Movie Review: A Time for Burning

Reviewed by Peter DeHaan

Shot documentary style in the 1960s, A Time for Burning captures honest, balanced, poignant, and candid insights into race issues and segregation from a different era. In the decades since, some things have changed dramatically, while others are disappointingly the same.

The film chronicles one minister’s attempts to nudge his all-white congregation forward by encouraging simple acts of intentionality in reaching out to members of an all-black church, of the same denomination, located only a few blocks away. The youth of each church make an initial effort by visiting each other’s church. Although the adults engage in much discussion — some hostile, others fearful, yet open — it doesn’t result in action.

In an unexpected twist the minister who pushed the idea suddenly resigns, yet the cameras continue to roll. As such, there is no satisfying end to the saga, only insight to contemplate and unanswered questions that now seem more complex. For those who lived through the 60s, the film is a powerful reminder; for those too young to know, it is a powerful glimpse into what once was and the bias and emotion that flailed against change.

[Read more reviews by Peter DeHaan of other faith-friendly videos and movies.]

Save

Movie Review: So, Who Is This Jesus?

Reviewed by Peter DeHaan

So, Who Is This Jesus?” is a made-for-TV production that provides an accurate overview of the main events of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible — in 48 minutes. In narrative form and shot in Israel, the production includes a few basic re-enactments of historical events, but mostly shows the narrator (Russell Boulter) in historical settings. His smooth delivery makes for compelling viewing, often stating Biblical facts in a modern, relevant manner. It is not dramatic cinema, but it does provide reliable information in a well-done format.

This video is a great primer for someone who wants a quick overview of the Bible and obtain a basic understanding of the historical beginnings of Christianity. For others it is a good review, highlighting the main theme of the Bible.

[Read more reviews by Peter DeHaan of other faith-friendly videos and movies.]

Save

Movie Review: The Passion of the Christ

Reviewed by Peter DeHaan

The Passion of the Christ portrays the final day of Jesus’ (James Caviezel) life, with ample flashbacks to happier times spent with his mother, friends, and disciples. The main story line closely follows the Bible record and dramatically shows the physical terror and suffering that Jesus endured so that mankind could have a chance to live.

Director Mel Gibson shines in powerfully presenting an accurate and faithful rendering of Jesus’ pain and agony. The graphic nature of this is not sugar-coated or glossed over, but gives one pause over what is lacking from the standard Sunday School lesson of the Good Friday account.

The film is compelling and powerful, but because of its graphic nature, it is the best film that I will never watch again. Nevertheless, I am glad to have viewed it and recommend that every adult watch it at least once.

[Read more reviews by Peter DeHaan of other faith-friendly videos and movies.]

Save

Movie Review: Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)

Reviewed by Peter DeHaan

A hippy-styled acting troupe steps off their bus in the Israeli dessert to perform a rock opera about the last days of Jesus, as seen through the eyes of Judas. Being a traitor, it is not surprising that Judas gets a few things wrong and possesses a skewed sense of his worth in this historic saga.

Even though we know how the story will end, the journey is both our reward and our pleasure. In anachronistic manner, Superstar treats us to juxtaposed realities of the modern with the ancient. Despite a dated 70s feel to the directing and choreographing, the music is timeless and inspiring. Whether you watch it for the first time or the tenth, the message and the music are sure to mesmerize.

[Read more reviews by Peter DeHaan of other faith-friendly videos and movies.]

Save

Movie Review: Escape From Hell

Reviewed by Peter DeHaan

Escape from Hell is an evangelistic drama in which a skeptical doctor is determined to disprove the existence of the afterlife. Driven to desperation through a series of events, the intellectual healer plans to conduct a test: self-inducing a near-death experience, complete with a plan that trusted colleagues will arrive in time to resuscitate him, rescuing him from the brink of death.

What he ultimately discovers is not just a glimpse of heaven, but also the despair of hell, where he is ultimately sent.

The premise of this movie — a near-death trip to hell — is both intriguing and compelling. The story line is cleverly interwoven, moving easily between the present and the past, with the scene of hell providing a gripping understanding of what the netherworld might be like.

(Despite these many positives, elements of this movie’s production are a bit lacking by current standards. Therefore, the critical viewer should seek to enjoy this movie for its message, not for its making.)

[Read more reviews by Peter DeHaan of other faith-friendly videos and movies.]

Save

Movie Review: What If…

Reviewed by Peter DeHaan

Each day we make hundreds of decisions, such as getting on a bus or getting off a bus. Some of those choices have lifelong consequences. Such is the case with Ben Walker (Kevin Sorbo) in the movie What If…. His bus ride sent him on a path in the wrong direction, away from his love Wendy Walker (Kristy Swanson) and the life they planned together.

Fifteen years later, Ben is given a look at the life and love he gave up because of that one bus trip. What if…he had never gotten on that bus? Things would be completely different. He likes his life now, not the one he turned his back on and the family they could have had.

What if…he could do it over again? Would he? Should he? Can he?

What if… is a delightful tale of contrasting options between what seems attractive and what could be more satisfying. But is it too late to choose? You’ll need to watch What if… to find out.

[Read more reviews by Peter DeHaan of other faith-friendly videos and movies.]

Save

Movie Review: Indigo

Reviewed by Peter DeHaan

I recently watched the 2003 movie Indigo — and enjoyed it thoroughly. Indigo is a drama about a young girl who has special abilities, which she uses to protect and re-unite her family.

In the movie, she encounters others who are likewise gifted. These, we learn, are “indigo children,” who have supernatural awareness and abilities, often empathic and sharing a telepathic connection; mostly they are misunderstood or marginalized.

In watching the movie, I began to wonder if these indigo children might actually have a spiritual awareness that eludes most people. Are they tapping or seeing into the spiritual realm? While much controversy surrounds this (Google “indigo children” to learn more), I suspect that for some, this is the case.

However, knowing that not everything that is spiritual is good, it is important to be cognizant that those who are truly “indigo” could be connecting with God – or alternately with evil. If you wish to ponder this, do so with an open mind, but with caution and discernment.

(From a production perspective, this is not a standout movie, but it is compelling enough that I want to watch it again and to recommend it. However, know that the reviews I read were largely negative, criticizing every conceivable aspect, from acting to directing to characterization to plot. Interestingly, those wrote favorably seemed to have a positive predisposition to indigo children. Could it be that the movie’s detractors were merely offended by the topic?)

[Read more reviews by Peter DeHaan of other faith-friendly videos and movies.]

Save

Movie Review: Chocolat

Reviewed by Peter DeHaan

Nomadic traveler, Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche), shows up unexpectedly at a rural French village and creates quite a stir. A non-catholic, unmarried mom, and free spirit, she is not like the intransigent townsfolk. To make matters worse, she has the audacity to open up a chocolate shop across from the church — during the season of lent. Initially opposed by all, she responds to their opposition with non-conditional acceptance, to their indifference with open compassion, and to their snubs with kind generosity.

Possessing a demeanor more like Jesus than the locals who attend church every Sunday, she gradually wins over some with her uncompromising love — and delectable chocolate. But will it be enough to be welcomed into their tiny town or will its leaders prevail in running her out? Her open acceptance of the disdained river drifters, along with winsome Roux (Johnny Depp), threatens to drive the wedge even deeper. Perhaps it’s time to move on anyway, yet there is an allure to stay and settle down.

(While this is not a faith-friendly movie per se, it is faith confronting — and highly recommended.)

[Read more reviews by Peter DeHaan of other faith-friendly videos and movies.]

Save

Movie Review: The Other Side of Heaven

Reviewed by Peter DeHaan

The Other Side of Heaven is a wonderfully inspiring real-life saga that is part love story (on two levels) and part adventure, with a touch of spirituality mixed in for a pleasing result.

In the 1950s, fresh out of college, young John Groberg (Christopher Gorham) agrees to a three-year missionary stint and is assigned to the faraway island of Tonga. Though he is willing, he is quite unprepared for the culture shock and the many dangers that await him.

In going, he leaves behind a budding relationship with Jean Sabin (Anne Hathaway). With letters being their only source of communication, their relationship blooms as they are passionately and steadfastly drawn to each other. At the same time, John’s love for the Tongan people also emerges, forming deep and significant relationships in the process.

Although John does not escape his share of humorous — and at times life-threatening — blunders, his hard work is ultimately rewarded as he lovingly and patiently wins over the hearts and minds of the native peoples.

[Read more reviews by Peter DeHaan of other faith-friendly videos and movies.]

Save

Video Review: Everything is Spiritual

Reviewed by Peter DeHaan

A unique educator with the flair of the entertainer, Rob Bell, from Mars Hill Bible Church, gives a powerful and compelling discourse on the spiritual reality of man’s existence in his inspiring and awe-filled video, Everything is Spiritual.  Beginning at the beginning with the Genesis narrative of creation, Bell, quickly segues into a confident and rapid-fire recitation of scientific facts and mind-boggling concepts.

He reminds us of the vast complexity, grandeur — and strange behavior — of stars and the universe.  Then equally adeptly dives into the minuteness, intricacies — and strange behavior — of quarks and matter at the sub-atomic level.  Rather it is interstellar astronomy or quantum physics, the physical reality in which we find ourselves is both amazingly unexplainable and confoundedly complex — and only part of the picture.  Factor in other dimensions and the idea that time need not be linear or unidirectional and the certainty arises that there is more to reality than mere physical existence.

At the intersection of these grand convergences of the huge and minute, of the physical and non-corporeal, stands man.  Seemingly, everything is spiritual.

[Read more reviews by Peter DeHaan of other faith-friendly videos and movies.]

Save