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Michael Elliott

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Everything posted by Michael Elliott

  1. Yep. That was me. (Although I'm not sure if that video clip is referencing my review. If it is then Penn or Teller [whoever the talking one is] missed the purpose of my site and misrepresented what I said in the review.) It's funny the reviews that get widespread coverage. I've been traveling for the past 5 weeks for my non-film job and missed most of the hubbub. I penned the review shortly before I left. My take on the film was basically - Sure it's funny. How could it not be? You've got 100 professional comics who have studied the formulas of humor and honed their craft to the point that they have become quite adept at eliciting laughter - even from a begrudging audience. But in this instance the question has to be: laughter at what cost? Not all laughter is healthy or desirable. Sometimes we laugh from shock, embarrassment, or even despite our better judgment. The laughter that comes from The Aristocrats is not something that I would categorize as being part of "a merry heart [that] doeth good like a medicine." One thing that I did state and wasn't used in the EW article was that I applaud the filmmakers for their honesty in how they marketed the film. They did not try to package the film in such a way to lure people in with the impressive cast list without mentioning the fact that many would find the content offensive. They were above board in their marketing and left it up to the consumer to choose whether to see it or not. I don't doubt that people who went to see it knew what they were going to see. Free speech is a double-edged sword. The right of the filmmakers to make this particular movie is the same right I claim as I take their product and use it to make a spiritual point. I can't claim that right and then turn around to deny it to someone else. FWIW My review is here
  2. an interesting barometer. What does everyone else rate with them and how do you interpret your rating? ← I too am filtered into the RT database. (At present, my agreement percentage is 70%. It has been both higher and lower over the years.) I find the thumbs up/thumbs down rating that RT insists upon somewhat troublesome. There are films that are inarguably artistically excellent but contain content that is morally troubling. How are these to be rated? What I choose to do is express my spiritual concerns in the text of my reviews but allow my ratings to reflect my awareness of the artistic elements that are evident in the film. But I admit that sometimes the content of the film forces me to ignore the artistic elements. If a film appears that it might attain a certain level of critical or societal acceptance despite a content that is spiritually empty, I may provide a review with no recommendation (0 stars). I did that with the South Park film, Boys Don't Cry, Quills, Eyes Wide Shut, and Fight Club. Most recently, The Aristocrats received a no stars review from me despite the fact that I found it a well done (even if quite profane) documentary. It may not be the best system around but it is one with which I can find peace. Michael Elliott
  3. Wow. I guess it might be better to approach this film with no expectations rather than low ones. I knew of the comic book foursome but can't say I knew much more than their name and powers. I had no emotional investment in the project and so I went in rather blind. End result. Not a great film - but not the train wreck that has previously been described (in my opinion). Didn't care for Mr. Fantastic or Sue - rather a bland and empty storyline between the two. Thought Johnny and Ben were far more interesting and I was thankful for the characterizations of Evans and Chiklis. I found that by studying how each character reacted to the sudden acquisition of superpowers, the film had a structure or framework that kind of worked. It is far from perfect. But there was enough there to give it a passing grade from me. FWIW.
  4. This is a post that is easy to dismiss (as it has been thus far) but perhaps considering it might prove (if nothing else) that we sometimes take our freedoms for granted. What if: We were not allowed to freely attend worship services of our choice? We were not allowed to read, study, or teach Scripture? We were not allowed to fellowship with other people who believed what we believe? How would we respond? I agree with other posters that Christianity is a lifestyle - not a religion. But let's be honest... other generations who have tried to live this lifestyle have faced much harsher persecution than we have had to endure. What if our complacency in the freedoms we currently have suddenly results in a restriction to those very freedoms? What happens next? There are people in history that have faced this situation. Indeed there are currently people in this world in a similar state. Perhaps glibness isn't the proper response to someone who raises this issue? There may not be a movie here. But there is food for thought. This is only my two cents (offered at a time when I'm about to leave for a holiday weekend which means I won't be available to reply to any comments until Monday... ) Take them as you will. Michael Elliott
  5. I'm on for tonight as well (although I'm told to prepare myself for a strip search and x-ray before being admitted to the theater)
  6. Have the DVD sitting on my desk. Haven't had the time to crack the seal yet. Maybe this weekend.
  7. Anyone seen or heard of this film? It slipped under my radar but one of my readers called me on it. Is it worth a look?
  8. Came out with my top ten list on Jan 1. Here's the link: http://www.christiancritic.com/letters/best2004.asp
  9. I really disliked it. Found it slow, and boring with an in-Hollywood smugness that immediately put me off. The script is awful. Most of the performances are bland. I hear the cast had a grand old time making the film. Can't say the same about watching it.
  10. What I generally do is to work within the genre and find another moral or spiritual angle that can be explored. The temptation example is a good one. For me the film, which I agree was not all that successful, gave a reason to quote Jeremiah 13:23 and explain why it is difficult (though not impossible) to change one's pattern of behavior.
  11. I disagree. It may not wear its heart on its sleeve (so to speak) but I think the heart of the family dynamic is woven throughout the story. So it doesn't bring a tear to the eye... it still has a heart that beats soundly.
  12. Except for Wallace Shawn. Don't know why, but his voice seemed really out of place for the film. Too recognizable perhaps?
  13. I sometimes get requests from readers who like the approach I take when reviewing films (looking for biblical principles or spiritual truths reflected within the story). They usually ask if there are sites who do the same for TV shows but I just received a request for a site that provides secular book reviews from a Christian perspective. Does any such animal exist that I can refer them to?
  14. It's one of the few 4 star reviews I've written this year. I loved it. Does exactly what it sets out to do. I'm convinced it will become a holiday staple in many many households for years to come. I saw Polar Express and Finding Neverland within 24 hours of each other and found much common ground. Though Neverland had a far more serious subtext, they both left me feeling elated and filled with an appreciation for the wonder and power of child-like imagination.
  15. Saw it last night and enjoyed this little film a lot. Gave a trio of actors room to ply their craft (Michael Caine, Christopher Walken, and Josh Lucas). A story about family ties and male bonding - forgiveness and acceptance. It's not going to be a major box office draw but overall - it gets a thumbs up from me.
  16. The OFCS has an Icelandic member in its roster. Stefan Birgir Stefansson. If you're really interested in other Icelandic films, I'm sure he'd be willing to give you some recommended titles. His email is sbs@sbs.is
  17. There was an article by Mark Pinsky in the Orlando Sentinel today about this film.
  18. It's a good film - not great but good. A better premise than it was a realized production but well worth a look.
  19. Derek Luke, who had such a fine debut as the lead in Antwone Fisher, is indeed a standout playing Boobie, the star running back for the Panthers. To the film's credit, no cheap jokes were made at the expense of the character's name. The film was based on the 1988 season of the Permian Panthers in Odessa Texas and as far as I know, the names of the participants were not changed for the film. Boobie Miles still lives in the Odessa area.
  20. I gave it 3 out of 4 and it is a decent film. Reminds me of Hoosiers in a number of ways. It's a bit of gritty, naturalistic filmmaking mixed with the traditional sports film formula. I thought it captured the football fever that small towns across America catch at the beginning of every high school season. It also depicts the pressure placed upon the young boys who are informed (verbally and through the examples set by their elders) that their high school football experience will be the singlemost important highlight of their entire lives. Billy Bob Thornton approaches his role in a nice, low-key kind of way and Derek Luke does a great job as a football phenom who gets a rude awakening. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
  21. Agreed. Hats off to you - and I'm glad that the interview explains your new avatar... You had me guessing there for a while.
  22. Ooooo... Tim.... Surely there's some sort of forum protocol that prohibits reminding me of that?
  23. Michael Elliott

    Shark Tale

    Add me to the list of the charitable thumbs up. Not a great film. Not a deep film. Not a film that connects on any kind of an emotional level. But it is entertaining. Many of the jokes and sight gags will sail over the heads of the younger members of the audience (and they may be overly frightened in one or two scenes dealing with shark activity) but all in all, the screening audience enjoyed the ride and I found myself going right along with them.
  24. I've seen the film (on a DVD screener) and for a evangelical film, it was a decent movie. That's mainly due to the cast - Kimberly Elise was excellent as was Loretta Devine and Michael Boatman. The only problem I had with it was that it seemed to overtly self-publicize T.D. Jakes. If his motivation was to serve the story and the message that the story delivered, he might have considered stepping out of the cinematic pulpit. As it is, it seems to be as much about him being "the man of God" and the "successor to Billy Graham." And that isn't a message that serves the story of this one girl's journey to salvation and deliverance. But the film is a decent showcase for a number of black actors and actresses. And it is a film with a Christian message at its heart.
  25. I'm surprised Ang Lee's Ride With the Devil didn't make the list. Excellent film.
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