Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I Can Only Imagine

Rated PG
1 hour 50 minutes
Starring: J. Michael Finley, Dennis Quaid, Trace Adkins, Cloris Leachman

I Can Only Imagine was the highest selling Christian single and has sold more than 2.5 million albums.  It’s one of those rare songs that crossed over from the Christian music charts into the Billboard, Country, and the Top 40 charts.  There was always a story behind this beautiful song and it has finally been told.

 J. Michael Finley, plays Bart Millard, the lead singer of the group MercyMe.  This is his story of dealing with an abusive father all his life and a mom who left him with his dad.  It’s also about how he worked to make his dad proud of him in every way but never could and the results usually ended with a beating.  He was on a successful ride in high school as a football player until an injury ended his college dreams.  With nothing else to do – he turned to a school play and found he had singing abilities.  The story takes off from there as we see him getting together with his friends and forming the Christian group MercyMe.

 But Bart’s story is one of forgiveness.  After years of having no contact with his dad, he finally deals with his past and goes back to confront him.  What he finds is a broken man who is dying of cancer.  A man that knows he was a monster.  All he wants to do is to make amends to his son who wants nothing to do with him.  But through forgiveness, Bart sees his father in a different light and after he passes away, all he can do is “imagine” him in Heaven and what that must be like for his dad to meet Jesus face to face. 

This movie is powerful and so is the song that has become an anthem for so many people.  

Library Link: I Can Only Imagine (DVD)

I Can Only Imagine

Rated PG
1 hour 50 minutes
Starring: J. Michael Finley, Dennis Quaid, Trace Adkins, Cloris Leachman

Many times, when I start watching a movie, I end up trying to do other things at the same time and get distracted enough that I realize I’m not even watching the movie anymore.  With this one, I was all in from the start!  It grabbed me and didn’t let go.  I’m sure most songs have a story behind them, but somehow, this felt like you were almost there for the entire process of why “I Can Only Imagine” was written and the full meaning behind it.  I feel like music is one of the most powerful ways to convey thoughts and emotions, so maybe that was part of it for me, too.  I haven’t listened to MercyMe very much, but I had heard this song.  Like Christy said, it crossed all different kinds of music and was played by all kinds of stations.  This was a very powerful story that I connected with on many different levels and I haven’t heard anyone that hasn’t liked it.  There was determination on Bart’s part, forgiveness in many areas, and ultimately coming to a place of peace and acceptance with everything that had happened in the family member’s lives.  I’ll never be able to hear this song again without thinking of this film.  If you are looking for a “sad” feel-good movie, this is it!

Library Link: I Can Only Imagine (DVD)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Rated: R
135 minutes
Starring: Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi, Ben Foster

I told my husband “no” when he wanted to go see this in the theatres but I begrudgingly watched it with him when it came out on DVD.  To my surprise, I was all in with this movie.  Set in 1892, Christian Bale plays a legendary Army captain who has been in many conflicts with the Indians.  He has been asked to give safe passage to a dying Cheyenne War Chief, played by Wes Studi, and his family, back to their tribal land.  This is no easy request for him because of the hatred that resides in his heart for all he has seen in the battles with the natives.  Along the journey, he runs across a young widow, played by Rosamund Pike, who saw her family slaughtered by the blood thirsty Comanches.  It’s a very harsh movie as they don’t pull any punches as to what the climate was like back in the 1800s.  The very first scene where we see the family getting slaughtered – was tough.  There’s a lot of tough scenes in this film and its heart wrenching to watch at times.  But the story is excellent!  The way Christian Bale plays his hardened character and how he interacts with Wes Studi is superb.  But then we are presented with moments of grace and forgiveness in this violent stretch of wilderness, too.  There’s a lot of chemistry between the characters and a lot of sadness as you watch the film play out.  The movie speaks volumes of man’s heart and the chains we place upon it. And how freeing it is when we free ourselves from the shackles.

Library Link: Hostiles (DVD)

12 Strong

Rated R
120 Minutes
Starring: Chris Hemsworth and Michael Shannon

*Excerpt taken from Amazon*
“12 Strong” is set in the harrowing days following 9/11 when a U.S. Special Forces team, led by their new Captain, Mitch Nelson (Hemsworth), is chosen to be the first U.S. troops sent into Afghanistan for an extremely dangerous mission. There, in the rugged mountains, they must convince Northern Alliance General Dostum (Navid Negahban) to join forces with them to fight their common adversary: the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. In addition to overcoming mutual distrust and a vast cultural divide, the Americans—accustomed to state-of-the-art warfare—must adopt the rudimentary tactics of the Afghan horse soldiers. But despite their uneasy bond, the new allies face overwhelming odds: outnumbered and outgunned by a ruthless enemy that does not take prisoners.”

I was awed by the events of this movie, which was based on a true story.  All the odds were stacked against them as they went into battle.  Men who have never been on a horse before must ride a horse and shoot at the same time.  Knowing that their Afghanistan counterpart, General Dostrum, could at any moment kill them or sell them out.  And to go up against men who are ready to do battle with tanks and rockets all on horses.  It’s been17years since 9/11, and we are still hearing stories of courageous men who went into battle.  The heroism of that day will never cease to amaze me and this is another movie that clearly shows the bravery of our men and women who strive to serve this country with their utmost.

Library Link: 12 Strong (DVD)

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Greatest Showman

Rated PG
105 Minutes
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson

I have never been as crazy for a movie as I am for this one.  I fell in love with this movie when I saw it in the theater, (3 times and 4 more times since then.)  It’s so much more than a musical – it’s a “feel good” movie that reaches out and grabs your soul and takes you on this wonderful journey.  I know I sound pretty “gushy” about it – but that’s how it makes me feel.  

The multi-talented and star of the film, Hugh Jackman, brings to life the story and inspiration that was P.T. Barnum. The story begins when we meet P.T. Barnum as an impoverished child.  His dream is to make something of himself.  He achieves his dream – only to lose it all.  But in the end he finds out what it means to care for others who look different from you, following your dream, and never taking for granted the love that sees you through all the times in your life.

The talent in this film is above awesome!  Each actor showcased their talents of singing, dancing, and making their characters come alive!  Zac Efron is stunning as a suave play writer.  Zendaya is beautiful as a trapeze artist (who did all her own stunts).  Michelle Williams plays his wife and has a beautiful singing voice as well as Rebecca Ferguson who falls for the dreamer. The rest of the cast also gave dazzling performances as characters in the circus. (I mean, who can resist the bearded lady, the fat man, and the Wolf Boy?)

For all you nay-sayers out there who don’t like musicals – let me say – try this one!  There’s so much here to see – hear – and feel.

Library Link: The Greatest Showman (DVD) 

The Last Movie Star

Rated R
1 hour 34 minutes
Starring: Burt Reynolds, Chevy Chase, Ariel Winter, Clark Duke

As a longtime fan of Burt Reynolds, I was very excited to watch this movie!  The character he plays is an aging former movie star trying to come to terms with his fame being in the past.  I kept finding myself feeling like it was more of a movie about Burt Reynold’s life and career than just a character in a movie.  When he’s invited to the "International Nashville Film Festival" to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award, he decides to attend.  But when he gets there, he finds out it’s a small (very small) festival put together by some young film buffs and held in an old rundown bar – NOT AT ALL what he was expecting!  Having stormed out, he and his “driver” they have supplied for him, go on an adventure where he is able to reminisce about his life.  He eventually makes peace with his age, his regrets and his fading stardom.  This wasn’t the best movie ever, but for me, it really did feel like a special tribute to Burt Reynolds – it even had clips from his own movies and TV appearances.  Things could have gone very bad in this film and been super cheesy, but I’d say it all hit me just right!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Rated R
1 hour 55 minutes
Starring: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson

I’ve seen this movie twice and am sure I’ll be watching it again.  The main story centers around a mother whose daughter has been raped and murdered, with the killer never being found.  Feeling frustrated and like the police haven’t done enough to solve the case, she decides to put up three billboards “calling out” the chief of police for not trying hard enough.  Needless to say, this causes quite a commotion in their small town.  This film turned out to be much deeper than I’d expected.  Besides the main story, it went into many different subplots that covered anger, revenge, violence, forgiveness, change, racial tensions, and many different areas that really make you think about the way we all live.  Everyone is “real” and says pretty much what they’re thinking, which was a nice change from some movies.  I felt like I almost knew these people by the end of the movie and that just made it that much better to me.  I liked it the first time I saw it in the theater and liked it even better the second time.  If you want an unpredictable movie that might hit you pretty hard, give this one a shot!

Library Link: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (DVD)