Peanuts and Popcorn

Peanuts and Popcorn

‘Deliver Us from Evil’ is Scary Stuff

posted by jtotey
Father Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez)  and Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) try to make sense of some of the weird stuff they've seen in "Deliver Us from Evil." (Sony Pictures)

Father Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) and Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) try to make sense of some of the weird stuff they’ve seen in “Deliver Us from Evil.” (Sony Pictures)

There is an old joke that goes something like, “Can a Christian have a demon?” The answer of course is “Why would you want one?” A similar question, “Can a horror story be redemptive?” will be asked regarding the new thriller/horror movie, “Deliver Us from Evil.” The answer here is “Yes.”

Scott Derrickson, the writer and director of “Deliver Us from Evil” is also the man behind such scary fare as “Sinister” and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” He is also a Christian. So, why would a Christian want to be involved in horror films?

In 2005, Derrickson told Peter T. Chattaway of Christianity Today, “In my opinion, the horror genre is a perfect genre for Christians to be involved with. I think the more compelling question is, ‘Why do so many Christians find it odd that a Christian would be working in this genre?’ To me, this genre deals more overtly with the supernatural than any other genre, it tackles issues of good and evil more than any other genre, it distinguishes and articulates the essence of good and evil better than any other genre, and my feeling is that a lot of Christians are wary of this genre simply because it’s unpleasant. The genre is not about making you feel good, it is about making you face your fears. And in my experience, that’s something that a lot of Christians don’t want to do.”

In “Deliver Us from Evil,” New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) and his partner (a surprisingly good Joel McHale) investigate a series of strange and disturbing crimes in the Bronx and find that they are not only related, but are also demonic in nature. Sarchie was raised Catholic, but “outgrew” his faith at the age of 12. With these new crimes, he might be willing to reconsider. Reluctantly, Sarchie teams up with an unconventional priest, Father Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) who is schooled in the rituals of exorcism. Like most police dramas, Sarchie struggles with his work/life balance leaving his wife Jen (Olivia Munn) to deal with their daughter’s fears of a boogie man alone.

So, is “Deliver Us from Evil” a Christian film? Not in the traditional sense. It is rated “R” for violence and language and will cause some to sleep with the lights on when they get home.  It features many scenes that will most viewers jump and few that will make some cringe. Don’t expect many churches to show the film for “movie night” when it comes out on DVD. However, the story deals with some spiritual issues not usually found in such a movie. Sarchie deals with some of his own personal demons with the help of Mendoza, who shares about God’s forgiveness.

In addition, Ralph Sarchie and Father Mendoza ARE real people and the movie is inspired by real events that both have witnessed in real life. Some are taken from Sarchie’s book, “Beware the Night,” but it is hard to know just what in the story is considered true and what was added to make the story scarier. For instance, do windows really shatter because of a demonic presence? The scenes involving exorcism are fairly consistent with real footage that you can find from other sources and it is said that Eric Bana watched many for research before taking on the role. Not all skeptics will be on board with this one. At the very least, this film will make you think a little differently about mental illness and how much true evil plays out in our real world.

Coming to a TV Near You: Dove Movie Channel

posted by jtotey
How to Train Your Dragon 2 received 5 Dove seals and could potentially be featured on the new Dove Channel.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 received 5 Dove seals and could potentially be featured on the new Dove Channel.

Founded in 1991, the nonprofit organization Dove Foundation as been dedicated to encouraging Hollywood to create family-friendly products. Movies and books are regularly screened by Dove and only those that are more or less “safe” for the family earn the coveted Dove seal of approval.

Just last month, it was announced that Dove would begin a partnership with Cinedigm to provide an over-the-top (OTT) digital subscription streaming service which will be widely accessible to consumers via the web, set top boxes, gaming consoles, and connected TVs.

The press release stated that “Dove Movie Channel streaming service will feature Cinedigm’s vast library of family-friendly, faith and kids’ content, as well as acquired content and original programming. Today, millions of families rely on The Dove Foundation’s ratings system, which has the participation of all major studios and hundreds of independent distributors and producers. Dove’s research has shown that their endorsed films are three times more profitable than non-endorsed films. All content released on the channel will meet the stringent guidelines of the Dove Seal in order to be programmed on the service.”

“Once entertainment content shifted to digital platforms, we began seeking a partner to provide instant access to Dove-approved faith and family movies and television series,” said Dove co-founder and CEO, Dick Rolfe.  “Cinedigm is the ideal partner, perfectly suited to provide a robust inventory of Dove-approved content coupled with the latest digital technology available on multiple platforms.”

“We are excited to partner with The Dove Foundation to meet the acute need for an over the top subscription service providing pre-screened, curated and wholesome family-friendly content,” said Chris McGurk, Chairman and CEO of Cinedigm.  “The Dove Foundation offers families the highest degree of confidence that they will be viewing only appropriate entertainment from a source they can trust.”

One detail the press release failed to mention was the date when the Dove Movie Channel would be operational, but it seems likely that families may have to wait a little while. Cindedigm’s goal is to launch many branded digital channels over the next 18 months. DOCURAMA is the company’s first digital channel available now and ConTV (a comic-con themed network) will be launched this fall.

Kid President: Declaration of Awesome

posted by jtotey
Robby is Kid President (HUB Network)

Robby is Kid President (HUB Network)

In July 2012, the world was introduced Kid President through a series of videos posted on YouTube. Cute, short videos that feature Robby, a little guy with great vision. Those videos have captured America and now Robby has his own TV show on the HUB network!

“Never did we imagine our journey would take us the places it has,” says Brad Montague, photographer and brother-in-law of Robby. “Who knew a little can and string could connect you to everyone from bestselling author Nick Hornby to actor Rainn Wilson or to the President of the United States?”

Robby has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) a brittle bone condition which has resulted in him having over 70 breaks since birth, something he has talked about in his videos. “What’s inspiring about Robby isn’t his condition, but the fact that his condition doesn’t define who he is. In spite of all he’s been through he not only keeps going – he dances,” says Montague.

The First Hamster

The First Hamster

“The idea for Kid President came a few years ago. My wife and I started a camp for kids who want to change the world, GO! Camp. We were blown away by the ideas and the hearts of the students there. These students wanted nothing more than to leave the world better than they found it. After seeing their creativity and compassion I couldn’t help but think – wouldn’t it be cool if we listened to kids more? The two of us work on each episode together. There’s no fancy film crew or staff. It’s just us having fun and hoping we create something that makes people happier than they were before they clicked play. Our hope is that each episode is received with the same love that started this whole adventure.”

“Kid President: Declaration of Awesome” airs each Saturday at 7pm EST (6pm CT) on the HUB Network. This week’s episode,”Kid President Makes an Episode about Families,” Robby seeks advice from Mario Lopez on how to make a TV show and decides to talk about how families make the world more awesome.

YouTube Preview Image

You May Like Giving, but They Do Not Want Your Money

posted by jtotey
Brad Formsma, founder of "I Like Giving." (ILikeGiving.org)

Brad Formsma, founder of “I Like Giving.” (ILikeGiving.org)

Have you seen the short video titled, “I Like Being 98?” It was posted on YouTube back in February of this year but has just now seen some traction. In fact, I Like Giving, the creator of the video, just announced this week that this simple video has hit over two million views with 1.5 of them just from the previous week alone.

The video shares the simple story of 98-year-old Evelyn who went to re-apply for her driver’s license so that she could take her friend to the grocery store. A beautiful story about friendship and giving.

“We are so humbled by the tremendous support we’ve received for this video,” said Brad Formsma. “We’ve had people from all across the world reach out to tell us how moved they were by Evelyn’s story. We hope this video will continue to inspire others to live a more generous life.”

So who exactly is “I Like Giving” and what do they want? Definitely not your money.

Card“We long for something else,” says the website. “I Like Giving is a non-profit created to inspire a generous world. It serves as a platform for unique storytelling and idea sharing. It believes a generous world is a better world for all of us and wants your action, not your money. Go check out a story today and then go create one of your own.”

Brad Formsma, a successful landscaper heard news about some bikes being stolen in his neighborhood and called for a family meeting on what to do about it. His oldest son suggested purchasing new bikes for that family. A nice gesture, but it didn’t stop there. The Formsma family decided to forgo their planned trip to a water park and use the money toward purchasing a few bikes. The Formsma’s didn’t know this family or even where they lived, but with some research, they found their home and waited for them to come home. While the family spoke broken English, they managed totell them, “I like Bike! I like Bike!” And that was the beginning of I Live…Giving.

Waterbrook Press

Waterbrook Press

I Like Giving’s website has been around since 2011, but is just now seeing some traction. Partially due to the video mentioned above and partially to the release of Formsma’s new book, “I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life (WaterBrook Press). The website is known for its short “I Like _____” videos featuring everyday people on mission to live generous lives. It has the audacity to challenging the way people view generosity and encourages others to find new ways of giving to others.

We now live in a world where every trip to the grocery store involves someone asking for money for some cause. This isn’t a bad thing, but it is overwhelming. People can’t possibly give to every need or organization out there, no matter how valuable they are. Formsma has a different idea and his thoughts are catching on.

In a recent press release, Formsma admits that he wasn’t always an advocate of a giving lifestyle, but as he began to give, his priorities began to change as he found joy in blessing those around him. “I believe that when giving is our idea, it makes us like giving,” Formsma says. He emphasizes that giving does not have to be large donations or giant demonstrations of generosity, but it can be small acts of kindness, mapping out how a person can live a more generous lifestyle no matter how much money they have. “Giving is a powerful force. The research proves it. Giving gives us life. It connects us to other people, brings us joy and increases our well-being.”

In addition to the inspiring videos, the I Like Giving website also gives ideas on how people can give in the workplace, the classroom and the church body.

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