From its posters and advertising, Brave, directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, gives off a Joan of Arc impression in the way that the heroine must undergo physical, dark challenges and face her worst fears to achieve a certain goal. Even though the idea of physical struggle is a part of this story, if you go into the theater expecting this to be what the movie is really about, you’ll walk out confused and perhaps uninterested. But make no mistake, Brave has a message significant to every human being who’s ever lived.
Before The Avengers, the name Joss Wheadon (director, screenwriter) would elicit either “he’s a genius!” or “Joss who?” He certainly has come a long way from cult television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly to director of the most anticipated Marvel movie.
Grammy Award-winning singer Priscilla Marie Winans Love, fondly known as CeCe Winans, never imagined being a speaker. She was comfortable in her career as a world-famous gospel artist, and her dreams were to accomplish more in that sphere. An urgent phone call from a friend requesting that she speak at a conference burst the walls of the music bubble she was used to shining in. “CeCe, you have got to speak,” her friend said. “If you don’t speak out, then who’s going to speak out?” This was the turning point--she realized she could impact the lives of many youths from her God-given celebrity platform by speaking and singing. Hence the birth of her annual Always Sisters Forever Brothers Youth Conference in 2005.
I didn’t know what to expect as I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, to cover the 43rd Annual GMA Dove Awards ceremonyMay_and_Nicole_Muellen_200x155 on April 19. Excitement and anxiety got the better part of me when photographer Kevin Dukes and I pulled up to the Fox Theatre in downtown Atlanta. We managed to find a divinely orchestrated spot on the red carpet as an impressive array of Christian celebrities and gospel artists from all genres filed in. I was thrilled to snag my first interview with a very down-to-earth Nicole C. Mullen, best known for her song Redeemer. I asked her how she feels about her music touching lives. “It is not about me,” she said, “it is about Him and people getting to know Jesus Christ.”
In a fictional contest called The Hunger Games–where people either stab you in the back or stab you in the heart–most participants check their friendships at the door. But despite her enemies’ willingness to kill and be shaped by a desensitized society, a young female contestant named Katniss grieves for her tragic ally in the most brutal competition known to man in this futuristic sci-fi film. Though directionless and alone in the wild, Katniss refuses to let her circumstances harden her and instead mourns over the body of a fallen comrade. Her ability to feel deeply for an “enemy” stirs many of the watching audience, and they begin to rebel against the disgusting game.
I get excited whenever I see an indie film like Doonby, because I never know what to expect. Indie storytelling rarely follows the everyday Hollywood we’re used to, and it’s a great way to break out of the assembly line and enjoy something handmade. Though Doonby fell below par in some areas, having the guts to experiment can yield real treasures in moviemaking.
I attempted to watch Sex and the City at the height of its popularity, because I like to keep up with pop culture, and because I enjoy good writing. Beyond all the fornication and strange manifestations of self-discovery that most Christians would chafe at, one main thing kept me from being fan: what I’ll call the Friends Phenomenon. Like Friends, the writers of Sex and the City managed to reduce the city’s teeming sea of various cultures, races, religions, and classes to a diluted monolithic wading pool. I didn’t recognize my hometown; I didn’t see myself in any of the faces of the characters, and the women were reduced to martinis and Manolo Blahniks. Yawn.
A touch of family drama. A dash of fight sequences. A pinch of fantasy. Mixing them all together would seem like mixing oil, water, and sand, but instead we get an aesthetic, personal approach to independent film that only Ink can bring. With excellent lighting, script, and acting, Ink dazzles the eye with dream-like cinematography, touches the heart with authentic characters, and provokes the soul with spiritual themes fashioned for an audience that appreciates film as art with a purpose.
Before viewing War Horse, the latest Steven Spielberg film, my first thought was, “Oh no. Not another horse movie.” Horse movies tend to portray the underdog horse and its owner working together to beat the odds in some sort of contest. Next.
The Kendrick brothers are back with lots of truth and a little less cheese. Courageous, the new film by the Kendrick brothers of Fireproof and Facing the Giants fame, has those trademark Kendrick moments. Which is a good thing and a bad thing.
When Minny bakes up a chocolate pie, mixes in her own feces, and serves evil Hilly Holbrook two “delicious” slices, everyone in the theater where I watched The Help exploded into laughter and applause. I didn’t. But we’ll get to that.
There’s been no shortage of conversation over the last few weeks about the big-screen adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s best-seller, one of the year’s blockbusters. As entertaining as it is–blacks and whites alike have raved about the film to me—The Help is a re-warmed version of countless fictitious looks at the Jim Crow-era South, where racism is presented like a Saturday-morning cartoon full of laughs and underdogs and superheroes and good prevailing over evil.
Jonathan Butler talks to May Olusola about his Christian walk.
May Olusola: Thank you Mr. Butler for agreeing to let me interview you.
Jonathan Butler: The pleasure is mine
May Olusola: What got you started in the gospel arena?