- Site Stuff
I always suspect that movie critics love to turn their noses up at movies which come along later in a trend.Gladiator, for instance, started what you might call an ancient-history-battle-epic trend, and critics loved it. By the time Kingdom of God and Troy came along though, the critics decided they were done with that particular trend, and they gave them a kicking.
To be fair, Kingdom of God deserved a kicking - and don't even get me started on Alexander - but I'm convinced that if Troy had come along first, then it would have got the Oscars, leaving Gladiator with the sneers. Of course, Gladiator had the originality, while Troy just leapt on a bandwagon, and that's not an unimportant fact. What's also not unimportant though, is that Troy was actually a very good movie. Okay, so Brad Pitt is way to pretty to be a tough guy, but objectively speaking, Troy was a good film; a very good film which fell victim to the fact that movie reviewers often can't speak objectively.
It was the same with Pearl Harbor. In this case, probably not Oscar material, but had it come before Titanic in the 20th-Century-tragedy-with-a-love-story-thrown-in-there' trend, it might not have been so roundly sneered at!
Gangster Squad has very much fallen victim to this same trend fatigue. People can't help seeing it as a later (read: rubbish) version of The Untouchables and LA Confidential. Even though LA Confidential was a decade ago, and The Untouchables a decade before that, this movie seems to have been thrown in with them and, to its detriment, rather pointlessly compared.
Gangster Squad may not be quite as good as those movies - I really can't decide - but it's far from rubbish. In fact, though it lacks the individual performances of LA Confidential (Crowe, Pearce, Basinger) and the memorable quotes of The Untouchables ('only a woo brings a knife to a gunfight,' etc...) it's still a pretty good movie. In some ways, maybe even worth mentioning alongside those others.
Gangster Squad has a fairly simple setup. In the years following the Second World War...
Every so often I see a movie or two that I don't think is useful for youth ministry, but which I think youth ministers might like to watch. Maybe for inspiration and reflection. Maybe just because they're quite good.
One thing I love in the cinema is a good cop buddy movie. It's a genre that hasn't had much to offer since its heyday in the 1980s, but I really think that End of Watch is up there with the best of them. It might even be as good as Lethal Weapon, up to now the high watermark of the cop buddy movie.
The movie follows two uniformed LAPD officers, focusing on their relationship with one another and on the mexican gangs their precinct comes into contact with. As the movie progresses their frustration and desire to do more and more brings them into direct conflict with a powerful drug cartel.
The underlying point of the movie is that cops are real people with a strong sense of duty and a strong bond among them. The movie reminded me of The Deer Hunter in some respects. Not because it's painfully slow and introspective, but because it puts a lot of effort into showing the bonds between the people before showing them going into battle. The point being, that you feel what they feel when you see what their friends go through.
A brilliant movie about loyalty, respect, courage and taking pride in your work. It contains a level of swearing and violence that make it completely unsuitable for youth ministry, but definitely recommended for your own day off!
Whenever I see the words 'based on a true story' I have mixed emotions. I much prefer real to fiction, but I wonder just how 'true' and how 'based on...' some of these things really are. Anyone who appreciates the medium of cinema can understand that there has to be a bit of dramatic license. This is art, after all. Sometimes though, the words 'based on...' are little more than a hook to draw people into something which, at least in large parts, isn't actually a true story.
Argo tells the story of the 1981 storming of the US embassy in Tehran. Most people of a certain age know that story, but what most people probably don't know is that when the embassy was being stormed, six US officials managed to escape the embassy and hide out in the house of the Canadian Ambassador, Ken Taylor. The story focuses on those six, and on the CIA man, Tony Mendez, whose creative plan would ultimately get them safely home.
Mendez's plan for getting the six 'houseguests' home revolves around a fake movie. He sets up a fake production company, commissions a fake film - a Sci-fi called Argo - and goes out to Iran to scout filming locations. Once in Iran, the plan is to meet up with the six, drill them in their cover stories and take them home as part of the movie's staff!
Taken as a work in its own right, this is an utterly brilliant film. It's the best movie I've seen this year and one of the very best I have seen full stop - and I don't throw lines like that around lightly. As I came out of the cinema, I was even debating whether or not it was worthy of a spot in my coveted top ten. Realistically, it's probably not, but it's probably top twenty or thirty.
Ben Affleck directs and stars in the movie, and is fantastic in both regards. I've only seen two of Affleck's movies (as director, that is) and they've both been utterly brilliant. I really think he's going to be recognised as one of the great directors one day. What makes this movie brilliant is the quality of the acting, the way in which the 1970s/ 1980s have been beautifully recreated, and the use of old news footage to put you firmly back in that time. At every step in the movie, you can't help identifying with the six 'houseguests' as they are called, and when they are finally out of Iranian airspace (i.e. home and dry) you really want to jump up and shout 'Yessss!' Fortunately, I managed to resist!
Also brilliant is the dialogue, the brilliant cast, and the comic relief provided by Alan Arkin and John Goodman. It's also very useable for youth ministry. The key themes for the latter, perhaps, being courage, belief in yourself and ingenuity.
As you may be aware, though, this film has been marred in more than a little controversy over...
Another set of 60-Second Movie Reviews from DecentFilms.com/ National Catholic Register. They have reviews of Skyfall, Wreck-it Ralph, Flight and Lincoln. They're all here. The review of Skyfall is a little naff (staring 'Daniel CRAG,' apparently!) but the rest are useful! Here's a taster...
I want to see this movie. I want to see it because it's a period in history that really fascinates me, and I also want to see it because I think Ben Affleck is an awesome director. Gone, Baby, Gone, for instance, is one of the best movies I've seen in a long while!
Well review it once we've seen it. If you've seen it feel free to comment below...
I went to see this at the cinema last night. It was one of those rare occasions when I went to see a film having no idea whatsoever what it was about. All I knew is that it was a sort of off-beat movie with Emma Watson. As I watched the movie, it quickly became apparent that it was a movie about teenagers. Cue my youth work brain kicking into gear.
I'll write plenty more about this movie when I've got the chance. What I'll say now though is GO WATCH IT. Seriously, it's brilliant. You need to see this movie, both as a youth minister and as a human being. You won't like all of it, but you really need to see it.
Bottom Line: Is it worth watching? Definitely. Is it useable in youth ministry? Hmm... you'd have to be careful, but maybe.
I caught this by chance one evening when I was on holiday and it was seriously good. Leonardo DiCaprio and Clint Eastwood have both got some serious game as lead actor and director respectively and the subject matter gives us a brilliant snapshot into one of the more fascinating characters in twentieth century history.
J. Edgar Hoover was the director of the FBI for years and built up from humble beginnings into a respected, professional organisation. As with all these things, we'll probably never know how much of the movie is factual and how much it assumes that it is, but I think we can assume that the main themes in the movie are at least based in fact.
What is most interesting in the movie is the way in which Hoover builds up the FBI by insisting that recruits had to be well educated and physically able. It's an interesting insight into the man's vision for an organisation he led.
Anyway, enough from me. The point is, it's a great movie that's really worth watching. Not sure how useful it is in youth ministry, but definitely one for your night off.
Bottom Line: Is it worth watching? Yes. Is it useable in youth ministry? Yes.
The Bourne movies are becoming quite formulaic. The hero, with a pretty girl in toe, has to get away from some CIA-type bad guys who don't want their secrets to get out. Chuck in some choreographed, unrealistic action sequences, hi-tech gadgets, soul-searching discoveries and exotic locations and you've got yourself a Bourne film. It's the sort of movie I really want to dislike, but I just don't. It was an entertaining few hours, and I'd recommend it. The story does well at keeping the tension going, the individual sequences are engaging and interesting, and you can't help but care how it all works out in the end. Jeremy Renner was also a brilliant choice to replace Matt Damon in the leading role.
The story picks up sometime after the Bourne Ultimatum leaves off, but it doesn't specify exactly how long. Pamela Landy, who assisted Bourne in getting back to the US and getting away from it all, is about to testify before the US Senate and Jason Bourne, though he is mentioned in the film, isn't actually seen, apart from the odd photo. The action centres on a secret CIA project called 'Outcome', the successor of the 'Treadstone' project which produced Jason Bourne. Fears that the new project is about to hit the headlines, prompts the calling in of Edward Norton, a specialist in cleaning up messes. That being, in the world of CIA fiction, a euphemism for taking something that nobody is supposed to know about and stopping the brown stuff from hitting the fan by murdering everybody involved. One outcome agent (cue Renner) and one scientist (cue pretty girl) escape the murdering and team up together. Cue the chase!
There's more I could say about the movie, but I'll just drop one thought. It strikes me that the Bourne franchise more than anything else is about how people deal with their mistakes. It's basically about a group of CIA 'suits' who realise that they've made a mistake. They've created something that they've lost control of and their solution is to kill as many people as necessary to make sure nobody ever discovers it.
There are interesting and obvious parallels to life. We all have those moments when we realise something has gone pear-shaped and we've probably also had that moment where we ask ourselves if the mistake can be hidden before it's discovered. So, I wonder if this movie could start a discussion with our young people on handling mistakes. Here are some questions to reflect on...
Here's an interesting question to end the holidays with... What's your favourite (or favorite in the US!) Movie? And why? This is an interesting topic in its own right, of course, but so many movies are useful in youth ministry that it's worth a bit of a topic, we felt!!
(though, of course, you're still welcome to like ones that have no youth ministry application whatsoever!)
Use the combox to let us know...
My favourite movie, as you can see from the image on the right, is Scent of a Woman. Why? Because it's a great story of two people coming through for one another and showing great courage in the process.
Other favourites of mine include the Shawshank Redemption, A Few Good Men, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Evolution, Dave, American History X, The Last Samurai, A Knight's Tale, Top Gun and a few more besides...
Anyway, yeah... tell us yours...
A few months ago there was a brilliant blog post written on the site of the (US) National Catholic Register by a woman called Simcha Fisher. It was all about the fact that she quite likes 'guy movies' and she even makes a few lists of movies, including the ones she likes and even the ones that she seems to like more than her husband. Have a look...
I do see her point that some guy movies (the opposite of chick-flicks) can be so much more than just explosions and fights, although to be honest there are times when I just love a brilliant, brainless movie where lots of things explode and get shot!
[image hotlinked from Wikipedia]
The Star Trek people are absolute masters at releasing trailers that tell you almost nothing about the movie whatsoever. From this trailer, we can gleam that there will be a movie, that Chris Pine will be in it and that so will Benedict Cumberbatch, who at one point of other is in some sort of cocoon. Beyond that, it's anyone's guess! Not bad for a trailer lasting over a minute!
I'm still excited though!
Filming completed in May and they are releasing the movie next spring...
How cool does this look? It's only a few months away now...
The Expendables 2 is released in the UK today, and probably around this time (if not already) if you're reading this elsewhere.
It promises to be a deeply moving piece and a beautiful commentary on friendship, love and the human condition featuring lots of soppy Chick-flick type moments and pictures of beautiful landscapes and sunsets...
Okay, maybe not. But it does look quite good. I'm not seeing an instant link to Youth Ministry, but I am seeing something that this particular youth minister can get busy with during his downtime!
I loved the first three Bourne movies. I also think Jeremy Renner is excellent, so this promises to be good. There were hints in the last Mission Imposible movie that Renner is lined up to take the reins of that franchise too. It would be interesting if he were carrying both the MI and the Bourne movies from now on. Anyway, here's the trailer:
This is another remake of a fairly recent movie that's coming soon. I've ranted about Hollywood's currently lack of vision many times before, so I'll spare you another one! As I said about Total Recall, this could actually be a very good movie. Here's the trailer:
Good as it looks, it just won't be the same without Stallone saying 'I am da law!'
When I was finding a trailer on YouTube for yesterday's post about Total Recall, I saw this in the sidebar and thought it was worth chucking at you. Some real classics here. Loads and loads of them are from Arnold Schwarzenegger...
Be warned, by the way, some are very rude!
Main Site | Facebook Event
Free Catholic youth club, youth ministry resources :: Three One
Our complete, 40 session curriculum for Catholic parish youth groups. Ideal for Bible Study, Catholic Prayers, Youth Activities...
The CYW.com Dropbox Folder...
The Truth about the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandals
Rebuild My Church
YouCast - Catholic Youth Ministry Podcast
Catholic Youth Ministry Federation