Movie Poster: A Very Long Engagement

A Very Long Engagement movie poster

Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews

Movie Trailer: Luster

A deranged man with duel personalities does bad stuff.  My assumption is that they're trying to delve into the duality of mankind, but the trailer below is just selling violence.  According to the trailer the film is about a bloody guy with a gravely voice who punctuates with screaming.



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Movie Trailer: Circumstance

Well, a movie where everyone is wrong.

It is wrong to punish homosexuals with violence and/or death.

It is wrong to equate the ability to conduct oneself in a homosexual relationship as being a "human right".

The Islamists and the homosexuals both promote lifestyles and belief systems that enslave, destroy and consume the weak.

There is nothing about the premise forwarded in this trailer that survives a moment of consideration.

Movie Poster: The Sons of Katie Elder


Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews

Movie Trailer: Crazy, Stupid, Love

Never trust a movie that trailer which gives you the whole story.

Let's break this down a little bit.  A wife cheats on her husband.  The lesson?  He wasn't masculine enough (the trailer explains this to mean being fashionable and bangin' chicks).  Once he gets fashionable and is able to bed sluts at the bar, he finds the ability to approach his estranged wife.


So, if this logic works one way, it should work the other.  A man cheats on his wife.  It's her fault because she hasn't made herself attractive enough?  She needs to learn to make herself more physically attractive?
Nice premise.

Movie Trailer: Neds

This could be worth seeing.  Peter Mullan (The Magdalene Sisters) is a solid director.  There is the danger that the corruption of the child will be blamed on society over his own choices however.

Movie Poster: The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth movie psoter

Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews

Screen Shot: Werckmeister Harmonies


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You Are What You See:
Watching Movies Through a Christian Lens

Farewell My Concubine (1993)

Reviewer: Scott Nehring

Farewell My Concubine
Should I see it?
Yes - with cautions.

Director: Kaige Chen
Written by: Pik Wah Li
Starring: Leslie Cheung, Fengyi Zhang and Li Gong

Rated R for language, child abuse and sexual content

This beautiful film explores the crooked love triangle that forms between two male opera performers and a whore in early twentieth century China. The calculus of the relationships is a little off since the triangle is constructed by one of the men fawning over the other guy.

I just lost some of you.

Unlike what we have seen with Brokeback Mountain, with it’s bareback riding cowpokes swapping saddle sores in the pup tent, this film handles homosexuality in a proper context. The homosexuality is resultant of emotional trauma and is not celebrated as some misunderstood normal alternative. The production also doesn't make the common mistake of equating being effeminate with homosexual acts or desires.

In a brilliant performance, Leslie Cheung portrays Dieyi (Douzi) a male star performer who plays the female leads in the Peking Opera. Dieyi is a master at his art and is (for at least a while) a national treasure. Offstage, Dieyi is a tormented soul who is consumed by his personal demons. Moreover Dieyi is a homosexual who misplaces his emotional trust in his straight opera partner Xiaolou. Leslie Cheung’s emotional and frank performance is nothing less than stunning and his work in the opera scenes is enthralling.

Farewell My ConcubineBack to the homosexuality. It cannot be dismissed how this film handles the subject. It doesn’t present homosexuality as an inherent element in Dieyi’s life. It is (if you’ll excuse the term) thrust upon him at a very young age through his prostitute mother abandoning him, the tortures of the Chinese Opera training and the subsequent sexual abuse he receives from his patrons. This portrayal of homosexuality is a harsh look at the side of homosexuality the gay rights movement doesn’t want seen. The trick with this film is that this makes Dieyi completely sympathetic. It is what makes this film so moving. It makes the film more in touch with the human experience. Unlike films like Milk or other homosexual propaganda movies, this film handles the subject like an adult and treats its gay characters as humans not political props.

Look beyond the homosexual content, there is plenty to approve. The cast has no weak links, which is saying something since the whole first act is nothing but child actors. Zhi Yin who plays Douzi (who later takes the name Dieyi) as a kid offers a gut wrenching study of a child under the horrors of abuse. His fine performance leads perfectly to the Leslie Cheung’s masterful work. Fengyi Zhang and Li Gong are likewise exceptional in their roles which make up the remainder of the strange love triangle at the heart of the story.

This is not a film for many people. First of all, it is in Chinese, so there are subtitles. This will scare many people off. Secondly, this is a brutal film and by "brutal" I mean brutal. For those of you who don’t know, the Chinese Opera tortures its child performers into executing their routines perfectly. It is hard to watch children being beaten and tormented.

Farewell My Concubine

In addition, this film shows the rise of Chinese communism and the political/social upheaval of the time. Many leftists who cling tightly to their political ideology, which has led to the deaths of 100 million people, might not like having the ugliness of their ideas displayed in front of them. If you’re a leftist bed-wetter you may want to stick your fingers in your ears, close your eyes and yell “La, la, la, I can’t hear you!” during these scenes.

If you can handle homosexual content (no, they don’t show anything,) love good storytelling and don’t mind seeing the personal destruction communism offers this is a good film for you.

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews

Movie Quote: Marley & Me (2008)

John Grogan
A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his.

Movie Quote: Rio Bravo (1959)

Pat Wheeler
A game-legged old man and a drunk. That's all you got?

John T. Chance
That's WHAT I got.

Movie Poster: Mahogany

Mahogany movie poster

Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews

Movie Trailer: Good Neighbors

Shouldn't his ability to walk be left as a surprise instead of revealed in the trailer?  Makes me think he's not the real bad guy - otherwise why show it?

This doesn't look half bad, but I think they gave up enough info. that I have to assume this is fodder for the DVD player rather than something one should hunt down at the theater.

Movie Trailer: Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times

It should have been titled "Page One - A Look at Modern Irrelevancy"

But, we sell the best buggy whips!  You need us!

No.  No we don't.

Movie Poster: Cahill

Cahill movie poster

Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews

Movie Trailer: Road to Nowhere

Trailer to nowhere.

Anyone want to tell me what the movie is about?  From what we see here it is about a film crew, a moody guy who doesn't shave and a chick who needs more carbs.

They made the trailer as if they think they're too cool to have to sell themselves.  It stinks of being too full of itself.  If you want me to see your movie, you have to tell me why. 

Movie Trailer: Rammbock

I used to love zombie films.

Used to.

It's been done and done again.

It's over.

Please stop making them.

Movie Poster: Mars Attacks!

Mars Attacks movie poster

Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews

Movie Trailer: Thunder Soul

This could be good.  I love the delivery in this trailer.

I've never heard of these folks, but this has me interesting in finding out more.

Screen Shot: Rebel Without a Cause


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You Are What You See:
Watching Movies Through a Christian Lens

Movie Trailer: Bellflower

This has been getting a good deal of positive buzz.  Then again it is Rated R for disturbing violence, strong sexuality, nudity, pervasive language and drug use.  Films with these elements tend to make some critics giddy with pleasure.

I will say that the trailer is more effective than it should be considering how little is actually explained.  The dialog doesn't exactly leap off the screen.  This is sold purely on the visuals.  The friendly introduction of the flamethrower at the beginning followed by the more threatening imagery at the end is a very smart bit of marketing.

The trailer does it job.  If nothing else, I am willing to give these folks a look.

5 Great Father's Day Movies

A majority of films over the past few decades present a view of fathers that is less than complimentary.  According to most displays of grown men, we are all like this guy:

It's not mentioned but he has to wear an adult diaper and can't leave the house without a helmet.

So, not only is this guy functionally retarded but his wife winks at strangers and leaves him to his own devices at the drop of a hat.  Chances are she comes back and he'll be sticking a fork in an outlet or gluing his eyelids shut.

If the father figure isn't a slack-jawed moron, he is a boiling cauldron of rage (The Shining and The Great Santini are great examples) or a sexual deviant preying on the kiddies (Natural Born Killers, Chinatown).  If the father is shown in a positive light, he is usually shown as being deeply flawed (Paul Blart: Mall Cop, The Weather Man, The Wrestler) and invariably divorced (Night at the Museum, The Santa Clause, Mrs. Doubtfire, Kramer vs Kramer) and pleading with his kids to help him be a better man (Because of Winn-Dixie, Liar Liar, Sleepless in Seattle).
Not all presentations of fatherhood are lousy.  Here is my list of some strong fathers in film for you to share this Father's Day:

PhotobucketTo Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Gregory Peck's Atticus Finch is the godfather of all good film fathers.  Morally straight, hard working and leading by example instead of catering to his kids like a subservient stooge, Finch laid down a fantastic model for good fathering.

What is very interesting in the film is the distance between the father and his children.  This isn't to say there isn't love and affection, there obviously is plenty to be found.  Finch is a role model, a father FIGURE, first and doesn't stoop to his kid's level.  Rather he assumes his natural role and shows them how to act.  His father figure role is supported by how his children see people react to their dad.  He is a respectable man who stands for his principles and in turn teaches his children, and the audience, to do the same.

PhotobucketThe Incredibles (2004)

Superhero Mr. Incredible is forced into hiding after being a superhero is outlawed.  Mr. Incredible marries his love Elastigirl and becomes insurance adjuster Bob Parr.  The couple have three children and attempt to live a suburban life until superhero duties call Mr. Incredible back into the fray and he is forced to balance his superhero glory and his mundane family life.

The Incredibles is a great family film, by that I do not just mean it is appropriate for the whole family.  It is also a great depiction of family life.  This is saying something given this is an animated family populated with superheroes.  The Parr family is one of the more accurate depictions of the modern American family I've seen in film in the last fifteen-twenty years.  The parents are overwhelmed with the commonplace while they labor to guide their children and keep their marriage afloat.  The kids bicker and concern themselves with the usual childish distractions and achievements. 

Bob Parr's battle between his own personal goals and the role of father is well laid out and resolved by director/screenwriter Brad Bird.  The scenes of his playing with and encouraging his children are wonderful.  The superhero stuff ain't so bad either.

PhotobucketFrequency (2000)

This often overlooked drama starring Dennis Quaid and James Caviezel is about a son (Caviezel) who get the chance to speak to his dead father (Quaid) over a shortwave radio.  Yeah, its a little goofy, but what the heck?  The son attempts to save the life of his father who was killed 30 years ago.  This altering of history of course has implications in the present and the pair are forced to untie the chronological knots they secure by screwing with history.

The movie itself is largely forgotten because the script is troubled.  Forgiving the flaws there is a moving father/son relationship at the heart of the story.  I first saw this film prior to my becoming a father myself.  I watched it again after my children came in to my life and my own father pass away.  I can tell you, as a father looking after a child and a son who misses his dad, screenwriter Toby Emmerich nailed both perspectives.

PhotobucketCinderella Man (2005)

Ron Howard's unfortunately titled film about down-and-out boxer James Braddock (Russell Crowe) who mounts a comeback and in turn inspires a nation suffering under the Depression has been unfairly forgotten.  This is a fantastic film and worth viewing.

The film contains gripping boxing sequences and a masterful (and Oscar nominated) performance by Paul Giamatti as Braddock's trainer Joe Gould.  Giamatti's great performance is nearly matched by the perfect casting of Crowe.  His understated presentation of Braddock makes him a likeable hero.

What is overlooked are the scenes of Braddock's home life and the reason he suffers through the trails of achieving his goal - to support his wife and children.  The loud boxing sequences and arching tale of an underdog are both nice, but it is the touching husband/father moments that give this film its emotional punch.  As his wife and kids listen to Braddock's climatic boxing match over the radio, we experience their fear and hope first hand.  This is a great display of not only fatherly duties but the love and concern it inspires in the family.

PhotobucketThe Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Single father Chris Gardner (Will Smith) struggles as he is left homeless with his son Christopher (Jaden

Besides proving that Fresh Prince can actually act, this film is a brilliant example of fatherhood under tough situations.  It is one thing to provide guidance and build the character of your son while you're in the safe confines of a warm home.  It is a different kettle of fish when you are forced to sleep in a subway bathroom.

What I liked about this film wasn't just that Gardner kept working on raising his son properly, but he did so without putting himself down.  There was no "don't end up like me" moments.  Gardner acknowledges the trails they're facing but does so without self-pity.  This is perhaps the films best lesson for dads.

Honorable  Mentions:

3:10 to Yuma (2007)
A rancher is charged with bringing a dangerous criminal to the train which will take him to his trail.  During the process the rancher shows his son the value of principles and sacrificing for the sake of what's just.

Boyz N the Hood (1991)

Troubled youth Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is sent to live with his father in the Crenshaw neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles,  Tre's dad Furious Styles (Lawrence Fishburne) is a stickler and uses his commanding presence to force his son into doing the right thing.  He makes the teen perform chores and constantly harangues him about becoming a proper man.  Furious Styles is the kind of hard-nosed dad many of us probably needed during our teen years.

UPDATE: The Jerk

My pal Darrell mentioned this scene and I had to post it.

Another great movie dad, one who is never thought of is the father in The Jerk.  Below is perhaps the best case of parenting ever put to film.  If only every dad would take the time to point this out to their sons, this world would improve overnight

language warning

Scott Nehring Good News Film Reviews

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