Spider-Man: Far From Home
Toy Story 4
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When soldiers go off to war and come face-to-face with life and death situations on a daily basis, their lives are changed forever. What often gets overlooked is the emotional toll their service takes on the lives of family members left behind. The film Indivisible is the true story of Army Chaplain Darren Turner. Fresh out of seminary, Turner is sent off to the war in Iraq, leaving his wife Heather and three young kids behind. Turner is assigned a 15 month deployment that will test his ability to adapt to the tragedies of war while trying to remain close to his family thousands of miles away.
As an Army Chaplain, Turner has to regularly confront death and the fragile emotions left behind in the hearts of the soldiers he is assigned to serve. At the same time, his wife Heather has volunteered to take on the task of ministering to the needs of the wives of soldiers left behind. The distance and difficult emotions they both endure begin to wedge apart their relationship. When Turner comes home, he is a different man, suffering from PTSD that makes it almost impossible for him to reconnect with Heather.
âIndivisibleâ? weaves the story of the Turnerâ(TM)s struggle together with the stories of other soldiers and wives who they come into contact with. Together, these stories paint a powerful image of the tragedy of war and how it plays out in the lives of those who serve on the battle field and those who wait for them to return home after the war.
This is a well-produced film with great acting, directing, and a good musical score. There are many inspiring moments of faith played out in the lives of the men and women serving in Iraq, as well as the lives of the family members left behind. Indivisible is a sobering look at the cost of war and the awesome sacrifice made by those who choose to serve.
Movies made from true life stories often are nothing more than dramatized history. Not so with Captive. This is an honest depiction of two lives traveling in different directions that collide into one night of unexpected transformation. Captive is not dramatized history, itâ(TM)s a well-executed character study that makes no overt conclusions. The story is developed in such a way that the audience is allowed to see inside both of the main characters and make their own analysis of how and why they are the way they are.
Brian Nichols is on his way to court accused of rape. He believes he is being accused of a crime he didnâ(TM)t commit and has no more patience for what he views is an oppressed life. In an explosion of rage, he takes advantage of a trusting jailer, beats her to the ground and grabs her gun; he then murders three people before escaping in a hijacked car.
Brian eventually makes his way to an apartment complex late at night and encounters Ashley Smith, a recovering meth addict. Brian follows Ashley back to her apartment where he takes her hostage for the next seven hours. During this time, Ashley, who desperately wants to end her drug addiction to regain custody of her young daughter, begins reading Rick Warrenâ(TM)s book, âThe Purpose Driven Life,â? more as a nervous impulse than anything else. When Brian notices she is reading, he demands she read out loud to him. God has not been a driving force in either of these lives, but now he is present and working inside both.
Captive is structured more as an experience than it is a movie. The script, the camera work, the direction, the acting all work together to place the audience directly in the apartment with Brian and Ashley. How did Ashley let drugs get in between her and the deep love she has for her daughter? How did Brian allow his life to tumble into total darkness? What role will God play as Rick Warren preaches from the pages of his book? This is a fascinating story beautifully developed into a mesmerizing film.
God is weaving us all together in complex ways that often go unnoticed. Every event in our life has the potential to impact another life which can in turn impact another. Sometimes these connections are seen and other times they go by lost in the mix. The Unmiracle is one such tale of God working in a small community to weave His love through the hearts of several different individuals.
Kayla Stevenson is the local party girl, well-known for her promiscuous ways. Kayla has recently attached herself to Danny who believes she is his girlfriend but in truth she is using him to score drugs. Danny's former Marine brother, Mike, is back from war and is lost in a PTSD laced stupor of alcohol and pills. It's easy for Danny to pocket a few pills for Kayla when he visits his often incoherent brother. At a local party, Danny supplies Kayla with pills, a drug pusher at the party supplies her with cocaine, and one of Danny's friends, Dean, supplies her with heroine. This combination ends up leaving Kayla in a coma and all those involved in supplying her with drugs are exposed to murder charges if she doesn't pull through.
Danny's friend, Arin, is the one who saves Kayla from dying at the party by calling 911. He's the only one willing to make the call because he's the only one who doesn't get high - he's a devoted Christian. Arin serves as the thread of God that weaves its way through the hearts of all of these characters. In the end, it's Arin's work that sends Danny to a local pastor for help, and helps Kayla's estranged father reconnect with his daughter.
The Unmiracle has a complex storyline with a haunting dose of reality. The problems and attitudes presented are all too common. What's uncommon about this film is the deeper thoughts exposed by these characters that drives a narrative of connectedness. One little misstep can turn your whole life around. One little positive or negative nudge from a friend or acquaintance can turn your whole life around. It is when the thread that's holding us all together is revealed and God is allowed to take control, that everything changes.
The Masked Saint was adapted from a book of the same name that is loosely based on the life of a pro wrestler who left a ten year career to become a pastor. I have not read the book, nor do I know how much of the story is true and how much is fictionalized. What I do know is this is a unique twist on the faith-based movie genre that taps into a desire many have to fight the bad guys and come out victorious.
In this film version, successful wrestler Chris Samuels, who fights under the title The Saint, leaves his wrestling career behind to become a pastor at a small town church with lots of problems. The neighborhood is on the other side of the tracks and many unsaintly characters are hanging out on the streets. The church congregation has diminished down to a handful and most of the finances are being donated by one man, Judd Lumpkin, who believes that gives him the right to control everything. And to top it all off, Pastor Chris has a hard time delivering a good sermon and the church choir is tone deaf.
This story has a subtle sense of humor that pushes the characterization over the top creating a light-hearted look at otherwise difficult situations. Pastor Chris first has to do battle with the pompous and controlling big donor, Judd Lumpkin. Then, in a case of being in the right place at the right time, Pastor Chris rescues a prostitute from a beating being delivered by her pimp. Later, Pastor Chris comes to the rescue at a robbery in a diner.
When it comes to fighting for the survival of his church, Pastor Chris is coached by an elderly church member they call Ms. Edna, played by veteran actress Diahann Carroll. Ms. Edna convinces Pastor Chris to get back in the wrestling ring to earn the money needed to keep the church alive. What we end up with is a pastor who is a wrestler on the side and a vigilante being investigated by the police in his spare time.
The Masked Saint is a well-made film, with good cinematography, quality directing, and some top-notch acting. The wrestling scenes, like much of this film, are a little over the top, but nicely designed and photographed. This is a fanciful story about a pastor becoming a part-time crime fighter. Rather than trying to pass this off as a plausible true life story, a decision was made to develop this concept as a fantasy with a thin line of truth. Much of the exaggerated circumstances that drive this story have enough realism in them to create a spark of possibility. In the end, what really comes to life is the idea that complaining accomplishes nothing. Problems are solved by those who take action.
It's not easy to make an upbeat film about tragedy. It's not easy to drive home a positive faith message in the face of difficult life challenges; Until Forever accomplishes both. Faith-based films are at their best when they are willing to confront the hard questions of faith head-on. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? While the answer to this question isn't expressly provided in this film, it is considered and dealt with in an honest way.
This is the true story of Michael and Michelle who are devoted high school sweethearts. Their relationship is full of fun and honest emotion. This looks like a romance that will last forever. Then without warning, Michael develops a rare form of leukemia and begins living his life in the hospital. Michelle stays by his side along with his whole family. A Bible believing Christian, Michael hears a voice from God calling him to minister to others in the hospital. He begins using his upbeat personality to bring some moments of cheer to his fellow patients. One patient, an older man named Fenton, rejects Michael's devotion to God but still becomes his friend with the understanding that he wants nothing to do with the Bible.
In time, Michael's cancer goes into remission and he is released from the hospital. Michael's slightly younger brother, Matt, has been recruited as a bone marrow donor should Michael's cancer return. Matt loves his brother and is more than willing to make this sacrifice; however, he is suffering depression issues of his own and the thought of him supplying bone marrow without positive results haunts him. In the end, Michael's cancer does come back and Matt's bone marrow donation is not able to save him. Coupled with his growing depression, Matt becomes suicidal and it is Michael who has to help him gain control over his despair.
As Michael's cancer gets worse, Michelle doesn't want to see her one true love go away. She makes a suggestion to Michael that they should get married. At first Michael is reluctant, not knowing if he will live or die; regardless, he follows through with a formal marriage proposal and the two are married even though it is clear he will die soon after.
Until Forever is the story of a man who will not allow his circumstance to shake his faith in God. He will not allow a bitter old man named Fenton to destroy his faith with his difficult questions. And he will not give up on ministering to others in the face of his own fatal destiny. This is also the story of a young woman, Michelle, who never lets go of her love, even when all hope is lost. It may be difficult to see how this film can deliver anything but tears, but I can tell you sincerely, you will find joy in your tears in the celebration of a life well lived.