Yesterday, Christianity Today unveiled their annual “Critics’ Choice Movie Awards.”
In my opinion, here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly:
Well, it’s mostly good! This year, the website’s lists for “Critics’ Choice” and “Most Redeeming” have a similar feel to them. Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life is the critics’ number one choice, and is second for most redeeming. Actually, Malick’s film, which was nominated by the Academy for Best Film this week, is the unanimous pick for Christianity Today, Think Christian, and Looking Closer. Oh, and we thought so, too.
I’m also glad to see Of Gods and Men, Moneyball, and Hugo all bunched together near the top of the list. They were three of my favorites of the year, for sure. Also, it’s good to see Win, Win and The Mill and the Cross receive some recognition. These seem to be overlooked a bit on the year-end lists.
I know: according to Rotten Tomatoes’ top critics, it’s possibly the best movie ever. But I saw the film this week, and, as I mentioned briefly in my column on the Oscar nominees and nostalgia, my first thought was “that’s the frontrunner for best film of the year?” But, it seems CT’s team regards it just as highly. (Shrugs).
I’m also a bit disappointed at a few omissions. Not even an honorable mention for Certified Copy, Buck, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, or Attack the Block? Ok, well maybe the last one is wishful thinking on my part, but the first three? I’m a bit surprised by their total absence.
Oh, the comments! There’s some cringe-worthy ones under the Most Redeeming List. Three of my personal (least) favorites:
“d b” says: “As usual, CT has borrowed again the Hollywood mantra “unsuited for young viewers.” This means that errotic movie scenes and foul language “may be” detrimental to our children.”
Phillip Henson chimes in: “I tried to refraim from commenting, but the Tree of Life has now taken the number one spot on my list of worst movie’s I’ve ever seen, it had no plot. I fully support an artist taking risks, but I don’t think a movie should get rave reviews only because it was an artistic risk. Really, the movie was like reading only the first page of each chapter of a book and saying it was beautiful. It wasn’t beautiful, it was trying to tell a story but not taking the time to write it, only giving the viewer an idea of it.”
Ricardo Herrera: “I cant bealive they put Harry Potter in the list of reediming films next to real inspirational movies like Courageous.”
We still have a ways to go, it seems, when it comes to evangelicals, the arts, and culture. Hopefully these kind of comments aren’t as representative as they might seem.
Christ and Pop Culture
Podcast #108: The Year In Music, With Special Guest Jay Tholen
This week, we continue our year in review podcast series with a look at the year in music, with special guest Jay Tholen. Jay Tholen is one of the most unique and exciting musicians to emerge from the indie “Christian” music scene. Mostly considered a chiptune artist, he often transgresses those boundaries to produce consistently surprising and polarizing music – all of it charmingly blatant in its Christian foundation. He, Drew Dixon (editor), and Jason Morehead (associate editor) discuss the year in music, recent trends in the contemporary Christian scene, and more.
Check out Jay Tholen’s music – his latest album is free!
Every week, various Christ and Pop Culture writers delve deeper into recent articles and address some of the bigger issues in popular culture.
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Christ and Pop Culture
Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olsen examines new and upcoming films.
The Debt (Dir. John Madden)
The Debt looks like a compelling spy thriller. You almost can’t go wrong with top actress Hellen Mirren involved. Plus, Tom Wilkinson is hands down my favorite supporting actor in Hollywood right now.
Contagion (Dir. Steven Soderbergh)
Damon! Winslet! Law! Cotillard! Fishburne! Paltrow! Never has a “deadly disease movie” been so star-studded. It is like Valentine’s Day meets Outbreak. Except, I suspect that we won’t leave this movie feeling love-sick over celebrity attraction.
Moneyball (Dir. Bennett Miller)
People who are familiar with Billy Beane’s attempt to put together a baseball team on the basis of computer-generated analysis are somewhat skeptical as to whether the story will work on the big screen. I remain hopeful, though, that a screenplay from dialogue-king Aaron Sorkin can provide us with an intriguing narrative, particularly with Philip Seymour Hoffman involved.
Another Earth (Dir. Mike Cahill)
A Sundance award-winner, Another Earth looks as if it has all kinds of potential to be a powerful film. I suspect that the film may have much to do with the human desire for forgiveness – or, for a new earth where we can be made whole again.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Dir. Tomas Alfredson)
Of the movies yet to release in 2011, this whodunit story – based on John le Carré’s best-selling novel – is what I’m most excited for. Featuring some of the best British actors money can buy, this film finally gives Gary Oldman the lead role he deserves.
Hugo (Dir. Martin Scorsese)
Anyone else half-expecting this orphan tale to unexpectedly morph into a double-crossing gangster drama? Yeah, me neither. With James ‘Whitey’ Bulger successfully captured, it was time for Scorsese to finally give us a “family-friendly” film this holiday season. Should be interesting to see what the famous director has up his sleeve.
The Iron Lady (Dir. Phyllida Lloyd)
The proverbial “0ther-side-of-the-pond-biopic” also arrives this Oscar season. And is there any actress better suited than Meryl Streep to play former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher?
War Horse (Dir. Steven Spielberg)
Spielberg + War + Horse…sounds like Oscar math to me! (for better or worse!).
Movies Nick definitely wants to see in 2011: Dream House (Dir. Jim Sheridan); Machine Gun Preacher (Dir. Marc Forster); J. Edgar (Dir. Clint Eastwood); We Bought a Zoo (Dir. Cameron Crowe); Melancholia (Dir. Lars von Trier); Young Adult (Dir. Jason Reitman); The Whistleblower (Dir. Larysa Kondracki); Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (Dir. Brad Bird); The Ides of March (Dir. George Clooney).
Other movies to see in 2011: Cowboys & Aliens (Dir. Jon Favreau); 50/50 (Dir. Jonathan Levine); The Muppets (Dir. James Bobin); The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Dir. David Fincher); The Adventures of Tintin (Dir. Steven Spielberg); Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Dir. Guy Ritchie); Restless (Dir. Gus Van Sant).
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Christ and Pop Culture
Posted by Admin
Categories: Christian Pop Music
| Tagged: Moviegoer
The world of the independent and mainstream music scenes is perhaps one of the most notable bifurcations that currently exists in the pop music industry. Both the connections and contrasts between the two sects of music run deep and always bear fascinating results on the surface. As a spectator, its often even hard to decipher which of the two are leading the other. In pointing out these strange continuities within culture, we are attempting to throw out the labels the marketers have given us and more clearly see what is happening in our culture.
One of the most seemingly random trends of this year so far has been a resurgence in interest in the saxophone. Now that the “hipster” value system has been fully identified and inexplicably embraced by mainstream culture, 80s rehashes and all things nostalgia-loving are seemingly commonplace throughout both mainstream and indie culture. So far this year, artists from across the spectrum have been rediscovering this brass instrument that has for awhile now been too cheesy even for the indie scene. However, starting off the year, artists like Destroyer and Iron and Wine embraced the instrument in their respective album releases, recalling the smooth jazz and soft rock of the 80s.
A couple months later, the man who is single-handedly re-inventing the saxophone as an avant-garde instrument, Colin Stetson, released his third full-length album, New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges. If you’ve seen his name before, it’s probably because aside from being a solo artist, he has recorded and performed with acts like Arcade Fire, TV on the Radio, and Bon Iver. In fact, both Bon Iver’s recently released, self-titled album and Fleet Foxes’ sophomore album feature Stetson tearing it up in both avant-garde (see Fleet Foxes’ track “The Shrine / An Argument”) and cheese-factor settings (see Bon Iver’s track “Beth / Rest”).
But things get really interesting when we look to mainstream pop. Two huge singles from pop idols Katy Perry and Lady Gaga both feature screamin’ sax solos that are equally cheesy, but attempt to recall the “better days” of pop. Lady Gaga’s mega-hit, “Edge of Glory”, features the late Clarence Clemons of Springsteen fame soloing against a sea of typical Gaga 80s synthesizers. Meanwhile, Katy’s party-theme, “Friday Night”, features none other than the king of cheese himself, Kenny G. In the song’s music video he can be seen making complete fun of himself during his solo at a teenage party, which poses the question: what’s the difference between what pop stars like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry are doing and what indie bands like Destroyer and Iron and Wine are doing anyways?
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Christ and Pop Culture
This is pretty awesome – AmazonMP3 is giving away worth of credit, with a twist. You have to spend the on someone else, through AmazonMp3′s gifting program.
Here’s how it works. First, you visit this page and enter the code GIVEMP3S. Then, browse the AmazonMP3 Store and find a good song to buy for a friend. Then, just click the “Give Album OR Song as a Gift” or “Give Song as a Gift” button, enter your friend’s email, add a message, and send it.
I don’t know about y’all, but I love the idea of gifting the music. Music is the perfect gift anyway, it’s so much fun to make someone’s day by getting them their favorite song. So far I’ve gotten my mom a copy of Kutless’ “This Is Christmas“, and I’m still thinking about the other song. I’d love to hear who and what you spend your credits on though, maybe I’ll get some good ideas. Have fun!
Update: It turns out that’s not the only promotion Amazon is running right now – you can also get in Amazon Video on Demand for yourself, free! Check out the details here.
The Free Christian Music Blog