Film

the Web Editors 03-29-2012
Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic

Hosts Kelly Ripa and Anderson Cooper attend screening of 'Bully.' Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic

Celebs are showing their support for the movie Bully, released Friday.

A Twitter post made the rounds all week, grabbing endorsements for the film from the likes of Justin Bieber, Diddy, Maria Shriver, Ellen DeGeneres, Ricky Martin, Russell Simmons, Ryan Seacrest, Channing Tatum, Randy Jackson, Jimmy Fallon, Zooey Deschanel, Katy Perry, Jonah Hill, Kristen Bell, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Hugh Jackman, Paula Abdul and Jessica Simpson.

Carrie Adams 03-29-2012
Bullying word cloud, kentoh/Shutterstock.com

Bullying word cloud, kentoh/Shutterstock.com

We’ve talked about bullying on this blog before. We’ve highlighted Christians who are standing with gays and lesbians, exposed racial bullying, discussed religious bullying, bullying of every stripe. We’ve tried to tell meaningful stories about support, healing and prevention.

But there’s more to say.

Christian Piatt 03-28-2012
Cover of Blue Like Jazz movie guide

Cover of Blue Like Jazz movie guide

I should recognize up front that I can hardly be considered a neutral party with respect to the Blue Like Jazz movie. First, I got to see a screening of a rough cut a few months ago, and then sit in on a podcast interview with Steve Taylor, the film’s director. I also got to meet Taylor, Don Miller and Marshall Allman at a screening in Colorado Springs, and I was invited with my wife, Amy, to write up the study guide that I posted earlier today.

When you get that close to a project, it’s hard to be objective. But people have been interested in my opinions both about the book and the film, so I thought I’d reflect on both a little bit.

the Web Editors 03-28-2012
Blue Like Jazz film cover

Blue Like Jazz film cover

Christian Piatt, who recently interviewed the creators behind the upcoming film Blue Like Jazz, was asked to write a discussion guide for the movie. The e-book will be distributed to anyone who wants a copy for free.

From Christian:

We’re excited and honored to be a part of this, and it’s my hope that the e-book will help individuals and small groups who see the movie to go a little deeper with it and come away with something meaningful.

Sandi Villarreal 03-26-2012
The three stars of The Hunger Games at its LA premeire. Joe Seer, Shutterstock.

The three stars of The Hunger Games at its LA premeire. Joe Seer, Shutterstock.com

Editor’s Note: This review may include spoilers if you have not seen the movie or read the book.

I really didn’t want to read The Hunger Games. I had resisted the time sucks that were the Harry Potter and Twilight series. I’m too old for such nonsense.

But about two months ago, my friends settled on the trilogy for our next book club pick. After some initial whining, I gave in. Our last selection was Cutting for Stone—I could use a mental break. Of course, the inevitable happened. I was engrossed so completely that I flew back to Minneapolis for opening weekend and book club.

Our group of seven twentysomethings settled in with our themed cocktails among the hordes of fans, ready to be wowed. Later at our debrief in the rented-out sky club at my old apartment building—we were serious about this—we settled on a resounding “eh.”

Christian Piatt 03-22-2012
Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for SXSW

Director Steve Taylor attends 'Blue Like Jazz' at SXSW. Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for SXSW

It’s no surprise that some Christians and the organizations they represent are less than enthused about the forthcoming Blue Like Jazz movie. But Steve Taylor, the film’s director, claimed today on Donald Miller’s Blog that certain prominent Christian filmmakers “issued what amounts to a fatwa against Blue Like Jazz.”

One of the concerns involves a movie being released this month called October Baby, which is being distributed by Provident Films. Taylor says he received word that Provident had ordered exhibitors not to show trailers of the Blue Like Jazz movie at October Baby showings.

Taylor also shared this excerpt from an email forwarded to him, which reportedly came from the Vice President of Provident Films (text is verbatim from Taylor’s post):

 i think exhibitors  are going to try to play the Blue Like Jazz trailer with october baby

 this can not happen – the trailer actually has the words “I hate Jesus” in the voiceover along with a number of images that will be very offensive to catholics

 it is in the best interest of theaters to not run the trailer because they are going to have a lot of angry patrons if they do

 thanks for your help here

Joshua Witchger 03-22-2012

The Dr. Suess alphabet, World Pizza Games, Mad Men the 8-bit video game, The Tutu Project, Daily Show exclusives, Origami Animals, and a family of ducks crossing Pennsylvania Avenue stops traffic. Take a look at today's Links of Awesomeness...

Annalisa Musarra 03-22-2012

A new movie confronts a controversial topic by highlighting two words that don't typically go together: "abortion" and "survivor."

"We didn't know there was such a thing," said Jon Erwin, who wrote and co-directed "October Baby" with his brother, Andrew.

The film, the latest in a recent string of Christian-themed movies, opens Friday (March 23) and has broken into Hollywood despite rejection at first by many studios.

The movie tells the story of Hannah, a 19-year-old college student who finds out that she not only is adopted, but she is a survivor of a failed abortion attempt, which explains why she has been suffering from health problems all her life.

Rebecca Cusey 03-21-2012
Photo by Heather Kennedy/WireImage

Director Steve Taylor and actors Don Miller and Marshall Allman speak at screening. Photo by Heather Kennedy/WireImage

Do not confuse the upcoming film Blue Like Jazz with Christian market movies like "Fireproof" or "Courageous."

"A Christian movie genre has formed. Our first goal with this movie is that we didn't fit into this genre," said director Steve Taylor.

Author Donald Miller, who wrote the 2003 best-selling book Blue Like Jazz, from which the movie was adapted, agrees.

"We wanted to show that movies about the faith struggle that millions of Americans deal with don't have to be cheesy," he said. "They don't have to have bad actors. They don't have to be low budget production. They can compete with other films at the box office."

Before he caught up with them in Colorado Springs this week, Christian Piatt interviewed Blue Like Jazz's director Steve Taylor and star, Marshall Allman, via Skype while they were in Austin, Texas for the premiere of the film at SXSW.

We give you, BONUS BLUE: THE LOST CYBER INTERVIEW:

http://youtu.be/8pXsLSbxEK0

And there's even more bonus 'Blue' goodness inside the blog...

the Web Editors 03-20-2012
'Blue Like Jazz' filmmakers. Photo by Christian Piatt.

Actor Marshall Allman (who plays "Don" in the film), Donald Miller and director Steve Taylor. Photo by Christian Piatt.

"There are people who struggle with not being understood; God is not one of them."

~ Donald Miller to Christian Piatt
in 'Blue Like Jazz' - The Sojourners Interview
coming Wednesday on God's Politics

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Earlier this week, our intrepid blogger/reporter/resident-God-Nerd Christian Piatt sat down with the makers of the highly-anticipated film Blue Like Jazz —  Donald Miller, director Steve Taylor and Marshall Allman, the actor who portrays protagonist "Don" in the screen adaptation of Miller's best-selling memoir — to talk about faith, film and ... fate. The far-ranging interview covers everything from John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" and what Miller calls "dangerous theological ideas" to the astounding grace of God and peanut butter cups. Fascinating and funny, the conversation with the hearts and minds behind Blue Like Jazz is a humdinger you won't want to miss.

But because we like you a whole lot , we've prepared a wee taste of what's to come ... inside the blog.

Joshua Witchger 03-20-2012

The Spring Equinox ushers in World Storytelling Day. Listen to Portlandia stars discuss some of their most cherrished music. OK Go experiments with a new online dating service. Arcade Fire delivers guest lecture at University of Texas at Austin. Pictures of sharks, crazy sool ice-cream shops, and more...

Lisa Sharon Harper 03-20-2012
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Occupy LA Health Fair, Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Christianity Today’s film This is Our City is provocative because of its gritty, grounded honesty. This is not a film about political pundits who banter back and forth exchanging policy talking points. No. This short film reveals the lives and thinking of two very ordinary people, their deep faith in Jesus, and how that faith is leading them to engage two of the most consequential grassroots movements of our time. These two movements share one beautiful thing in common; they are groundswells of ordinary citizens reengaging their democratic civic duty—to let their messages by heard and considered in the public square.

D.C. Innes rightly points out in his reflections that the film’s title, “Liberty or Justice for All,” and its structure seem to pit the virtues of liberty and justice against one another. Within the first minute of this nearly seven-minute film, liberty is clearly the motivation for Emmett Bailey’s Virginia Tea Party involvement, while the motivation for Pam Hogeweide’s Occupy Portland involvement is clearly “justice.” And both subjects say their involvement is an outworking of their faith.

Joshua Witchger 03-15-2012

Mad Men meets Sesame Street, the documentary film Mister Rogers & Me, electric bicycles, a new Ben & Jerry's flavor, and an impressive glowing Japanese dance team.

Carrie Adams 03-15-2012
Game Change movie still, via HBO.com

Game Change movie still, via HBO.com

First, let me say that this is about a movie based on real people, and I’m critiquing the movie as a piece of entertainment. This is a movie review, not a political analysis. We can do that later.

Reading Game Change was a thrill for me- it was inside baseball at its best. John Heilemann and Mark Halperin are favorite authors of mine, and not only did I read this book right when it came out, I read it again when it was assigned for a class. It was that good. So to say I was excited about the movie version of this book is putting it lightly. The bar was high.

Is it my fault then that Game Change didn’t clear the hurdle for me? Nope. This happens every time you see a movie that had a book first--the book is always better.

For those of you who don’t know, Game Change follows Senator John McCain’s presidential run in 2008 during the tumultuous weeks of general election after adding Governor Sarah Palin to the GOP ticket. The movie focuses in on this facet, whereas the book branches out into the election as a whole, primary season and all.

Nicole Higgins 03-14-2012
(Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)

Producer Judd Apatow, Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd arrive at the L.A. Wanderlust premiere. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)

If there were a movie about your life, what would it look like? Which celebrity would play you?

Ah, the timeless ice breaker question.

Over the weekend, I made plans to see Friends with Kids with a few coworkers. I thought I was heading to see a comedic depiction of my current life stage as the young adult who is left in the dust of the friends-getting-married-and-having-kids frenzy.

If this confession prompts an eye roll from you on account of my young adult angst, let me add one bit of vindication: the movie was sold out.

Our next option was to see Wanderlust, and something interesting happened: in my search for one snapshot of my current context, I found a wholly different but still parallel other. Bring on the ice breaker questions — I have found the film about my year in intentional community.

Jack Palmer 03-13-2012
Still from the film, "Blue Like Jazz," via www.bluelikejazzthemovie.com.

Still from the film, "Blue Like Jazz," via www.bluelikejazzthemovie.com.

As a progressive Christian in my mid-20s, it'd be safe to bet I might be a fan of Donald Miller. And I am. Miller's Blue Like Jazz and Searching For God Knows What are among the books that have significantly affected my faith journey.

And, like many others in my demographic, I met the news of an adaptation of Blue Like Jazz with both hope and apprehension. Like Miller himself, “at first, I didn’t understand how it could be a movie. I couldn’t see it on a screen.”

My own anxieties about a big-screen adaptation fell into two categories. First Jazz is, for all intents and purposes, a memoir. And memoirs — or the biopics they often become onscreen — are, in my opinion, rarely great films. They are usually little more than a path to the Oscars for actors who are pining after an ego-boost (but I guess that’s another story).

What saves Blue Like Jazz, thankfully, is that it is a memoir with a difference. It isn’t a rose-tinted, romanticized account of some historical or celebrated figure. It is the memoir of someone who is very much like me — just a little bit funnier. That’s where the appeal comes from and I'd expect that's what will make Blue Like Jazz (the film) a success both here and abroad.

Julie Polter 03-01-2012

Homies and Hermanos: God and Gangs in Central America; The Amish; Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit; The Ethical Vision of Clint Eastwood. 

Gareth Higgins 03-01-2012

A perfect time to catch up on the 10 best Blu-ray releases of the past year.

Joshua Witchger 02-22-2012

Education in urban ecology, children recreate a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, one goofy trip to the grocery store, art in the snow, Batman takes Toronto. Discover this and more in today's afternoon links round-up...  

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