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Note: This poll is more about the basis for a decision, rather than choosing your favorite actress.
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Joseph Smith: Plates of Gold (2011)
Worst non-church produced movie ever
This is easily the worst non-church produced church movie ever! It is even worse than The Home Teachers or The Work and The Glory films.
At least the Work and the Glory tried to get Joseph Smith right by getting a charismatic actor to play the part. In this movie, Joseph can best be described as nerdy and mostly clueless.
The history is definitely revisionist and inaccurate. My least favorite was the part where Martin Harris browbeat Joseph into giving him the manuscript at the exact moment when Emma was having a stillborn baby.
They also refer to something as history that first appeared in the famous forged Salamander letter (remember Mark Hoffman?), and was then seized on in several anti publications for a few years. It's nice to know that the author did his research from anti-Mormon histories!
I wasted twenty bucks buying this one. Don't waste your money too!!!!
Kiss at Pine Lake (2012)
Bad even for a stereotypical Hallmark movie
This one was awful even for the stereotypical Hallmark movie. The script was awful, the acting was weak, the editing was bad, the continuity was terrible....
It was either this or an NBA playoff game the other night. I should have watched the NBA (and I hate pro basketball).
The actress who played Zoe as a girl was taller than the one who played her as an adult (that's great casting for you).
Most Hallmark movies are overly sentimental and sappy, but are at least entertaining. This one was almost campy funny in places (no pun intended).
The Shunning (2011)
This one sure leaves a lot of unresolved issues and plot holes.
Okay, this was kind of mediocre up until the end, when it left everything hanging and did not resolve several of the major plot points. Are we looking at a series of films here?
Unresolved issues included:
1. Does she get to see her mother before she dies?
2. Do her parents and the busy body midwife get into trouble for violating the shunning?
3. If her former boyfriend who taught her how to play the guitar (and who she promised to marry) still actually alive and living in a city somewhere? We are told that he drowned and that they never recovered the body, but he obviously wanted "out." (and where did he ever get that guitar in the first place?)
4. Will she, if she returns, end up with The Bishop?
Another thing... the shunning itself happened for the wrong reasons. You don't shun someone just because they left you at the altar and have some unresolved issues with their parents. This seemed like a contrived way to move along the plot.
In reality, the Amish are a very forgiving people. They would not treat someone like this girl was treated for such minor things.
Overall, I'd say that this was a very weak 4/10 (and that is probably being generous).
Emma Smith: My Story (2008)
Another movie that tries to make a hero of Emma Smith
Somewhere along the line, the makers of this movie forget that Emma Smith never "endured to the end." She left her church. She denied historical events within her church happened, where she was there as witness, and she later denied them.
She founded her own church, setting up her son as the President of that church.
She sold off historical materials from her husband's life and mission for money, rather than giving or selling them to the church that should have had them.
The movie does not depict her reaction to or participation in polygamy, as it would show what type of a shrew the woman really was.
To paraphrase an actual quote, Joseph Smith once told Brigham Young that he'd go to hell for Emma. Brigham's reply was something like "you'll probably have to." This was a horribly inaccurate movie from Emma's descendants. It is even less accurate than the "Work and the Glory" series and actually makes those awful movies seem watchable in comparison. Don't waste your time.
An Old Fashioned Christmas (2010)
Yawn!!! That's the best one word summary I can come up with
Okay, I'm generally a sucker for Christmas movies. I also enjoy the Merchant-Ivory style films about the prim and proper Victorian age. This should have both, right? Wrong.
The acting from some of the principles is bad. The story is pretty lame. The ending is predictable. Having the Bissett character show affection for a character she loathes (and who despises her) is out of character and doesn't fit in with the movie.
The local romantic figure is such a loser that we wonder what Tillie ever saw in him or why she would even question her relationship with Gideon/Gad.
Yawn is a good description. "Lame" would work just as well.
Turn Around (2007)
Another Extended Seminary Video
For those who are members of the LDS Church (for whom this movie was made), you'll know exactly what I mean when I say that this is nothing more than an extended seminary video (better than Tom Trails, but somewhat along the lines of Like Unto Us).
The acting is awful (especially by the people playing the male lead's parents). The special effects do not exist (where they could have done more than some quick flashback pictures for the "death" scene). No one kisses or hits anyone else. What you suppose to be beer is seen only in colored plastic cups so that you are not sure.
I'll give it three stars just because the female lead seems to be trying, though her facial expressions in some scenes show how frustrated she is with the really bad material.
Watch this movie only if you enjoy seminary videos.
Everybody's Fine (2009)
This may be DeNiro's Best Performance Since Awakenings
I saw this movie last night in a crowded theatre with persons of varying ages. At the conclusion of the film, I noticed smiles and tears in the eyes of the older viewers and some boredom and rush to leave in the younger ones. This is a movie for parents and will probably not appeal much to the under 25 set.
That said, this is a beautiful, heart-felt, and sometimes painful story of a father recognizing and coming to grips with the reality of his parenting and his lack of control over his children's lives. It is about truth and how we try to spare others pain or discomfort. It is about how many parents still see their grown up children as small children who we are responsible for.
While the supporting cast turn in good performances, this is Robert DeNiro's movie. It is his best performance since Awakenings (he deserved that Oscar, and not just the nomination).
I suspect that this film will get a lot of nominations, but don't think it will win many awards. I base that on the idea that they younger voters have not yet been in the shoes of the older ones and will not be fully able to appreciate the character or his growth and understanding.
One Man's Treasure (2009)
Not a great film, but enjoyable as light entertainment
Mormon cinema attempts to create it's own version of National Treasure (a team of people following clues to find hidden treasure) in this movie.
Okay, the acting is not the best and the story is not the greatest. It was, however, better than some of the really bad Mormon cinema (Out of Step, The Home Teachers, Church Ball) and not as good as others (The Singles Ward, The Errand of Angels, The Best Two Years).
The craft needs time to grow and develop and movies like this are going to come out in the process. It can make for an enjoyable Family Home Evening, but will never win any Oscars.
Understandably, you are going to hate this film if you are not LDS.
If you are Mormon, think....extended Seminary video. If not Mormon, just think...bad acting.
There have been some really good movies made in the "Mormon Universe" the last few years (The Best Two Years, The Other Side of Heaven). There have been a few enjoyable films (The Singles Ward, Passage To Zarahemla). There have also been a lot of stinkers (The Home Teachers, Baptists at our BBQ).
This falls into the latter category.
Once again, a film maker has decided that it is okay to make a "moralistic, 90 minute seminary video" and pass it off as a feature length movie. Sorry, it didn't work for seminary (remember Tom Trails?) and it does not work here. It also didn't work for Out of Step or Charly or many of the other LDS films that try to take this approach.
Once you get the set up, you can always see the punchline coming. My wife and I sat there and told you what was coming next each and every time! "Now, she's going to pray." "When they get off the island, he's going to take credit for making the flares." There were also some big plot holes. Notice that she loses her flip flops when she almost falls down a cliff. 15 minutes later, she is wearing them again. Because of the ever changing beard growths, it is also obvious that this movie was shot out of sequence. The opening scene shows a city obviously on the ocean, but the scenes in the office show the Wasatch Mountains in the background.
I am being generous in giving this a two, and that is only because some of the scenery was pretty.
It could have been a great film, but was ruined by a sub plot
This is an incredible dysfuncional family story that is simply ruined by the sub-plot of the country artist.
Everything he paints involves penises and scrotums in poor quality work that is supposed to be brilliant. I am not prude, but this turned what could have been a great movie into a piece of crap. It was impossible to look and see past this as we have it in the beginning and all through the story.
It does not tie in to anything, is not really symbolic of anything, and ruins what could have been another "Ordinary People."
Amy Adams (Enchanted) was brilliant in her role and deserved the Oscar nomination. The acting was mostly superb and the interaction was heart rending and heart felt.