Daily Archives: April 19, 2011

Movies and Vintage Television, March 2010

Movies

At the Theater
The Grace Card (2011), Louis Gossett Jr., Michael Joiner, drama/faith. Mac is an angry white policeman who resents black people. Sam (a black preacher and senior officer) is his new partner. It is the story of what unresolved guilt and anger can do and the power of inner healing and forgiveness.

Calvary Church in Memphis was inspired by Sherwood Pictures, which made Fireproof and filmed The Grace Card for around $200,000 (according to IMDB). This is an incredible achievement outside of Hollywood. Apparently the excellent Mr. Gossett was the only one who’d acted in a movie before. He lends weight and dignity to anything he’s in. I could watch him read the phone book.

Some of the actors could’ve used a little more coaching but Michael Joiner is excellent as the angry cop. It’s hard to believe that Joiner’s regular job is stand-up comedy, because there’s nothing funny about Mac. He was really convincing as the tough man who’s teetering on the edge.

Here is the official website.

I hope to see more of this kind of film.

On DVD
Darling (1965), drama. Julie Christie, Dirk Bogarde, Laurence Harvey. For years I’ve seen this film mentioned on the “Best” lists, but never had the opportunity to see it. Julie Christie won an Academy Award for her portrayal of an absolutely morally bankrupt young English woman and her morally bankrupt acquaintances and conquests. It is an sordid, ugly story and I’m sorry I watched it. I felt like I need to have a bath just to wash it off.

If this is typical of the best that Hollywood (and by that I mean all professional film-making because this was an English production) can do, I’ll take the purer, even though less “professional” effort of companies like Calvary or Sherwood any day over.

NOT RECOMMENDED

Online
Convicts (1991), Robert Duvall, James Earl Jones, Lukas Haas; drama written by Horton Foote. Hulu. One of Mr. Foote’s stories about the Texas coast in the early years of the 20th century. The main character is Horton’s father as a 13 year-old-boy who is having to work for his living, since his mother’s new husband doesn’t want him around. Horace is learning that life and some people are unfair, but that others (who are poor and have nothing to gain from you) are kind. If you enjoy Mr. Foote’s stories and style (which I do), you may want to give it a try, but be warned: there are gritty and unpleasant scenes. Go here for more information and clips.

RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS

Vintage Television
Columbo, season 1
The Fugitive, season 4
The Dick van Dyke Show, season 4

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Books Read in March, 2011

Heaven Is For Real/Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent (2010). A slim volume and an easy read, Heave Is For Real was a pleasure. Even though I’ve been a Christian almost all of my life and I know I’ll go to be with Jesus when I die, I’ve never pondered much about what heaven will be like. Four-year-old Colton Burpo relates his experiences and what he saw in heaven over a period of time, rather than immediately upon his recovery from his illness. Here is their website .

This book was a huge encouragement to me.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven: A Remarkable Account of Miracles,Angels and Life Beyond this World/Kevin Malarkey and Alex Malarkey(2010). Another book about a young boy who has experienced heaven and came back to tell. It’s a little more painful to read because of the father’s guilt (his distraction and unfamiliarity with a dangerous intersection led to the car accident which severely injured his son). Go here to their website.

God bless this courageous boy and his family!

RECOMMENDED

The House at World’s End,/Monica Dickens (1970). Miss Dickens is the great-grandaughter of that other Dickens we all know, Charles. It’s not fair to compare the descendants of a genius (and I do believe that C.D. was truly a genius), so I won’t. Maybe her other books are better, and I will give them a try, but this one was just a story to frame the message about not being cruel to animals. And that is a worthy cause and one that I support, but somehow it just comes across more as a sermon than a good story.

This is the tale of a family of children who are pretty much left on their own after their house burns, their mother has a long hospitalization from burns she received, an uncle who only nominally looks after them and a father who would rather sail around the world than take care of his family.

My family and I have adopted many homeless animals over the years, so I understand Miss Dickens’ dedication to alleviate suffering; I just wish she’d written a better book for the cause.

Incidentally, The House At World’s End is juvenile fiction, but I wouldn’t recommend it to sensitive children. There were a few descriptive passages that I had to skip. Maybe tougher kids won’t have a problem with those scenes, but I would never have been able to handle them as a child.

It isn’t boring and it’s not a terrible book; I just think it could’ve been better.

RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS

How Starbucks Saved My Life/Michael Gill (2007). The title grabbed me, so I read it. And it is interesting but … it’s just a little creepy because Mr. Gill worships Starbucks (and I’m not kidding). He was a down and out Madison Avenue (advertising business) executive who lost his job, and then his family (due to unfaithfulness) and got a job making coffee. It’s true, in his earlier years he led an interesting life and perhaps he used this framework to tell it. He’s met a lot of famous people, from Frank Sinatra to Frank Lloyd Wright to Queen Elizabeth. But his obsequious fawning just came across as sad to me; Starbucks is not a fit religion. Maybe Starbucks did save his life, but it won’t save his soul.

NOT RECOMMENDED

(This is not the complete account of what I read during March, but I had to rely on my memory. That may not be such a good thing because my memory has failed to tell me where I left the list of books. When I find it, I’ll do an update.)

Partially Read and intend to finish:
The Last Mrs. Astor

The Friendly Dickens

The Book of Awesome

Witness, Whitaker Chambers.

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