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60 reviews in total 
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Fireproof (2008)
3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
"It's about relationships, isn't it?", 18 April 2009

When her hospital co-worker Anna asks this of Catherine in the cafeteria, these five simple words bring all of human life into sharp focus. Our ability to communicate with one another and with our Creator is what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. For the record, my own personal top ten list of the greatest movies of all time (BEN-HUR, THE QUIET MAN, SEABISCUIT, STAGECOACH, 2001:A SPACE ODYSSEY, THE WIZARD OF OZ, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, HARVEY and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK)runs the gamut of elements that make for great cinema: chase scenes, animal stars, physical comedy, music score, special effects, scenic locations, and fight scenes of all kinds. Beyond these elements, these great movies provide a palette for movie makers to explore the way people connect with each other on human terms (OK, I'll admit that HAL in 2001 is not human, although his logical reasoning functions mimic human thought devoid of emotion.) As good as it is, FIREPROOF is not in the same class with my top ten films, although I would place it in the bottom half of my top ten list for just that genre. Having said that, at the time of its release in late September of 2008, the film became a huge box office hit with audiences then. People were seeing a society on the brink of economic collapse due to a breakdown in moral and spiritual values. Its message of faith in God and fidelity in marriage was a welcome contrast to the greed that had fueled astronomically high gas prices and a breakdown in the financial services sector of the economy. All of this factored into the victory of a presidential candidate who promised change in the way he planned to govern a nation teetering toward a great depression. Last week, shortly after Tax Day rallies across the country were protesting this leader's changes, our Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church in Spokane took a welcome respite from these events to view FIREPROOF. As a widower myself more than a few years separated from his spouse, I was as deeply moved as the married members of our small audience by this story of a man troubled by not one but two fractured family relationships. How the protagonist Caleb meets these challenges is well worth watching for anyone seeking to improve their own interpersonal relationships. I'll warn you, though, before you see it, even for a second time, to keep the Kleenex handy. FIREPROOF is definitely not tearproof. Dale Roloff

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Chill Wills would be laughing with us, 23 July 2008

As a film reviewer with over 50 comments and plot summaries to his credit, films featuring animals have always been among my favorites. When I recently compiled a personal list of the all-time ten greatest movies (no CITIZEN KANE, THE GODFATHER or CASABLANCA among them), my love of motion pictures with animals as stars or as integral parts of the plots therein were points of consideration. The ten, in order, are BEN-HUR, THE QUIET MAN, SEABISCUIT, STAGECOACH, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, THE WIZARD OF OZ, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, HARVEY, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Numbers 3 and 9 involve animals as the main focus, and 1,4,5 and 6 have them in key scenes. 7 and 10 are less obvious, but still provide essential elements in the story: Robin Hood becomes an outlaw after killing a deer and who can forget Maid Marian riding Roy Rogers' future co-star? And RAIDERS' most memorable action sequences are Indy in the snake pit and his chase of the Nazi caravan that starts on horseback. Hollywood history is replete with animals stars as well. Rin Tin Tin and Lassie were superstars of their studios and Tony, Trigger and Champion garnered nearly as much adulation as the Western stars who rode them. But none of these four-legged thespians talked, at least in human terms. Cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Betty Boop were among the first to vocalize human speech, and nobody was better at it than Bugs Bunny. But except for a talking lion in THE WIZARD OF OZ, no live-action film tackled the notion of animals making like Mickey and Bugs until 1950, when Universal released FRANCIS. Chill Wills, the voice of the talking mule, never received any screen credit for his voice work, but his voice was so recognizable that it was never an issue to him. Call it coincidence or maybe Providence, our Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church screened RACING STRIPES last Friday on what would have been the late Wills' 105th birthday. As the church's members and neighborhood guests sat in the parking lot and enjoyed this mostly funny family flick together, I like to think that if Chill Wills could, he would have been looking down at us and joining in with that famous Francis laugh. Dale Roloff

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Would you believe The Lone Ranger as a villain?, 13 July 2008

One of my earliest childhood memories was getting home from school and sitting down in the family kitchen to hear "The Lone Ranger" on our big console radio. Of all my first TV heroes, none were bigger or braver than Davy Crockett, Superman and The Lone Ranger (not to forget his "faithful Indian companion and a fiery horse called Silver.") Until now, I'm sure I'd never seen Fess Parker, George Reeves or Clayton Moore as a bad guy. A few hours before this movie aired on cable, I saw the text of the preview box which read "Pete:Clayton Moore" so I was curious to see what color hat he was wearing. Actually, I later found out from IMDb filmographies that Parker, Reeves and Moore had each played villains more than once. Still, I had to wait until the third reel before I could be sure I was seeing Moore. In the first few scenes, what little dialogue he spoke didn't really identify him. But in the last scene he played with Autry, he spoke long enough that his clear deep voice revealed the familiar one we would grow to recognize from the long-running series which began not many months after the release of this film. There's little else about this oater I'd recommend. There are some good but forgettable songs, by Gene and others, just fair action and cinematography, no real romance, and not even a comical sidekick. It's not a great western by any stretch or even one of Autry's best films. For all that, it's still a passable way to spend an hour and ten minutes, which is about the length of one of my church's Sunday morning worship services. Forgive me, Pastor Mark, but Gene Autry's films haven't yet put me to sleep. Now, Rev, if you're hankerin' to liven up the congregation, I'd reckon you might try to wear a Stetson and fire a six-shooter (blanks-loaded, naturally) now and then. Dale Roloff

Snow Buddies (2008) (V)
5 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
AIR BUD sequel just so-so, but making it full of no-no's, 26 June 2008

Many of us in the audience at the Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church, which is where we watched SNOW BUDDIES last Friday, have fond memories of watching ongoing film series with recurring characters, like Tarzan and Jane, Blondie and Dagwood, Andy Hardy and his family, to name just a few of the longer-running ones. But most moviegoers are unaware of which characters or group of characters has been filmed most often. Not counting silent, animated and short films, made-for-TV movies, and foreign-language films, TARZAN, not surprisingly, is #4 on the list, just a few films less than were made featuring Sherlock Holmes. Topping Holmes is another detective, a Chinese cop from Honolulu, Charlie Chan, who was in 45 pictures in all. By the way, none of the actors who played him was Oriental. At the top of the heap is that gang of ruffians from the Big Apple, the Bowery Boys, who were in a total of 48 flicks. Not all the actors or the characters they portrayed were in all 48, but the three or four main actors and their characters stuck together for a good share of them. And before that, the gang made 38 more movies as the East Side Kids and Dead End Kids-all told, more than Chan and Holmes combined. What, you ask, does this have to do with SNOW BUDDIES? Well, this AIR BUD sequel is Disney's longest running film series of all time, even surpassing the LOVE BUG bunch. The sixth film, prior to this, AIR BUDDIES, featured Bud's puppies as the main stars, as does this one, and presumably the next one, still in production, called SPACE BUDDIES. While SB has some fine voice talent in supporting roles, notably Whoopi Goldberg and Kris Kristofferson, the story stretches credibility with the young puppies pulling a dog sled in a grueling Alaskan race against adult dogs. But, hey, it's only a movie, so I'll cut Disney some slack over that. But I do give the studio some grief over the way they treated their canine actors. As an animal lover who loves to watch them in movies (SEABISCUIT is among my personal all-time Top Ten favorite films), I was appalled that the producers cut so many corners and disregarded so many guidelines and regulations by organizations like the American Humane Association, which is responsible for the end-credits line in movies with animals that states "No animals were harmed in the making of this motion picture." If you want to know more of the grisly details leading to the death of five puppies during the shoot, check out the blogs which accompany the User Comments and other info about this film. Sad as this case was, it is to be hoped that Disney and other film makers learned some lessons from these mistakes. I would not have watched this picture if I felt Disney had no remorse over its actions. I believe their next AIR BUD picture should carry a dedication which reads something like, "This film is dedicated to all past and present animal actors in the AIR BUD series who have performed so well and given so much of themselves in the production of these films." As moviegoers, we should insist the studio that is home to Mickey, Donald and Goofy does no less. Dale Roloff

One of the all-time great Westerns, to use the term loosely, 18 May 2008

Calling this a western...well, it is and it ain't. Some say the Wild West ended when the last famous outlaw Harry Tracy ended his career a little over a century ago, his Boot Hill being in a field about 50 miles west of Spokane, Washington. This movie takes place in Australia, which true enough, is some 8,000 miles west of the Mississippi, but it's also in the Far East part of the Eastern Hemisphere. And it's not your typical shoot-em-up either. There are no bank-robbing bandits, no gunfights on Main Street, no cavalry fighting the natives. But you'll find here a great coming-of-age romantic tale, with some stirring action sequences never seen before on film, all in the midst of some gorgeous location footage of the Snowy Mountains, which John Ford would have envied for his western films. This area of Australia, if one superimposed the map of the continental U.S. over Australia, would place the Snowy River country in about the same place as our Florida Everglades and not too far from where the Smoky Mountains begin in Georgia. Besides similar sounding names (Snowy-Smoky) this highest part of Australia contains its highest peak with an altitude very nearly the same as the Smokys' highest one in Tennessee, and a landscape that could pass for the southern part of the Appalachian chain as mentioned. Despite recent droughts and wildfires Down Under, the Snowy Mountains have changed little since Banjo Paterson wrote the poem on which this film is based and the equally memorable "Waltzing Matilda," unofficial national anthem of that nation, in the 1890s. Paterson, by the way, is such a famous person even today, that his face appears on the Aussie 10-dollar bill. In contrast, the American sawbuck only has a guy whose greatest fame was getting shot in a duel. Sad to say, this film never did as well at the U.S. box office as other Aussie films like the Mad Max trilogy, which launched Mel Gibson to super stardom, and the even bigger moneymaking franchise of the Crocodile Dundee films. TMFSR never rated a single Oscar nomination (not surprising for a non-Hollywood film), but amazingly enough only won a single AFI award (the Australian Oscar) for its musical score. The Golden Globes, however, gave it a Best Foreign Film nomination, won that year by GANDHI. Since its release, though, audiences worldwide have fallen in love with this gem of a movie, as did the folks at the Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church where we saw it last weekend. While not a true Western per se, it contains the same Judeo-Christian values that the best classic Hollywood westerns espouse. These values were embodied in the Code of the West, a liberal interpretation of the Ten Commandments: Always fight fair, protect women and children, respect others' property, and honor God and country. If you've never seen this movie, you're in for a treat when you do. If you've seen it before, it's worth watching again. Movies as good as this are a rare find. Dale Roloff

Metropolis (1927)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Fritz Lang's heart unites his head and hands herein, 13 April 2008

While this is not my favorite silent film, it definitely rates in my top ten silents. I enjoyed Chaplin's futuristic vision in MODERN TIMES much better, but Lang created a marvelous tale of what he felt the future (and our present, more or less) might be like. I saw this film at our neighborhood Garland Theatre last night. The print was advertised as the longest version yet to be restored and I wished I had seen more of the scenes that were hinted at by the titles, but sadly missing from the screening. The score was provided by a musical duo called Enuma Elish, which is touring the country accompanying the showing of METROPOLIS in other cities (You can access their work by going to The music, though a bit loud for my taste, was very good at adding a futuristic techno beat to enhance the enjoyment of the movie. I heartily recommend this showing if it becomes available in your area. I commend the Garland for the screening of this and all older films. I enjoy the availability of watching old movies on venues like the Turner Classic Movie network and of having them being sold in the DVD and VHS format for seeing at home. But there's nothing like the thrill of seeing a film on a large, theatrical-size screen, surrounded by an appreciable audience, as the producers intended them to be shown. I look forward to seeing more oldies but goodies in the future and I urge you to take advantage of the same opportunities when they arise. Dale Roloff

Well-done remake of epic masterpiece, 3 April 2008

While not of the caliber of C.B.'s THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, this animated version does a fine job in recreating the story of the Passover and of the life of the second-greatest Biblical hero of all time (if you don't remember who's number one, you must have slept through way too many Sunday sermons.) At the time it was made, this was the most expensive full-length animated feature ever made. Part of the reason was the assemblage of an incredible array of vocal talent. Val Kilmer, who had previously brought rich characterization to the roles of Batman and Doc Holliday, headed a magnificent cast not duplicated in an animated feature since Disney's THE JUNGLE BOOK thirty years earlier. While this reviewer didn't think the visual elements were as good as the aural parts, the film was still very entertaining and very faithful to the narrative of the true story, some parts of which the original writer, Moses himself, would not recognize. Most of the audience at the Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church where this picture was shown may not have felt that PRINCE rates as an animated masterpiece to equal films like FANTASIA and SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS which they had seen when they were the same target age or thereabouts as for this film. Still, I would recommend this as an excellent way for children (and adults) to learn about a part of history that is still remembered as an integral part of a rite of the Jewish faith ever since, and that led to the founding of a great nation and its rich cultural heritage. Dale Roloff

The Basket (1999)
6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
What a concept...using opera to teach zone defense, 21 February 2008

For a nation founded on high ideals of freedom and equality, we have often failed to practice what we preach, certainly in our relations with American Indians and black slaves and their descendants. Less well known are the feelings of distrust and even hatred we felt toward those who had a common ancestry to our bitter enemies in war, the Japanese of World War II and the Germanic people of World War I. Watching the screening of this film in my own Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church last week, I was reminded of how my maternal great-grandfather Jacob Eilmes, an immigrant from Austria, pretended to being Polish during WWI to escape the wrath of his Spokane neighbors. Set in a time and place of the U.S. and shot on location,ironically, not far from which a great many communities existed in real life, including in southern Lincoln County, Washington, where my own father's family lived after leaving Europe, "The Basket" weaves a story of a town disrupted by the simultaneous appearance of two orphans and an opera from Germany. Perhaps for dramatic effect, by the way, the story takes some literary license with historic facts. The flashbacks shown of American soldiers killing civilians in Germany could never have happened during the war because our ground troops never got out of France in that time. The orphans and opera have a huge impact on the whole town, accomplished primarily by the introduction of a game called basketball. Today in eastern Washington, especially the small farming communities like the one in this story, high school basketball is still the linchpin that brings townsfolk together, so this movie may be preaching to the choir to those of us who live in the same area depicted in this film. But even if you live in an area outside basketball-mad places like eastern Washington or the state of Indiana, you should enjoy this fine story, which won the 2001 Movie Guide Award for "best film for families." (These awards are also known as the Christian Oscars.) I stop far short of calling this the greatest movie ever made about intolerance rearing its ugly head in a small town, but it's still well worth the effort of buying the DVD or going to see it when it's next shown at your neighborhood library, church or other venue. Dale Roloff

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!, 14 February 2008

Oops, no tigers, but there are lots of bears in this fantasy world. As much as I enjoyed the spectacle of the polar settings, flying ships and fighting bears while watching this with friends at the Garland Theatre, I was troubled by the theological implications. Not since STAR WARS replaced God with "The Force" in our collective consciousnesses, has a popular movie so skewered religion, the Catholic Church in particular. While it's doubtful this film will ever be as huge as the STAR WARS franchise, its evil Magisterium and henchwoman Mrs. Coulter, herself a veiled parody of arch-conservative author and talk show hostess Ann Coulter, paint a picture of a Dark Side that abuses children much as the Catholic Church too much tolerates its clerics who do the same. In the STAR WARS saga, the Dark Side represented a political power that we saw in real life as the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union. Ironically, the Catholic Church, under Pope John Paul II, played a great part in dismantling that Evil Empire.The evil forces that Lyra and her bear take on are less well defined than Darth Vader and the Emperor's storm troopers of an earlier cinematic generation, but they are no less real than their counterparts of today. The bad will engendered by child-abusing priests and church leaders getting involved in the mud and scandals of politics bring down their religious support from the masses, not to mention what Islamic zealots are doing to their faith today. Without spoiling the ending too much, it appears Lyra and her bear face many more battles ahead, as do we all, in our quest to find and spread the truth in God. Dale Roloff

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
"If we win, we will praise Him. And if we lose, we will praise Him", 24 January 2008

At its best, the medium of motion pictures can enrich body, mind and spirit of its audience. A delight to the senses of sight and hearing, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY was the best example of a film meshing stunning visuals with a stirring classical music score, an achievement pioneered by Disney thirty years before in FANTASIA. Then, you can take a well-written story to engage the mind of the viewer who follows the travails and triumphs of an on screen character, especially if he or she is involved in the twists and turns of a thriller or whodunit by a master like Hitchcock. Finally, there are those films like FACING THE GIANTS that inspire us with a strong moral or spiritual message. Making the film on a minuscule (by Hollywood standards) $100,000 budget, all raised by community donations, the Georgia church that produced it was a bit surprised that it did so well at the box office. Released in over 400 theaters in 86 markets, its take swelled to $2.7 million in the first 10 days, good enough for #13 in America's box office poll. The final total was $8 million after a 10-week run, and it's still enriching church coffers by DVD sales. Part of the reason for its success can be traced to a ratings controversy that turned into a real godsend. When FTG was submitted to the MPAA for a rating, the film's supporters in Georgia and elsewhere were shocked that it earned a PG instead of a more family-friendly G. As initial sources indicated that the high-toned religious content was the reason, 15,000 e-mails flooded the board, ten times the previous record for a ratings protest, and even some members of Congress demanded to know what was happening. MPAA policy is not to explain their rationale for a film's rating beyond a few explanatory words in the rating box that precedes each movie. Uncharacteristically, then, the MPAA head explained that the PG was granted due to the violence in the football scenes and to the discussions about pregnancy and fertility between the coach and his wife. Owing to the showbiz maxim that there's no such thing as too much bad publicity and that teenage moviegoers consider G movies the "kiss of death" and will avoid them like the plague, no movie with religious backing has caused such a stir among moviegoers since Mel Gibson put his Christian principles on the line to make and distribute THE PASSION OF THE Christ. As we in the Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church audience watched the screening last week and cheered on as the hapless coach led a revival of school and team spirit with homilies like the quote that began this review, we were cognizant of what associate pastor and actor/writer/director/producer Alex Kendrick said before he took his church into the unfamiliar realm of movie-making with this second of three films that they have so far produced. Remembering that Jesus delivered his message to the masses with parables, Kendrick wondered why his church couldn't do the same by spreading the Gospel via their own stories in movies. As churches are similarly facing the giants of secular humanism who would silence religion's place in the public arena, it is hoped that more churches and religious organizations will join the battle begun by Mel Gibson and taken up on the local level by Alex Kendrick and his Sherwood Baptist Church. Dale Roloff

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