Tag Archives: film

“Christmas with a Capital C” is porn for Bill O’Reilly

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This is a trailer for an actual movie called “Christmas with a Capital C” that stars Ted McGinley and Daniel Baldwin. Baldwin is the bad nasty atheist trying to “steal” Christmas from a town that violates the 1st amendment by putting up a creche on city property. Amazes me that people protecting their civil rights are seen as the bad guys

Christmas with a Capital C

(H/T vjack via twitter)

There is just so much wrong with the scenes in the trailer. This is porn for the likes of Fox “News” Bill O’Reilly.

Good thing is according to the IMDB it is going straight to DVD on
November 2nd.

Darwin film to open Toronto festival

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The Toronto International Film Festival arrives in September and it was announced the film picked to open it is called “Creation” starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly. It tells the story of Charles Darwin and his writing of his book “Origins of Species” that introduced the science theory of Natural Selection and led to Evolution. It seems from the trailer that the story focuses on Darwin’s struggle to write a book that takes on religious explanations about the origin of creatures found on Earth. My only concern is that the film doesn’t have the usual “protagonist sees the error of his irreligious ways…” we see in films about people struggling with their faith.

“We have traditionally opened with a Canadian film, but this year we chose to go a different route. We fell in love with this movie and this is the one, we felt, really sets the tone for the kinds of conversations we hope will happen around the films at the festival,” TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey told reporters on Tuesday.

He added that the “tension between faith and reason” seen in Jon Amiel’s film Creation — which follows Darwin as he struggles with the views of his deeply religious wife and his world-changing theories — is also emerging in other films programmers have selected.

“This theme of that eternal conflict between faith and reason does seem to be emerging from different parts of the world, in different kinds of films: documentaries, fiction films, big films, small films,” Bailey said.

Toronto film festival picks Darwin drama Creation as opener

See the trailer for the film here

Religion indoctrinates children

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Some years ago in an e-mail list about Humanism, I made the argument that religion indoctrinates children to carry on the faith to the next generation. At that time, some on the list took me to task for using the word “indoctrinate” as if the parents and religious leaders were doing something criminal. I think religious training is child abuse just like when parents try to maintain that Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny are real. The recent documentary “Jesus Camp” proves my point if in a more hyper way.

Jesus Camp is a documentary about the “Kids On Fire School of Ministry,” a charismatic Christian summer camp located just outside Devils Lake, North Dakota and run by Becky Fischer and her ministry, Kids in Ministry International. The camp was started in 2001. The film focuses on three children who attended the camp in the summer of 2005—Levi, Rachael, and Tory (Victoria). The film cuts between footage of the camp and a children’s prayer conference held just prior to the camp at Christ Triumphant Church, a large charismatic church in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City.

All three children are very devout Christians. Levi, who has ambitions of being a pastor, has already preached several sermons at his father’s church, Rock of Ages Church in St. Robert, Missouri. He is home schooled (as are many of the campers), and learns physical science from a book that reconciles young-earth creationism with “scientific” principles.[4] He is also taught that global warming is a fictional political speculation, and that the earth’s temperature has only risen by 0.6 °F. Levi preaches a sermon at the camp in which he declares that his generation is key to Jesus’s return. Rachael, who also attends Levi’s church (her father is assistant pastor), is seen praying over a bowling ball during a game early in the film, and frequently passes Christian tracts (including some by Jack Chick) to people she meets. She does not think highly of non-charismatic churches (or “dead churches,” as she calls them), feeling they aren’t “churches that God likes to go to.” Tory is a member of the children’s praise dance team at Christ Triumphant Church. She frequently dances to Christian heavy metal music, and feels uncomfortable about “dancing for the flesh.” She also does not think highly of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.

Jesus Camp

One of the points made during a later portion of the film is that Fischer admits the need to “teach” the children since “our enemies teach theirs”.

I also had a good chuckle when the mother of one of the kids in the film says to the child “See how science doesn’t prove anything?”

I said, “Really?”

The main issue with the adults in the film was equating their politics and faith. Getting children to cry out to Jesus to end abortion without going into the details of the debate is just wrong in my view.

The problem with this indoctrination is that it’s indoctrination. You can tell children anything and they will automatically believe you and as pointed out in the film by their teens those teachings will stay with them for the rest of their lives. That’s why some people still think Evolution is only a view point and not a scientific fact.

Then when they do find out not every thing they were told in their youth was true – they can become angry or rebellious.

Parents should be able to educate their children how they wish but not when that teaching makes them stupid or makes them a later burden on society. Don’t take sides. Give the children all the info out there and let them decide what they want when they get old enough to make those decisions.

If my kids come to me and ask me about religion, I’m not going to tell them they will die if they find out or they aren’t good kids if they are religious.

Alexandra Pelosi holds mirror up to US conservatives in new film

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Alexandra Pelosi is the daughter of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a filmmaker. She is best known for her documentary “Journeys with George” which showed the lighter side of George W. Bush in 2000. On Monday, February 16th on HBO, she turns her camera on how some conservative voters felt and acted during the recent 2008 Presidential election especially when Barack Obama won. It is her attempt to show there are at least two different countries in the US trying to coexist with each other.

Here is the blurb from the HBO website. *Note* in my TV lisiting it says it is on the main HBO channel so check your local listings for time and channel.

Right America: Feeling Wronged – Some Voices from the Campaign Trail

On the day Barack Obama was elected the 44th President, more than 58 million voters cast their ballots for John McCain. In the months leading up to this historic election, filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi (HBO’s Emmy®-winning “Journeys with George”) took a road trip to meet some of the conservative Americans who waited in line for hours to support the GOP ticket, and saw their hopes and dreams evaporate in the wake of that Democratic victory. These voters share their feelings about the changing America in which they live. Premieres Monday, February 16 at 8pm (ET/PT) on HBO2.

For her fifth HBO project, Pelosi visited 28 states and spoke about the fight for the soul of the country with mostly conservative Americans, who feel underrepresented by the mainstream media. From the Pulpit Freedom Day in Bethlehem, Ga. to the NASCAR circuit, RIGHT AMERICA: FEELING WRONGED – SOME VOICES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL shows a country at war with itself over the religious and cultural identities that define America. Many interviewees were particularly incensed by what they saw as a lack of any meaningful media attention given to their message during the election campaign – including their views on such hotly contested issues as gun control, abortion rights, religion and gay rights – and by a perceived media bias against McCain and running mate Sarah Palin.

“The way the press handles the election, we feel like our side’s never being really represented, never really given a fair shake,” says one man. “It’s almost like they think of us as a bunch of hicks, a bunch of idiots. And they don’t even wanna hear our side or understand us.”

“The liberal media is selling the American people short,” observes one woman. “That’s ridiculous and people should be outraged. And millions and millions of us are.” “We’re the backbone of this country,” says another man. “We’re hardworkin,’ blue- collared workers that keep this country runnin.’ He [Obama] talks like he knows us; he doesn’t know us.”

Right America: Feeling Wronged – Some Voices from the Campaign Trail

I thought it amusing that the quotes say they thought the media didn’t represent their views. Maybe not the right wing nut type of views but the media did a good job of pushing the conservative talking points during the whole campaign. I’m not sure what media they were watching.

Pelosi was also interviewed on the Rachel Maddow show on Friday night on MSNBC. Here is her segment. It starts a minute or two into the actual clip:

Inherit the Wind still relevant

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I caught the 1960 version of “Inherit the Wind” which starred Fredric March and Spencer Tracy on TCM this weekend.

I always liked the film because it was based on the 1925 “Scopes Monkey Trial” where a school teacher was put on trial for teaching Evolution. At the time state law forbade the teaching of anything that was against the Bible story of creation.

Although the film uses the Monkey trial as the starting point it was never meant to be a documentary of that trial. The film was based on the stage play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee as a statement against McCarthyism – not religion vs. science. However it offers a good look at the still constant struggle of science against religious fundamentalism.

Basically the real trial ended in the conviction of Scopes and a $100 fine. It wasn’t until 1968, in the case Epperson v. Arkansas, that laws requiring creationism to be taught in the public schools were unconstitutional. However, the law John Scopes was convicted under only prohibited the teaching of evolution. It didn’t require creationism in its place.

One view of the trial, even around the freethought community, is that the trial and its publicity actually caused the religious fundamentalists to fight back against the teaching of evolution. It is said that because Clarence Darrow made William Jennings Bryan look like a fool, it ticked off the fundamentalists causing many of the issues we see today between science and religion. Some believe that because of that, we freethinkers prolong the battle.

Even that really isn’t true.

Gregg Easterbrook writes on Beliefnet.com:

When “The Fundamentals,” a popular series of tracts that sparked the modern American fundamentalist movement, began publication in 1909, most of these works spoke kindly of Darwin, suggesting that evolution helped people understand God’s process of creation.

Only in the 1920s did Darwin and religion come into regular conflict in the United States. There were several reasons. One was that paleontologists were beginning to accumulate evidence that human beings descended from earlier primates… While many churchgoers might have been content to believe that the horse evolved from the ancient proto-equus called eohippus, they were less than enthusiastic about evidence that Homo sapiens did not come about in a single divine act of creation. This put opposition to selection theory into play as an American public issue.

The Scopes Monkey Trial

Easterbrook also mentioned that other causes of the conflict included the arrival of universal publicly funded high-school education and the then fashionable idea of “Social Darwinism” also known as Eugenics. Some people were afraid of the implications of Eugenics – the poor, the disabled, and the troubled should be removed for genetic reasons.

While the play and film made fundamentalists look like buffoons, viewing the film again made me realize that life has come to imitate art. While the scenes of the mob and jeers didn’t happen in the real trial, it seems that the anger and divisiveness of the religion vs science battle has become more heated.

I think the main reason is because some believers can’t accept that humans aren’t special. Like Easterbrook, I think that people can accept that other animals evolved but can’t stand the thought that humans are just another animal and there is no special purpose for us. To accept it would call into question their entire belief system – even though it doesn’t have to.

The trial didn’t win the battle for evolution. Andrew Bradbury writes on his site The Scopes “Monkey” Trial that it wasn’t until the 1960’s that evolution began to take on a larger role in the teaching of biology.

By 1930, according to one pro-evolution commentator, Maynard Shipley, an estimated 70% of all public high schools omitted all reference to the theory of evolution in their science classes. This situation prevailed for over three decades after the Scopes Trial, so that as late as 1959 Harvard Professor of palaeontology George G. Simpson, in a lecture entitled “One Hundred Years Without Darwin are Enough”, observed that “Most [US high school science textbooks] relegate evolution to a single section, preferably in the back of the book, which need not be assigned.” According to researchers Judith Grabiner and Peter Miller, “Not until 1960 was the treatment of evolution in the most widely used high school texts substantially improved over that found before the Scopes trial”.

Education After the Scopes Trial

I should note that during the 1960’s there was a greater emphasis on science for national policy reasons as we battled the USSR in the Cold War.

Public opinions on evolution haven’t changed much since 1925. A majority still believe that the Bible story of creation is just as valid as the science of evolution and should both be taught in the schools.

I think that is why the film “Inherit the Wind” is just as relevant today as it was in 1960, even if for different reasons.

Medved is wrong about films – as always

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Michael Medved, the so-called film critic, who has now become another cranky conservative radio talk show host, wrote an Op-Ed piece for USA Today, on July 25, about why he thinks the film industry box office is in a slump this year. At least USA Today did the correct thing and put his peudo-critique in the Op-Ed section.

He writes:

Revealingly, none of the studio honchos talked about reconnecting with the public by adjusting the values conveyed by feature films, and replacing the industry’s shrill liberal posturing with a more balanced ideological perspective.

Something clearly changed between 2004 and 2005 to cause an abrupt drop-off at the box office, and the most obvious alteration involved Hollywood’s role in the bitterly fought presidential election. The entertainment establishment embraced John Kerry with near unanimity — and bashed George W. Bush with unprecedented ferocity.

Michael Moore became an industry hero and the most visible symbol of the Hollywood left. Innumerable callers to my radio show expressed resentment at the strident partisanship of top stars; no one ever complained about the lack of 3-D digital projection or alcoholic beverages at concession stands.

Despite efforts by entertainer activists, a majority of voters cast their ballots for Bush. If even a minority of those 62 million GOP voters — say, 20% — reacted to Hollywood’s electioneering by shunning the multiplex, it could easily account for the sharp decline in ticket sales after Bush’s re-election.

Another values-oriented phenomenon of last year similarly contributed to missing moviegoers: The Passion of the Christ earned $370 million by drawing religious-minded patrons who had long avoided movies altogether. Amazingly, no major release in the 17 months since the opening of The Passion attempted to appeal to that huge, wary churchgoing audience. Walt Disney Co. hopes that the faithful will flock to theaters during Christmas season to see the adaptation of the Christian allegory by C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but that promised deliverance is still five
months away — an eternity in show business time.

Hollywood’s disconnect

So Medved believes that increases in DVD sales, high ticket prices, lack of a tent pole movie, tons of dreck retreads, and poor experiences at theaters had little to do with the current slump? He believes that Hollywood needs “Bush Love Fests” and more “Passion of the Christ” at theaters?

He claims that callers to his show prove his claim.

Meanwhile USA Today printed a poll on the same day and out of the 200 who responded, none mentioned the politics of the actors or the “values” of the film for the reason they do or don’t go the movies.

Movies as you like them

Which poll is more correct? One based on a narrow sample of people who agree with the host or the poll where 200 different people with different backgrounds responded.

The conservatives have gone to great lengths to discredit Michael Moore and his film “Fahrenheit 9/11” because of their petty political bickering. The fact is the film made more than $100 million in release and at one point ranked number one in American box office receipts despite being on the fewest number of screens than its mainstream competition. $100 million in domestic ticket sales is one mark of a successful movie in the US.

Why does Medved praise the high box office receipts of “The Passion of the Christ” yet dismisses Moore’s film which was also successful. If he wants to play the “popularity means it must be correct” then what spin can he put on the fact that Shrek 2, also released in 2004, grossed more money than Passion by June 27th 2004 – Fahrenheit’s opening weekend.

2004 had 4 films, including Passion, that had made more than $150 million by June 27th In 2005, there were only 2 films to make more than $150 million by the same date and only one Star Wars: Episode III made more than $300 million by the same date in 2004.

On June 27th 2004, 7 out of the Top 10 movies were “new” films – not remakes or sequels. On June 27th 2005, 5 of the Top 10 were “new” films.

Getting people in the seats is the goal of every studio and having good product will do that. People will spend the money and go to the trouble of going to a theater if they feel they have a reason to go. Like most businesses, movies run in cycles. For the past few years box office receipts have gone up each year and in 2004 there were several movies bringing in the people but in 2005 the studios have hit a dry spot. It has nothing to do with “values”.