in your area over the Easter weekend.

 

Thanks to Graf-Martin Communications for arranging passes for this film.

March 25, 2018

Faith-Based Films: On the Range Between Feast and Famine, Now is Definitely Feast

She left a note on my Facebook page saying that she had gone to see I Can Only Imagine this weekend, but it was sold out. Fortunately, she had a second choice at the very same theater complex, namely the film Paul, Apostle of Christ. Even for that, she got the last two seats.

It’s a busy enough week for Christian families in North America with Good Friday, Easter Sunrise, and Easter Sunday services happening, but with three top Christian movies releasing within 20 days of each other, it digs deep into both the schedule and the pocketbook.

Forbes reported,

Sony’s Paul, Apostle of Christ debuted in 1,473 theaters but ran into the populist/crowd-pleasing I Can Only Imagine. Sony ran the tables in faith-based dramas for a few years, but now it looks like Lionsgate is a force to be reckoned with. Even with Jim Caviezel returning to the faith-based sub-genre 14 years after The Passion of the Christ, this Bible story flatlined. It snagged $1.66 million on Friday for a likely $5.1m debut weekend. Yes, the Affirm flick cost just $5m, but this isn’t a good result and shows that the Christian rock biopic may be the exception to the rule.

(See also the website, Box Office Mojo.)

Here in Canada, we have a dedicated website just to track the various movies and where they’re playing. FaithFilms.ca is a venture of Graf-Martin Communications, which is involved in promotion and publicity for these films, many times involving both the theatrical release and subsequent DVD, along with related books or novelizations.

The Guardian in the UK also reported on the upswing in faith-focused films.

As Hollywood struggles with sexual harassment scandals and box-office woes, it could do worse than turn to God. For while religious movies have traditionally been considered a niche phenomenon, that assessment may need to be revised.

But the story based on Bart Millard’s song is definitely a surprise hit. The Guardian continues,

[Co-director] Jon Erwin says he was told there “was no audience for a Christian music movie … But everybody I knew – in the Christian world that we live in – knew and loved the song, so we just believed that there was an audience for this movie and that they would show up”. I Can Only Imagine was ultimately picked up by Roadside Attractions, maker of Manchester By The Sea, and Lionsgate. The distributors agreed to promote it as a general audience production. With a $25m box-office take so far, it is also showing Hollywood that Christians can make consistent, repeat filmgoers. Audience polling found that 79% said they planned to pay to see the movie again.

That one I really wanted to see the most, but there were no advance screenings which means there were no reviews in the Friday newspapers on the weekend it released. I can only imagine how good it is! (Terrible humor, I know.)

The third movie in 20 days? God’s Not Dead 3 opens in North America on March 30th, just in time for the Easter weekend crowd, and in the UK on May 25th.


We are hoping to get to the Paul movie this week, provided our local cinema accepts our passes this time!

April 26, 2014

Faith Movies in Perspective

I’d never heard of the website Grantland until Sarah Pulliam-Bailey mentioned it yesterday, but there’s some great stats on the faith-based films from the past few years. The article is titled, God’s Not Dead (He’s Playing Now in Movie Theaters). There’s a chart showing some of the current movies in perspective alongside their ‘secular’ counterparts, a chart showing how some of the religious reels fared on opening weekend,

Opening Week Gross Movies Classified as Christian

and a chart showing the total domestic gross for each of those pictures you’ll have to click through to see.

The article is long and raises some good questions:

…But that’s not the entire story. Because there’s the less-glamorous, more uncomfortable side of the story. The how and the why. How are these movies doing well? And why now? It’s near impossible to dive into these questions with a number set, a brief synopsis, a cast list, or even a handful of trailers. Beginning to scratch that surface involves actually seeing these films. Seeing all of them. On the same day. You know, on Easter Sunday.

Which is exactly what Grantland writer Rembert Browne did. Reviews of the four films follow, with the subjectivity that can only be achieved by watching them all at once!

And there’s more to come. On May 9th, Mom’s Night Out opens, and on Wednesday night, we got to attend the first preview showing in Canada. I’ll have more to say about that film in a few days.

November 28, 2013

Heaven is For Real – The Movie: Sneak Preview

Filed under: media — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:09 am

Scheduled for release on Easter weekend, 2014, the movie adaptation of the bestselling Thomas Nelson book, Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo is now far along enough in production that a trailer is now available. The book has significant title recognition even in the general market, and is sure to re-spark conversations about death, the after-life and faith.

Below is the first official movie poster, a little hard to read, but it gets away from the Sunday School version of Colton on the front cover of the book. Click the image to see the full cast list at Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

Heaven Is For Real - The Movie

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.