Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 09/02/22

Friday Media Scroll: Bad Politics Edition

Quote of the Week: Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.Desiderata by Max Ehrmann © 1927
Timeless wisdom. Unfortunately, in today’s politics merely finding one’s politics opponents to be dull and ignorant would be an improvement. To hear the likes of President Biden (below, speaking at Independence Hall in Philadelphia last night) his political opposition isn’t merely dumb. It’s evil.

Projection, anyone? Unfortunately, Biden’s disdainful view of upwards of half the electorate whose analysis of the recent past is, to say the least, different is pointedly echoed by New York Governor Kathy Hochul whose advice to New York Republicans is to “Just jump on a bus and head down to Florida where you belong, OK?…You are not New Yorkers,” and Florida Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Crist who has this message for Governor Ron DeSantis supporters: “I don’t want your vote. If you have that hate in your heart, keep it there.” Considering that DeSantis won a majority of the Florida vote four years ago, that’s not only bad politics. It’s bad math.

Beyond that, appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Crist said of DeSantis (and, by extension, his voters) “He is on the battlefield of hate, I am on the battlefield of love. There is faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love. It’s in Corinthians, in The Bible, I’m going to beat him because I’m running on love and love always wins.” I suspect voters may find this sort of judgmental Bible thumping to be more Cristian than Christian. As for President Biden, the soul of America doesn’t belong to him or any politician. Considering what they’ve done to the country, that’s a good thing.

In theaters today: Nate & Gigi (Rated PG-13)
Nate Gibson’s life is turned upside down after he suffers a near-fatal illness and is left a quadriplegic. Moving forward seems impossible until he meets his unlikely service animal, Gigi – a curious and intelligent capuchin monkey – who helps Nate find what he needs most: hope. Inspired by a true story. The thought-provoking family drama stars Charlie Rowe as Nate, Marcia Gay Harden (of CBS‘ fall series So Help Me Todd) and Jim Belushi as his parents, Diane Ladd as his grandmother, Josephine Langford (as his older sister), Hannah Riley (as his younger sister) and Zoe Colletti as his friend and potential romantic interest. The movie is written by FBI: Most Wanted executive producer David Hudgins and directed by Nick Hamm. My review follows the trailer.

IMHO: One of the best movies I’ve seen in years. Far from being just another cute animal flick, Gigi & Nate goes beyond merely portraying an emotionally riveting relationship between a paralyzed young man and his capuchin monkey service animal (which, by the way, it succeeds at brilliantly). The film really takes off as its storyline ventures into the debate over animal rights and, even more provocatively, the internet’s ability to quickly move past nuance and mobilize emotional mobs to causes they have not bothered to really research. This is not a cookie-cutter movie. It will have you feeling for it’s characters as it has you thinking about the issues it raises. The writing, direction and acting are all superb.
The Bottom Line: Highly Recommended.

Dropping on digital platforms today: Mister Limbo
Two strangers with spotty memories of their pasts meet in the middle of a desert without a clue as to how they got there. The film, starring relatively unknown actors Hugo de Sousa and Vig Norris, is written and directed Robert G. Putka who says he was inspired to make the movie while continuing his journey of recovery from what he calls a “longform nervous breakdown”  in the fall of 2016. He says of the experience: “It helped me to better understand the power of forgiveness – both of oneself and others – and how it frees us to move on to better things. Maybe it can do the same for others.” My review follows the trailer below.

IMHO: Part Twilight Zone, part Lost, with a tinge of Ghosts, there’s a lot of talent on display here, including by its stars de Sousa and Norris (who display the sort of chemistry that someone should consider building a series around) and by Putka who, I think, makes a valid point about negative self judgment and the importance of not viewing God as some sort monster who is out to get you. From my own experience with depression, I can say that I have come to believe that, even more important than believing that God exists, is believing that He is good and on our side.
That positive message aside, the film is a bit too slow and meandering and there are just way too many F words in the movie for my taste. I admit I may be a bit of a prude on the subject but, while F bombs are Fantastic for blowing off steam when you stub your toe, I prefer the discipline of telling stories without them. Rod Serling never needed them.
The Bottom Line: A good message but a #%*! long way getting there.

Streaming now on Pure Flix: An Unlikely Angel
Janie (Jillian Murray) rules the boardroom but is falling apart at the thought of becoming a mom. When she leaves her newborn and husband to get to a business meeting, the angel Gabe (Robert Amaya) intervenes and shows her what it would be like to miss the milestones. My review follows the trailer. Also starring Aaron Mees, Delyla de Castro and Sam J. Jones.

IMHO: One thing you have to give Pure Flix is that it is a true oasis from the sort of desensitizing violence, coarse language and aggressively pervasive gender-obsessed Wokism found almost everywhere else (regarding the latter, perhaps, especially at the supposedly family-friendly Disney+).  As the company continues to grow it’s content library with original series and movies (to add to its acquisitions) there are bound to be some hits and misses. An Unlikely Angel falls somewhere between those two categories. If it was a dart on a dartboard it wouldn’t be a bullseye but it wouldn’t be off the board either. It’s certainly inoffensive and, with its likable characters and pretty scenery, it’s passable as a film to help one unwind from a tough day and, yes, maybe fall asleep.

Like Clarence in the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life, Jonathan Smith in the classic ’80s TV series Highway to Heaven and Monica, Tess and Andrew in the also classic ’90s TV series Touched by an Angel, Gabe (Amaya) of An Unlikely Angel follows in the storytelling tradition of stories about angels sent to Earth to help humans get through difficult times and/or learn valuable lessons about living a happy, fruitful life and understanding the loving nature of God.

In this film his mission is to help tightly-wound toy executive Janie Caswell (Murray) learn to let go of constant worry getting ahead at work and to enjoy and appreciate life – in her case with loving and supportive husband David (Aaron Mees), father Buck (Jones) and daughter Sam (de Castro). Great lesson. Cynics might call it trite but I say what they might term a “trite platitude” is often an eternal pearl of wisdom that we need to hear again and again until with get it through our thick skulls – hopefully in creative and well-written and produced ways.

As for the acting, An Unlikely Angel certainly can claim a likable cast but, IMHO, Sam J. Jones who, despite a long and successful career, is probably still best know for portraying Flash Gordon in a 1980 film, really pops (so to speak) in the active and wise grandpa role. Maybe they should should reboot the old Our House TV series with Jones as a somewhat trimmer version of the Wilford Brimley character. Just a thought.
The Bottom Line: Not up there with its truly classic predecessors but works well enough as uplifting TV comfort food.

As football season gets underway Pure Flix is featuring two inspirational football-themed theatrical films during this month. 1993’s Rudy stars Sean Astin in the true story of a small kid in a working-class neighborhood with dreams of playing football for Notre Dame and 2014’s When the Game Stands Tall stars Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, Person of Interest) in the true story of Coach Bob Ladouceur who led the De La Salle Spartans of Concord, CA to the longest-running winning streak in high school football history.

John W. Kennedy is a writer, producer and media development consultant specializing in television and movie projects that uphold positive timeless values, including trust in God.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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