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|Index||19 reviews in total|
I saw this movie, with a friend and a film writer. The content was
misleading at best. The film quality and directing was amateurish. His
camera actually moved from person to person, without cuts. I got dizzy
just watching. I, with no film experience, know better than that.
My film writer friend thought his work was so amateurish that she was embarrassed for Rossi. My other friend who has written and done stage work herself, was literally sickened by his misportrayal of Aimee Semple McPherson's life.
His intended premise is misguided and never proved. The movie never gave "insight" to anything but gross exaggeration and erroneous information. There is nothing to indicate why she was such a phenomenon. There is never a crowd -- no attempt to give any kind of context to her world-wide appeal or her national "celebrity" status.
Seeing this movie you would think all she did in life was marry three times, in a very short span of time, and fought with her mother. And that really is the just of the movie in a nutshell. And very poorly done at that. Now I've just saved you 2 1/2 hours of watching a boring movie.
Dreadfully bad, the acting is so poor it draws attention to what is going on in the film, not that it matters. The quality of the film is grainy and at times blurry. Didn't anyone making the film know how to focus the camera?! It is very amateurishly done. It is clearly evident director Richard Rossi has no idea how to make a film. The camera work seems like it was done by a child, the script is laughable bad. This certainly has to rank among the worst film of the 2000's. The lack of effort to capture the time period - the early 1900's is painfully obvious. This would be an excellent example for a film class and how NOT to make a film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Wow, what a story! But then that is just about all it is is a story loosely based on real facts, as I perceive them. I was born in 1928. My mother was really smitten by Sister Aimee, and she became from the 1920's a very devoted member of the church. She was the guide for visitors to the temple from 1930's to the 1970's. She worked in the office and did lots of other activities for the Church. Myself, I went to Sunday school at the Temple, and worked with the stage crew in setting up the monthly illustrated sermon settings, and performed in many of them, from the late 1930's till just after her death when I went to the Navy. I even played the kettle drums when the regular drummer did not show up for services. I knew her personally as well as Rolf and his daughter. So what? Well, first of all the producers might have taken a little more care in providing the correct uniforms for Sister and the others shown. I have never seen her in anything other than the white nurses uniforms and capes with the large shield like tie and never saw low cuts to show cleavage. The actress was so far off the natural voice of Sister, she was squeaky and high pitched. Sister to my recollection did not have that high pitch during her sermons. All in all the movie was not that bad as far as it went; although much of the conversations in private must be in the writer's imagination. I remember well the day it was announced that she was dead. Within those who were a part of the Four Square religion anywhere, the shock might be comparable to that on the day JFK was shot.
Aimee Semple McPherson 2 hours and 15 minutes DVFeature Film Director:
I had the opportunity to attend a preliminary screening of the film in Pasadena California. Before attending the film, which consisted of Hollywood producers, the director Richard Rossi, and his editor, I decided to do my homework and find out just who this woman was.
Immediately the name, Aimee Semple McPherson had a certain power to it, like she 'should' be known to all, a name that commands and demands attention. The internet was able to provide me not only with her history as an evangelist in Los Angeles, but the scandal that would follow her up to her untimely death at the age of 54 in 1944. Historically Aimee Semple McPherson is the founder of the FourSquare Gospel denomination, a denomination which still thrives today, headquartered in Hollywood, California.
The film began with a rather tongue in cheek throwback opening credit sequence to the silent films of Aimee's era. It seemed as if the director really wanted to put the audience into the sights and sounds of the roaring twenties. The opening montage was very effective in doing just that.
If I could use one word to sum up my experience watching the film Aimee Semple McPherson it would be 'Interior.' ASM was shot digitally on a small budget and many times with smaller independent films this tactic usually hurts the film, in this case it enhanced the story or more importantly the character whose name is the title of the film. Aimee Semple McPherson, as director Richard Rossi portrayed her is a woman of magnificent triumphs and magnificent defeats. This film isn't about crowds and buildings and model Ts, it's about quiet emotion, loneliness, and the idea that a higher power can call us to greatness no matter what our faults. This idea is a direct contradiction to the Christian church today which seems to enjoy looking good as opposed to being good.
The film begins at her famed and much publicized disappearance off the coast of Ocean Park beach in May, 1926. This disappearance was and is rumored to have been a hoax perpetrated by Aimee herself and an accused lover, Kenneth Ormiston played wonderfully by the dashing and sexy Michael Minor. The scandal of her disappearance would find Aimee in court when, soon after she disappeared two divers died looking for her body.
Straight from her disappearance we are taken back to Aimee's humble beginnings [via a mysterious reporter] in a small town in Stratford Ontario Canada. Aimee is 17 years old living with her parents. Aimee's father James Kennedy, is played graciously and perfectly by Rance Howard, [father of Hollywood heavy-weight Ron Howard]. Howard plays Aimee's understanding and nurturing father with Americana blue-collared perfection, his every line delivered with the conviction of belief as opposed to performance.
Aimee is portrayed by newcomer Mimi Michaels with grace and conviction. All of 20 years old, Michaels breathes life into a role most Hollywood actresses would not know what to do with. The part of ASM of was offered to Rene Russo who turned the part down. A pity for Ms. Russo, the role was perhaps the best female lead to circulate Hollywood in decades.
Kiera Chaplin [granddaughter of legendary Charlie Chaplin] makes an interesting appearance as a prostitute that goes for Aimee's third husband later on in the film. Chaplin seems to make a good effort at performance but yet again she doesn't understand the qualities of being a presence, and she never really was one. It almost seemed as if her performance was edited for impact.
ASM is also a film about imperfection and how imperfect people are used to affect positive change in the lives of so many others. Unlike bland TBN fair [did anyone actually see The Omega Code?] ASM is a portrait of a life as seen through the eyes of an artist as opposed to the eyes of Christian. Aimee's life isn't pretty, and many times she comes across as near manic-depressive or bi-polar, that is how real the calling of evangelism is in her life. In fact I think a plausible argument can be made debating whether Aimee was indeed clinically nuts. The fire of evangelism is started by her first husband Robert Semple, adequately performed by unknown actor Chad Nadolski whom Aimee loses through tragic circumstances. The fire grows and builds until Aimee has a following and church of her own in Los Angeles [Angelus Temple].
Probably what captured me the most is how director Rossi fully realized how spirituality and sexuality can so easily become entangled. It's no wonder why so many men and women of faith end up falling for their secretaries or congregational members. This is an idea not welcomed by many people who call themselves Christians but it's truth and that truth is offered not graphically but subtlety.
This is an important film. Rare is it when humanity is showcased so beautifully and stylistically and at the same time with a heart. There's a particular scene in the film when Aimee uses the pulpit as a means to raise money, she is vamped out, giving the performance of her life, while looking at us, the audience, the stand in for the non-existent congregation of Angelus Temple.
First time director Rossi weaves vaudevillian decadence with sensual spirituality but still maintains the heart of a healer who ultimately couldn't heal herself. This is a film for everyone to see and love. Aimee Semple McPherson has the theatrics of Moulin Rouge but the heart of the much underrated The Apostle, this film is not to be missed, there's something there for everyone.
Evan Charles Gross Freelance Entertainment Writer Pasadena California
Is there enough budget to release a DVD???? I'm sure many out here want to have a copy. I'm writing this comment because I've been looking on the internet for over a year to find if there has been a home video release. Just think how many people want to see this film and there evidently has been no progress that I have seen to indicate that there is any production in the works to release a home video. This is about all I can say on the subject. I have long admired Ms McPherson as a spiritual leader and dynamic personality. I've heard recorded sermons and viewed most all other video material that relates to her story. Maybe a grant from SAG should be considered to have this important film available to the general public.
I just saw at industry screening in Hollywood, and Rossi's question and
answer time was as interesting and compelling as this powerful film.
This film about faith was made on faith, often Rossi showed up on set
trusting someone would show up with film, food or whatever he needed.
In each case, people would arrive saying, "God told me to bring you
food, props, film, cameras." It is the most astonishing tale of a low
budget project miraculously coming together since "El Mariachi."
There's more info on this at the film's official website, www.aimeesemplemcphersonmovie.com
Rossi's honesty about his life and personal struggles was equally moving. He made this movie because he had to, and that kind of love and vulnerability is why this film is so deeply effective in creating sympathy for the lead character.
Bravo to Richard Rossi, producer, director, and writer of 'Aimee Semple
McPherson' who also plays a leading role in his film. This remarkable
drama based on the real life of the 1920's Pentecostal Evangelist, is a
190 degree turn away from today's glossy commercial film making
status-quo. Aimee's life from teens to 40's is compellingly delivered
by 21 year old, MIMI MICHAELS, Rossi's casting coup. The young
intriguing actor is a rare if not all but extinct breed among her
contemporaries. Her performance ascribes to no trappings of the
twenty-something blonde pop-culture actors flooding the film market
these days. Entirely unselfconscious, she is a unique blend of
intelligence, sensitivity, and emotional dexterity. The real-deal
classical actor gives us an unaffected 24carat 'Aimee,' exposing the
complexities of her psyche, longings, frustrations and doomed attempt
for personal happiness, with deft subtlety. Michaels keeps her work
fresh and inspired with artfully delicate gestures baring Aimee's
instability. It doesn't take us long to fall in love with the mixed-up,
naughty, but well intended Aimee. James Kennedy, Aimee's mild mannered
father, oft emasculated by his wife, is played by veteran, RANCE HOWARD
with wisdom, warmth and tenderness. The chemistry between this father
and daughter will be recognized by loving girls and daddies alike. The
honesty and comfort Howard and Michaels shared together discloses a
relationship that could only be divined as altruistically between Aimee
and her Heavenly Father. When Aimee and her controlling mother Minnie,
played discerningly by TERES BYRNE
take the screen, again familial chemistry was strong and volatile as well.
When the aggressive mother and Aimee lock horns we all sit a little more rigidly. CHARLES HOYES as Harold McPherson shows his metal as Aimee's woebegone husband in his futile competition with Jesus; or Aimee's calling to do His work. Other notable performances were given by Aimee's closest disciples, Emma and Reba played by ETIENNE ECKERT and LAURIE SHAW.
Although sustained by Mimi Michaels Magnetism, the current 2 hour plus version requires a good half hour chop if it is to see the light of day at the independent film festivals. The story line strays a bit afield in the last half hour but generously returns us to a three tissue ending. In this unpretentious film, purest Richard Rossi has, it seems, almost innocently produced a genre to be followed; making his 'A.S.M.' a reminder that the independent cinema is a great escape from the glossy mega-million dollar manipulative Hollywood flicks. R. Hughes Los Angelos
What makes this film and Rossi's work superior to other "Christian" filmmakers? Recently, "The Simpson's" did a brilliant parody of the evangelical movie "Left Behind," humorously demonstrating the preachy, didactic, elitist, proselytizing tripe of most Christian film. Rossi, though deeply spiritual, makes films as an artist, not a propagandist. In contrast to the Sunday School writing and wooden acting of TBN-type films, Rance Howard's nuanced performance and Mimi Michaels gifted presence reveal a filmmaker who believes deeply in his Saviour who brought director Rossi out of his much publicized past depression and despair and into recovery and grace, but who is willing to honesty look at that brokenness. His films are based on the maxim of Jesus "the truth shall set you free," rather than the evangelical agenda of a TV conglomerate or a national ministry. He is free to make work that matters critically. He explores the dysfunction and humanity of Aimee, Minnie, David and all his characters without the evangelical restraints of moralization. Though other faith-based film outfits like Cloud Ten, the Christiano brothers, Billy Graham's Worldwide Pictures, TBN's Gener8xion films, may have an appealing donor base and bank statement, they have an appalling critical track record with the movie-going public who come to the theater to be entertained not preached to. Rossi appeals as a crossover artist to the non Christian market with a Christian story and he is the only one among those mentioned above to merit serious artistic consideration. He's not pigeon-holed into apocalyptic pretentious fluff. He is an actor's director.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I attended a screening of a rough cut in Hollywood. Mimi Michaels is stellar as the miracle woman, Sister Aimee. The camera angles are beautiful, the scenes framed like a picture. Rance Howard, Ron Howard's father, gives an exceptionally strong performance as Aimee's father. The film really draws you in, and was well paced in terms of how much time it spend on Aimee's youth and adulthood, and the three husbands. The wedding scene should win an award for cinematography. Charles Hoyes (Harold McPherson, Aimee's third husband, is powerful in the breakup scene.) Director Richard Rossi's acting and range was praised in audience feedback sessions, favorite scenes being his impromptu sermon in the speakeasy and his scene courting Aimee in which they are beautifully silhouetted at the beach. Charlie Chaplin's granddaughter Kiera was absolutely beautiful as Myrtle Ste. Pierre, the mistress of Aimee's third husband. Without giving spoilers, the ending was hauntingly beautiful and spiritually resolves the narrative perfectly.
Saw at recent private industry screening of a long three hour rough cut in which a disparate mixture of evangelical Christians, cult film fanatics who think Rossi is a genius, teenagers, and 9 to 5 salt of the earth suburbanites gathered. Director Richard Rossi wanted audience feedback to assist him in trimming an hour out of the film. I must say, I was spellbound for three hours by Rossi's incredible direction and innovative visual eye, and Mimi Michaels acting as Aimee will be critically acclaimed. Rance Howard and Mimi Michaels had a great chemistry as father/daughter and Rance Howard's acting stood out, (it's obvious how his famous son Ron genetically was born for talent) he was perfect casting for the farmer with common sense and a connection to his gifted daughter. All I can say, is I believed, I bought it all. Mimi Michaels was so spot on I almost could not distinguish between her voice and Aimee McPherson's historical voice. Rossi's compassion for her as a healer who could not heal herself, and his understanding of women and their core emotional vulnerability is deeply moving. The end, Aimee's confession of her own loneliness, that only God can be her husband, and the way it ends, it had the room crying. It is masterful, and this is not an exaggeration. The timing of this, after the release of "The Passion" is perfect.
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