SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR



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



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?



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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:

“Help!”

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.

 

Christian Hollywood Actor Makes Bold Statements About Atheists



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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



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.

LOVE IS STRANGE



LOVE IS STRANGE is about a homosexual couple in New York City and their relationships with one of the men’s family. The movie focuses on the homosexual couple’s relationship, but it’s also about the relationships among all the family members. As such, it has a very strong Romantic, liberal worldview that also takes the time to make some statements supporting big government, social welfare programs. The movie’s not as dogmatic or didactic about these things as it could be, but it’s clearly a work of political propaganda that tries to provide some insights into personal and family relationships as well. As the Marxists are wont to say, however, the personal IS political. That’s why today’s leftists have become so annoying: they want to make every issue so politically charged that the government practically becomes completely totalitarian by default.
The movie opens with the homosexual couple, George and Ben, tying the knot after 39 years of being together. However, the “marriage” forces the Catholic school, for whom George works as a music teacher, to finally get rid of him. As a result, Ben and George have to sell their apartment and temporarily live apart as they search for another one. So, Ben moves in with his nephew, Elliott, and his nephew’s wife and teenage son, Kate and Joey. Meanwhile, George moves in with two younger homosexual men who also happen to be cops.
The new living arrangements turn out to be a burden on everyone. Ben, who’s a bit older than George, tends to be a rather talkative senior citizen, which grates on Kate’s nerves. Also, Ben’s great nephew, Joey, doesn’t enjoy having to share his bedroom with Uncle Ben. Meanwhile, George doesn’t really fit in with the two homosexual policemen’s younger lifestyle.
Making matters worse is that George and Ben are having trouble finding an apartment they can afford, even if Ben gets some financial help from New York’s complex, bureaucratic welfare programs. Also, Joey is having some growing pains, which causes some problems with his parents.
The problem with LOVE IS STRANGE is that the family relationships are more interesting and dynamic than the movie’s depiction of homosexual relationships or its leftist political slant on the inadequacies of the social welfare state America has created in New York. The homosexual relationships lack any real conflict, and the movie doesn’t spend enough time on its social welfare subplot. At one point, George writes a letter to the Catholic school’s board of directors complaining about his dismissal, but, other than that, the movie drops this storyline and its potential for creating some dramatic conflict. At another point, the movie implies that Ben cheated on George when they were younger, but this plot idea also just remains an afterthought, a piece of background information that does little for the movie’s eventual storylines or character arcs.
There is, however, a touching scene where Ben tells his great nephew, Joey, that, if he likes a girl, he should tell her, because life’s too short to let shyness stop him from making a friend. This scene is eventually followed up with lyrical shots of Joey and his new girlfriend skateboarding together on the streets of New York while the sun sets. In another touching scene, a family tragedy finally affects Joey, who’s trying to act tough and cool throughout the movie. The scene shows Joey finally giving into his tears while standing alone in a stairwell with his skateboard.
Frankly, these scenes show that the real story in this movie isn’t the homosexual relationship between the elderly uncle and his partner and their problems getting a new apartment. The real, and better, story is Joey’s coming of age and how his uncle affects that. Clearly, the filmmakers’ leftist politics and pro-homosexual agenda have gotten in the way of their filmmaking.
This problem is reflected in how the movie’s leftist filmmakers treat the Catholic Church and its stance on homosexual behavior and same-sex “marriage.” One scene shows that George clearly opposes the church’s stance, even though he claims in that scene that his Lord and Savior is still Jesus Christ. Of course, the movie never wonders why, if Jesus is really George’s savior and Catholicism is George’s preferred Christian sect, why he has renounced the Jesus Christ, the Bible and the Catholic Church’s clear teaching on these matters. A clue to this is revealed in another scene where George misquotes 1 Corinthians 13:6. In that passage, the Apostle Paul writes, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” However, George misquotes it while defending homosexuality and same-sex marriage, saying, “Love does not delight in injustice but rejoices with the truth.” To distort a biblical passage to make a political point, or to excuse one’s personal, immoral behavior, is one of the most egregious moral, theological, political, and spiritual errors one can commit. It truly is evil. George’s distortion of the biblical text shows that leftists and pro-homosexual activists like the filmmakers behind LOVE IS STRANGE are not interested in moral or spiritual truth. Instead, they want to invent phony issues about “justice” and sexual politics to serve a vacuous intellect, a corrupt heart and a shallow imagination.
Thus, despite some touching elements, interesting story developments, nice acting, and eloquent technical flourishes, LOVE IS STRANGE is a cinematic, dramatic disappointment with an abhorrent, confused, leftist perspective that’s politically correct and often immoral. It contains strong foul language and some homosexual kissing.

IF I STAY



IF I STAY is about a teenage girl who gets in a car accident with her family, has an out of body experience, and must decide to live or die. IF I STAY has a strong pagan worldview mixed with Romantic elements, lots of foul language and implied teenage fornication.
Mia is a high school student in a very musical family. The rest of Mia’s family enjoys rock music, but she loves classical and has a passion for learning the cello. When the family has a snow day off, they decide to take a drive. They are hit by an oncoming car, and Mia wakes up and sees the wreck. Surprisingly, Mia sees herself and realizes she’s having an out of body experience. Mia’s body is taken to the hospital, but she doesn’t really know what has happened to her family.
Flashbacks start to come to Mia. They begin when she first met someone she loved dearly, Adam. Adam had seen Mia playing the cello at school. Being a musician himself, he admired her. Adam asks Mia out for a date. They go to a musical performance and a romance begins.
Meanwhile, Adam’s band has been gaining recognition. So, he starts to travel more and more for different concerts. At the same time, Mia has decided to audition for Julliard but hasn’t told Adam yet, because she fears he’d be sad since they had decided to get a place together once she graduates from high school.
Once Mia tells Adam about her plans, he becomes enraged that she hadn’t told him before about the possibility they won’t be living together. Mia has to make the decision whether or not she should go to Julliard if she is accepted, even though she will be away from Adam.
As these memories are coming back, Mia is in and out of the hospital. She learns both her parents have died in the accident, and her brother may not make it. Ultimately, Mia must decide if she should fight to live or just give it all up.
Based on a young adult novel, IF I STAY has a strong pagan worldview mixed with some Romantic elements. It seems as if Mia is presented with the option of living or dying by walking into “the light.” In reality, humans don’t have that kind of control, only God does, through faith in Jesus Christ. The only supernatural indication in the movie is the tunnel of life, with no mention of God or Jesus or heaven, as described in the New Testament. As the Bible tells us, we must accept Jesus in this life in order to get to heaven.
Other problems with IF I STAY include implied sexual relations of unwed teenagers, underage drinking and parenting with no discipline. The movie shows no repercussions for these actions, but actually seems to glorify them. Mia’s parents tell her she can do whatever she pleases. In fact, they even prompt her to “have fun,” which is destructive advice because it is so vague and doesn’t seem to come with any objective standards for living one’s life. Thus, IF I STAY presents a completely unrealistic, false view of reality.
Though the question of what Mia will decide is absorbing enough, the story in IF I STAY doesn’t flow very well as it transitions from reality to flashbacks. The movie does this constantly, which leads to rather awkward pacing. Also, the movie’s dialogue is somewhat trite, even for a mainstream romantic movie. The most successful element is the cinematography, but, overall, media-wise viewers probably will think the movie wasn’t worth their time and money.

THE FATHER’S LOVE



THE FATHER’S LOVE is about Sarah, an aspiring filmmaker who’s enjoying the New York City lifestyle as a single woman. She regularly dates more than one man at a time, sometimes even in the same day, but Sarah’s best friend Tricia warns her that she’s playing with fire. Will Sarah ever take her friend’s advice to heart?
When Sarah was just a little girl, her parents split up. Fond memories of her father are now painful reminders of the unreliability of men. Still unable to forgive her father, Sarah hides her pain and refuses to read the letters that he had written to her. Her friend, Tricia, who just started going to church, tries to influence Sarah positively, but Sarah is set in her promiscuous ways.
When Sarah starts dating Reece, the perfect man of her dreams, everything seems right. He’s thoughtful, polite, kind, and even knows quite a bit about Sarah’s Malaysian cultural background. Things seem to be going perfect for Sarah, when Reece suddenly starts acting suspicious. Canceling out on weekend getaways and missing special dates, Reece’s behavior worries Sarah’s friends, but she refuses to see past his charm. When Reece reveals a secret to Sarah, her whole world is turned upside.
Will Sarah ever be able to trust again?
THE FATHER’S LOVE is an engaging story with an important message about love, faith, purpose, and meaning. The story, while a little slow at the beginning, builds momentum and emotion as it goes. Helping the entertainment value is a great cast that gives a fun authenticity to their characters. Sarah’s journey from not trusting anyone, to trusting the wrong man, to trusting in Jesus shows good character progression and leads to a satisfying conclusion.
The Christian message in THE FATHER’S LOVE is strong, but not heavy handed, thanks again to good performances. The Gospel is shown, a life is redeemed, and transformation is made. Sarah’s lifestyle is anything but godly at the beginning, where she misleads people and sleeps around with men. Thankfully, the director shows some creative restraint and tastefully implies her promiscuous behavior. THE FATHER’S LOVE also has some light profanities that warrant caution.
All in all, however, THE FATHER’S LOVE is a good movie showing older teenagers and young adults the pitfalls of a life without Jesus and the benefits of salvation through Jesus Christ.

 

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