Movie Trailer: This Means War

The summary of the film, based on this trailer is "two government employees utilize and destroy millions of dollars of taxpayer money while fighting over an immoral, slut." Fun for the whole family.

One would think that two men who have found themselves in such powerful positions would understand that a woman who is willing to propose a "sex tie breaker" is perhaps not worthy of fighting over.

This ad is a great rebuttal to those who whine when people who are concerned about the moral lessons being promoted by Hollywood. "If you don't like it, don't watch it." Right. The problem is that this ad, and others, which show premarital sex, discuss said sexual relations in a glowing manner and suggest that multiple partners is a desirable situation are legion. This ad plays on TV during programs like football games when children are likely to be watching. It doesn't matter if we don't watch the movie, the trailers themselves also promote social engineering.

The History of Christian Films

This is a pretty old site, but it has a succinct history of Christian film.  The timeline is vague after 1970, but the early stuff is still good.

Movie Quote: What Women Want (2000)

Good News Film Reviews Movie Quote

Nick Marshall
I can see elegant parties...

Darcy McGuire
You can see all that?

Nick Marshall
Well, maybe you're naked and I'm the only guest, but it's still elegant.

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews

Win Win (2011)

Reviewer: Scott Nehring

Win Win Movie Poster
Should I see it?

Director: Thomas McCarthy
Written by: Thomas McCarthy
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Alex Shaffer, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Melanie Lynskey and Burt Young

Rated R for language

Click to rent or buy this movieRent Win Win

Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) is a small time lawyer with mounting bills and a failing practice. To make extra money to attend to his financial problems, Mike finagles to become the ward to an elderly client (Burt Young). Mike promptly, and quietly, double-crosses the mentally incapacitated man and collects his assistance money from the State.

At the same time, Mike is also failing at his gig as a volunteer high school wrestling coach. When Leo's teen angst-ridden grandson Kyle (Alex Shaffer) appears on the doorstep Mike finds his fortunes changing once again. Kyle turns out to be a masterful wrestler. Mike quickly moves to make the boy to become his prized wrestler. At the same time, Mike positions himself to become a surrogate father-figure for the troubled teen. Kyle is a emotionally detached wreck thanks to his neglectful, drug addicted mother. Mike sees the problem but allows his greed to overcome his better nature and continues to use the boy and the boy's grandfather for his own needs.

This may seem like one heavy, dark story. In truth, this is a rather pleasant and enjoyable. Paul Giamatti is a firm anchor for the film and gives yet another endearing performance. Perhaps it is the fact that he constantly looks like he's on the verge of an explosive coronary, but the man presents stress and frustration in a sympathetic way, one cannot help but root for him. It is performances such as this one which make him one of my favorite actors. He is under-appreciated by the general public and deserves far more credit for his body of work.

Paul Giamatti Win WinGiamatti and his strong supporting cast (including Amy Ryan, another actor who is unfairly under the public's radar) are aided by a somewhat quirky but smart script. Writer/Director Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent - a film I did not enjoy) remains in the familiar territory of despondent, struggling characters trying in vain to connect with one another.

McCarthy's writing is suitably sparse and dry. An example of his reduced style is when Mike is discussing a failing boiler with his business partner. The boiler needs to be fixed and when Mike is told the massive amount of money it will cost to replace the thing he responds by bellowing a curse word. He then resigns and mumbles that they will have to live with the boiler's knocking. This moment establishes Mike's financial woes, the main motivational thrust of the character. It is a very brief moment that doesn't seem to have much depth. McCarthy's handling of the moment manages the feed the remainder of the film. It is sly delivering of important points such as this which make this film so engaging.

There is a very good chance you have missed this film. It wasn't a wide release and it did not receive broad marketing. This is very much worth looking for. Put down the big Hollywood McMovie for a night and sit back with this quiet, well constructed film.

 Win Win Paul Giamatti Amy Ryan

Worldview: McCarthy has a knack for showcasing losers losing at life. In the case of this story he gets us to back a loser doing evil against those who need his help. Interestingly, the depth of Mike's treachery is well buried until he is found out. The audience isn't given a real reason to get down on Mike's actions. We understand his motivation and Giamatti makes Mike so sympathetic you want things to work out for him. The problem is that instead of helping himself out, Mike helps himself to others. He benefits from others misfortunes while pretending to be performing charity. What can be more despicable?

It should be noted that the film does come to condemn Mike and he is forced by conscience and circumstance to do the right thing. When a film presents a bad man as the hero it is critical that the story provide a condemnation for his actions. If the film fails to clearly state that the man is performing evil then the filmmaker is providing tacit support for that behavior. The point of stories are to present a question and an answer (which is why the ending is called "the MORAL of the story"). When that moral is buried, you as the audience need to be very mindful of what is really being said.

Cautions: The content of the film is rather tame with the exception of language. Paul Giamatti is one of the world's preeminent curse slingers. The man can spit out a swear word with a comical punch unlike any other working actor. Obviously, some folks will want to avoid the production if they are sensitive to casual swearing.

Win Win Movie Trailer

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews

Movie Poster: Magical Mystery Tour

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews

Movie Trailer: Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life

The music is good.  The fact that this is filled with the French?  Not so much.

Movie Trailer: Man on a Ledge

What a lousy trailer.

I may think this because I loathe trailers that are nothing than a series of 3-5 word statements from various characters to give them impression of drama.  This trick is rather common and it is usually employed when there is little actually going on.

Watch this trailer and then tell me if you know anything other that yes, there is a man on a ledge and that man is an escaped criminal.  He claims he isn't a criminal because he was set up.  Ironically, he is committing a crime by being on the ledge to make this statement and he is committing even more crimes by abetting his friend committing crimes against the man he wishes to destroy.

Why would anyone want to slap down cash to see that?  The internal morality of the film doesn't make it past the sales pitch.

Movie Trailer: The Grey

Very nice trailer.  It sets things up very plainly and gives just enough information to sell the film.

I love the shot of his wife being ripped away during the crash sequence - a very striking image which makes me think this is more than just Qui-Gon Jinn running from the big bad wolf.

Movie Trailer: J. Edgar

Eastwood has a spotty record when it comes to directing.  Yes, he can make Gran Torino and Unforgiven.  On the other hand he plops out unwatchable heaps like Flags of Our Fathers and Hereafter.  This looks like more from the latter than the former.

Movie Trailer: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

I don't have a problem with the premise of the film but dang if this trailer doesn't push too hard.  It is begging to make you feel inspired.  They may as well end with a title card saying "please come see us, we wanna win an Oscar."

Movie Poster: The Goonies

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews

Movie Trailer: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Oh the irony of Iron Man Channeling The Wild, Wild West in Victorian England expressing concern over someone collapsing Western Civilization.

Movie Trailer: Dirty Girl

For starters, in a Midwestern high school in 1987 a girl dressed like that would have been sent home before her first class was over.

The trailer does very little to get us to root for the lead character.  She is obviously heading towards a small career in the porn industry once she gets out West.  She seems like a jerk.  Why would we want to spend time with her? 

Movie Trailer: Red Tails

I wonder if they will bother to point out that it was due to Democratic administrations that the armed forces were segregated and the culture of racism was so cemented in society at that time...

Yeah, probably not.

Movie Trailer: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Dear Americans, please learn to enjoy films with subtitles so Hollywood will stop making sub-par remakes of foreign language flicks.

The original is well made, but completely despicable.  Any desire to remake this is purely an attempt to enter into an ugly competition with the Europeans.  All of this talent, all of these resources compiled to present a horrible tale of vengeance, violence and immorality.   

Movie Trailer: Mysteries of Lisbon



I love some of the framing, but the sweeping camera movements are a tad distracting.  If I can get my hands on some Dramamine, this could be an interesting costume drama.

Screenshot: The Grudge

The Grudge

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews

Movie Quote: Deja Vu (2006)

Good News Film Reviews Movie Quote

I knew I picked a bad week to quit snorting hash.

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews

Days of Our Lives - Chex Mix Product Placement

Here is a great display of product placement. Many people don't have a problem with product placement. I think it is insidious. The inclusion of advertising without acknowledging it is a cynical taking advantage of your audience's trust. The viewing of television, film and other video formats has a hypnotic effect. Inserting ads into the storylines, even when it is clumsy, is playing on the audience's lowered defenses and in my estimation immoral.

Movie Trailer: Snow White and the Huntsman

Screen, screen on the wall, which is the stupidest looking movie of them all?

Movie Quote: Bedazzled (2000)

Good News Film Reviews Movie Quote

The Devil
Do you think your mommy and daddy just made me up so you'd be a good boy?

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews

Contagion (2011)

Reviewer: Scott Nehring

Contagion Movie PosterShould I see it?

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Written by: Scott Z. Burns
Starring: Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, Bryan Cranston and Elliott Gould

Rated PG-13 for language and people dying slowly of a viral infection

A pig flu from China spreads across the globe thanks to a gawky Minnesota wife who spreads the virus like butter across the Midwest. Society begins to disintegrate over the next few weeks as random people contract the disease and slowly die with dramatic gasps.

It's the family fun movie of the year.

Director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean's 11, Traffic) has made a timid, yet realistic film about the individual impact of a deadly epidemic.  The outbreak and cure are seen through the eyes of characters at different parts of the event.  There is the hapless husband (Matt Damon) who watches his wife and stepson die of the disease.  He then has to cope with society crumbling as the disease kills millions of others.  We also follow the young CDC doctor (Kate Winslet) and her mentor (Laurence Fishburne) as they navigate the political and administrative realities of managing an outbreak.  Off on the side a CDC scientist (Jennifer Ehle) works frantically to find a cure.  These narrative strings work well together and give a pretty full look at the main aspects of the outbreak.  On one hand we see those in charge of providing an resolution and on the other we have a man stuck living with the results of their work.

Unfortunately for the film, these aren't the only story lines.  Shoehorned into the related tales showing the governmental cause and effect are two additional tales.  One storyline covers the smarmy blogger Alan (Jude Law) who is the first report on the spreading deadly disease.  Instead of acknowledging his presence and then moving on, the film focuses on Alan's growing online popularity and his attempt to illegally capitalize off his readership.  The other inserted storyline involves a CDC investigator (Marion Cotillard) who goes to China to locate the origin of the virus.  She is kidnapped by her Chinese counterparts and forced to tend to a small village suffering from an outbreak.

If these last two story lines seem out of place it is because they are.  It is due to these two story lines that the film ultimately doesn't work.  The film loses any chance of building momentum or suspense because it is forced to weave in and out of barely related subjects and people.  Given that the main antagonist is an invisible virus all of the main conflicts need to be told to the audience rather than shown.  This means there is actually very little action on screen to compel an audience - in other words, character is everything in this situation.  Too many characters leads to too many narrative branches which leads to a muddle, unsatisfying stew.

Contagion Gwyneth Paltrow
Worldview: To give Soderbergh credit he clearly attempts to present the epidemic in a realistic setting.  Gone are the usual Hollywood gimmicks.  He avoids the expected "doctor(s) with martial issue(s)" and doesn't have the grumpy obstructionist government official.  This is refreshing and gives the film a sense of seriousness.

Where Soderbergh and company succeed in showing a more realistic view of pandemic, they also manage to show one that is almost completely devoid of humanity.  The virus kills randomly and without mercy, just as it would in real life.  Children, the elderly, women and men are all cut down.  What I found interesting is that Soderbergh's handling of this litany of death is as amoral as the virus doing the killing.

When someone dies in the film, their death is shown in a series of symptoms.  Their quick decline is presented without overt drama or any other pageantry.  They're sick, boom, they're dead - show the corpse.  Those left behind are provided a brief moment of grief - no wailing, no deep depression.  The death is explained scientifically and we all move on.  There is no mention of God, a soul or any other theological musing.  Moreover, there are no real emotional or spiritual connections severed by the deaths.  Quite simply, Soderbergh shows us a a losing virus in a purely biological battle.

The trouble here is when you present life and death and you remove it from the metaphysical realm, when you remove God, you make man into nothing more than just another biological function.  Without God we have no meaning and no intrinsic value.  Ultimately, it doesn't matter if a virus wipes us out.  Actually, that would be best because in a Godless universe the organism with the strongest staying power is the ultimate authority.

This is why when I was watching the film for the second time, I started thinking it was possible Soderbergh may have been considering his virus to be the real hero of the story and what I was witnessing was a very strange tragedy - tragic for the virus, not man.

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews
powered by Blogger | WordPress by Newwpthemes