Monday, December 11, 2006

Weinsteins Return to the Trough

As an update on my previous post, Harvey and Bob Weinstein, and their distributor MGM's Harry Sloan are releasing a Christmas slasher movie. Apparently a very lame Christmas slasher movie. A remake of a 1970s-era slasher movie.

In light of their recent exploration of creating "Christian movies," there are two arguments to I anticipate:
  1. Don't give box-office money to these guys. They deserve to go broke.
  2. Pay to see their "Christian movies." They need positive reenforcement to make good movies.
I, myself, tend naturally toward argument number 2. But in this case, the Weinsteins have taken up a stick with a nail in it and beaten me to argument 1.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Hollywood Just Don't Get It

Here are two stories that do not bode well:

First, file this under the heading "HOLLYWOOD JUST DON'T GET IT" from
The Prodigal Son Works at Ikea?

Variety reports that Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment have made a deal for Prodigal Son, a romantic comedy that Gigi Levangie Grazer will write with Mimi James. Brian Grazer will produce.

The story revolves around a workaholic single woman who is set up on a date by her mother. Her date, a handsome, kind and caring carpenter who works at Ikea, turns out to be Jesus Christ, who's returned for Armageddon and settled in contemporary Los Angeles.

"It's a love it or hate it idea, but we're not aiming to offend," Gigi Grazer told the trade. "He won't be having sex. It'll be a disarming romantic comedy, a story of unrequited love, sort of like 'Splash.'"
Yow! Is this the price we pay for the de-mythologizing of Jesus!? It may be 'way past time to retire the Jesus, My Soul's True Love-type P&W songs and return to Onward Christian Soldiers. This kind of stuff makes the GodMen thing look reasonable.

Brian, two thoughts:

One, Christians worship Jesus 'cause He's GOD, not 'cause he's the lovable home handyman*

Two: If Jesus is coming back for Armageddon, that's pretty harsh. How does he get by with hanging out at the Ikea? Doesn't he try to warn people of the wrath to come? Or is Brian's version of Jesus not comfortable with that whole "judgmental" thing?

Is this the absolutely lamest idea since Korah, Dathan, and Abiram called out Moses?

The second story is like unto the first:

Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who, while heading their former company Miramax, infuriated conservative Christian activists with films like Kids, Priest, and Dogma, have announced that they are forming a new company to distribute faith-based movies. They said Wednesday that they have signed a production deal with Christian film producer Impact Entertainment. Executives of The Weinstein Company also said Wednesday that they plan to release six theatrical films per year and an additional number of direct-to-DVD productions.
Oh, man. It's those "direct-to-DVD" productions that put the cherry on the Sundae.

Jeffery Overstreet describes some of my reservations:
Since the Contemporary Christian Music has done so much to sidetrack Christian musicians so their music doesn't accidentally end up in arenas where the world might hear it... why not create Contemporary Christian Cinema? That way, faith-related films can play to those who already agree with their messages, and to those who don't want to bother with the challenges of mainstream movies. Meanwhile, mainstream audiences can put even more distance between themselves and films that openly wrestle with issues of faith. They'll spot the "faith" label, feel a shiver run down their spine, and move on to something else.

Walls and boundaries. That's what we want. Neat and easy labels and categories. All the better for judging other people, for staying where we are, for complimenting ourselves on our choices.
Every group that is disaffected from the mainstream produces it's own art that speaks to those disaffected. This is not always a bad thing. This ghettoizing allows fledging artists to find an audience and allows unsophisticated audiences to find art that speaks to their exclusion from mainstream culture. This can nurture artists at the beginning of their careers. But ultimately it is a dead end for the artist and the sub-culture itself. It develops its own vocabulary and conventions, its stereotypes and bogeymen that those outside that group find more or less incomprehensible or excluding.

A sub-culture needs to speak to the mainstream culture and to do so it must speak in a way that is relevant and accessible to that mainstream culture. Artists need to avoid sneering at people who cannot "read" their art because that are not current on the sub-culture's shibboleths.

So, please let us have more Christians engaging in our culture, being salt and light; but please, no "very special" versions of Bible stories.

Two More Blows Against the Theocracy!!

*Hey, Brian if your Jesus hits his thumb with his hammer, what does he say?

Monday, December 04, 2006

2008 Timewaster

An electoral map that lets you pit leading Democratic contenders against a few Republican contenders.

I dispute it's accuracy on several grounds (it's 'way too early for these kinds of polls to make sense), but what fun!

I'll be checking back on this sight throughout the primary season.

Obama Fever! Catch it at Church!

I, for one, welcome our Democratic Overlords:
WASHINGTON — Famed pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren on Wednesday defended his invitation to Sen. Barack Obama to speak at his church despite objections from some evangelicals who oppose the Democrat's support for abortion rights.

Obama is one of nearly 60 speakers scheduled to address the second annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church beginning Thursday at Warren's Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.
But seriously, folks, the idea of inviting Barack Obama to speak to Conservative Evangelicals is a great one. It allows those Evangelicals to see the man and verify that he doesn't have horns or a bifurcate tail. It allows Obama to receive feedback from a conservative crowd, which is much better for us all than for him to be stuck in the Liberal echo chamber.

The end result may be a contribution to the moderating effect in national politics.

Speaking of Obama, a great observation on This Week with George was the two possible effects of Barack Obama on the Hillary! primary campaign:
  • It's terrible! He preempts Hillary's tack to the social center!
  • It's wonderful! he's sucking all the oxygen from the room, snuffing out lesser lights!
I tend to go with the second of these perceptions, hence my prediction of a Hillary/Obama ticket.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Who Will Run in '08? Part II

Rich Lowry at National Review Online has a column on Barack Obama as the Anti-Hillary:
...After all this [hate for the names Clinton and Bush], who doesn’t hunger for a clean break? Thus the energy behind the possible presidential bid of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. He is the only presidential candidate from either party about whom there is a palpable excitement. And that is because everything about him says, “I’m not a Bush, I’m not a Clinton, and can we please talk about something else?”

It will be manifestly good for the country if it elects a president in 2008 who doesn’t elicit yowling hatred from the other side...

Hillary would have formidable assets in a 2008 race, but the timing could be against her. Maybe it’s too soon for another Clinton in presidential politics. On the Republican side, the most talented and accomplished Republican officeholder in the country, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, is sitting ’08 out precisely because of the baggage that currently attaches to his last name.

At the moment, nothing but sweetness and light attach to the last name Obama. Skeptics note that he is a creation of the media, as if this speaks badly of him. Most politicians would spend millions and go through every exertion to be so created by the media. The more serious, related objection is that Obama has no record of accomplishment during his two-year stint in the Senate. There’s a political trade-off here, though. By the time he does anything in the Senate, he will probably be thoroughly acclimated to the institution, making him just as unappealing as the dozen other senators who consider running for president every four years.

The genius of Obama is that he has a pure liberal voting record — a 100 percent rating from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action in 2005 — at the same time he appeals to independents and avoids seeming noxiously partisan. No doubt, some of this sheen will be lost the day he were to announce for president. But it also reflects something real. Obama is willing to say that Republicans are wrong, not evil — a very basic concession that nonetheless takes some bravery in the blog-besotted fever swamp that is much of the left right now. He has shown that he can speak the language of religious believers in a non-focus-group-tested, genuine way. And he has charisma, an invaluable asset that can’t be bought or faked.
So, Obama looks good. But in my estimation he looks good for a failed presidential try--which is not a bad thing. Even a failed primary campaign will give him national exposure and let him step up to the ultimate big league of politics. Everybody on the Democratic side has at least one failed primary campaign (Kerry and Edwards have a failed general campaign behind them) except for Hillary, who has lots of experience with her husband's campaigns.

So here is why I said what I said in my earlier post on this topic: Hillary has the experience and resources, while Obama has the "juice." If they could reach a modus vivendi they could link the reliable donors of the Democratic party to the excitement that, frankly, grim Hillary lacks.

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