I generally keep my faith out of ScreenGeeks.com. I’ve never shied away from the fact that I’m a Christian, but I’ve made a conscious decision not to base what we do around that fact. The point of this site is to talk about film and our love of this beautiful art form. With that in mind, I hope you’ll indulge me for this review as my thoughts when it comes to Seven Days in Utopia are directly affected by my faith, beliefs and convictions.
Christian movies have always had an uphill battle. The apparent train of thought held in the Christian filmmaking community is that the genre must always be in service to the message. This means that certain things can NEVER occur in a Christian movie. Things like swearing, violence, sexualization of any kind gore, crude humor, or anything relating to dark spiritual forces just don’t show up in Christian movies. The theory is that by even showing these things, you are glorifying them, which isn’t what good Christians do. Living by that one rule, most Christian movies end up sacrificing things crucial to the cinematic experience like solid set design, an engaging story and competent direction, writing and acting. If you were to look at most Christian movies, the problem doesn’t lie in the religious message. The problem is everything else.
Rifftrax is an interesting phenomena. Born out of the ashes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the team of Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett were determined to prove that it’s possible to make a living from mocking cinema. By going with a different approach, namely selling what amounts to an MP3 commentary track, they were suddenly free of only being able to work on the movies they could get the rights to or were in public domain. Now, they can (and do) riff on pretty much every major film that comes out on home video. If you haven’t listened to the Transformers release, you need to just stop reading and go get it. It could be the best 4 bucks you can possibly spend.
Not content with just doing audio releases, the Rifftrax took an interesting leap in teaming with Fathom Events to do a live broadcast riffing a movie to theaters across the country. While a ton of fun to catch (I bought the Plan 9 live DVD and have it signed by Jonathan Coulton so far), the biggest criticism leveled against the gentlemen is that they were covering old material. I believe that the previous shows of Reefer Madness, Plan 9 and House on Haunted Hill have all been released at least one or two times. This has made some of the hardcore fans a little cautious of spending the money on a theater ticket for something they have already seen in another format.
Well, it looks like the guys have listened and are doing something to make the faithful rejoice. Tonight, the Rifftrax crew will be riffing the 60’s not-really-a-classic, Jack the Giant Killer. From everything I’ve been able to find, this is the first time that this movie will have been riffed by the gang. Even though I’ve never seen the film, it’s Rifftrax doing something for the first time and it’ll be live. I just can’t possibly miss this experience. You can find out more about where it’s playing tonight at the Fathom page for the event. It will be airing at 8pm EST/7pm CST/6pm MST/8pm PST (on a tape delay).
And before you ask, yes, I was asked to write about this event, but I had already started writing this a couple hours before being contacted. I love the Rifftrax crew and will always be doing what I can to expose them to more people. There’s really nothing quite like hanging out in a theater with a bunch of other fans enjoying the fun on screen and wishing they’d do a broadcast in your town. If it’s playing near you, I think it’ll be worth checking out.
Apparently, The Help is a best-selling book that everybody loves. Not always do good books translate into good movies. Ok, let’s be honest. For every good book-to-movie translation, there are at least a hundred crappy ones. So is The Help the exception to the rule, or another in a long line of stinkers? The truth lies somewhere in between.
Taking place at the beginning of the civil rights movement, Skeeter (Emma Stone) is home from college an enlightened young woman with the goal of becoming a journalist. After landing a gig doing a housekeeping column, she goes to a party being thrown by her old high school friends. While there, she notices how poorly the titular help are treated. Moved by the injustice, she decides to write a tell-all book from the help’s perspective. Will it change the world or get everyone killed?