Movies Posts

#7 (Top 10 of 2011)

This is part of a series of top posts from 2011.

#7: Absent

I am so unbelievably excited to announce that we will be showing the Absent documentary at our Mesa campus on May 12. This is a special screening of an award-winning documentary that affects thousands in our community alone. Filmmaker, Justin Hunt, and METALLICA guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield will join us to present and discuss this worldwide crisis of absent and disengaged fathers and the impact it has had on society…

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Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter

I’ve had a long debate going with some of the girls in our small group. A handful of them are REALLY into vampire books. I’m talking Twilight groupies to the max… and that’s just the beginning! (they once “Twilighted” my office at work, complete with a life size cutout of Edward). I often tell them they need to read other types of books, and they tell me that I need to read more vampire books. So we’ve settled into our stalemate.

But the tables turned when I was given Seth Grahame-Smith’s book, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. My friend and his wife knew of my love of all things Abraham Lincoln, and they knew that this would be a vampire book that I couldn’t refuse. They were right. While I don’t necessarily love the vampire genre, I do love a good story and so I was eager to read it.

It didn’t disappoint.

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Absent Documentary Showing with James Hetfield!

I am so unbelievably excited to announce that we will be showing the Absent documentary at our Mesa campus on May 12. This is a special screening of an award-winning documentary that affects thousands in our community alone. Filmmaker, Justin Hunt, and METALLICA guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield will join us to present and discuss this worldwide crisis of absent and disengaged fathers and the impact it has had on society.

The film includes on-camera interviews and testimonies from well-known author John Eldredge, world-champion boxer Johnny Tapia, fitness model Robin Decker and Hetfield. I’ve already seen it myself and can vouch for how powerfully it portrays the need for fathers and what happens when they are not around.

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Expendables and Expectations

The Expendables Movie 2010Last night we had guys’ night at the movies and watched the only logical choice in that scenario… The Expendables. That’s the stereotypical guy movie with all of the legendary action stars and previews that showed little storyline and a lot of things blowing up. I looked up the reviews online and found a dismal set of critiques. As such, I watched the movie expecting very little out of it other than to have a good time with some friends.

And I ended up really liking it. Sure, there were many awful parts by all definitions (including the opening scene), but I was pleasantly surprised by the existence of a storyline, and there were a handful of great tongue-in-cheek moments of humor. I expected little and walked away with much.

Had I gone into the movie expecting top notch acting and a mind twisting plot I would have been disappointed for sure. But I was in the mood to have a good laugh with friends and we certainly got that. Having low expectations when it comes to the entertainment world is usually a good idea. It can allow you to be pleasantly surprised with a book, a movie, or even a restaurant. Low expectations are almost always beneficial in these areas.

But the reverse is true when it comes to our expectations of our marriage, our kids, ourselves, or of our view of God. When we have low expectations in areas like these we tend to get very little as far as results. These areas demand something from us and when we don’t expect anything we rarely give much. And so we ironically get what we expected, and it’s rarely positive. For us to expect a lot would mean a lot of investment on our part, and the people that put this kind of effort in ironically usually get what they expect as well. The sad reality is that I think we often switch the two and have high expectations in areas that don’t matter much and low expectations in areas that are truly valuable.

So what are you expecting?

Alice in Wonderland

I realized a few months ago that though I am familiar with a handful of references to Lewis Carroll’s books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, I had never actually read the stories myself. And with the new movie out I decided it was time for me to read the originals myself.

I have to admit, I’m a bit confused by them. There must be more there that I’m not seeing because I didn’t exactly love them. I did enjoy the constant play on words in the conversations, but there was no plot to speak of in either story and it seems like Lewis (who’s real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) might have been under the influence of something when he wrote them. There were two quotes in Through the Looking-Glass that I felt summed up the stories. The first is where Alice explains that “It’s exactly like a riddle with no answer!” The second is the poem that ends the book. “In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summer die. Ever drifting down the stream–Lingering in the golden gleam–Life, what is it but a dream?”

Please let me know if there is something I’m missing here as obviously this story has become a staple in culture. Part of the explanation might be that the official genre for the story is called “literary nonsense.” Nonetheless, here are a few lines that I enjoyed:

“For you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.”

“She generally gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it).”

“‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’ ‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat. ‘I don’t much care where–‘ said Alice. ‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat. ‘–so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation. ‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.'”

“”Take some more tea,’ the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly. ‘I’ve had nothing yet,’ Alice replied in an offended tone: ‘so I ca’n’ take more.’ ‘You mean you ca’n’t take less,’ said the Hatter: ‘it’s very easy to take more than nothing.'”

“Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Netflix vs Blockbuster

I’ve had the Blockbuster online movie rental membership for over a year now and I thought that they had delivered the final death blow to Netflix and any other competitors. In addition to getting DVDs in the mail, you can also exchange them instantly at any Blockbuster store. Can’t get much better than that right? Wrong.


Netflix added a new feature where in addition to getting DVDs in the mail, you can now watch a handful of movies instantly on your computer, or if you have an Xbox, you can watch them instantly on your TV. Shazam. And since I am an Xbox man myself, I decided to try it out. Needless to say, I’ve cancelled my Blockbuster subscription and am now a Netflix convert. They are updating their instant movie queue to catch up with all the movies out, so it will probably take awhile until all movies are available instantly. But when they do, Blockbuster better get creative and come up with something revolutionary. It turns out that competition really is good for the consumer.

Click here to see about Netflix’s program.