Category Archives: Film

Top 3 Must Watch TV Shows

In short we are living in amazing age for television. This is in part thanks to production outlets like Netflix and Amazon Prime, who are taking a chance on shows that otherwise would not have made it on network television.

1. The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime)

Three words: Absolutely Brilliant Show!

The first season was a slow grind but one that paid off with its season finale.  As any great show, it has an interesting concept: What if the Axis had won World War II?  However, what makes “The Man in the High Castle” a great show, is it’s characters.

As any great show its concept is only a venue from which the writers, actors and producers can explore profound questions about the human condition through its protagonists. In short, a great show is about its characters and how well are they grounded in reality.

The ending of Season 2 makes this show one of my favorite shows ever…hopefully they will continue to provide though provoking entertainment from years to come.

2. Stranger Things (Netflix)

If there was anything that stand out in the world of entertainment during the Summer of 2016 it was Netflix’s original series: Stranger Things. What a show! Stranger thins is about the desperate search for a young boy who disappear in the woods.

Stranger Things is basically everything that was great about 80’s assembled together in a TV show…that is a heavy dose of Spielberg coming of age themes set to the backdrop of a Steven King story. Do I need to say anything else?

Again what made this show great was, at least for me, how real the characters felt to me. I was throughly invested with every single one of them basically from the first episode of the show.

3. Vikings (History Channel)

So far one of the most interesting shows that brings forth issues of religion, faith and culture. It follows the story of Ragnar Lothbrok rise from a young farmer to become one of the most famous Norseman of his time.

It is a barbaric show in terms of its violence and mature content but it does play with interesting themes about faith and religion in a sober and respectful way. The first three seasons are truly amazing…half way through season four something happen that I am not quite sure what to make of…but I will be patient and see whether the show runner abandon the elements of mystery and religion that made this show so fascinating and reduce it to a show about, well about dull battles and sex.

My Top 5 movies of 2015

Here are my top 5 movies for 2015:

5. Star Wars: Force Awakens – JJ thank you for re-kindling the excitement for a galaxy far away…

4. Bridges of Spies – This movie marks the return of Steven Spielberg to high form.

3. Inside Out – A brilliant and emotional screen representation of what goes up in our brains.

2. Mad Max: Furry Road – Probably the best action film ever. I was mesmerized not only by its nimble and sharp script but also by the fact that it is a story about redemption that plays against the backdrop of stunning visuals and exhilarating action sequences. Absolutely Brilliant!

1. The Revenant – This movie is an achievement in film making.


 

There are plenty of movies that were release in 2015 that I haven’t seen like Slow West, Creed, Sicario, The Walk, and in the Heart of the Sea among others…I just noticed that The Martian didn’t make my list but it was a fun movie to watch.

5 things I didn’t like about Star Wars: The Force Awakens

star-wars-the-force-awakens

1. Lack of originality

The script is more interested in successfully re-launching a film franchise than it is in offering an enduring original story. Instead it is unabashed in how it borrows from the original trilogy, careless in its dramatic build up and uneven in its character development.

2. Character development

My biggest worry going in The Force Awakens was whether or not JJ Abraham would be able to create a real threat for the next trilogy…although this worry is slightly premature given that the first installment centers in establishing the core characters of the franchise against what basically can be call a stage set (insert your generic threat), it was disappointing the character exposition of Kilo Ren, the main villain. The idea of conflicted and complex Kylo Ren, like many other characters in the Force Awakens is absolutely brilliant but its execution was poor. We only get a poorly constructed scene exposing his conflicted state of mind and nothing that would engender a catharsis towards the character. The same can be said for Finn, one of the new heroes. There was nothing in the script that made me empathized for his hero’s journey. One cannot help but to think of the many ways this could have been easily address but the reality is that it wasn’t, leaving an emotional gap between the audience and the characters.

3. Predictability

The lack of originality sadly translated into a highly predictable plot. This robs its audience of those unexpected moments that thrills you and makes you wonder.

4. No singular moment that made you love the film.

Instead we get a bunch of minor moments that entice you but don’t quite make you think: WOW I LOVE THIS MOVIE. For all their faults all the prequels have such moments. Phantom Menace had the Duel of the Fate, Attack of the Clones had Yoda’s duel against Count Dooku and the Revenge of the Sith had Anakin’s dual against Obi-wan…of course these movies are deeply flaw but at least they have that one moment that made you stand at the edge of your seat.

5. Lack of internal consistency

A few plot devices used in this film are lacking in explanation.  This is a huge distraction since it not only detracted from the characters but the action of the film.  The hope is that they will be explain in future installments otherwise they will  continue to detract from what was a thrilling and fun Star Wars movie.

Cheers,

Caleb

My top 10 Movies for Lent Part II (5 to 1)

As we approach Holy Week here are my top 5 movies for Lent. I really appreciate Debbie recommendations and the reminder that 1) there are great Christian films out there (like Diary of Country Priest, Courageous, For Greater Glory, Unbroken, The Ten Commandments, The Son of God, Fire Proof and Spielberg monumental classic Schindler’s list among many other) and 2) that this is just a humble and insular list of some of my favorites movie with Christian themes.

For my Top 10 (10 to 5) list clear here.

5. Ben Hur

The sheer epic scale of this movie is worth watching considering that it was made in the pre-digital effect era. I really like how this film intertwines the story of Ben Hur (play by Charlton Heston) and the life of Christ. Although not perfect it’s a movie worth watching….

4. A Man for all Seasons

This movie from the 60’s tells the story of the martyrdom St. Thomas More. It has one of the most beautifully crafted screenplays of all time. One of my favorite dialogues is between The Duke of Norfolk and St. Thomas More:

The Duke of Norfolk:

Oh confound all this. I’m not a scholar, I don’t know whether the marriage was lawful or not but dammit, Thomas, look at these names! Why can’t you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship!

St. Thomas More:

And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?

This is brilliant writing! It not only shows the integrity of St. Thomas More’s moral character but also shows the great reverence that this man of faith had for reason and the importance of following once conscience.

Coincidently Robert Bold, an agnostic, wrote the screenplay for this great Christian movie.

3. Into a Great Silence

“In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

-Mother Teresa of Calcutta (St. Teresa of Calcutta)

This German documentary is a meditation of God’s love reflected in the life of monks and priest of the Carthusian Order. For more than 900 years men and woman have joined this order to dedicate their life to a life of austerity, silence, contemplation and prayer. The introduction to their order website says it all:

(http://www.chartreux.org/en/)

“Whoever you are, whatever led you to this site, welcome. You will not find anything fashionable, not even a concern for being different”.

“The Carthusians consecrate their lives entirely to prayer and seeking God in the secret of their hearts. They intercede for the Church and for the salvation of the whole world”.

21 years in the making this documentary welcome people from all walks of life to have a look inside this faith filled monastery and walk right into a great silence.

2. Of Gods and Men

What does it means to give your life for others? What does it means to risk martyrdom in order to give witness of Christ love? Most of us will never have to confront these questions but sadly many Christian around the world know very well the answer to these questions. This powerful movie tells the story of French Trappist monks who were martyred in Algeria by Islamic terrorist for not abandoning their community that they served.

1. The Passion of the Christ

Words are not needed to describe Mel Gibson masterpiece. It is simple the greatest movie ever made.

Look at how salvation was nailed to the Cross… How can you keep from crying?

Top 10 Movies for Lent Part I (10 to 5)

We are entering Lent at full altitude now that we are closely approaching the third Sunday of Lent. One of my pet peeve is to find redemptive Christian qualities around me, especially in movies. So I decided to come up with my Top 10 movies to watch during Lent.

Some of the movies that made my list are not necessarily overtly Christian but that does not mean that they aren’t Christian films. I rather think that what make a film a Christian film is its subject matter and its resolution. The list is not an exhaustive list of movies since is restricted to the limited number of films that I have watched.

10. Gran Torino

This is Clint Eastwood’s masterpiece about redemption that showcase one of the best Christ like figure in modern cinema. I was hesitant to include this movie on this list, since it’s crude language but it is not gratuitous but rather serve the plot of the story.

9. Locke

This is Tom Hardy best role to date. This is an engaging account of a man trying to make things right and the consequence of his past sin in his life. I was mesmerized by the brilliance of its screenplay.

8. Up

This is Pixar’s fantastic movie about marriage, family, and old age. What I love about this movie is its portrayal of love and marriage and its reverence to old age.

7. The Kid with a Bike

This is another gem from the Dardenne brothers. The story centers on a kid who is longing for his absent father. It does a great job at showing the value of fatherhood and the consequences of its absence in the life of a young boy.

6. The Mission

Considered by some to be an anti-religious movie an odd statement given that it made the Vatican top list for religious movies. For a great review at visit: http://www.decentfilms.com/reviews/mission

What do you think…any favorite movie that should be included in the top 5?

Syllogism for Cinema by Peter Kreeft

gran_torino28

Gran Torino

Premise 1: The imagination is the most powerful force in human nature for good or for evil.

Premise 2: Of all the art forms in our culture cinema is the one that most powerfully uses the imagination.

Conclusion: Therefore cinema has the most power the most potential for good or evil of all art forms in our culture.

Peter Kreeft

Musings about why Christian can’t make good films.

My Top 5 Movies of 2014

This is my incomplete list for my favorite movies of 2014…

1.  American Sniper

Rarely a movie makes the clear and necessary distinction between good and evil and the moral responsibility to confront it. Clint Eastwood’s masterpiece, American Sniper, do so without any hesitation and brilliantly.

2. Interstellar

Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious project to date. It scores hight on its scope and impressive visuals. It also features the best soundtrack of the year by Hans Zimmer.

Do not go gentle into the night…

3. Locke

A gripping drama about a husband, father and worker trying to amend his life and in the process risking everything. A reveating movie about convictions and the consequences of sin.

4. Boyhood

Innovative, enticing, and brutally honest film about a post-christian family.

5. X-man: Days of Future Past

Well…life can be fun and so ought to be movies. Best movie in the X-man Franchise by far.

This list is incomplete because I yet need to see at least the following movies:

Two Days, One Night by the Belgian filmmakers the Dardanne Brothers. Anything they make is bound to be brilliant…yes I am biased.

Whiplash
Imitation Games
Gone Girl
Birdman