Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Netfix's, I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore

www.thevirtualpew.com

I was recently talking with friends Bob and Andy Lutz on Wichita's 1240 AM and 97.5 FM KFH Radio where I am a frequent guest as The Movie and TV Guy.  I have done a lot of reviews for movies, but as we spoke on a recent show, television has come a long way, especially with the growth of various television networks. One of the shows we spoke about was The Walking Dead, I mentioned that I had never missed an episode of The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, or Chris Hardwick and The Talking Dead Series. Hardwick has just started a new show titled, Talking with Chris Hardwick. On his first episode, he had as a guest, from the Lord of the Rings fame, Elijah Wood.  During their interview, they spoke of a new movie that Wood has done with Melanie Lynskey known for her work in such things as Togetherness, Heavenly Creatures and much more.  This little-known actress has received high praise for her work and the movie she and Wood did together, I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore, sounded quite intriguing so I decided to check it out.

One of the things that disturbed me off the bat in my research was some of the bad reviews the movie had received despite winning The Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. I also didn't understand since the movie was written and directed by Macon Blair who has a cameo in the movie. Blair is a well-respected actor for his work in such thrillers as Blue Ruin among others. So it was with some skepticism that I decided to check out this movie on Netflix, and boy, was I glad I did.

www.thevirtualpew.comI Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore is a strange little flick that knows the importance of building characters but thankfully, it also knows the importance of using quirky characters to tell its story. Lynskey plays a nurse named Ruth. After a rather strange day at work, she comes home only to discover that her home has been robbed. One of her neighbors, who thinks he is a martial arts expert happens to be Tony, played very nicely by Elijah Wood. Tony and Ruth come to know each other as Tony walks his dog and it happens to poop in her yard each day. These two unlikely people end up working together to try and discover who it is that has robbed her residence, especially since they seem to get little effective response from the local police department.

What happens from this interaction, their investigation, takes all kinds of twists and turns and as a result, we have one of the better dark comedies I have seen in some time. The last thirty minutes or so is so intense one can't hardly take their eyes off the screen, mainly because we can't believe what we are seeing and we have had the characters developed to an extent that we care about them, despite their quirky nature. They are characters many of us can relate to in some ways because of our own quirkiness.

www.thevirtualpew.comIn this little film, we see the potential for those who come from different walks coming together, developing friendships and legitimately caring for each other. I am also impressed with the concepts of not giving up, taking the world around us into our own hands and following through for the things we want. Of course in that, we also see that sometimes, just as in real life, there are consequences we pay for that. 

I also appreciated the surprising hints in the film of the importance of faith in our journey, whether thinking of or hearing an old hymn, thinking about the role of God, or even the need of the Church in important emotional aspects of life. It is all hinted at, spoken of and at times forced on the viewer in a way that if they will but open their minds to the imagery used, will get it and think about it.

This little Indie film has some nice cinematography, great sound, a pretty good soundtrack, along with some great acting and direction and a rather wonderful script that I happened to love. While it isn't a perfect film, it was for me, very close and as exciting as anything I have seen in awhile. I honestly felt as good about this movie as I did Get Out after seeing it, and for this reviewer, with the bad I have to review at times, this was a very nice surprise.

www.thevirtualpew.comAs I mentioned in the first bit of my review here, I am impressed with what we are seeing on television now, and the advent of the likes of Amazon Prime, Netflix and others we are seeing some originality. While some complain about the redundancy and remakes on the big screen, there are great new story lines, with great actors and great direction that is taking place in this mode of entertainment. It is this type of thing that makes my own subscription to Amazon Prime, and in this case, Netflix worth it.

If you have Netflix, check this little gem out, especially if you enjoy off the wall characters and story. This little thriller delivers, and for those who don't feel at home in this world anymore, you will appreciate all of the little innuendos and commentary throughout the film as I am certain, you will find something about the quirkiness of these characters and the story you can relate to and appreciate.

On a scale of 1 - 10 for the number of letters in the title of this movie, I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore, I give a very deserving, 9. 

To see the trailer for this film, just click on the following video, if the video doesn't appear, click on the following link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yR9F95D2TNw


The Virtual Pew and our other work is supported solely by the kind contributions of others. You can click on the donate button below to give any amount to this work that does so much more than just post articles on the net; I draw no ongoing salary from the church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita which is predominantly a homeless church; I am grateful for any small amount you can contribute to help with this ministry.  Believe me there is much more going on than most realize. I will also provide information to verify the ministry and income that comes into this ministry and work.  Thanks and feel free to share any material from The Virtual Pew, I only ask that appropriate credit is given and a link to the original site with the materials provided.



Click here to read about, and order the book, The Keystone Kid

http://www.mosaicwichita.com/#!store
Click here to visit the web page The Virtual Pew

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Mike Furches on Faceboook.

Click here to visit Mosaic Church where Mike is Pastor

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There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free audio book link of The Keystone Kid at mike@furches.org You can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/.

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
1249 N. St. Francis
Wichita Kansas, 67214
Email: mike@furches.org

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

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Kari Jobe's The Garden CD Release

www.thevirtualpew.com
I was recently given the opportunity to review Kari Jobi's new CD, The Garden Deluxe Edition, I was excited to review this as I had greatly enjoyed her previous work, Majestic. It was eclectic, up beat and something I wouldn't mind listening to over and over. So it was with excitement I listened to The Garden.

The Garden Deluxe Edition starts off quite nicely, albeit a bit too much electronic music for me. I understand that is a stylistic issue which one either likes or doesn't but there is a definite worship style within the style that has been built on her experience as a worship leader. It was her work within the Christian market that ultimately had her being nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Christian Album and 4 nominations for the Christian version, The Dove Awards of which she won 3 Doves.

In my experience with Christian music from both a reviewer since the early 1980's and with working in the music industry since that time there is definitely a place for the Christian audience and The Garden will appeal to that audience. It has some great worship tunes that are easy to listen to and can easily lead one into an attitude of worship. As to a non Christian or non follower of Jesus, the project will be something they don't quite get as it is most definitely a project specifically directed towards the Christian audience, it is if you will a Christineeze (speaking in the language primarily only Christians understand) project. I don't blame Jobi for that, she and her handlers most likely understand this is her market. There are other artist however, like Mary Kathryn who have taken on this role but the music keeps the attention and the vocal variations for the non Christian audience can be entertaining. In that regard Jobi's project is a bit lacking.

www.thevirtualpew.comI found myself experiencing a bit of monotony as I listened to this CD a number of times. That feeling was supported by others who listened with me with comments like "I like the songs, but after awhile it all sound the same."  That has me at a strange place as I review this project, while I am a fan, one that loves her previous work, I find myself loving two or three songs at a time but after that, so it sounds so much alike. I think this is for a variety of reasons. The project seems to be heavily driven by electronics and studio effects along with the same vocal and musical styles. I personally prefer that live sound, feeling and variety included in the production and mixing process. I just don't feel that, in some ways it falls as short for me as another artist I love, Amy Grant, whose electronic remix of her hits was somewhat of a travesty.  While The Garden is a ways from being a travesty, it is quite good with highlights in individual songs, it is just repetitive and in my opinion not her best work.

I think the CD will do quite well because each song on its own is quite nice and acceptable for radio air play but accumulatively, as a whole, it falls short for me and those who listened to it as a collective with me agreed. Again, please understand, not because it is bad, it is just so repetitive.

www.thevirtualpew.comI know there are Christians as mentioned earlier who have excelled in the worship style who have found a way to draw in the non-Christian listener. This is a great thing to work towards as I believe this also allows the non-Christian to get a taste of what following Jesus is all about. One can see and hear a sincerity in the music, lyrics, and yes, delivery of the song. Jobe does a great job, but the non-Christian listener is one I believe who also needs more instead of less in some regards. King David is a perfect example in his writings of the Psalm's. Many around the world, even those from varying faith groups read and memorize those passages because they hold so true to the things in life they are going through. For many, the agony, difficulty and hard times is as much a part of the worship experience as the "Praise God" concepts are for others. Unfortunately, we focus within Christendom sometimes more on the "Praise God" parts and entertainment aspect for each other than we do with an understanding of those hurting, even Christians, often surrounding us. It is for this reason, among others, that I would have preferred more than I got. 

On a scale of 1 - 10, I just found this CD to unfortunately be somewhat mediocre, so for that reason, I given a mediocre 5.

To hear a sample of the album, click on the video below, if the video doesn't appear, click on the link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3Dtnaie4KY&index=1&list=PLbkVEAucwstu7tQHLNHMQCOVLrAoMd-qm



The Virtual Pew and our other work is supported solely by the kind contributions of others. You can click on the donate button below to give any amount to this work that does so much more than just post articles on the net; I draw no ongoing salary from the church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita which is predominantly a homeless church; I am grateful for any small amount you can contribute to help with this ministry.  Believe me there is much more going on than most realize. I will also provide information to verify the ministry and income that comes into this ministry and work.  Thanks and feel free to share any material from The Virtual Pew, I only ask that appropriate credit is given and a link to the original site with the materials provided.



Click here to read about, and order the book, The Keystone Kid

http://www.mosaicwichita.com/#!store
Click here to visit the web page The Virtual Pew

Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Mike Furches on Faceboook.

Click here to visit Mosaic Church where Mike is Pastor

The Keystone Kid/Virtual Pew Message Boards

Click to subscribe to my blog

There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free audio book link of The Keystone Kid at mike@furches.org You can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/.

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
1249 N. St. Francis
Wichita Kansas, 67214
Email: mike@furches.org

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

Donations to The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site


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The Virtual Pew Sermons

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Theatrical Release, The Case For Christ



www.thevirtualpew.com
In 1998 Lee Strobel wrote the book, A Case for Christ. Strobel is former reporter for the Chicago Tribune, with a journalism degree from The University of Missouri and a Masters of Studies in Law from Yale Law School, Strobel prior to writing the book was also a devout Atheist. Shortly after his marriage, and while working at the Chicago Tribune he began to question the claims of Christianity shortly after his wife became a born-again Christian.  As a result of his research from the book, he interviewed 13 Evangelical Christian Scholars regarding their defense of Christianity. After the process, Strobel later on became a Christian who was convinced with the evidence that he had studied and discussed with scholars from various groups, including non-Christians as to the resurrection of Jesus. He later on went to serve as one of the pastors at Willow Creek, one of America's largest churches. As a disclaimer, I interviewed and was offered a position at Willow Creek as Pastor of the Harvest Division Ministries prior to 9/11/2001. After the terrorist attacks that opening was no longer available due to funding issues. I also initially met Strobel at a Leadership Conference at Willow Creek around 2008 / 2009.  I have been a fan of his writings for some time and have promoted them from an apologetic perspective for some of my friends looking for truth as to the evidence of Jesus Christ.

Pure-Flix is a film production company that has of late been making numerous Christian films, some of them have done well at the box-office and as a result, they decided to work with Strobel to make this film.  Strobel told me in an interview that he agreed only after making sure he could dictate the director of the film and the screenwriters to ensure that they got the story right. I am convinced that Stroble's involvement in the process is one of the reasons A Case for Christ comes across as nicely as it does. I have had issues with some of the earlier, and heavy handed films done by Pure-Flix but as of late they seem to be doing a much better job and the production of their movies, A Case for Christ helps illustrate their journey in a positive direction.

A Case for Christ is in many ways as much of a love story as it is an Evangelical film trying to prove its supports of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It presents the struggles of Strobel during his search and investigations. His character is played nicely by Mike Vogel, known for his television work and on such films as Cloverfield, The Help, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and numerous others. Erika Christensen known for her work in the films Parenthood, Swimfan and others does a nice job as Strobel's wife Leslie. The chemistry between the two actors and supporting cast contributes a great deal to the quality of the movie. One of the things this film also does is not become so preachy that it turns off those in the non-Christian audience.

A Case for Christ presents in an honest way, an honest search for the truth regarding Jesus Christ and his claims to be the Son of God. I suspect many Christian's, just as in the God's Not Dead movies will appreciate and support this movie, as to whether the movie has the potential to reach across and bring in the nonreligious community is yet to be seen. It deserves that audience and it deserves an open and honest discussion regarding the conclusions of the film. I suspect the film also has the potential to continue to divide people of faith and the non-Christian community, if however, people are open to an open and honest discussion, with mutual respect for each other, the film also has the potential to open up dialog regarding the serious issues of faith specific to the person of Jesus Christ. I will note, the film does not go into a great deal of detail as to the specifics of the conclusions Strobel came to, it instead gives a taste of that research and focuses more on the story of the relationship with his wife and his own struggles. I would personally recommend, that if wanting more detail as to his findings then one can easily pick up the book A Case for Christ or any number of other books that Strobel has written.

I have to comment on the insistence that Strobel made the film as an honest portrayal of himself and what he was like during that time of his life. It took courage to do this as there are times Strobel, prior to his becoming a Christian comes off as nothing less than a jerk. While I met him a number of years ago, I found that aspect of his life as surprising as the time spent with him when I met him, as well as the time I spent interviewing him for this film, he came across as a pleasant, easy to get along with guy who takes his faith seriously but also has a respect, appreciation and legitimate concern for those he spends time with, despite their religious beliefs or lack thereof. While he may have critics due to the actions of many Christians who use his material, his actions and respect is noteworthy and something that should also be followed by those who read his books.

A Case for Christ is not a great film, it is however for Pure-Flix one of their best films and compared to other theatrical film releases holds its on as an entertaining, thought-provoking story that has the viewer caring for the characters and thinking about the subject matter covered. For that reason, I can recommend the film and would have no difficulty watching and discussing it with any of my friends, Christian or not. 

On a scale of 1 - 10, for the number of letters, there are in the name of a man I like now more than ever, Strobel, I give a deserving and entertaining 7.

To see the trailer for the film click on the following video, if the video does not appear, follow the link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhe8KhSxWGo




My review with Lee regarding the movie and other things:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1P9ou1ihVPg&feature=youtu.be




The Virtual Pew and our other work is supported solely by the kind contributions of others. You can click on the donate button below to give any amount to this work that does so much more than just post articles on the net; I draw no ongoing salary from the church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita which is predominantly a homeless church; I am grateful for any small amount you can contribute to help with this ministry.  Believe me there is much more going on than most realize. I will also provide information to verify the ministry and income that comes into this ministry and work.  Thanks and feel free to share any material from The Virtual Pew, I only ask that appropriate credit is given and a link to the original site with the materials provided.



Click here to read about, and order the book, The Keystone Kid

http://www.mosaicwichita.com/#!store
Click here to visit the web page The Virtual Pew

Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Mike Furches on Faceboook.

Click here to visit Mosaic Church where Mike is Pastor

The Keystone Kid/Virtual Pew Message Boards

Click to subscribe to my blog

There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free audio book link of The Keystone Kid at mike@furches.org You can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/.

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
1249 N. St. Francis
Wichita Kansas, 67214
Email: mike@furches.org

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

Donations to The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site


Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News