Art and Censorship

Recently, Christian author & blogger Rachel Held Evans created a little controversy over her newest book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood.  Specifically, LifeWay Christian Resources, a large, conservative Christian book chain, had decided not to carry this book, apparently because she used the word, "vagina." (Note: LifeWay is the same bookstore chain that previously created a stir by banning the popular and well-intentioned movie, "The Blind Side," from their stores.)
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"Argo" Film Review

John Goodman may be on a winning streak and be in 2 back to back Academy Award winning Best Picture films.

Yes, “Argo” is that good.  Quite simply, “Argo” solidifies that Ben Affleck is an extremely gifted storyteller and director, a filmmaker I have come to highly regard.  The film has a great script with many quotable lines, an incredibly faithful visual representation of its era, and has a story that will keep you pinned to your seat throughout its run time.

Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) is a CIA Operative who is called upon to “exfiltrate” when necessary.  As the Iranian hostage crisis grows, 6 Americans manage to escape the main building and hide out with a Canadian Ambassador and his wife.  Mendez comes up with the idea of creating a fake Canadian produced film and having each American pose as part of the Canadian film crew.  In taking on these fake identities, the American’s hope to secretly be smuggled out of the country.  In their way is a hostile Iranian population who are ready to publicly hang, torture, or use other means at their disposal to kill those perceived to be a spy or in alignment with the American’s in general.

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Louis CK on Technology

http://youtu.be/8r1CZTLk-Gk  

Interesting Video on technology.  A comedian, Louis CK pokes fun at the way we have adapted to technology and how it shapes us by altering our expectations of time and immediacy.  Beneath the humor are some interesting ideas.

Time, Place, and Breaking Bad

I recently heard a statistic that only one third of those who have been watching the hit show Breaking Bad have been watching it on live TV. The rest of those who watch have been using a DVR to record and watch at their convenience.

This brings up the immediate question of how this is effecting the TV industry.  Most TV channels rely extensively on ad revenue to support the shows that they broadcast, and they sell this advertisement based upon numbers of viewers.  However, if DVRs are the way that people are watching many shows these days, then it may be argued that ads will not be reaching their target audiences.  

The bigger question that comes up in my mind is in relation to time and place.  If we can now experience watching a TV show outside of its broadcasted time, then we are no longer tied to time in the sense of needing to be somewhere specific when watching a show.  Also, many cable companies and technologies now allow you to record a show and later watch it in a separate environment than on your TV, such as a laptop or smartphone.  

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"The Master" review

“Punch Drunk Love” is my definitive, absolute favorite film of all time.  “Magnolia” is a masterwork of multiple characters and themes uniting in a beautiful mess of humanity.  “There Will Be Blood” is a brilliant take on men of ambition and the role of a Father.  “Boogie Nights” is a filthy foray into brokenness, told with skill and precision featuring characters you love while aiming to keep a distance from.  And “Hard Eight” was a brilliant debut of great things to come.

Yes, I love P.T. Anderson.

Perhaps moreso than any other working filmmaker (save for Scorsese), I will see his films day 1 with huge anticipation thanks to his vision, style and execution.  He's not let me down yet.  In watching the trailer for “The Master,” I thought Anderson had chosen the perfect story for his unique filmmaking skill set.  So it was with total disappointment that after seeing the film I was completely let down.  I don’t know what to think of “The Master,” and in this case that’s not a good thing.

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Changing Channels: Adding Choices

Growing up, we had three network stations and we pre-dated cable, the internet, and social media. Outside of watching Superfriends on Saturday morning and the Little Rascals’ reruns after school, I have very little recollection of television shows before high school. My dad is a sports fanatic, so usually if there was a game on, that’s what we watched.

I remember that it wasn’t really a big deal to change channels because one, you had to get up, walk to the television and actually turn the knob (yes, a knob) and secondly, choices were limited.

Then, suddenly, as I entered middle school, cable television became available and not only was our television on more often, we now had a remote control which meant we could now reward our impatience with a dozen other choices.

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Foreign Film Series - 1

It happens to all of us – you’re talking to someone about movies, when someone drops the f bomb: Foreign Films.  You run through your mental check list of foreign films you’ve seen but come up dry.  The person you’re talking to suddenly seems to think they are so much more cultured because they saw a movie in a small “indie” theater with the dialogue spoken in another language.  You feel helpless at their cultural superiority and start to shame yourself for seeing that Will Ferrell comedy last weekend.  Well, have no fear.

Here are a few films to get you started on your journey to fighting the hipsters.  And you know nothing is more hipster than fighting hipsters.

Amelie (2001)

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring an utterly adorable Audrey Tautou, “Amelie” tells the story of a woman who seeks to make others lives happy while finding romance on her own.  The film is equal parts charming, whimsical, romantic, and a touch of the erotic.  Scenes frequently cut to Amelie’s view of things which may involve talking animal lamps or other whimsical visions.  But the charm of the story and the film’s accessibility make it an easy step into foreign language film territory.

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"The American Bible Challenge" Review

As Christians, we’re supposed to be in the world but not of the world. But what happens when we get stuck inside our own world? Look no further than Christian music, Christian movies, Christian jewelry, Christian clothing, Christian furniture, and now Christian game shows. The American Bible Challenge is coming to the Game Show Network and it’s every bit what it sounds like.  If you like all things Christian subculture, you’ll love it. If not, then it’s exactly what you expect.

Three teams of three compete against one another by answering Bible trivia for a chance to win $20,000 for their charity of choice. No one walks away empty handed, as all charities get at least some money. The structure is pretty standard game show structure with easy questions that get more difficult as the game goes on, concluding in a final lightning round for all the marbles. Sounds fine so far, right?

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Wisecracking Foxworthy, charities team up for Bible Challenge

No, this is not like any game show you’ve ever seen. The contestants pray. A Gospel choir breaks into hallelujahs at commercial breaks. The host, comedian Jeff Foxworthy quips “You know, if your church is also a skating rink, you just might be a redneck.”

In the premiere episode of the American Bible Challenge, airing Thursday night, August 23 at 8 p.m. EDT, on the Games Show Network, the first three teams of 18 are introduced – and go head-to-head in competition for $20,000 that the competitors don’t even get to keep.

Thursday night, viewers will meet “The Suburban Saints,” from Sacramento, California – whose members include local deputy sheriff Ron Milton, insurance salesman Ned Schaut and TV/film producer Rick Borba. What do they have in common? They are Bible study buddies.  Ron is a Purple Heart Iraq War vet who volunteers in prison ministry; Ned wants to build a skate park to minister to teens; and Ricky hopes to make films and TV shows reflecting Christian values – but without any sermons. If they win this round, they will earn $20,000 for City Crossroads, a non-profit serving the Sacramento community.

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Hope Springs film review

“Hope Springs” is the real life sequel to every romantic film ever.  That’s because romantic films focus on the meeting of the couple, a conflict that threatens to separate them, followed by a rapturous reunion filled with sweeping music and the end credits.  But what happens to the couple 32 years later?  “Hope Springs” is a movie that everyone who is seriously considering marriage, or is currently married, should see.  It’s great for many reasons, but above all, it’s simply a great movie.

“Hope Springs” is about Kay (Meryl Streep) a woman who is fed up with her lifeless marriage of 32 years with her husband Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones).  She is confronted with a dilemma – Keep a passionless, yet barely functional marriage, or see if it can change.  That change comes in the form of an intensive couple’s therapy with Dr. Feld (Steve Carrell) in Maine that lasts a week and costs $4000.00.  For Kay, the huge cost of therapy is worth every penny if it means it could breathe life into something that once was great.  Naturally, Arnold is none enthused with the idea and protests all the way.  Yet, it’s Kay’s curiosity and hope of change that drives her to see if maybe it is possible to have a great marriage again.  One gets the sense that she may be happy with just a good marriage.  Enter Dr. Feld and his matter of fact questions about the lack of intimacy their marriage has grown lazily accustomed to.  The question the film leaves us with is simple: Can marriages change?

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