Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

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Last year was filled with personal loss, crazy politics and the courting of China’s Wanda in Hollywood. It was a year that most people wanted to exit before they incurred too many losses. The only thing everyone seemed to agree on was that 2017 had to be better.

For 2017 to be better for me, at least from the perspective of the world of entertainment, I’d like to see some changes in the motion picture industry. I’ve decided to consolidate my thoughts by genre.

ROM-COMS
I’m tired of romantic comedies being too dramatic and short on comedy. This might be due to the slow pace all Rom-Coms have fallen into, which likely destroyed comedic timing. This year I’d like to see a fast paced Rom-Com that takes 10 minutes for the audience to figure out how the show ends instead of the standard three minutes.

HORROR
I’ve had enough with the screaming beauties. How about the first horrifying attack being against a buff man instead of a high-pitched screamer. I mean does every horror film have to start with a blond scream? Not in 2017.

FAITH-BASED
I beg you to stop preaching in an emotion-based demonstrative medium (show don’t tell). Learn how to show the human condition so your redemptive moment at the end makes God look majestic instead of trite. Take time to rewrite your scripts two dozen more times before shooting your ultra-low budget film and make sure at least one scene uses subtext instead of Evangelical jargon.

ACTION
Please consider shortening your action sequences enough to add a subplot into your movie that helps us to actually care about the protagonist. I’m tired of comic book stereotypes in an age when diversity makes us stronger.

ADVENTURE
Yes, thinning out your plotlines has increased your box office success, but when you thin it out too much no one wants to watch the story a second time—That’s why box office dollars started to shrink. Give us something to chew on that transcends the action plotline.

MUSICALS
Making a few more every year would put lots of smiles on the faces in the reclining theatre seats. Maybe its time for a new franchise of musicals like the old Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney stories.

BUDDY COP
These films are made all too far away from the previous one. Everyone likes camaraderie intermixed with thrills and spills. Use your creativity and come up with a few scenes we haven’t seen before and we’ll let you toss in a few scenes that play like an old romantic rerun of happy days gone by.

DRAMA
This genre has turned dark and can’t seem to come back into the light without turning cheeky in the process. I challenge you to write a smart drama that carries a happy tone with sporadic nightmares that are quickly sorted by the protagonist. We want the star to step up with an amazing demonstration of unconditional love coated in self-deprecating humor and a touch of chivalry. And while you’re at it, stick it in a courtroom that is rendered with respect, instead of the bitter views of those abused by attorneys.

I suppose that’s enough dreaming to kick off this year. How about you? I’d love to see your comments on what changes you’d like to see this on the silver screen.

Copyright © 2017 by CJ Powers

Caged No More – Review

Lisa_ArnoldLisa Arnold is at a turning point in her filmmaking career. Her directing chops in the faith-based genre are within reach of the Kendrick (Fireproof, Courageous, War Room) brothers’ skills. While she is still known for her acting, she’s quietly becoming a director to be reckoned with.

Caged No More demonstrated her passion for heart touching story. Her technical skills also exceeded the typical faith-based production techniques. Several scenes bumped up into the quality levels typical in TV movies and a few scenes were straight-out cinematic.

She relentlessly went after the audience in Caged No More, giving viewers little time to breath between heart wrenching scenes. She did present some humor to lighten the mood a third of the way into the story, but it wasn’t enough to keep me from gripping my heart as the story escalated. I actually had to pause the DVD twice to allow my emotions to calm down.

cagednomore-screenshots-0002Part of this emotional charge came from Arnold’s subject matter. Caged No More is about the abduction of Jr. High girls into sex trafficking. The last national record I read had >14,000 girls ages 12 – 14 sold annually. That does not include girls 15 – 18. Nor does it count girls from less secure countries. And, it doesn’t count the boys who are also sold.

Caged No More finds an interesting balance with Arnold’s passion, the elements in faith-based films required by churches, and a form of entertainment that keeps the plot moving. Her careful crafting of the message is ideal for introducing congregations to the horrific reality our girls face.

Unfortunately, the film is not one I’d watch again due to the lack of breather moments. Nor am I interested in seeing the sequel due out in 2017, just in case she hasn’t figured out how to lace in more humor for people like me.

cagednomore-screenshots-0030However, if you love to cry during movies, I highly recommend you watch Caged No More and watch the second film in the trilogy next year. It will also give you an opportunity to see why Arnold will soon become the “queen” of faith-based films, standing next to the king Kendrick brothers in the limelight.

As for me, I’ll be trying to figure out how to un-see what was presented so I can get back to a normal life. That’s not to say Arnold didn’t use extreme tact in her presentation, she did, but once you learn what she presents you’ll feel obligated to take some form of action to save at least one girl.

Well done, Arnold! Oh, and give me a call sometime if you want to brainstorm breather moments for your sequel – giving folks like me a chance to watch.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hopes that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers

Awakened (Faith-Based Thriller) – Review

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 9.35.19 PM
I receive numerous films to critique, but I only take time to review the ones that have something unique to offer. So you can imagine my surprise to get a copy of a “faith-based thriller.” It was an oxymoron that I had to watch to satisfy my curiosity.

Faith-based films are slow, filled with preaching and mostly display low production value. Thrillers are mysterious, increase in intensity and speed of storytelling until the climax. The juxtaposition of the two made me curious, as I had to learn how the co-directors accomplished this feat.

The novelty of the concept peaked my interest when I learned the film won three festival awards and was awarded four Doves for family-friendly content. I had no idea how a thriller could be family-friendly, so I couldn’t wait to watch the film.

The faith-based elements of the film was certainly in place with a very slow pace that caused me to doze off three times. The preaching was intact with numerous quoted scriptures and a half dozen preaching moments. And, the production values were extremely poor.

The thriller side never ramped up its pace, nor did it compell me to watch the film until the last reveal. In fact, most of the thriller moments were more horror oriented and badly executed. I suppose I could say the film was horr-ible.

Co-directors Eugene Cuevas and Brian R. Reed shared the creation of several short films together, but this first feature length film of theirs was a bust. Hopefully they learned valuable insights into filmmaking from this disaster.

mediasI also hope that the three festivals that awarded the film for Best Visual Effects, Best Film and Best Feature Film have learned not to put their seal of approval on bad films. I can understand the desire to award the least worst film when a festival isn’t able to draw in great filmmakers, but the only way bad faith-based films and thrillers will ever improve is when only great films receive awards.

In case you’re wondering, the story is about a journalist who is captivated by a demon in the wake of losing his job. The demon appears in the form of a sexy 1960’s blues singer who convinces him to seek out the real story of her death. But thankfully, his spiritual wife realizes that sometimes the right hand has to help the left hand, so she does battle to save her husband.

The man feels like a “nobody” at the beginning of the film and demonstrates that he is a “nobody” at the end of the film. He doesn’t change or grow, so I’m not sure why the story was about him. She, on the other hand, is wise in the beginning and becomes more spiritual for her husband’s sake, by the end of the story.

For this film to receive four Doves for being family-friendly, someone had to have fallen asleep during its viewing and didn’t want anyone to know about it. With the poltergeist scenes of pictures flying off the wall and the bed sheet sitting up in the form of a dead woman, I’m not sure I’d view it as family-friendly. Not to mention the movement of the dead woman’s facial skin toward the end of the film.

My curiosity of how the co-directors merged faith-based and thriller genres has been quenched – They failed. Two diametrically opposed genres cannot be merged into anything worth watching. Rather than purchasing this DVD, take your family out to see The Jungle Book.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers