CREED OF GOLD starts out in Russia with a man who is a reporter finding out there are three trains full of gold coming to Russia to instigate the Bolshevik revolution. After a long chase, he’s killed. Years later, the man’s son is killed for possessing the list of names of the people who financed the Russian revolution. His wife sent their son to America to escape the conspirators trying to get the evidence.
In America, the son goes to a prestigious university and takes the name Adam Smith. In his course on the Federal Reserve, he sits next to Kristin Stanford, whose father is on the Federal Reserve. They pair up to do a term paper on the Federal Reserve. Adam wants to expose the Fed’s tangled weave of intrigue and manipulation.
In the process, he alerts the power brokers behind the Federal Reserve unwittingly. They decide he must be removed. He decides to recruit his best friend and computer nerd, Cody, to expose the Federal Reserve. So, the game is afoot. While being imprisoned and shot at, Adam witness to Kirstin about Jesus Christ. With the clock ticking, can Adam bring down the international money syndicate before they kill him?
CREED OF GOLD is actually very well structured. It keeps the audience intrigued throughout the whole movie. It’s a low budget movie but it has a good look to it. There are a few static moments but they are very few and far between. Whether or not someone believes the Federal Reserve is evil and all bankers are nefarious won’t diminish the movie’s entertainment value. The good news is that CREED OF GOLD has no sex, nudity, profanity, or unwarranted violence. However, it does have suspense, action, and adventure, and sometimes a little too much exposition.
JEALOUSY is a French movie about an actor more committed to the theater than he is to the women in his life, including the wife he left. Ultimately, the jealousy in the title seems to really be about the man’s jealousy for his profession. This leads to a movie that pretty much lacks any kind of passion, though the movie does show that the man still cares for the daughter he had with his wife and still sees regularly.
Shot in black and white, the movie opens on the man’s wife, who cries when her husband, Louis, tells her he’s leaving her for another woman. The woman, Claudia, is an actress who hasn’t gotten a part in six years. She and Louis live in a cramped apartment. To relieve themselves of this claustrophobic environment, they take walks in the streets of Paris. Periodically, his daughter comes to visit with Louis.
Suddenly, Claudia tells Louis that she’s decided to take an office job. Apparently, she’s having an affair with the man who offered her the job. Louis seems more disturbed, however, that the new job means Claudia has given up on the theater.
Alone now, Louis tries to commit suicide. He survives and discovers that he still has his sister and his daughter by his side.
The filmmakers and actors wring almost every sense of passion out of JEALOUSY. This is one of the more boring French movies you’re likely to see. The only thing that saves it are the scenes of Louis with his daughter. Also, it has a short running time. Other than that, there’s nothing particularly uplifting, much less moral or redemptive, about the French movie JEALOUSY.
COFFEE SHOP is a winsome, poignant movie about a young woman who’s been unlucky in love and is struggling to keep her coffee shop open so she can help others.
Donavan is a lovely young woman who had her dream mate walk out on her to go to Chicago to do investment banking. Now, she tries serial dating and is always amazed that nothing ever clicks. Her sister, Becky, and Becky’s boyfriend, Kevin, are concerned about her. So, they ask a famous New York playwright, Ben, to take vacation time in their beautiful seaside town hoping that there will be a match.
Before he shows up in town, however, the new bank owner tells Donavan he’s going to foreclose on her coffee shop. Further, it is revealed that Ben’s last play bombed at the box office. Donavan, when she sees Ben, thinks he’s the business partner of the unscrupulous banker, so she makes his life miserable, but he starts to fall for her (much like an old Cary Grant comedy). Then, her ex, Patrick, shows up and wants to rekindle their relationship, but he is the banker’s partner and is willing to throw Donavan’s dream for a soul-filled coffee shop down the drain.
Now, Donavan is caught in a love triangle. So, the questions are, will she recognize that Ben is the right guy? Will she see through Patrick’s shenanigans? Most of all, how can she keep the coffee shop?
COFFEE SHOP is a fun and frothy romantic comedy that also pleasantly encourages viewers to live out their biblical faith. It plays like an inviting cup of cappuccino, with a dash of whipped cream and a swirl of caramel. This is a very tight-knit, well-plotted, nicely directed television movie with lots of good dialogue, poignant moments, and heart and soul. These characters are so well drawn that viewers will think they knew them or know them. Also, Laura Vandervoort as Donavan does such a good job that the audience becomes concerned for Donavan’s future and her dream. The movie supports biblical faith explicitly, including charity. It also supports free enterprise. Also, it supports wisdom in love rather than romantic entanglements. Who could ask for anything more?
SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR is the highly-anticipated crime thriller sequel to the 2005 movie SIN CITY. Both are co-directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, and primarily based on Frank Miller’s SIN CITY graphic novel series. The new movie is composed of four intertwining plots. Two of the plots are based on two of the narratives (“Just Another Saturday Night” and “A Dame To Kill For”) from the SIN CITY series, and the other two plots (“The Long Bad Night” and “Nancy’s Last Dance”), also written by Miller, are exclusively original to the sequel. Despite some light moral, redemptive elements, the rest of the movie’s content is excessive, graphic and immoral.
In “Just Another Saturday Night,” Marv regains consciousness on a lonely road overseeing the projects of Basin City. He also finds himself surrounded by dead young men. He tries to how he got there.
The second plot, “The Long Bad Night,” follows Johnny, a boastful gambler determined to carry out a darker plot to annihilate Sin City’s prominent antihero, Senator Roark, at his own poker game. The Senator just happens to be Johnny’s biological father, from an affair with a prostitute. Johnny, along with his “good luck charm” (a young stripper named Marcy), soon discovers he beat the wrong person at cards, when Senator Roark has him severely beaten. Now, a heavily enraged Johnny seeks to avenge the wrong done to him.
In the third and longest plot, “A Dame to Kill For,” Dwight McCarthy, a private detective, battles with and keeps control of his past and inner demons. That is, until his past lover, Ava Lord, unexpectedly returns to his life. Ava manipulates and sexually seduces him into helping her escape her violent, billionaire husband Damien Lord and his extremely huge bodyguard, Manute. Dwight soon discovers Ava’s intentions and plan are a lot more deceptive and evil than he thought.
The fourth and final plot, “Nancy’s Last Dance,” follows Nancy, an exotic dancer. Nancy’s having difficulty coping with the suicide of John Hartigan, the policeman who saved her and now appears in hallucinations to counsel her. Forced into insanity, Nancy transforms into a short, black-haired woman with scars seeking to avenge John’s death by destroying Senator Roark.
Although SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR contains a mixed, distorted worldview, it is well made. The high artistic value predominantly comes from how Frank Miller creatively connected all four of the plots to form the overall message of the movie and how masterfully the movie’s live action and animation work together.
Unlike several movies in the past that have contained a few small plots to explain a larger plot, SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR doesn’t make it difficult for the viewer to understand what’s happening. It tells the viewer when one plot ends and another one begins. Also, it clearly tells the viewer what and how each specific plot contributes to the movie’s overall message of the movie.
The live action and animation in the movie work well together. The black and white aspect of the movie gives it a comic book, animation feel. So, it’s the actual human actors, cars, buildings, etc., that create the live action. Watching it in 3D, the movie undoubtedly feels like the actual comic series has come to life and yet still maintain its animated quality. The movie wouldn’t have worked if it had been done entirely in animation or entirely live action.
All that said, SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR has a mixed pagan worldview with pagan, moral, redemptive content, and strong humanist elements. The movie’s message is that sin and evil need to be destroyed with justice that’s powered and brought about by inherently good people. However, while it’s definitely true that sin and evil must be destroyed, that won’t be accomplished by human power and ability. As Scripture clearly teaches, Jesus Christ defeated sin and evil at the cross, so God is the one who defeats sin and evil.
Also, the justice and vengeance by the inherently good characters in the movie are driven by selfish motivation. They avenge the pain inflicted by the evil of others in order to bring a sense of peaceful satisfaction. This is contrary to what the Scriptures teach. As Paul writes in Romans 12:19 and 20, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’”
SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR is a thrilling, action-packed movie, with some light positive elements, but it has a lot of graphic and explicit violence, foul language, sex, and nudity. There’s also a strong element of humanist vengeance and other immoral behavior, including adultery, prostitution, gambling, lying, and stealing. So, ultimately, the movie is unacceptable entertainment overall.
WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL tells the true story of a high school football team that had a 151 game winning streak under coach Bob Ladouceur.
The opening montage informs viewers of how the De La Salle Spartans, a high school football team, has remained undefeated for many years through hard work and discipline. Though the coach has worked hard to get the team where it is, his goal has never been to keep the streak alive. Instead, he wants to make sure that his players grow into men with integrity and character.
After yet another successful undefeated season, the pressure is high for Coach Bob and his team. When Bob has a heart attack, it becomes apparent that the stress has taken a toll on not only him, but also his family, whom he’s neglected.
To make things more difficult, one of Coach Ladouceur’s most promising graduates, a man who has learned to be a good, godly man and who has just received a full-ride scholarship to play division one football, is gunned down tragically on the streets. After this incredibly dramatic event, all of the football team is shaken up, especially Coach Bob. This causes the rest of the team to lose sight of the coach’s main purpose not to win but to grow into God-honoring men. Their 151 winning streak is lost on the first game of the season.
With a tough schedule ahead and a town that’s disappointed in them, the team has to learn to rely on each other and reevaluate why they play the game.
WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL has a strong second half that ends on an inspiring, tear-jerking note. Though the acting is good, much of the story is disjointed, mostly in the first half. At times, it feels as if the characters have too many goals, and it’s hard to discern where the movie is going. This doesn’t take away much from the entertainment value, but the emotional impact of the story could have been much stronger. The football games are riveting and well shot and the characters are genuine.
All through the movie, it’s clear that Coach Ladouceur has been teaching the boys on his team the importance of humility. In one very touching scene, he brings his dejected and downcast team to a wounded veterans hospital to learn about serving others instead of serving yourself. The biblical themes are extremely apparent in WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL. It’s encouraging to see such a positive representation of the Christian faith, especially among young people. Ladouceur and his family had a realistic family dynamic, and the conflict that comes with it. However, the subplot that was supposed to tackle the ever-relevant issue of fatherhood and work/life balance was left underdeveloped and unresolved.
Overall, WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL is a movie that bucks against a culture that’s all about glorifying one’s ego and seeking personal pleasure. Instead of pursuing individual accomplishments and individual fame, the movie promotes an ideal of pursing the exaltation of others. It overtly highlights Matthew 23:12 (“Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted”) as an example for living. WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL is a moving story for families with older children and teenagers that inspires love and humility.
Is Church Accountability the Key to Overcoming Drug Addiction?
By Michelle S. Lazurek, Contributing Writer
A few years ago, I walked into what I thought would be a normal small group. I slumped down onto the couch, took off my coat, and placed my Bible and study book on the coffee table. As people began to enter, we made idle chitchat while we scoffed down the many refreshments on the table before us. As the group began to share about their weeks, they shared superficially about their jobs, families and extracurricular activities. One ordinarily talkative man remained eerily silent. When we got to him, he uttered one word as tears streamed down his face:
In that moment, I knew this was no ordinary meeting. We all gathered around the man and placed our hands on him. We spent the rest of our time together praying for him and speaking words of encouragement into his life.
This was one of my favorite moments in my journey as a Christian. Not because the man said or did anything extraordinary, but because he expressed his need to the body of Christ who helped him during his time of need. This event began my love for the church and the beauty its accountability can provide.
I was reminded of this as I read an article about gospel music singer Joseph Habedank’s new album after his recovery from drugs and alcohol. His comeback from addiction is a remarkable one, and we rejoice with him because he took the necessary steps to freedom. But the best part of the story is that the other members of his gospel group lovingly held him accountable for his actions.
In an article titled “Gospel Singer Reveals How He Overcame His Battle with Prescription Drug Addiction (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/08/18/gospel-music-star-reveals-how-he-overcame-dangerous-battle-with-prescription-drug-addiction/#),” Dean Graham writes that Joseph said, “The group that I was with became aware of my problem and came to me and basically were very kind and gave me an ultimatum said, ‘Hey, you know, what would you like to do? We can’t really have you on the road, but what would you like to do?’”
This is the beauty of the church in action. His group members kept him accountable and boldly confronted him about his addiction. It was their commitment to discipleship that began him on the road to his recovery. He received additional support from his wife who “found out that I had a little bit of a problem about three weeks before we got married and stayed with me.”
Isn’t this where the church shines? Perhaps that’s what Paul intended in his letter to the Hebrews:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And, let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1).”
With the church behind us helping us in our journey toward salvation, we will always be able to run the race. Accountability is the key to victoriously reaching the finish line.
Mission, Ministry and Music
Recently, MOVIEGUIDE(r) had the blessed opportunity to hear a concert by an artist whose mission and ministry is foremost in her life: Sarah Vienna.
Here is Sarah’s description of her music, mission and ministry:
For the past 12 years, God has been using me to lead an international humanitarian aid organization call Firm Foundations Romania www.firmfoundationsromania.com . This organization is being used to transform culture in this region of Romania. To compliment this positioning, I have recently been leveraging my singing and songwriter gifts to produce music with the intent to transform hearts.
Music was a part of my life even before I was born. My mother was strumming her guitar while she was pregnant with me, and I know those were the moments when music entered my soul. The day I was born my parents had no idea what to name me, which I blame on being the youngest of seven girls. As they were driving to the hospital they turned on the radio and the Hall and Oats song was playing, “ Smile A while For Me, Sarah” and that is how my name came to be.
When I was three years old my mother taught me my first song, “Jesus Loves Me”. This song is a class due to the simplicity of the words, yet powerful message. Growing up as the youngest of seven sisters there was always something going on at home. Food cooking, laughter, but some of my fondest memories were the times when my sisters and Mom would turn on the radio, and we would all dance in a circle to the number one hits of the day. I would do my best as a kid to dance like Michael Jackson doing the moonwalk and break dancing moves. I was always trying to live up to my older sisters.
The day that my sister brought home a record by the great mother/daughter duet, “The Judds” I realized how much I fell in love with rhythm guitars and blood harmonies. One of my favorites of their numerous number one hits was “ Have Mercy”. My Mother was and still is a very talented musician. One of her favorite things to do was putting her favorite Bible verses to music. When I was a late teen, I gave it a go and took the verse from 1 Tim. 6:12 and placed a tune to it. “Fight the Good Fight” was recorded on my first EP album. Little did I know I would soon be battling some of the biggest fights of my life ; the fight for independence and the fight for the widows and orphans in Romania.
In 2002 I embarked on a journey leaving the comforts of my home and family in California and flew to Romania for what I thought would only be a six months missions trip. 12 years later I have my residency and Brasov has become a home to me. In the first years of moving to Romania, I took a musical break as I was concentrated on fitting in the new Romanian culture and developing our projects. It was the day that Steffi Vogel, the vice president of FFR wrote a poem about a boy who wanted one last hug as we were leaving his room in the orphanage that I re discovered my love or writing and singing music. The song “Unwanted” has become an FFR motto for all those who have en -countered a child who yearns to be accepted and loved.
A little background of how Firm Foundations Romania began:
In 2005, Romania shut down all State orphanages for children under the age of 2 years in order to join the European Union. That same year, Steffi Vogel and I were asked to sing Christmas Carols for the children in the State Children’s Hospital in Brasov, Romania. What we found were rooms full of children without parents, without diapers, only wearing rages tied by strings. The children were in horrible conditions. Many of the children we recognized from the State orphanage, and we were told they had been placed in families, but obviously the children’s hospital became to new holding tank for abandoned children. God placed on Steffi’s and my heart to start buying diapers with our own money and to visit the children on a daily basis. One diaper how now turned into over 56,000 diapers annually, and one hour has turned into a global volunteer project. It is amazing that God used the simplicity of a diaper to start Firm Foundations Romania.
Many of the children we support and assist in the children’s hospital come from the local Roma Community. When I use the word “Roma” this is a politically correct word for “Gypsy” which is an ethnicity originally emigrating from India and are highly segregated in the Romanian society. FFR’s goal became to help socially integrate this ethnicity into the society. We have been able to start various projects like our After School Program where we work with over 100 Roma children providing education assistance and share the love of God into their lives. We also have started a high school mentor-ship program where provide teenagers a place to stay in Brasov outside of the village where they can focus on their studies, graduation high school with hopes for them to start university. One teenager named Andreea, recently graduated from high school and is one of the first to do so from her village.
We are grateful for our world-wide team and volunteers assisting our projects in Romania. Recently we had six volunteers representing six different countries at one time. We accept volunteers from all religious backgrounds. We see their volunteer experience as a great witnessing tool to be able to share the Gospel as children truly soften man’s heart for God.
Two of my favorite songs on the CD are:
Song #1 “The Unknown”- This song is a heart call to action to stand in the gap for the 70,000 thousand children and counting still in institutions in Romania waiting to be placed in loving homes. Their voices need to be heard and not forgotten. This song is about making known the silent voices that are crying out for help. Currently we are working with Romanian politicians to amend the laws, but we are still in the middle of the battle, but I believe there will be victory in the end.
Song #2 “ Breathe” -Everyone needs to breathe but many times we forget the necessity of taking the deep breaths of life. What we do on a day-to-day basis is sometimes disturbing. We see suffering children daily, and sometimes there is no cure for their heart pain. It is easy to become hardened to a cry of a child when we see it so often, but when that happens it is the time to take a step back, take a deep breath, and re-focus our relationship on God to give us the strength when we are at our weakest, emotional point.
Our MOVIEGUIDE(r) reviewer noted:
Though the effort to glorify God is commendable, the album is neither particularly poetic nor strikingly singular; rather, the words seem like conclusions draw from life’s lessons, like the meanings behind the songs the artist has yet to write.
As for the sound itself, the singer’s voice is nice but she seems to shy away from hitting high notes with full breath. The songs include popular sounds, such as electronics, but they do not serve a greater purpose. Their inclusion disrupts continuity because they are not fully realized.
That said, Sarah’s concert was heart warming and heart rending. Her live présence and singing was inspired.
For more information, please go to :
Headlines in the News – August 22, 2014
** Christian Hollywood Actor Makes Bold Statements About Atheists
In an interview with The Blaze, Kevin Sorbo, who starred in the popular Christian movie GOD’S NOT DEAD, had bold words about atheists and their “weird” issues with Christianity.
“They’re offended by something they don’t believe in,” Sorbo said. “Well, it offends about 90 percent of people of the country that they take the nativity scenes down, but apparently, the majority doesn’t have a voice in this country anymore.”
Sorbo, who played an atheist in GOD’S NOT DEAD, added, “I’ve seen these guys [atheist activists] on TV and cable outlets. . . I see the anger when these guys get on TV, and I’m going, ‘Wow, how do you get so angry about something you don’t believe in?”
GOD’S NOT DEAD was recently released on DVD and Blu-ray.
Source: The Blaze, 08/14/14.
** Fifth Kendrick Brothers Movie Finishes Shooting
Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the filmmakers behind the Christian movies FLYWHEEL, FACING THE GIANTS, FIREPROOF, and COURAGEOUS, have reportedly just finished shooting their fifth movie, which is about the importance and power of prayer.
According to Alex, the new movie will help to get Christians thinking about how they use prayer in their family life.
“We’re going after something here that could radically improve our culture, and moviegoers will experience it within the context of an inspiring and emotional story,” Producer and Co-Writer Stephen Kendrick said in a press release.
“Prayer is so much more than people realize. It can powerfully affect every problem and need in our lives if engaged from within a vibrant relationship with God.”
The new movie (still untitled) will be giving two powerhouses in the Christian book community their film debuts.
Pricilla Shirer, a New York Times best-selling author, will be featured as one of the main characters. Also, the famed Christian teacher and speaker Beth Moore will make a brief appearance for the first time ever in a movie.
** Christian Reality Dating Show ‘It Takes A Church’ Renewed
The Game Show Network has signed on to a second season of the Christian reality dating show “It Takes a Church.”
Natalie Grant served as the host of the first season as members of Christian churches competed in helping math make single parishioners. The first season was welcomed with stellar ratings for GSN and saw much growth among women. The second season is expected to premiere in 2015.
Source: Variety, 08/21/14.
** Newlywed Jill Duggar from “19 Kids & Counting” Pregnant with First Child
Jill Duggar, 23, and her husband Derick, 25, have announced that after several failed pregnancy tests, they are expecting their first child.
As reported by The Christian Post, “The couple took a vow to accept any and all children that God chose to bless them with.” Eight weeks later, God answered their prayers. On September 2, “19 Kids & Counting” will feature Jill and Derick’s wedding. The ever-growing family also announced the engagement of Jessa Duggar last week.
Source: The Christian Post, 08/20/14.
PING PONG SUMMER is a comedy that takes place in 1980s in Ocean City, Maryland. Rad Miracle and his family have driven to Ocean City for summer vacation. His father is a frugal state trooper who drives a police car to their vacation bungalow to save on gas. Upon arrival, Rad is warned about their “creepy” next-door neighbor, a strange recluse.
Rad soon meets Teddy, a chatty and friendly African American his age, who is also on summer vacation. The two share their love for hip-hop and ping-pong while becoming best friends. Rad also meets Stacy and is instantly smitten, but she is the girlfriend of Lyle, an over-privileged teenager from the richest family in Ocean City. Lyle makes it completely clear he wants Rad to stay away from Stacy. He also bullies Rad and Teddy just because they’re different, from out-of-town and not filthy rich.
When Rad can take no more of Lyle’s treatment, he challenges Lyle to a table tennis dual. Lyle, having already brutally beaten Rad and humiliated him in front of Stacy, is sure this is an easy win. Rad and Teddy have no idea how Rad will beat Lyle that Saturday, but Rad feels proud to have stood his ground.
As reality sets in that Rad has no idea how to beat Lyle, he looks for his neighbor. When she doesn’t answer, he goes around to her garage/shed to look for her there. Typical of any nosy teenager, he cannot resist looking under a tarp covering something. He discovers trophies and that his neighbor was a hotrod, bowling and ping-pong champion!
When Rad finds the recluse Randi Jammer (Susan Sarandon) at the dock with a fish she just caught, he asks if she’ll help him with his table tennis game. Randi gives Rad a few pointers and tells him to keep the distractions out of his head and find a way to relax and regroup during his game. Will Rad be able to handle the pressure?
PING PONG SUMMER is very entertaining. Having grown up in Ocean City, Maryland in the eighties, MOVIEGUIDE®’s reviewer attests that the scenery, shops and spots of the Boardwalk in the movie were spot-on and filmed on location. The throwback to the 1980s is also well done. The thick eyeliner and eye shadow, hairstyles, zipper pants and other clothes, and boom boxes with cassette tapes bring a pleasant authenticity. Although some of the dialogue, Teddy’s rapping and Rad’s dancing are a bit cheesy, this could also be viewed as an authentic performance by un-cool kids who are just trying their best to be cool. A caution is advised for older children due to a few obscenities (including the sister giving the middle finger), some racial remarks and a scene with minors Lyle and Stacy drinking alcohol and kissing.
PING PONG SUMMER has a light moral worldview as Rad stands up for justice against the snobby bullies, Lyle and Dave. The movie makes a point of exposing some of the racial polarization and stereotypes of the times. For example, Lyle and Dale make several negative racial remarks to Rad and Teddy. Overall, however, PING PONG SUMMER is a nostalgic coming of age comedy that made me smile.