Archive for the 'Other Features' Category

The Help Redux
Well Worth Writing About

Like most contemporary filmmakers schooled in the Steven Spielberg Formula for Succcess, The Help director Taylor Tate knows that “show them, don’t tell them” can be distilled down into efficient single shots that convey as much as a page or two of dialog. So, for instance, when we are first introduced to Aibileen at the Leefolt’s place, Tate sneaks in a shot of the “L-shaped scratch on the dining room table.” But it’s not just a plot point for later reference; it’s also, as Aibileen slides a serving dish over the scar, symbolic of the hurts that are covered up and glossed over in the Leefolt household… and in Jackson, and the South, and America. If you’ve been waiting to see The Help, wait no further.


A Talk With Charles Martin Smith
A Talk With Charles Martin Smith

“Ultimately what moves us is people,” says Charles Martin Smith, the director of Dolphin Tale. “Having grown up with an artist as a father, I was always fascinated by the Impressionists and the post-Impressionists—and the difference between the ones who concentrated on landscapes, and the ones who felt like there was nothing worth painting except humans. You know, the people who did portraits: Toulouse Lautrec’s studies, and Degas: how they would study people, and what they were like, as opposed to the others who were doing landscapes, largely. Which is more valid? I don’t know; they’re both valid, I suppose. But it’s the connection between the two that I find the most interesting.”


A Talk with Alex Kendrick
Courageous Director Goes All Out

“In this movie, Courageous,” says director, co-writer, and star Alex Kendrick, “there are five fathers who all take the same pledge, and not all of them turn out well. At the end of the movie, some turn out terrible. Some are in transition, and some make horrible decisions and have to face the consequences of their decisions. So I don’t think anyone will say of this movie, ‘Everything’s tied up in a nice, neat bow.’ But with God, all things are still going to be possible. He’s going to be able to do miraculous things, even if they’re in the heart. You’ve got to find that balance.”


Anatomy of a Christian Approach to Movies
Christian Cinema, Meet PtP

Past the Popcorn, now partnered with Christian Cinema.com, is an attempt to reflect, through criticism, the love that Christ has for artists working in film. We hope to do that (albeit imperfectly) by demonstrating that we at least care what these filmmakers’ works are trying to say—whether we agree with those ideas and worldviews or not. The world knows full well that Christians know how to speak, and how to speak loudly. We’re trying to demonstrate that Christians also know how to listen, and listen attentively. As to the question of whether anyone ought to be seeing any of these films… well, given that Hollywood entertainment is arguably the art-world’s equivalent of crack cocaine, even The Sound of Music can be seductively dangerous.


State of the Art
All Digital, Or All Dinosaur?

In 1970, United Theaters opened the original Southcenter theater—the last 70mm Cinerama-capable single-auditorium moviehouse built in the United States. It seated over 1200, and featured a sloped floor and an 88 by 32-foot curved screen. I specifically remember waiting in line years later to see Raiders of the Lost Ark during my second college summer break. The theater was actually too state-of-the-art, and had trouble finding films big enough to grace its enormous screen; it was demolished in 2002. Thanks to AMC Entertainment, Southcenter now has a new multiplex, the AMC Southcenter 16. So what does state-of-the-art mean these days? 100% digital projection. This theater couldn’t screen a 35mm print if it wanted to… because there are no film projectors!


The Narcoleptic Critic’s Society
The 2007 Somnolent Awards

When we ran our 2007 year-end lists two weeks ago, Jenn had just been admitted to the hospital for a rather unpleasant 7-day tour… so she missed out on the round up. Fortunately, that has given her an additional two weeks to refine her own selections, just enough material to justify an entire column unto itself. By way of explanation, Jenn attended just over 40 screenings last year—all before a long-in-coming diagnosis of a rare sleep disorder was established. Thus we have… the “Somnolent Awards.”


Attention Span Theater
The Gnats Appear To Be Winning

As Jenn and I would agree after the screening, Vantage Point represents an increasingly rare breed of film—one that actually demands that you pay attention. If you so much as blink (or glance down to jot notes for your review), you’re likely to miss some salient clue or detail. Now, it would be very hard to argue, empirically, that films have actually dumbed-down or assume that audiences no longer have attention spans longer than gnats; but a lot of industry insiders have strong impressions along those lines. Jenn started noticing the trend herself after interviewing Billy Bob Thornton almost exactly a year ago.


Movies, Morality, and Ratings
A Hard Look at Our Opinion of Films

One home run is pretty much like another; but put that home run in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded, two outs, and the home team down by three, and you’ve got something else entirely. Put that home run in a game that clinches a playoff birth, and it’s even more meaningful. And if it’s the seventh game of the World Series, well…
And yet we seem to ask that each film be the artistic and moral equivalent of that World Series-winning homer. It’s unrealistic. Is the sacrifice fly back in the second inning of Game 2 of the ALCS any less significant? How about a throw to first from the knees back in June?


Movies and Relativism
How Do We Process the Ethics of Movies?

David Nedostup asks, “How do you fight relativism in the battle for values and ethics? Is the disease sin?”
The first solution to relativism is knowing what we believe. Really knowing it—not taking what we’ve been taught for granted, but really seeking out the truth. In the Bible, the church at Berea was commended because they […]


Safeguarding America from Christianity
Puritanism, Proselytism, and the MPAA

Earlier this summer, the MPAA slapped the independently-produced, Christian-themed film Facing the Giants with a PG rating. Spokeswoman Joan Graves initially told producers that the film’s overtly evangelistic tone—which the film’s pastor-oriented publicity materials openly trumpets—was partly to blame. The resulting furor, fanned by a Focus on the Family CitizenLink alert, even got congress involved. “This incident raises the disquieting possibility that [the] MPAA considers exposure to Christian themes more dangerous for children than exposure to gratuitous sex and mindless violence,” commented Missouri’s Republican congressman Roy Blunt. So broadcasters, studios, and exhibitors all seem to agree: religious content, Christianity included, has the potential to offend people.