Thursday, November 26, 2009

Old Dogs

Unfortunately some men have the reputation of being a dog, a metaphor that isn’t all that pleasurable and normally has negative connotations. With the release of the new movie Old Dogs starring Robin Williams and John Travolta that metaphor is taken to a new place. A place where we see the love a man can have for an old dog, but better yet, the love that can come about when one discovers family. Such is the case with Old Dogs, it has some rather nice things to say, in a fun and enjoyable way.

Old Dogs is a well directed, and put together film. There is a great sound track and we have exactly what we have come to expect with films involving John Travolta and Robin Williams. While Travolta is just a tad less than what we normally come to expect, Williams is once again at the top of the game, showing that not only is he a comedic genius, but quite a nice actor. There are the bit parts played by people like Seth Green, Kelly Preston, Bernie Mac, Matt Dillon and numerous others including Conner Rayburn and Ella Bleu Travolta, John Travolta’s daughter. While the story falls a little flat at times it is still a quite enjoyable movie with a cast of characters that provide some memorable experiences.

Old Dogs follows the exploits of long time friends, Charlie played by John Travolta and Dan, played by Robin Williams. These two have a life time of friendship and have grown up to have a business in sports marketing that is doing quite well. Over the years, these bachelors have had their moments, from two divorces in a 24 hour period for Dan, to the popular womanizing by Charlie. The two are in a time of their life where they have the opportunity to sign a 40 plus million dollar deal with some Japanese investors. They along with coworker Ralph White, played to the hilt by Seth Green come across a road block just as Dan decides to touch base with an old flame. After a number of years of not seeing this person, he comes to realize that he has fathered two children, twins, with one of the women he has thought of often. Suddenly he is forced to take two weeks of his life to care for his children and in the process, he not only learns about being a father, but about real friendship.

While many will notice the storyline involving Dan becoming a father, there was another storyline which I really appreciated, that shown of the friendship between Dan and Charlie. We see this portrayed quite nicely when Charlie looses the love of his life. We see a friend be a friend and for guys, to have a real friendship displayed on screen is something quite nice. To see it played in the way it is here is not only nice, it is rare. Men need friendships but are quite often, due to societal expectations among other things, void of those friendships. The stereotypes are played out in the film but we see a friendship that goes beyond those stereotypes. We see a friendship that has men having friends in a loving and caring way. Many men will see this portrayed on screen and desire the same type of relationship.

Of course this isn’t the only theme played out in the movie; we also see the realization and epiphany on the importance of family and responsibility. The relationship that takes place between Dan and his children, Zach and Emily is nice to see. We see and understand the importance of a father being a father and putting his children in their proper place of respect. This may mean less work, sacrifice, and changing schedules, but Dan ultimately comes to realize that it is the children who, even within a two week time frame teach him the important lessons of life. It isn’t money, it isn’t vocation, ultimate responsibility, and ultimate meaning for a father is to become a father. In a world where so many fathers fail, we also see a wonderful representation that even in a short time; we can all correct the mistakes of our past.

This isn’t a great movie, but it is a very good and enjoyable movie that many families will enjoy seeing together. You will laugh and you will think about the characters played out on screen. I also appreciated the cameo roles in the film, from Ann-Margaret to the late Bernie Mac, there are a number of fun, touching moments. Don’t get me wrong, while there are plenty of laughs, there are also plenty of meaningful moments. I think it is one of the reasons this movie plays out so well. While this isn’t an ‘Award’ winning film, outside of maybe recognition for the appropriate father and friendship roles portrayed, it is a film that is a fun watch. Old Dogs is not the best movie Williams and Travolta have done, but it is still quite enjoyable and one I think most people, especially fathers and men will enjoy along with their family. It isn’t often that this type of presentation occurs showing the love of a father, and the deep friendship among men, but this is a good one. It is one I am glad I saw, and one I think most people will enjoy.

On a scale of 1 – 10, take away those three amigos, Dan, Charlie and Ralph, we still have a pretty fun presentation on screen, an enjoyable 7

To see the trailer for Old Dogs, just click the video below, if the video don't appear, just click the following link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ucyzayWke8


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Click to visit with Pastor Mike regarding any of your needs. He will respond to each request personally, and if need be refer you to one of our other pastors.

Click to visit and join the new group The Virtual Pew, at MySpace. Become a part of a different kind of Christian group, check out the page for more information,all welcome, including those who are not followers of Jesus.

Click to visit the Virtual Pew Website and become a part of that ministry.

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Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.comYou can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word.Here is our contact information

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Planet 51

I wasn’t expecting a lot from the new animated release Planet 51, and that is exactly what I got, not a lot, but not bad either. One would think the voice talent in Planet 51 along with the story by Joe Stillman would lead to a exciting animated tale. Stillman has given us some great animated stories in the past such as Shrek and Shrek 2, along with episodes from King of the Hill, but even with the voice talents this movie just falls short.

Planet 51 comes with an interesting and fun story concept; a planet on the other side of the galaxy has a visitor with a strange alien. The alien happens to be Captain Charles T. Baker from the United States of America and voiced by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. He is eventually befriended by a young teenager named Lem played by Justin Long. Lem is at a stage of his life where he is starting a job and finally getting enough courage to go after a girl friend he likes, Neera voiced by Jessica Biel. Along the way, the two characters both learn about each other and ultimately themselves. In a world where the aliens, (humans) are seen as such potentially dangerous beings the world doesn’t know how to take those, fear rules the day. Leading the way in the fear category is General Crawl voiced by Gary Oldman, and the evil little scientist Professor Kipple voiced by John Cleese. These two see the aliens, (humans) as brain eating zombies and Charles Baker soon finds himself running for his life and hoping to get on his spaceship to return home and prevent certain death.

There are some terrific opportunities to address important themes in movies like this; Planet 51 succeeds quite well in some of those. Among those is the need to get to know people prior to passing judgment. We see this not only from an individualistic perspective but from a societal perspective. We see not only individuals change but a society that is willing to change. We are often so quick to pass judgment and seek our wisdom from the wrong sources. There are also the challenges of growing up that are addressed quite nicely. There is something else about Planet 51 that I appreciated, which is the theme of loyalty, even at the point of sacrifice. Each character, as they come to understand who they are comes to a point where they are willing to make sacrifices for others. Of course prior to making ones own decision there comes a time when those individuals have to think as opposed to just taking for granted either what society, the military or so called scientists happen to promote. It is often those individuals involved in the decision making process that in reality, do the greatest harm to society and the real opportunity to progress. We also see that sometimes, issues of faith, and science can come together, that is as long as any one side don’t fight against the honest and true search for meaning, and reality.

Planet 51 is a movie that had a lot of potential, there are some nice themes that are addressed but unfortunately it failed to deliver. There is also an incredible sound track to this film that is worth having with some great oldies and a few new tunes that are quite enjoyable. It wasn’t so much the story, the story and the humor came through. There are enough tributes to other films like Aliens, ET, Wall-E, and even some for adults like Singing in the Rain, American Graffiti and more, but the direction seems to provide little inspiration to the voice talents in the film, as a result, Planet 51 falls as flat as the old theories of a flat earth. That is a shame because while Planet 51 is a fun, cute film it could have been an exceptional film. Unfortunately, not only will the kids, but likely the adults find moments where they are bored and wanting more. With the cast, story, and animation in this movie, one would think that you would almost have to work to bring about a lackluster film, but that is exactly what we have, a seemingly uninspired, lackluster film.

On a Scale of 1 – 10, Planet 51 is a fun movie, in fact if you take that 51 and add it up you come up with the rating I give this film, a enjoyable but just a tad better than average 6

To see a video from the movie, just click the video below, if the video don't appear, just click the following link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wnsp93jIEIA


Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Click here to visit Mosaic Wichita, the Church in Wichita Kansas where Mike is the pastor.

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Click here for booking information to have Pastor Mike come speak or perform, from speaking to music or magic, something for all groups.

Click to visit with Pastor Mike regarding any of your needs. He will respond to each request personally, and if need be refer you to one of our other pastors.

Click to visit and join the new group The Virtual Pew, at MySpace. Become a part of a different kind of Christian group, check out the page for more information,all welcome, including those who are not followers of Jesus.

Click to visit the Virtual Pew Website and become a part of that ministry.

Click to subscribe to my blog

Click to visit and join our sister group at MySpace Hollywood Jesus.

Click to visit Mary Jane Furches' new MySpace Page

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.comYou can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word.Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html

The Virtual Pew

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Mike Furches MySpace Blog

Hollywood Jesus

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To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed

Phone Number to Call During The Virtual Pew Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8587

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Twilight New Moon

Opening Day for Twilight New Moon is a historic day in the realm of movies. The movie took in more on opening day than any movie in history. While it didn’t take the all time lead for the weekend, it fell behind Batman The Dark Knight and Spiderman 3, it still had a remarkable opening weekend brining in 141 Million dollars. Among those throngs seeing the movie on opening day was my wife and I, and the experience of the movie in many ways raises more questions and thoughts than the movie itself, but more on that later.

For those who have been following the series, New Moon is the second installment regarding the Twilight movie saga; it is the second of the fourth book series. It is a continuing story of forbidden love, much like the popular Romeo and Juliet themes by Shakespeare. Of course the director of New Moon intends that, it is why we see the book on the bed of young Bella Swan, played by Kristen Steward in the opening scenes. The second installment of Twilight has the Romeo mirror character, Edward Cullen, played by Robert Pattinson, leaving Bella because he is afraid of the harm that will come to her if he stays in the region and with her as a romantic partner. Part of the forbidden love theme has young Bella as a senior in High School who is living with her father and divorced from her mother. They live in the Pacific Northwest, a perfect environment for the vampires who live there, of which, Edward lives. While Bella is a young 17 year old high school student, Edward is a handsome 109 year old vampire who hasn’t aged due to being a vampire. While Edward leaves, a new romance begins to develop for Bella, along comes young, handsome, well built Jacob Black, played by Taylor Lautner. There are several problems that come about as time goes by with this relationship, Jacob is a werewolf and Bella hasn’t really gotten over her vampire boyfriend, Edward.

New Moon actually moves at an okay pace but the film is plagued with several pitfalls. First is the acting, it is just not all that good and is mediocre at best for a movie that has as much anticipation as this. It seems as if the best acting in the film is by minor actors. While the editing, sound and music is quite decent, the movie is also plagued with the story itself. Likely no other film has done as much to destroy the vampire or werewolf lore and legend as has Twilight. For a fan of the genera, as a fan of the history of film, I just have to wonder as to the reasoning for this. While historically there have been strong religious themes displayed in these types of stories, the Twilight series is virtually void of these themes. Vampires can walk around in the day, but originally chose the Pacific Northwest because of their being able to adapt better to the cloudy days, yet when Edward and his family decide to move to help protect Bella, where do they go, well the place we all want to go at some point, the sunny beaches and local of Rio De Janeiro Brazil. There are these and other inconsistencies that had me wondering out loud to my wife, why can’t this girl just find a regular guy, it isn’t like they don’t exist? But it isn’t just there the movie falls short. In a movie like this, it is obvious there needs to be quality special effects. Twilight is tremendously disappointing in the reality of the werewolf’s and the transformation sequences. I don’t know where all the money went in making this movie, but it certainly didn’t go in providing quality special effects. There is one quality shot of a time passing shot with Bella that is quite impressive, but that one shot does not make the movie worth the price of admission.

There is something about the film I think is worth mentioning. My wife and I attended a 7 PM show on opening day, we purchased our tickets at 4 PM and we literally purchased the last 2 tickets for all shows that day as every other theater, four for opening night, and 6 for the midnight showing were all sold-out. At that particular theater, every show, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were sold-out. There is a tremendous following for this movie. It is here I have to address some thoughts.

I had to arrive an hour early to stand in line to guarantee a decent seat to see the movie. While in line, I had the opportunity to talk and make notice of a number of people. The line I was in was for two screenings with over 1,000 seats; at that point there were very few men. Once in the theater I noticed that out of 250 seats, I noticed only 11 were men, the rest women, not just young girls though, there were a few teenage girls, it was mainly young adults up to about the age of 35. I was amazed, but my amazement didn’t stop here.

There were two specific incidents I noticed that were frankly, somewhat of an epiphany. All of the women around my wife and I were there for a ‘girls night out’ and most were participating heavily in alcoholic beverages. Now don’t get me wrong, I will enjoy a beer on rare occasion, but not 2 32 ounce pictures as did the three young women next to me. Virtually all of those around me were partaking to the point that I didn’t want to get on the roads and drive after the movie. The other thing which was eye opening was the strong sexual applications and responses to the characters in the movie by many of the women in the audience. There is one scene in particular where Jacob (the werewolf) takes off his shirt and you could hear yells of joy, pleasure, and comments of sexual desires all around the theater. I recall the days when sexual comments from women, the voicing of sexual desires was something you just didn’t hear. I heard more sexual comments in Twilight than any movie I have ever attended, and remember, out of 250 seats, only 11 men in the theater. I was talking to a man in his 30’s after the movie and we were talking about this, his response was, “Man I wanted to rip my shirt off and say I am here when that happened.” He was of course alluding to his noticing the sexual outing if you will that seems to have also taken place in the female population. It was the closest thing to experiencing a Chippendales event in a movie theater I expect I will ever experience.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not one to review movies and normally talk about the audience, but I think in this case the appeal of Twilight has done something and painted a picture that is causing the effect by many women, but not just young women. I believe the women appreciate the romance, and the genuine love displayed in the story. There is the desire to show love despite the forbidden nature. Guys may be at blame in a large part of this. Do we still romance the women we come into contact with? Do we still do the special little things to show our love? In the Bible you see a romantic experience take place in the book The Song of Solomon. You see a story where women are appreciated, respected, loved and caressed and real love, no matter what costs takes place. I had to ask myself the question, has the love as is exhibited in the story of Romeo and Juliet been lost in contemporary society? If the reactions of the females at this movie is an indication of where we are as a society one couldn’t help but conclude, that for many, yes the reality of real lasting, romantic love has been lost.

I have to admit, I don’t understand the success of Twilight. The books have brought many back to the place where they read, I value that. I will admit I haven’t read the books; I likely should to see what they are about. I can only comment on the movie, so my comment is I was really disappointed and found it to be a lackluster flick. Don’t get me wrong, it was okay, but nothing special, certainly nothing great, and absolutely, with the quality movies that are also entertaining, not worthy of the third largest weekend opening of all time at the time of this writing. Yet, that is exactly what Twilight New Moon did, it broke records and drew in masses of people, at least 85% of which nationally were women, likely more if the theater chain I attended is any indication of the national averages. I’m not a woman, maybe I’m not the best to review the film but I can comment on the things I have, including the very lackluster quality of the technical merits of the film.

On a scale of 1 – 10 for the four books that exist on this story up to this point, I give a rather disappointing 4.

Click here to see the extended trailer for the movie. Just click on the video, if hte video don't appear, just click on the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bs79_5n848Q


Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Click here to visit Mosaic Wichita, the Church in Wichita Kansas where Mike is the pastor.

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Click here for booking information to have Pastor Mike come speak or perform, from speaking to music or magic, something for all groups.

Click to visit with Pastor Mike regarding any of your needs. He will respond to each request personally, and if need be refer you to one of our other pastors.

Click to visit and join the new group The Virtual Pew, at MySpace. Become a part of a different kind of Christian group, check out the page for more information,all welcome, including those who are not followers of Jesus.

Click to visit the Virtual Pew Website and become a part of that ministry.

Click to subscribe to my blog

Click to visit and join our sister group at MySpace Hollywood Jesus.

Click to visit Mary Jane Furches' new MySpace Page

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.comYou can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word.Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html

The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Mary Jane Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Blog

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News

MySpace Hollywood Jesus Group

MySpace The Virtual Pew Group

The Virtual Pew Live Radio Web Page

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed

Phone Number to Call During The Virtual Pew Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8587

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

George A. Romero's Knightriders With Ed Harris

I have written in the past that one of my favorite directors is George A. Romero. Recently while looking for films of Romero’s I haven’t seen I came across a gem of a movie named Knightriders. While the film was originally released in 1981 it is a film worth review and notice. As people who love film, sometimes when looking for something good to view, we are privileged to live in a time when we can access older films we haven’t seen or heard of. For me, Knightriders is such a film, and if a fan of quality B movies you haven’t heard of, you won’t do much better than this.

Knightriders takes an unusual twist for George Romero who is known for his zombie and gore movies. Knightriders is a film that follows a Renaissance Troop who has as a desire, to live in the spirit of the Renaissance. There is good King Billy played by Ed Harris and his myriad of knights including actors such as Tom Savini, Gary Jahti, and numerous others who have been in many of Romero’s films. Individuals like Ken Foree are also there along with some wonderful cameos from such people as Stephen King.

There is a unique twist though to this fair story, a unique attribute that adds to the story itself. The story follows this group of individuals who live in the 1980’s as opposed to the Middle Ages. Instead of horses, they ride motorcycles, and they fight their battles and participate in their games as they take their journey from town to town entertaining all of those who would enjoy. While there is the opportunity and challenge to accept financial gain, the desire of living in the spirit and attitude of the time frame which they represent is more important to them. This is the story played out in Knightriders, the conflict of the challenges placed on one through commercialism versus the desire to follow ones dreams, loves, and passions. King Billy and the faithful see the potential harm in following the pursuit and love of money versus the need and desire to care for something one can’t buy, the concept of honor and family.

For a movie that never garnished much fan support, Knightriders may be among the best ‘unknown’ or ‘little known’ films I have personally seen. This now cult classic has the opportunity to garnish even more fan support, especially with recent releases by Romero and remakes of such movies as The Crazies. Hopefully he will garnish fans that will value his true genius, not just in the horror genera, but in his ability to make movies of any style.

Knightriders had the unfortunate happenstance of being released during the same time as the popular Medieval film Excalibur, and while it garnished better reviews from such sources as Newsweek, it never garnished the fan support at the time of release. I think largely due to the smaller advertising budgets but that will never be known. Fortunately, this well acted film, featuring the wonderful Ed Harris and others like Tom Savini who is well known for his work with special effects and being in various cult films can now be seen. Savini actually gets to act in this film but we also get to see some incredible stunt work throughout the film. This well developed, true to the concepts of King Arthur tale is a wonderful modernization of the era that originally drew Romero’s attention while attending an actual Renaissance Fair. While there are some lackluster edits in the film, Romero gives tremendous direction to this unique concept, and it highlights his true abilities as a director and writer. One of the fun things about this movie is that while it was released in 1981, the story holds up and entertains.

In Knightrider King Billy understands the concept of being true to ones goals, dreams, and the simplicity of life. He understands the need to have people be together, to love and support each other. He is challenged though, his journey includes a journey that has as a crown, “a crown of thorns.” He is not just a king; he is a savior to a group of people who realize their own individual need for community. There is the story of loyalty, love, dedication, and the need of family which is ultimately what this group is, a family of misfits who have yet to find joy in the surroundings they live in. It is why they form their own community, it is why that ultimately, when challenged, they realize what they have, but sometimes it is only when you loose what you have that you realize what it was you had to start with. While these people live in a modern world, they ultimately find joy in following what many consider old concepts. It is if you will a form of church. It is a type of church that understands the value of following a belief, while being committed to each other as opposed to the potential of commercialism. They ultimately understand real riches come in relationship, not per say dollars. Real community comes in being with each other, not in a world so focused on self consumption. They also realize that sometimes real opportunity, real love, comes with real sacrifice, sacrifice that is not always so pleasant to bear.

One of the fun things about this is the directors and actors commentary that comes attached to the DVD. There was no doubt this crew loved making this movie. Savini talks about how it was one of the best summers of his life and that Romero was essentially making, “a very personal story about fighting the dragon of commercialism.” While this is an incredibly enjoyable and thought provoking well made film there are some things that could have been done a little better. There are certain relational concepts that could have been done better, and one has to almost watch this twice to catch all of the symbolism. A little research after watching the film initially, then watching again will provide some insight into how well this film is made.

Romero adds to the legend of his genius in Knightriders. While it isn’t a perfect movie, it is an exceptionally good movie that is totally different than many who are knowledgeable of Romero would know. Over the years, this quirky director has been loyal to his actors, and technical crews, you hear that illustrated in the directors commentary cut, and you see that in many of his movies. Romero, unfortunately due to the style of film he has made is not recognized in the way he should be for his abilities. I think more movies like Knightrider would have helped with that but I think Romero don’t really care so much what people think. Just like King Billy, he follows his own heart, he follows his own path, and fortunately some of us have been there for the ride.

Overall, as a cult classic DVD, this film is one you will want to buy if a fan of Romero. Even if not a fan, I think most will enjoy this movie, it makes for a wonderful Friday or Saturday evening viewing at home, and a good movie to have friends over to discuss the concepts of the movie. Better yet, you can purchase this movie for a very reasonable price. I actually purchased mine for less than $8 and I have personally already seen this movie three times. It is that good. If looking for a fun surprise, you can’t do much better than this one. You’ll see a good story, with a good message, and a thought provoking plot to go along with some good action sequences and some rather remarkable stunts. For those who expect the gore and guts, you will be disappointed, but if expecting the excellent and wonderful social commentary that Romero is known for, even the Romero fans of such films as Night of the Living Dead will be pleased. Now enough for the review, time for me to go back to those special features on the DVD.

To see the following video, just click on the video. If the video don't appear, just click on the following link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2CqTsHQ78U


Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Click here to visit Mosaic Wichita, the Church in Wichita Kansas where Mike is the pastor.

Click Here to Go to The Virtual Pew Daily Verse and Read The Bible in a Year Passages

Click here for booking information to have Pastor Mike come speak or perform, from speaking to music or magic, something for all groups.

Click to visit with Pastor Mike regarding any of your needs. He will respond to each request personally, and if need be refer you to one of our other pastors.

Click to visit and join the new group The Virtual Pew, at MySpace. Become a part of a different kind of Christian group, check out the page for more information,all welcome, including those who are not followers of Jesus.

Click to visit the Virtual Pew Website and become a part of that ministry.

Click to subscribe to my blog

Click to visit and join our sister group at MySpace Hollywood Jesus.

Click to visit Mary Jane Furches' new MySpace Page

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.comYou can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word.Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html

The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Mary Jane Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Blog

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News

MySpace Hollywood Jesus Group

MySpace The Virtual Pew Group

The Virtual Pew Live Radio Web Page

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed

Phone Number to Call During The Virtual Pew Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8587

Phone Number to Call During The HJ Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8853

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed -http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/thevirtualpew

To Subscribe to HJ Live Live Feed –http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/hollywoodjesus

Friday, November 13, 2009

2012

Many by now have heard of the ancient Mayan legends that the world is going to come to an end in 2012 with the aliening of the planets. Each culture has legend, story, and myth regarding the end of the earth, it just so happens though that many cultures, many legends center on the aliening of the planets and some report to or around the year 2012. Many Bible scholars, and others also report that whatever you call it, Armageddon, the rapture, or whatever, the end is near, doom is imminent and the world as we know it just can’t survive that much longer. There have been stories of this type for thousands of years, each generation facing doom, and movies to exploit that fear, anticipation for as long as we have been making movies, and even beyond with such fantasies portrayed even on radio with such episodes as the infamous Orson Wells rendering of The War of the Worlds.

The newest movie to bring back the drama, the fear if you will of the end of the world is Sony Pictures rendition into the end of times genera. The feature film, directed by Roland Emmerich is an almost 3 hour, non stop, thought provoking special effects filled adventure that does something unique, in a world hell bent on destruction, and selfish desires, we are reminded, that in what we do for the least of these, it is as if we do it unto God.

2012 is a star studded cast that has in part, Jackson Curtis, played by John Cusack, a divorced father seeking to maintain his fatherly relationship with his children, while at the same time never really giving up on his dreams as an author. He has written one book that has sold few copies, but has had an impact on several individuals. One of them is Dr. Adrian Helmsley, played by wonderful actor Chiwetel Ejiofor. Dr. Helmsley, a geologist has been researching sun spots and their effect on the earth. After some rather conclusive evidence it comes to the attention of those involved in the study that the earths crust will soon go through changes that will cause drastic change to the earth, even ultimate destruction. Upon notification to the proper authorities by Dr. Helmsley, a secret venture takes place by the politicians of the world to save some, while at the same time, letting other fight for themselves, all unknown to Dr. Helmsley. Along the way, we also have Cusack’s character Jackson Curtis, fighting to save his former wife, Kate, played by Amanda Pete, her new husband, and his own two children. Other characters play small but important roles in the film, included among those is the President of the United States played by Danny Glover, and Charlie Frost, an eccentric pirate radio operator played wonderfully by Woody Harrelson who has forewarned the populace of the imamate doom. We also have Oliver Platt playing the part of nasty Washington Politician, Carl Anheuser.

There are several themes addressed in 2012. One of the premises is the power of corruption and how it drives society. Much of what happens around the world is driven by the desire and corruption to obtain power, whether politically or economically. One of the dangers portrayed in 2012 is how even those who have made significant contribution to work towards the salvation of humanity are often left behind. Many times these individuals who have made significant contribution are not valued, or appreciated, especially in a world so absorbed with self. The greater need of the planet becomes secondary in comparison to the need of the individual to those who have garnished power.

In many ways 2012 takes on Biblical concepts in the playing out of the story. Jackson Curtis, (same initials as Jesus Christ) even takes on a form of Christ figure, a lowly writer of truth in many ways. It seems as if his early novel, albeit not read by many, is a book that tells of the potential of good for humanity, the importance of coming together and of serving each other. This has had an impact that will ultimately lead to the salvation of thousands because one individual who has read the book gets it. Of course this doesn’t prevent the sacrifices along the way, nor the imminent doom of millions. Without spoiling the story, there is even a baptism scene and resurrection scene portrayed in the movie. We see throughout the need to return to faith, from the frequent prayer scenes, to the so called religious nuts warning of the end of the earth. We even see the President of the United States lead the nation in The Lord’s Prayer. We even see salvation provided on vessels called The Ark, which not only provides salvation for people, but various animals. There is the depiction of a great flood. The morality lessons heavily pulls from various stories in the Bible.

I have to admit, I liked 2012. Even though the story is almost 3 hours long, it could have either done with a little less focus on some of the characters or to have extended itself a little longer to develop some more characters. This film likely has the highest casualty count of any movie in recent years. While it strives for epic concepts, it falls just a tad short, but not by far. The special effects are brilliant, and the cast is exceptional. While it is a long film, the time flies by and the action is non stop. I love John Cusack and Chiwetel Ejiofor in this film, I have loved him since his performance in Kinky Boots. I don’t just like his character though, we have a president we can believe in, and one who values faith, while at the same time understands serving the people of his nation. 2012 does something else though, it reminds us of the importance of respecting all people.

I wonder if as a society we would make the effort to care for the least of these if faced with certain doom. For many in the world, including the religious community, we say we care, we say we value all people, but from the actions of many, it seems as if 2012 is a reflection of society. There are also the good reminders. Sometimes, when we think our contributions don’t matter, they can in fact matter; we never know how much a small contribution can have. We see this illustrated in the book by Jackson Curtis. We also don’t know how much of an impact we can have if we speak up. Sometimes we sit back and allow injustices to continue, but a voice that refuses to be silent can have a dramatic impact on the lives of many. Only when the silent voices come together as a large voice can we can change a world in the populace we call, humanity.

Sometimes a movie can change behaviors, for those who see 2012 as a mere action adventure film; it is not likely they will change. For those who see it as a reminder to speak up, not be silenced and to be a part of world that loves, just like the religions in the film illustrate we should, then who knows, maybe even in the face of a world that seems to be falling apart, we can see a change that gives us all hope. We can have hope not in the money or power of the world, but in the value of people, especially those not valued by those who seemingly have power. We need to remember the words of Jesus, “what you have done for the least of these, you have done it unto me.”

On a scale of 1 – 10, for the number that seems to represent infinity that will ultimately come to an end, a thought provoking 8

To see the following video, just click on the video, if the video don't appear, just click on the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZxBYItj2sM



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hz86TsGx3fc



Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Click here to visit Mosaic Wichita, the Church in Wichita Kansas where Mike is the pastor.

Click Here to Go to The Virtual Pew Daily Verse and Read The Bible in a Year Passages

Click here for booking information to have Pastor Mike come speak or perform, from speaking to music or magic, something for all groups.

Click to visit with Pastor Mike regarding any of your needs. He will respond to each request personally, and if need be refer you to one of our other pastors.

Click to visit and join the new group The Virtual Pew, at MySpace. Become a part of a different kind of Christian group, check out the page for more information,all welcome, including those who are not followers of Jesus.

Click to visit the Virtual Pew Website and become a part of that ministry.

Click to subscribe to my blog

Click to visit and join our sister group at MySpace Hollywood Jesus.

Click to visit Mary Jane Furches' new MySpace Page

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.comYou can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word.Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html

The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Mary Jane Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Blog

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News

MySpace Hollywood Jesus Group

MySpace The Virtual Pew Group

The Virtual Pew Live Radio Web Page

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed

Phone Number to Call During The Virtual Pew Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8587

Phone Number to Call During The HJ Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8853

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed -http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/thevirtualpew

To Subscribe to HJ Live Live Feed –http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/hollywoodjesus

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Christmas Carol in 3-D

How do I even start this? First, let’s look at a few facts; In the past I have acted in a professional rendition of A Christmas Carol, I have worked in the technical department of the professional version no less than 5 times, I have seen at least 3 versions of the play, have seen a different rendition of the movie at least seven times, and have read the book once. All that to say, and please excuse the sacrilegious comment here, I have hated the story, never got anything out of it, seen very little value in the story, haven’t understood it, and been rather bored with this classic from Charles Dickens. That is until today, today I had the opportunity to see the new Disney animated 3-D rendition starring Jim Carrey. Today I saw something that reminded me of the classics of Disney when I was a child, an experience I haven’t had from Disney this powerful since The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast, in fact, I would say that for the first time in a long time, I got to experience what some of us who are older used to call Disney Magic.

Few films come about that are deserving of being called Epic or Classic. I think the last Christmas style story to display this type of character was The Polar Express. Thankfully, I had the chance prior to the start of this Christmas season another film fitting the mold of The Polar Express when I went to see A Christmas Carol in 3-D.

Most of us are familiar with the story of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. In this classic story Ebenezer is an old geezer who has no respect for Christmas, what it stands for, or the people around him. Some seven years later, after the death of his coworker Marley, performed by Gary Oldman, he is visited on Christmas Eve by the Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and The Ghost of Christmas Future. He sees his life in a different light and is challenged to do something with it. In many ways, Scrooge is one who represents all of us, all of us who go through life not enjoying life in the fullness life has to offer, including the benefits of a faith where we see others as valuable and deserving of love, love that goes beyond words, love that is moved and motivated by action.

Technically from the exceptional sound to animation, A Christmas Carol is BRILLIANT! Not only is it brilliant technically though, Jim Carrey is exceptional and if awards or nominations could be given for acting in an animated feature, he is deserving of it. Frankly I think Jim Carrey does such an exceptional job in this movie that he should be considered for nomination in major awards. If the animation team could also be considered for the life they give to the characters in this movie, they should also be considered. The life like qualities given to the characters in this film are second to none of any animation I have ever seen, in any style, in any form. Carrey takes on the role of numerous characters in the film, but leave no doubt about it, Ebenezer Scrooge is the character to watch. The work of the animation team is the work to enjoy and admire.

One of the extremely enjoyable components about the film version I saw was the 3-D effects. While a great many 3-D effects in movies go for scare and jump tactics, Disney in their brilliance used the effect to draw the viewer into the story, there are virtually no jump effects in the film, but for the first time, it was as if I was in the film, witnessing the story first hand. From the incredible scenery, to the beautiful characters that fill the screen, the 3-D isn’t just a gimmick here, it is a beautiful part of the story. One of the other things that frankly surprised me was the Disney dedication to telling the story in its original form, being true to the original style, language and concept. Jim Carrey brings the characters to life and the animation and direction brings the audience into the story. A story that for me, for the first time, had me understanding this annual classic.

Charles Dickens was a deeply religious man whose Christian faith was vitally important to him. This version of The Christmas Carol holds true to showing the concepts that are deeply rooted in Spiritual concepts and for me, the change in the life of Ebenezer Scrooge that we see take place is deeply emotional. I have to tell you, I even teared up with joy for the change in life that takes place in Ebenezer. While many still focus on the character of Scrooge and his “bah-humbug” approach, this movie illustrates in a beautiful way the drastic and dramatic change that takes place in the life of Ebenezer, not only does he notice it though, so do those around him. In many ways, he reminds me of the character in the Bible, Zacchaeus, his life is changed and an indication of that life change is his willingness to give massive amounts of money to the poor, and those he has wronged. We see Christian concepts revealed from the songs that are true to the Christian tradition of Christmas to the imagery of crosses, the church, and even what many would consider to be concepts of God displayed in the three ghosts that visit Ebenezer. From the Holy Fire of the Holy Spirit in The Ghost of Christmas Past, to the kingship and attitude of Jesus for the Ghost of Christmas Present and the ultimate judgment rendered by God in the Ghost of Christmas Future. The imagery intended by Dickens is all there. While many may not recognize it, especially those not looking for them, they are entwined in this story just as much as in stories by C.S. Lewis, Flannery O’Connor and many others.

While I was so impressed with this movie, there was one disappointing attribute. I personally felt Carrey was not nearly as strong in his role as The Ghost of Christmas Present. Frankly this part of the story was a bit of a let down and if the quality of acting given to Ebenezer Scrooge had been given to the Ghost of Christmas Present, this would have not been a very good exceptional film; it would have been a close to perfect film. I really hate to say that because this film is so good, but it is a part of the film that was a let down.

I love Christmas, I love the movies related to Christmas, I have already started watching them and this is one I will watch again. I have always appreciated Jim Carrey, and he gives one stunning performance and Robert Zemeckis in his direction does the Charles Dickens Classic justice. Not only does Zemeckis do it justice though, for me, he brought the story to life for the first time in my many, many experiences. I never expected to tear up, I never expected to think that highly of this film but I did and I personally believe so will the majority of people who see it. That is also true for those like me, who haven’t been impressed with the story in the past. I would say one other thing, if having the opportunity to see this film in 3-D do so, the extra cost is worth it and I don’t think you will be disappointed. You will likely not experience magic like this for the remainder of the Holiday Season.

On a scale of 1 – 10, for a movie as close to perfection as one can get, a very satisfying 9

To watch the following, just click on the video, if the video don't appear, just click on the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C50d-2p6ftE


Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Click here to visit Mosaic Wichita, the Church in Wichita Kansas where Mike is the pastor.

Click Here to Go to The Virtual Pew Daily Verse and Read The Bible in a Year Passages

Click here for booking information to have Pastor Mike come speak or perform, from speaking to music or magic, something for all groups.

Click to visit with Pastor Mike regarding any of your needs. He will respond to each request personally, and if need be refer you to one of our other pastors.

Click to visit and join the new group The Virtual Pew, at MySpace. Become a part of a different kind of Christian group, check out the page for more information,all welcome, including those who are not followers of Jesus.

Click to visit the Virtual Pew Website and become a part of that ministry.

Click to subscribe to my blog

Click to visit and join our sister group at MySpace Hollywood Jesus.

Click to visit Mary Jane Furches' new MySpace Page

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.comYou can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word.Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html

The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Mary Jane Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Blog

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News

MySpace Hollywood Jesus Group

MySpace The Virtual Pew Group

The Virtual Pew Live Radio Web Page

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed

Phone Number to Call During The Virtual Pew Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8587

Phone Number to Call During The HJ Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8853

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed -http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/thevirtualpew

To Subscribe to HJ Live Live Feed –http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/hollywoodjesus

The Fourth Kind

Today I sit here with a big smile on my face. I have that smile because I am doing some research and laughing at what many are now doing regarding the legitimacy of the film The Fourth Kind. I find it humorous because while some applaud certain films like The Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity, some are upset who thinks the makers of The Fourth Kind are trying to get one over on the movie going audience. Here is all I know; I felt Paranormal Activity was highly overrated, obviously false while following a tired formula, I come home interested enough in The Fourth Kind to do some research and see what is true and what isn’t. This first person account does something many other first person account movies have forgotten about, it uses some originality that causes some of the audience to believe the story they see on screen.

The premise of The Fourth Kind is we are seeing footage of a study and research regarding Alien Abductions and tragedies that have occurred in Nome Alaska. The filmmakers reportedly mix in real footage with dramatized scenes. The style of the film, whether legitimate or not, is unique, fresh and even with the subject matter, entertaining. Without speculating on whether the events or some of the footage in the film is legitimate or not does not change the interest I had when leaving the theater as to the reality of the film, or the desire to do some research, neither does it change the intriguing questions the movie raises about not just aliens, but evil and the likelihood of the existence of God, and ultimately what type of God is God.

As mentioned earlier, The Fourth Kind is a first person, supposed real account of events in Nome Alaska. One of the things that makes this different, and leaves some room for speculation is the reported style of mixing in supposed real footage alongside dramatized footage via split and sometimes quad screen views. It draws us into the story, and the directorial style of following the split screens keeps our eyes moving in such a way that at least my brain was working constantly trying to figure out the difference between reality and entertainment, searching for truth and reality or fake footage with the sole intent to entertain. First time director, Olatunde Osunsanmi does a credible job of mixing in footage while at the same time following the supposed real psychologist, Abbey Tyler, played nicely by Milla Jovovich. We also have brief appearances of Sheriff August played by Will Paton. Both do a credible job, and the supporting cast also play nicely to the story and questions raised by the film.

One of the concepts presented in the film is the visitation to earth some 5,000 years prior to Christ of apparent aliens. Many have seen the footage of concepts of this nature but one of the things the film does is it raises the question of God in relation to the alien visitations. We see this by the usage from the aliens of ancient, dead languages, where when interpreted speak specifically of a savior and of God. In one interesting scene in the movie, Dr. Tyler is asked if she thought the beings were in fact God. She states no because she felt they were void of hope. An interesting concept, if God exists, then hope has to be present and a part of his personality. This is consistent with the aspects of hope presented by Jesus and some of the writers of the New Testament.

An interesting question of faith is also addressed in The Fourth Kind. How receptive are individuals in accepting the stories of devoutly religious people when those stories are outside the realm of faith? We see Dr. Tyler for example praying around the table in Jesus name, yet she is ultimately challenged to tackle concepts outside of her faith, and her experiences lead her to conclusions that are not only outside the norm of her faith, but outside the norm of many within society. The challenge of accepting those who are different is presented in a challenging way that at least caused me to think. I even noticed the questions on national message boards like IMDB that has people asking the question of can Aliens coexist with Christianity? This is an interesting question that seems to be a part of the movies intent, but also shown is the challenge to foundational beliefs and ones ability or desire to hold onto those beliefs when they are challenged.

While the challenge to belief regarding aliens may be outside the norm or possibility of reality for many people of faith, at one time, so was the concept of the ability of the earth being round, the earth revolving around the sun, or even the possibility of a person of non Anglo decent having a soul. Many things once held as truths have changed with time. There seems to be ample evidence of the reality of UFO’s, Aliens, or even Demons as presented by some. The Fourth Kind while not adequately answering those questions did at least have me and others in the theater, entertained and questioning the possibility.

I liked this film, much more than Paranormal Activity. As I spoke to some people as we were leaving the theater, they felt the same way. There are some aspects I would have liked to have seen addressed, but I suspect that to address some of those areas in the movie would have answered the questions many are asking. Personally I doubt the story has much legitimacy to it, but that doesn’t devalue the questions it raises. There could have been better character development and while the editing was choppy, it fit the style. Overall I was rather pleased and think that most that enjoy these types of film will be as well.

On a scale of 1–10, while not perfect, The Fourth Kind was better than Paranormal Activity, so if I added a 2 to the score for Paranormal activity, The Fourth Kind would have a deserving 8.

To view the following just click on the video, if the video don't appear, just click on the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVRHOhLP-aA


A Featurette on The Fourth Kind:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDwl_8YVPNY


Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Click here to visit Mosaic Wichita, the Church in Wichita Kansas where Mike is the pastor.

Click Here to Go to The Virtual Pew Daily Verse and Read The Bible in a Year Passages

Click here for booking information to have Pastor Mike come speak or perform, from speaking to music or magic, something for all groups.

Click to visit with Pastor Mike regarding any of your needs. He will respond to each request personally, and if need be refer you to one of our other pastors.

Click to visit and join the new group The Virtual Pew, at MySpace. Become a part of a different kind of Christian group, check out the page for more information,all welcome, including those who are not followers of Jesus.

Click to visit the Virtual Pew Website and become a part of that ministry.

Click to subscribe to my blog

Click to visit and join our sister group at MySpace Hollywood Jesus.

Click to visit Mary Jane Furches' new MySpace Page

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.comYou can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word.Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html

The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Mary Jane Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Blog

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News

MySpace Hollywood Jesus Group

MySpace The Virtual Pew Group

The Virtual Pew Live Radio Web Page

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed

Phone Number to Call During The Virtual Pew Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8587

Phone Number to Call During The HJ Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8853

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed -http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/thevirtualpew

To Subscribe to HJ Live Live Feed –http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/hollywoodjesus

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tallgrass, A Beautiful Fall In The Heartland

On the Plains of Kansas, every October during the Fall Harvest, there is an event that brings attention to the fair city of Wichita. It is known as Tallgrass, but despite what some may think, Tallgrass isn’t some form of vegetation, it isn’t the bastard brother of Shortgrass, it is none of those things. It is something that is garnishing more and more attention from the Independent film world and this year, I was honored to cover this up and coming Film Festival for Hollywood Jesus and The Virtual Pew. The film festival places an emphasis on Independent Film and this year, the seventh for the festival, was as good as ever, and it continues to grow despite what some past supporters may believe. Tallgrass is at a point where it has the chance to take off to become one of the premiere film festivals in the country.

This year was a rather interesting year as a number of events placed some challenges on the festival, among those was a large theater chain in the community who pulled out most of their support. Their reasoning according to one insider is because they essentially believe, “Tallgrass has gone as far as it will go and there is nothing else for us to gain.” If this is true, some need to understand, sometimes one participates not so much because there is something to gain, but because of the support of the fans which have largely contributed to the success of a business that involves going to the movies.

It is a shame this occurred as the people of Wichita are largely dependent upon this one theater chain as they operate a number of theaters in the community, including a complex in the downtown area that had received a multi-million dollar grant in the last year. In fact, this theater chain virtually has a monopoly on the movie going industry in this city. Many in the community believe this theater chain should be obligated to support the arts in the community, including of course, film. The chain, Warren Theaters has been a large supporter over the years, but this year, their withdrawal of hosting films for the festival put the organizers in turmoil to find appropriate hosts for the events. This festival that has a chance to take off and become more, was in fact hurt and the reputation of the festival lessened due to the actions in part of the Warren Theaters. The reality is that depending on who you talk to, Warren has plans on being back in the future. Only the actions of future support will indicate who to believe regarding this concern. The fact that the events that occurred did in fact occur, is a shame, but leave it to the ferocious independent spirit of Wichitans, and those involved in The Tallgrass Film Festival to work to make more with less. As a result, while many a movie going audience has a sour taste in their mouth towards a theater chain they have supported over the years, they have a refreshed and exciting attitude towards the efforts of the Tallgrass organizers to move forward with this event. Many noticed the festival this year didn’t worry about featuring a theater complex but instead highlighted and featured the city of Wichita.

With over 400 submissions this year prior to selections, Tallgrass organizers had their hands full, but thankfully they found 5 venues in the downtown area plus Wichita State University to host the various events and screenings. There were other locations which provided services, and attendees this year was able to attend most everything within a 3 block radius. It would have still been nice to see this event take place in one of the cities premiere locations, the downtown square in the Old Towne District that is the home of the Old Town Warren. Especially since recent renovations to that location would have provided a wonderful atmosphere in a unique location. My personal hope for the future is to see the possibility of combining the efforts of this year, while at the same time using the downtown Old Town Warren Complex. Unfortunately, while The Warren Theaters did make available the use of some projection units, (at a reduced fee), there has been obvious discord between many individuals related to both sides as has been seen on bulletin boards and in private conversations with some of the individuals involved.

This is a sad statement to the potential future success for The Tallgrass Film Festival. I have been one that has been a supporter of Warren Theaters, will again in the future, but as a local owner, who has started chains in other locations outside of Wichita, and Kansas, I had hoped for more ongoing community support of especially Independent Film. If having other options in Wichita, many a fan of movies would now choose to attend those theaters. This has a potentially negative consequence for the festival, but if this year’s actions and efforts are any indication of the committees desires to see this festival continue and expand, there is also clear indication that hope exists. This isn’t a slam against either the festival or Warren Theater’s whose withdrawal also cost a reported minimum of $20,000 in cash and more in support (a number provided by inside sources), then not only the festival looses, but the fans of movies, which support the theaters in this community also suffer.

While there were many good things about Tallgrass, while talking to various individuals associated with the festival, as well as the Warren Theaters, along with fans the above background needed to be mentioned as it seemed to at the very least be a dominant point of discussion in various locations around Wichita during this years events. That is a shame because unfortunately, those things could easily have outshined the reality of what this festival represents.

In order to understand the significance of a festival like this, one has to look at those submitting film, as well as those in attendance and the awards it has handed out in the past. The premiere award handed out each year at Tallgrass is known as The Ad Astra Award. This award is named after the Kansas state motto, “Ad Astra Per Aspera” (To The Stars Through Difficulties.) The award is presented to an individual chosen by The Wichita Association for the Motion Picture Arts (WAMPA) who has made significant contributions to the art and process of filmmaking or the film industry. Past recipients of the award include, in 2004, Cloris Leachman, in 2005, late Film Festival Founder Timothy Gruver, 2006, Laura Lee Bahr, 2007, Don LaFontaine, 2008, Dan Glickman, and this years recipient, Seymour Cassel. Each of these individuals has significantly contributed to the world of Independent Film and each has had unique and wonderful contributions to the world of film in general.

This year the festival, as mentioned earlier had over 400 submissions. Those included eventual award winners, Sweet Crude, an Independent Documentary which looks at the 25 year non violent resistance to the oil companies’ damage to the people of Niger which has an average oil spill of more than one per day in their Delta region over the course of a year. It is a documentary which looks at the plight of the people to stand up for their future, and their children. Sweet Crude won the Audience Award for Choice Feature Film. Winning the award for Audience Award Winning Short Film was Lost Paradise from France and Israel. This film is billed as a modern day Adam and Eve story.

Tallgrass also included various other great films, among my favorites were the feature films Saving Luna, and Kabul24. Also featured were such films as Fish out of Water, Gogol Bordello Non Stop, The Only Good Indian which also had in attendance for the duration of the festival, star Wes Studi, Reach for Me with Seymour Cassel, also in attendance, Underbelly with star Pleasant Gehman in attendance, Mommy Is At The Hairdressers, Tony Mannero, The Worlds Greatest Dad with numerous other features, documentaries, and shorts. Over 3 days my schedule had me seeing 10 features, and 26 shorts. I will be featuring reviews on my favorites but this festival is so ambitious, and so successful in what it is attempting to do, that I was in film making heaven for 3 days as were many others. There is simply no way to see everything, and any attendee will be greatly pleased. In fact, I would hope in the future that even more people would come out. My two favorite films were actually sparse in attendance, and both deserving of much higher numbers of people in the seats. I can’t help but believe the locations of these films had some reasoning as to the low numbers in the seats. A general location, like a movie theater with multiple screens, would be ideal, of course I have already written as to why that didn’t take place.

The above is not to say that there can’t be, or shouldn’t be improvements to Tallgrass. I believe an expansion of views on the selection committees may also be appropriate. While the selection committee has done a wonderful job I was amazed at speaking to several members which had not seen some of the films submitted. I also believe it would be appropriate to look outside of traditional genres. I would personally love to see the inclusion of horror, and of course, while there is a ton of junk related to faith based movies, (not just Christian, but all forms of faith based movies), there is also quality avant-garde films that are exceptionally well done within the independent spectrum that include feature, horror, documentary, and short. I am not speaking of lessening the quality of film, but including more of the independent work within these genres of all faith spectrums. While there are some that would claim Tallgrass has done this, I would assure you, at least over the course of the last several years, with the exception of Kabul24 this year, I haven’t personally seen it. A larger view on the selection committee would help with this; of course this may mean that some like me would have to be willing to help out. That is a fair expectation. I love all film, including quality horror, and quality faith based film, despite the religious worldview being presented. One of the beautiful things about film, is its ability to educate, in a world filled with spiritual individuals, various spiritual views should be welcomed, including the views of people we may not agree with.

In a time when finance and personal difficulties seem to be so prevalent in society, it is nice to have a venue to find escape. For many individuals that escape, which provides so many things that are needed in society, such as hope, inspiration and more, are found in film. While I am grateful for an industry that provides that on a large scale, I have found that Independent Film maintains a spirit that is largely lost to so many people. It maintains a spirit of adventure, hope, and inspiration though for a very simple reason. I think that reason is largely centered on the reality that those people, those organizations making those independent films are individuals that are making them out of an almost pure love, if not a pure love of the forum they are involved in. They are making film about subjects they love, subjects they have experienced and in fact live. These are films that often if ever, have the budgets to advertise and promote. They are largely dependent on word of mouth and film festival success in order to get the word out about the quality of their product. I can’t speak for all films at Tallgrass, but I can speak for what I saw. I saw some of the best films I have seen all year, and in the case of Saving Luna, quite possibly the most moving inspirational movie of the year. To the people who organize and put on The Tallgrass Film Festival, I say thank you, I say thank you for bringing one a premiere event to the plains of our country, to the center of our country, Mid America where we can indeed find out, the people of the Heartland can love good, quality, exceptional film, with an Independent Spirit and attitude that should be envied across the country. Hopefully that spirit continues, it continues with or without the support of the powers that be, especially the powers that have made their fortunes from the movie going audience that loves film, are a part of the future or not. For some reason I believe it will continue, and will continue to grow in quality. Why? Quite simple, that same spirit that drives independent film, I believes drives Tallgrass, for that, this one regular guy who is blessed to write about movies, her stars, and her attributes, also believes in the spirit of those movies, and of course, the spirit of Tallgrass.

The following are a few film clips that I can recommend which are related to the festival. Just click on the video, if the video don't appear, click on the direct link
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQUWQ2CTTbM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ik-UDAjBCaw



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6bwztQAECs


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrsNbXs45Fo


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