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December 2008 Archives

DVD Pick of the Week: ‘An American Carol’

posted by Kris Rasmussen

Yes, there have been a thousand parodies of “A Christmas Carol,” but one I had never heard of was a movie that came out last fall for about a nanosecond, the gentle satire “An American Carol.” From the director of […]

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Top 10 Jewish Movie Characters

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

When I decided to do a list of top 10 Jewish movie characters, I got to #4 and then stopped. Jews and pop culture are my thing…why could I only come up with four, with one of them being Yentl?? […]

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‘Twilight’ Trumps ‘The Dark Knight’ in 2008!

posted by Donna Freitas

Okay, I promise (maybe) that this is my last post (or, one of my last posts) about “Twilight” for 2008. (Of course, as you know, 2008 ends Wednesday night, bringing a whole near year of possibilities…) I couldn’t resist mentioning this […]

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‘Slumdog Millionaire': Is It Really One of the Year’s Best Films?

posted by Kris Rasmussen

“Slumdog Millionaire” has certainly made it to many end-of-the-year top 10 movie lists and even here at Idol Chatter there has been heaps of praise for its inspirational storyline.  So, when I finally braved yet another snowstorm to go see […]

14 Inspiring Films of All Time

posted by Douglas Howe

The American Film Institute recently named its Top 100 Most Inspiring Films of All Time. I wish there was an Academy Award for the Most Inspiring Film of each year. Here are 14 of my favorite inspiring films of all […]

Top 5 Spiritual Young Adult Novels of 2008

posted by Donna Freitas

Before I go listing my YA novel picks for 2008, I have one caveat: I am rather tired of the way people slap the word “spiritual” on everything including the kitchen sink, without really telling you what they mean by the […]

New Year’s Resolutions for Celebrities

posted by Idol Chatter

If you could give advice to Britney Spears to correct her mistakes in 2009, what would it be? How about Madonna, Robert Pattinson of “Twilight” fame, and, yes, even Sarah Palin? Idol Chatter blogger Esther Kustanowitz offers suggested resolutions to […]

Best Spiritual Read of 2008: ‘The Purpose of Christmas’

posted by Douglas Howe

A few weeks ago I received an invitation from Beliefnet co-founder and editor-in-chief teve Waldman to make note of my “Best Spiritual Read of 2008.”  One book clearly came to mind. It’s a pretty simple, straightforward book, though I’ve tried […]

George Clooney Opens a Whinery for Christmas

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

George Clooney, one of the world’s sexiest men, is apparently a huge whiner when he doesn’t get his way. Does this make him any less sexy? View the following clip, featuring Richard Kind’s account of Clooney as one of the more […]

Muslim Punks Grow from a Novel Inspiration

posted by Paul O'Donnell

The New York Times has a story about Muslim punk rockers, the amazing life-imitates-art phenomenon of “The Taqwacores,” a novel by Michael Muhammad Knight.  They didn’t exist until Knight’s novel started circulating in the Muslim teen community. “This book helped me […]

Is ‘Benjamin Button’ Brad Pitt’s Best Role Ever?

posted by Douglas Howe

Moviephone.com has made the confident pronouncement that Brad Pitt’s turn in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is not only excellent, but it is his best role ever. That’s saying something–and it’s an interesting question for us to ask about […]

‘Marley & Me': A Light Look at Love and Loss

posted by Kris Rasmussen

Initially I went to see the family comedy “Marley & Me” for a rather unusual reason. My physical therapist’s Florida home was featured in the movie. (Hey, where I’m from, that’s almost front page news.) I hadn’t read the book […]

Top 10 Most Inspiring Films of 2008

posted by Douglas Howe

In this upcoming award season, there will be much talk about the major categories but not nearly enough about, what I like to call, The Forgotten Category, the one that should exist: “Most Inspiring.” Movies, after all, exist not only […]

Belated Festivus Greetings…and TV Disappointments

posted by Kris Rasmussen

December 23 was the imaginary holiday, Festivus, created on that infamous “Seinfield” episode where Frank Costanza invents the annual ceremony of telling your loved ones how they have disappointed you in the previous months.  Alan Sepinwall over at the Star-Ledger […]

Watch Clip: ‘Revolutionary Road’

posted by dross

Set in 1955, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet play a couple who each dreams of a bigger and better life. In this clip they discuss moving to Paris.

The Complete Adventures of Curious Benjamin

posted by shuang

“Life is defined by moments, even the ones we choose to miss.” – Benjamin Button While the premise of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is about a baby who is born old and who grows younger through the years, […]

Why Twilight is ‘Spiritually Fatal’–You Know, Satanic and All That, Blah, Blah, Blah

posted by Donna Freitas

Okay, so here we go. Here come the “Twilight”-bashing Christians and in the same vein as the “Harry Potter”-bashing Christians. There are now pastors coming out to denounce Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight Series” and its corresponding movie and how it will […]

Amy Grant’s Favorite Christmas Albums

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Discussing her own recent Christmas compilation with Amy Grant the other day, I asked the Christian rock diva about her favorite Christmas albums of all time. The classic Nat King Cole disc is a given, and we’re going to give […]

The Year in ‘Twilight': A Look Back on the Vampire Phenom of 2008

posted by Donna Freitas

I think it’s fair to say that 2008 was the year of “Twilight”–as in Stephenie Meyer’s the “Twilight Series,” as in vampires and vampire-human love, as in star-crossed romance taken as far as it can go, as in crazy, screaming […]

Portrait of a Priest: Philip Seymour Hoffman on ‘Doubt’

posted by Donna Freitas

I’ll see Philip Seymour Hoffman in just about anything–his acting is brilliant to a shocking degree, but even rarer is the way he disappears into a role, despite the fact that we all know who he is by now. If […]

Watch Clip: ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’

posted by dross

In the new movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” Brad Pitt plays a man who ages backwards. In this scene, he attends a tent revival as a 7-year-old who is unable to use his legs.

The Christmas Creche: Its Collectors and Makers

posted by Donna Freitas

When I was a kid, each year when we strung up our Christmas lights and decorations throughout the house, I would set up a crèche (aka, a nativity scene). And each year I would get to add a little piece […]

Dixie Carter’s Christmas Memories

posted by dross

By Dixie Carter All my childhood Christmases are memorable and dearer than can be expressed, and after childhood my young adult memories of Christmas are playing in the snow outside the house with my brother Hal and his bride Margo, […]

Best Christmas Movie Moments on DVD: Part Two

posted by Douglas Howe

Kris Rasmussen is certainly one of Idol Chatter’s best bloggers, and her “Best Holiday Moments in Film” article is worth reading if you’re a fan of Christmas movies, blogs, and/or blogs about Christmas movies. We all of have own tastes, […]

What Holiday Memory Will You Never Forget?

posted by idol chatter

Idol Chatter featured a holiday entertaining books contest a few weeks ago and selected our five winners: Cecilia Andes of Pennsylvania Robin Henry of Florida Kathleen Bergquist of Minnesota Shirley Little of Georgia Deborah Finan of Florida They shared amazing […]

‘National Treasure’ Meets ‘Da Vinci Code’ Meets …?!

posted by Douglas Howe

In a scene straight out of the spirit of “National Treasure” or “The Da Vinci Code,” a curator at the Louvre in Paris has discovered secret drawings on the back of a Da Vinci painting. “The extraordinary find was made […]

Period of Adjustment

posted by Nell Minow

Tennessee Williams’ only comedy is this neglected gem of a movie about two couples at Christmas. It has never been available on DVD so your only chance to see it is December 23 on Turner Classic Movies. It stars a […]

Rev. Warren: Pastor, Author, Debate Host, Inauguration Star

posted by Douglas Howe

Several years ago, a pastor’s son planted a church in a tough-to-reach upper middle class suburb in Southern California. For years–even decades–he shunned the spotlight to focus on his ministry. His church grew. It spun off other churches. He coached […]

‘Metropolitan': My DVD Pick of the Week

posted by Kris Rasmussen

While wracking my brain for an unusual but exceptional DVD choice this week for those of you about ready to head into Christmas vacation, I stumbled across Slate’s list of overlooked holiday movies and was delighted to find one of […]

Singing with Sarah and Writing With Vince: A Christmas Chat with Amy Grant

posted by Paul O'Donnell

“The Christmas Collection,” Amy Grant’s second album with her new label, EMI, is mostly re-released holiday hits from the past, but it has a few surprises, including a cover of a Barbra Streisand arrangement of “Jingle Bells” and a new […]

Send Free Music to a Soldier for the Holidays

posted by dross

I just came across this in my inbox and it’s something I’d love to share. Billboard is giving away free music to enlisted members of the U.S. Army (I’ll ignore for now the fact that this giveaway doesn’t include the […]

How Much Do You Know About Christmas Cartoons?

posted by idol chatter

If your heart has ever swelled with the Grinch’s, or ached to see Rudolph snubbed by that reindeer clique, then you’ll love this Beliefnet quiz on Christmas cartoons How did you do? Which Christmas cartoons are your favorite? Discuss below.

Simon Cowell is More Famous Than God

posted by Kris Rasmussen

We all know Britney is popular and Miley Mania is everywhere, but British children are most impressed with snide “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell than they are with the Queen of England or God, according to an annual survey of […]

Watch Clip: ‘The Office’ Gift Wrapped Desk

posted by dross

In this funny clip from “The Office,” Jim shows off his gift wrapping skills.

Calendar Boys: Mormon Hunks and Jewish Guys Strut Their Stuff

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Sure, you could get your friends those page-a-day Dilbert desk calendars. Or you could get them one of the new faith-based calendars, bringing daily meditation to a place you’ve never been before. Have you always thought Mormon men weren’t worth […]

Best Quotes of the Year: Where’s the Inspiration?

posted by Douglas Howe

America Online recently reported its annual list of Top Ten Quotes of the Year, as named by Fred R. Shapiro. I found the list to be somewhat entertaining, partially nostalgic but, most of all, quite less than inspiring. Tops on […]

Tom Cruise’s ‘Today Show’ Redemption

posted by Ellen Leventry

I was probably going to see “Valkyrie” even before Tom Cruise’s astonishing mea culpa-esque appearance yesterday on the “Today Show.” The cast is a veritable banquet of my favorite British actors–Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, the brilliant Eddie Izzard–and […]

Virgin Mary, Playboy-Style

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I was only reading it for the articles, I swear. But an Idol Chatter editor brought this Playboy cover to my attention, featuring model Maria Florencia Onori posing as the Virgin Mary. She’s not naked, but is instead wearing a […]

Demand ‘Britz’ on BBC America

posted by Ellen Leventry

Lost in the hustle and bustle of this past Thanksgiving holiday was one of the most riveting post 9/11, and in this case post 7/7, dramas made to date, “Britz.” This thriller follows the lives of Sohail and Nasima, a […]

‘Slumdog Millionaire': Madness in Mumbai

posted by Idol Chatter

By Craig Detweiler Reprinted with permission from ConversantLife.com. “Slumdog Millionaire” may be the best film of the year. It juxtaposes the hopes embodied in the game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” with the depressing squalor of slums. Director […]

Watch Trailer: ‘Seven Pounds’

posted by dross

Will Smith stars in this drama about a depressed man who decides to help seven people by killing himself. The film releases on December 19.

Director Scott Derrickson of ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ on His Theology of Environmentalism

posted by Idol Chatter

By Rebecca Cusey It is no small task taking a movie considered one of the greatest of all times and remaking it. Director Scott Derrickson took on the job of updating 1951’s classic Sci-fi The Day the Earth Stood Still […]

Best Holiday Moments in Film

posted by Kris Rasmussen

It only takes one line, one look, or one moment to make an ordinary holiday movie an instant classic (think Chevy Chase trying to light up the house in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”). On the other hand, some Christmas movies […]

Fellow Traveling with Yiddish Stories

posted by Patton Dodd

(Note from Beliefnet editor Patton Dodd: Peter Manseau‘s Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter kept me up for hours the night that I began it. I know Manseau to be a gifted, even gripping writer–his memoir, Vows, is a gorgeous page-turner–but […]

Assisted Suicide Aired on British Television

posted by Ellen Leventry

For a culture commonly stereotyped as prim and proper, the British have always managed to push the envelope when it comes to thought-provoking, controversial documentaries–think Channel 4’s 2002 airing of a live–albeit delayed–autopsy before a paying London audience. Sky Television […]

Tom Cruise Returns to ‘Today’ Show

posted by Ellen Leventry

The rumors that “Valkyrie,” the Tom Cruise World War II film premiering Christmas Day, is terrible must be true. Otherwise, why would he return to the glibbest morning show on television? It’s been three years since Tom Cruise declared Matt […]

John Patrick Shanley Wrestles with ‘Doubt’

posted by Kris Rasmussen

There was a time when a playwright like the acclaimed John Patrick Shanley would not have considered an interview with Christians worth his time– even to promote a movie, even one with an overtly religious nature like his latest effort, […]

The Best of 2008 Movie Lists

posted by Kris Rasmussen

As Movie Mom has already pointed out, critics and major media outlets are posting their year-end lists of the best movies of 2008. Roger Ebert has published his, as has the prestigious National Board of Review and the Los Angeles […]

‘Frost/Nixon': Entertainment, History and Some Work

posted by Douglas Howe

While it doesn’t open in wide release until Friday, I had a chance to see “Frost/Nixon” out in Los Angeles last week and I can’t recommend it enough–for adults who remember the time but who can now reflect on history […]

A Virtual Christmas Hunt!

posted by Idol Chatter

Get into the Christmas spirit by participating in Beliefnet’s Virtual Christmas Hunt. Find and click on each of 10 Christmas icons hidden throughout our site. Once you do, you’re eligible for a drawing to win a spectacular basket containing delicious […]

Kate Gosselin of ‘Jon & Kate Plus 8′ Shares Her Favorite Christmas Traditions

posted by dross

Thought you had it tough raising your kids? Try raising 8! On the hit TLC TV show “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” we see married couple Jon and Kate Gosselin go through the daily struggles–and, of course, the daily joys–of […]

Burger King Whopper Taste Test Distasteful

posted by Ellen Leventry

I like commercials. Most people leave the room when a commercial comes on, but I turn up the volume. I appreciate the artistry needed to manipulate the public into purchasing a product in less than two minutes. And while I […]

Enya’s ‘And Winter Came': An Ode to the Season

posted by Ellen Leventry

Enya’s seventh studio album, “And Winter Came,” is not so much a holiday album as it is an ambient ode to the season. Featuring ten original winter/holiday-themed compositions and two traditional Christmas carols, the CD features the “choir of one” […]

Catholic Princess Takes NY: Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis

posted by Donna Freitas

So she married a much older man, a prince, and is known for, among other things, dying her hair a myriad of colors and even wearing it in a mohawk. That doesn’t stop Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis of […]

J.K. Rowling’s Fairy Tales for Wizards (and Muggles)

posted by shuang

Arriving with surprisingly low-key Muggle murmurs, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” is the newest book written by J.K. Rowling after the final Harry Potter book came out last year. For those who read Deathly Hallows, you’ll remember a book […]

New ‘Lights’ and ‘Songs in the Key’ of Hanukkah

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Even if Christmas doesn’t represent an annual temptation for Jews, there’s one area where Hanukkah can’t hold a candle (sorry) to Christmas: Christmas music trumps “I Have a Little Dreidel” every time. Most Hanukkah songs sound like they were created […]

Jessica Simpson to Study Religion?

posted by dross

Although many people will probably laugh off reports that actress/singer Jessica Simpson is interested in returning to college to study theology, as reported by Marie Clair via The New York Post’s Page Six, religion has always been a part of […]

Watch Video: ‘Prop 8: The Musical’

posted by dross

John C. Reilly, Neil Patrick Harris, Jack Black, and others form a big-name cast performing “Hairspray” composer Marc Shaiman’s new online video about the gay marriage ban recently passed in California. In the musical, two rival groups–conservative Christians (headed by […]

U2’s Christmas Exclusive Now Available at (Red) Wire

posted by Kris Rasmussen

Once again artists are taking their message to the web to reach their fans first. Those socially conscious rockers U2 have released a new Christmas tune, “I Believe in Father Christmas” over at (Red) Wire, along with several other top […]

Britney Spears’s Children Help Her Believe in God

posted by Kris Rasmussen

As part of a well-calculated comeback, Britney Spears is finally opening up–a little bit anyway–about her wild antics and failed marriage in an MTV documentary that aired last Sunday and will be available on demand at MTVs website starting today. […]

Watch Trailer: ‘The Tale of Despereaux’

posted by Idol Chatter

Once upon a time in the kingdom of Dor, a terrible accident left the king broken-hearted, the princess pining and the townsfolk despondent. All hope was lost, sunlight disappeared and the land became dreary gray. Until Despereaux Tilling was born… […]

Does ‘Milk’ Have It Both Ways on Bigotry?

posted by Paul O'Donnell

My review of “Milk,” the new bio-pic about gay-rights activist Harvey Milk starring Sean Penn, pointed out that the movie was like one of those nesting dolls, showing in theaters just as the Prop 8 vote in California sparked actual […]

The #1 Place for Christian Prayers: The Web?

posted by Donna Freitas

The best place to go for your prayers to be answered–especially if you happen to be Christian and/or are down on your luck as of late–is no longer a house of worship. Nope. Apparently, the best place for sending prayers […]

‘Happy-Go-Lucky': Looking at the Bright Side of Life

posted by Kris Rasmussen

The timing of the release of a movie that centers around a woman who is perpetually upbeat, no matter the circumstances, is pretty intriguing to me to say the least. Just as I thought the eccentric but heartwarming “Lars and […]

10 Things ‘Twilight’ Teaches Teenage Boys About Teenage Girls

posted by Donna Freitas

While I don’t like this particular blogger’s attitude–nor do I agree with what he says–I can’t help but share this post I found about the “10 Things Twilight Teaches Teenage Boys About Teenage Girls” by Kevin Kelly. Kelly claims that, […]

Enter to Win: Books on Holiday Entertaining

posted by Idol Chatter

Sure, Thanksgiving is over, but the holiday entertaining season is just beginning. Break out the Yule logs, whip up a bowl of eggnog, bake some gingerbread cookies, and hold the fruit cake. Have trouble getting in touch with your inner […]

Previous Posts

Academy Award Nominated Film Unbroken Releases on DVD
The highly acclaimed film Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie that tells the inspirational story of Louis Zamperini hits DVD on March 24, 2015. At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Louis Zamperini won a personal meeting with Adolf Hitler, who complimented his fast finish. In 1941, Zamperini enlisted in

posted 9:19:32am Mar. 23, 2015 | read full post »

Self/Less: 'God Created Man, Man Created Immortality'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71fWtJXEI0Q What would it really feel like to feel immortal and you know longer had to worry about failing health? Phoenix Biogenic offers this once in a lifetime offer where the new body will be genetically mastered to perfection. Only a select few are chosen to

posted 10:57:15am Mar. 13, 2015 | read full post »

The New Trailer for CW’s ‘The Messengers’ Is Here, And It’s Like Nothing You’ve Ever Seen
[youtube]https://youtu.be/61AfGNlXf9M [/youtube] CW’s “The Messengers”, starring Diogo Morgado from the hit series “Son of God”, centers around five individuals who die as a result of an earthly phenomenon. When they return to earth as Angels with unique abilities, they must band together

posted 11:13:54am Mar. 12, 2015 | read full post »

Open Letters to Oscar Night Standouts
The following is a guest post from one of our Entertainment contributors, Malayna Dawn. Enjoy! Dear John Travolta: We know you are multi-talented and have played many characters, but lately it seems like you may be having trouble expressing your true self – at least in ways that the public ca

posted 10:46:28am Mar. 04, 2015 | read full post »

We Bid Farewell to Leonard Nimoy
Friday, February 27th Leonard Nimoy, famously known for his role as Spock in the infamous Star Trek series, passed away at the age of 83. His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, stating that the cause was the end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Nimoy publicly announced last

posted 2:25:26pm Feb. 27, 2015 | read full post »

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