Frozen

This past weekend we watched the Disney movie, Frozen. Twice, actually. (I know, we’re a bit behind.)

Both times as the end credits were rolling (even knowing what was coming the second time) I felt impressed. Not by any technology or effects, though the animation was flawless. It was the story.

frozen

The princesses are beautiful and “princessy”, but flawed. The “act of true love” is one of giving, not receiving. The “villain” is Self, Fear, and Worry about what others will think of you. (And so, you end up legitimately liking the “bad guy”. Well, not the one who turns out to be a bad guy, but… don’t want to give too much away!)

I’m pretty sure it just leapt up to the top of my favorite family movies list. Spots previously only held by Pixar. (Up, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, etc. It’s likely no coincidence, as John Lasseter (of Pixar) is the Executive Producer.) As I thought about how well they told this story (which was based on a Hans Christian Andersen tale, The Snow Queen), and as we discussed it together, I only became more impressed.

There are really funny moments, too. Olaf the snowman was a highlight, and Sven the reindeer. (We liked when Kristoff would “do” Sven’s voice!) There are trolls, and magic, and other things you might expect in a Disney movie.

For me, the difference with Frozen is the tumultuous inner battle in Elsa. She pushes everyone else away—including her sister, Anna, who is her best/closest friend—all in the name of doing the “right” thing. Being the “good” girl. But when she tries to break free from this iron-fisted self-righteousness, she (literally) freezes the entire village.

In the end, the one whom we think must receive an “act of true love” is the one who gives it, which breaks Elsa free from her own, lonely, frozen prison. Love always wins.

The imagery and truths in this story are just fantastic. Well done, writers.

If you haven’t seen it yet, we definitely think it’s worth owning. (We will be buying a copy very soon!)

(Bonus: The music is really good and fun, too. Lots of singing happening around here now, inspired by the movie!)

A ‘Monumental’ Documentary

I recently came across this trailer, and it is intriguing to me. There is much in this two minute video that I have also wondered, pondered, questioned. (But I also have to ponder how much can one really learn from Mike Seaver? Sorry, Mr. Cameron…) 🙂

Inevitable barriers to communication aside, this really does look interesting. I’m not certain why the event will be live (rather than multiple showings) but here’s what it says on the movie makers’ website:

On Tuesday, March 27, 2012, in more than 450 major movie theaters, audiences will come together for a live, one-night only theatrical event called MONUMENTAL: IN SEARCH OF AMERICA’S NATIONAL TREASURE, hosted by Kirk Cameron.

There will always be any number of issues that can be found with the culture around us. You know, we all grow up hearing how much better everything was in our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, until we are them and then we start saying it. And we meant it. And it’s likely quite true … but it’s a cycle. It’s the human cycle.

All have turned away;
all have become useless.
No one does good,
not a single one.

(Romans 3:12)

That’s for always, not just now.

Does that mean then that we just let things go, since they’ll “always be that way”? I would strongly say a firm No! We’re told what is good and right and noble and excellent, and we’re shown it through the life of Jesus … so we know Whom to come to for our Life and what Way works best (especially dealing with how we see and treat others). There is a best way.

I’m curious to see what this particular documentary will say. I was mostly sold where he said everyone is blaming someone else. Very similar to what I have written here, here, here, and even here, and here. (Obviously, this is something I have been thinking about!)

Have you heard of this? What are your thoughts? Can you not get past the Mike Seaver and Left Behind part? (Hopefully you’re better than me at that…)

If we decide to attend, perhaps I’ll give a report here after March 27th. But, before that, if you are moved to do so, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Letters To God

The reviews of Letters To God are either glowing, or not kind. And, I can see where most of them are coming from.

In some ways this movie was pretty hokey. Some of the acting was bad. Some of the story was a tad unbelievable. Some of the “Christian” part seemed a bit too forced.

But I’ve seen some bad Christian movies. (There’s one with Mr. T in it, that is really only watchable because it’s funny to see and hear Mr. T say he needs to get his guns to go take down the “Antichrist”…) And, don’t forget the Left Behind movies…

But somehow this one was just different.

Cheesy, yes. Hokey, yes. Christian, yes. But there was not a dry eye in our living room. All seven of us, down to even three-year-old Emma connected with the emotional messages in this movie. And we loved it.

First, the “Christian” part was fairly authentic, and not “churchy”. (Meaning, a major portion of the film was not set inside a church building, or at church functions. Those moments were rare in this movie.) The story unfolds in the setting of “real life”. I think the movie makers wanted to keep this film accessible to the widest age range possible, so some of the more “real” stuff is toned down a bit (which leads some reviewers to say it’s less “real”) but there were good discussions on many parts of the movie amongst the three decades of ages covered by our family in the room that night. (Ages 3, 5, 7, 10, 13, and 37!)

Without giving the ending away (though, since it’s based on a true story, you already know “the ending” going into the movie…) the very real, very authentic, deep trust that an 8-year-old boy lives daily in his God is so infectious that an entire town (it seems) is affected, even changed.

The best part for me was that everything this boy (sick from cancer and the treatments he underwent to try to cure it) was only focused on other people. On top of his sickness, his Dad had died not long before he got sick! And still he only thought of his brother, his Mom, his best friend, his neighbors, the new mailman (who has a world of his own hurt) …

Do you remember that I recently was talking with our teenager about what (generally) distinguishes heroes from villains? Well that clearly stood out in this movie again, too (though there weren’t really many “villains”). The clear hero of this story is Tyler, the boy who could so easily not care one bit about anyone else. He only thinks about everyone else.

It’s because his focus is on God, and not on himself, good or bad.

We really do recommend this movie. If you just hate anything that might present life with Jesus as a reality or a real possibility, then you probably won’t much like this video. But, if you love feel-good, family-friendly, make-you-cry, “heart-warming” stories that spawn multiple further discussions…

Letters To God is for you, too.

Recommendation: Up by Pixar

A week or two ago we all watched the Pixar movie, “Up” together as a family. It was fun to see how it kept nearly everyone’s attention throughout, with lots of fun moments sprinkled through an emotionally touching story.

I don’t use those words lightly!

When it was over, Kirstie (our 5 year old) and Julia (our 3 year old) were both crying! A lot! (Note: the funny thing was, there were some sad story lines throughout the movie, but it does end up on a relatively happy note…) Now, it could be that they were tired, too, but they were definitely affected by this story!

Pixar continues to amaze me. In an era when we really don’t want our kids to watch any movies or TV shows because of the messages they convey—directly or indirectly—Pixar makes movies that are not only “OK” to watch, they are actually helpful!

I don’t want to give away the story line, so I’ll just say that “Up” is another endearing story with many teachable moments, and just plain FUN! Many hilarious, laugh-out-loud moments. (I mean that literally, not the “texting” version of that phrase…) I don’t think I could recommend a movie more.

AND, for those of you who still have room to buy stuff for Christmas (or still need to buy stuff for Christmas…) you can click on the DVD cover in this post and click over to the digital version from Amazon and get it delivered in time for Christmas. (I don’t know if they can still get the DVD there on time…) Or, there’s always iTunes

Enjoy!

(PS… for the adults… we also highly recommend Star Trek! Another fine movie from 2009!)

Unofficial Star Trek Movie

This weekend I discovered an unofficial Star Trek movie, which was released over the internet, officially completing this month. It’s a three part series which you can watch online, produced by Renegade Studios, and actually has many familiar Star Trek actors in it, some even playing their familiar Star Trek roles.

The movie is called Of Gods and Men and was directed by Tim Russ, who played Tuvoc on Star Trek: Voyager. The story was written by two Star Trek: Deep Space Nine writers as well.

Even though you can tell it’s done on a much smaller budget, I have enjoyed what I’ve seen so far (about half way through) and wanted to spread the word. It was done, according to a wikipedia article as a “’40th anniversary gift’ from Star Trek actors to their fans” in 2006.

Knight Rider – Again?

I mentioned in a previous post that I am a fan of the 80s TV show, Knight Rider. I remember as a young lad having a cool little black t-shirt featuring K.I.T.T. flying through the air. Even had a little Hot Wheels K.I.T.T. of my own. Who didn’t?

Well, NBC has a Knight Rider sequel scheduled to air later this month. I’m not overly optimistic, based on recent “remakes” (Dukes of Hazzard???) but we’ll see. I’m not a fan of current TV, to be sure. Perhaps this one will be different?

(Yes, I am forever the optimist…)

Speaking of re-makes. I did watch a free episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles via iTunes a couple weeks ago. Actually… it was the first current TV show in recent memory that I have watched and kinda liked. (Well, besides Monk. Jen & I do really like that one.) I’m not sure I’ll pay to watch it. I might try and TiVo an episode or two. We’ll see. Surprising that I like a show made by Fox. Haven’t so far.

In other recently watched recommendations, I also watched the Rocky Balboa movie and liked it. How can you not like Rocky? (That was sort of a remake as well, I suppose!) And Jen & I watched We Are Marshall together. Both thought it was a very good movie. Just … sad, though. No way around the sadness of that story. Kinda sad and… inspiring? But… sad.

Stuff to stay away from? I decided to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey since I knew it was a classic and I think Netflix recommended it based on my Sci-Fi preferences. Well… I gave it two stars. It was very, very weird. The reason I gave it two was that it was certainly … creative? Yikes. Very strange movie. 🙂 I also got a free episode of a TV show called Kyle XY. I knew it was sci-fi themed, but forgot that anything from the ABC Family network is too… “drama” for me. Do not recommend.

Oh yeah. I also got to see a bit of what is apparently a classic – Krull. 🙂 Never heard of it, but my friend John was laughing at me for having watched it I think. 🙂 He described it as a cheesy Saturday afternoon, nothing better to show on TV kind of movie.

I’d recommend staying far away from that one as well.

And there you have, this week – or two – in entertainment from GregsHead! 🙂

The Busyness Continues

Here I am at the Apple store, waiting to meet with a Genius for our Mac Mini. (Was trying to install the newest OS, Leopard, on it last night and that didn’t work.) 🙂 This is the first chance I have had since getting back from vacation to post anything to GregsHead.net! (I used to do this more often…..) 🙂

I still do want to tell more of the stories that I did write down from our trip, but again… it’s finding/making the time to get them up here. I will be posting a “highlights” version soon, though. It was SUCH a great trip!!

I’m #3 on the list here, so I am keeping one eye on the Genius Bar… but trying to remember what I was going to say here… 🙂

A couple things of interest… first, the busyness does continue. Going on vacation was a nice escape from reality, but did make the work pile up a bit more. And, when I finally get to the projects I need to be working on, then I get a call or email from someone needing tech support on their sites. You never can quite predict how a day will go, eh?

Also, last night I watched Spider-Man 3 while re-installing the system software on my broken Mac Mini. 🙂 Actually really liked it. The violence is weirdly over the top, but “cartoony” enough to not be that bad. Aside from that, the story lines were very good. There were three different story lines of characters being consumed by revenge, and eventually overcoming it through forgiveness. Not as cheesy as that sounded. 🙂 Also just cool examples of the power of loving someone, even enough to die for them. (Don’t want to give away the ending…) 😉

So, I recommend it.

OK… it’s gotta be my turn soon!!!

I am here by myself also. We had dinner with some friends, and we were late 🙂 Just got to finish my waffle and head out for this appointment. Hope to get to hang out a bit once we finish this.

I hope we start it… 🙂

The Water Horse


I was scrolling through the new movie trailers in Front Row tonight and found a movie called “The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep” at the bottom of the list. It was rated PG, so I decided to check it out. Wondered what it might be about.

It had some impressive credits (but, don’t they all?) and cool graphics/effects. And I liked the story. Looks like I may have found a movie we can take the kids to see in the dollar theater! 🙂

Click the play arrow above to view the trailer. Movie will be in theaters on September 28th. Dollar theaters probably around Christmas time. 😉

Iwo Jima

Flags of our FathersOver the past couple weeks I have watched two WWII movies at the recommendation of a friend (or, kind of two… Amy wrote about it on her blog loooong ago, but Marie is the friend I was referring to…). She asked if we had seen Letters from Iwo Jima, to which I replied, “No, what’s it about?” She explained that it was sort of a companion to Flags of Our Fathers (which reminded me of Amy’s post, about her friends being in the movie…) and from Marie’s description, it sounded like they were both worth the watch.

I started with Flags since it was the first one made. It was a good movie. Interesting story angle. The focus was on a field medic (not sure that’s really his title… he’s the guy who goes out in the middle of a battle to treat/rescue fallen soldiers) who finds himself shipped across the country along with two other “heroes” from Iwo Jima just because he was named as one of the (now famous) flag raisers. (You know that famous statue/photo with those Marines hoisting the American flag together? Yeah, that one.)

It was interesting to think of how desperately America needed heroes. The story goes that the guys the US gov’t paraded around did not feel like heroes, or want to be heroes. But in the end, I think they were presented as that, and most people would still consider them that.

As for the story of the battle at Iwo Jima. Just nuts! Intense, insane fighting on a tiny little island off the southern coast of Japan. It was crucial to the war, and it’s capture likely helped the US finish the war not much later.

As all war movies, it was just a completely unfathomable environment. The most memorable scene was where the aforementioned medic is in the middle of the battlefield, attempting to treat an American soldier, when out of nowhere comes a Japanese soldier. He lunges at the medic with a knife, but the medic avoids him, and instead is able to use his own knife to stab the Japanese soldier. For a poignant moment, the medic looks the Japanese solider in the eye, the camera has panned out to show the wounded American soldier right next to the now dying Japanese solider. Similar wounds, but the medic is (understandably) trying to kill one, and save the other. It was a very “human” moment in the chaos.

Letters from Iwo JimaNow the interesting part of the double feature was that the second movie was about the same battle, but from the opposite perspective. Letters is the story as the Japanese saw it. It was filmed almost entirely in Japanese. I thought it was such an interesting idea (the story of an American battle told from the “enemy’s” point of view) that I was very much looking forward to watching the second part, maybe more than the first.

It did not disappoint. I thought using the letters from Japanese soliders was a great way to show the humanity of the “enemy” soldiers. I’m sure the easier thing to do in war is to demonize the enemy… and that is what both sides did. There was a cool moment in the movie where a commander of one Japanese unit decides to save and treat a wounded American soldier. His men want to “finish” the Marine, but this commander – who spent some time in America – wanted to “do what is right”. He talks to the young Marine, gets to know a little about him. Not much later, the Marine dies of his wounds. The commander found a letter on him from his mother. He reads it aloud (in Japanese… pretty good translating…) 🙂 to his soldiers. The end of the letter says, “Remember to do what is right. Just because it’s right.” Another very “human” moment.

Overall I thought both movies did a good job of revealing that we are pretty much the same. Yes as different cultures we do have different priorities and slight differences, but really… we all bleed. We all die. We all fear. We all love. It was an insanely sad event in the history of our planet, but it seems like overall good came from it. Still, watching both movies, you just want to say, “Work it out, boys!”

I will never understand war. I don’t suppose any of us will. War movies and books are just fascinating to me for that reason. It’s beyond my comprehension how we can so lower the humanity of another person that we are able to kill so many. I know you probably just “do what you have to do”, but still… how crazy.

Flags and Letters were both excellent re-tellings of the events at Iwo Jima in WWII, and I do recommend you watch them. Obviously, they are graphic. So, be warned. But the storie are well told, and compelling. And especially Letters is such a fascinating experience… watching the story from the other side. Good stuff.