Tag Archives: patriotism

Movie Review: “Lincoln”


3dead818f8bb0491dba54bfac1dd62b2Based on the book, “Team of Rivals,” by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Version: 2012; Daniel Day-Lewis; Tommy Lee Jones; Sally Fields; David Strathairn; Lee Pace; Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Genre: historical drama

Plot Summary: [from IMDb:] As the Civil War continues to rage, America’s president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.”

My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not be comparing it to that work.  Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.  

I remember reading high praise for this movie when it first came out. Actually, I believe I had my eye on it when it was first announced it was in the making, and Daniel Day-Lewis was cast in the role of Abraham Lincoln.  The similarities between their looks are amazing, but would the movie do history and the man himself justice?

Oh wow. I can’t begin to tell you about the amount of research that went into the creating of this film.  I would love to know more about the ‘making of’ it.  I do know that the actors and actresses really gave this one their all and went into full-depth character to accurately portray these historical people.  Day-Lewis in particular researched Lincoln’s mannerisms, way of walking, speech, and voice in order to become him.

I am not so steeped in Civil War history as to know how many facts in this movie are correct, but I do know that it was inspired by the thoroughly researched book, “Team of Rivals,” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The author worked closely on the making of the film as well.

LINCOLNActing is top-notch. I really felt as though I were viewing a fragment of my country’s history, and that felt exciting.  Even though I knew how history played out, this movie caused me to doubt for a little bit what would happen.  The behind-the-scenes politics of history made for a tense plot and kept me on the edge of my seat.  In fact, it was so identifiable in this day and age and maybe that’s why I felt nervous for what would happen.

One drawback of the film is that many of the historical facts presented escaped me in one viewing. I will definitely need to rewatch it to glean more from it.  Because of this, I felt somewhat confused and didn’t understand some of the plot structure.

However, I did learn a lot about the genius of Abraham Lincoln. I’ve always had the impression that he was so morally simple as to be sort of uninteresting.  Not so!  This man had a talent given to him by God that he used in the time and position he was placed in.  He was an absolute chess-master at politics, but had a core of integrity that kept him straight and true.  I believe watching this shed some light for me in deciding how to vote this past presidential election.  It also caused me to love a person I’ve never met, and left to wonder why God would allow such a man who did so much good and suffered greatly for it, to die at the hands of an assassin so soon after victory was achieved.

My favorite scene is near the end, with the singing of “Battle Cry of Freedom.” It was so inspiring, and caused me to be grateful to God for His working in our country’s history.  When’s the last time you felt excited about history?

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Posted by on April 14, 2018 in Movie Reviews


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New in the Audio World

204dbdf2d2c944349ce242b41a54d77cI’ve listened to a fair number of audio dramas in my time.  One of my favorite memories from my growing up years was laying on the living room floor in the evenings after supper, with my mom and my sister, with a pillow under my head and a blanket over me, eyes closed and listening to audio dramas.  We listened to the Focus on the Family radio theatre adventures, old time radio programs, Adventures in Odyssey, and anything else good we could get our hands on.

A friend of mine sent me a link to some relatively new dramas in the world of audio adventures, which she was considering purchasing for our church library.  Heirloom Audio.  Hmm, I’d never heard of it before.  (Probably because I’ve been out of the homeschool arena for some time now.)  But as soon as I watched the trailer to the first drama based on G. A. Henty’s historical novel, “In Freedom’s Cause”, I knew I was completely hooked!  No, I am not a paid spokesperson for Family Audio Adventures.  But I know good quality when I hear it.  The acting, the diction, the energy, enthusiasm, excitement, passion, and talent really shine and I can’t wait to get my ears hooked up to one of their complete adventures and escape.

This isn’t podunk acting as far I can tell.  Trust me, I’ve heard a few in the Christian audio world where I just wanted to stick a finger down my throat rather than swallow the lemon and honey.  Well-known actors are brought in for these productions who know what they’re doing in creating a good story.  Here are a few that caught my eye: Skandar Keynes, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Joanne Froggatt, John Rhys-Davies, Kirk Cameron, and Audie Award winner Katherine Kellgren.

I am unsure at this point whether Heirloom Audio Productions plan on only dramatizing the Henty adventure novels, or if they will branch out, but they have already won numerous awards, including being nominated for an Audio Award for “With Lee in Virginia.”  I was also thrilled to find out that John Campbell composed the original soundtracks for each production.

You can watch all four trailers to their first few productions below.  Apparently, a fifth adventure (Beric the Briton) is expected out in the near future, along with a few others.


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Posted by on July 24, 2016 in Audio/Radio Dramas


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Movie Review: “America: Imagine a World Without Her”

MV5BMjM0MjgyOTQ4NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTQ1NzQ3MTE@__V1_SX214_AL_Based on the book by Dinesh D’Souza.

Version: 2014.

Genre: documentary

Plot Summary: [from IMDb]: “A story that questions the shaming of the US through revisionist history, lies and omissions by educational institutions, political organizations, Alinsky, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other progressives to destroy America.”

My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not be comparing it to that novel.  Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.  

“God damn America.” You hear it everywhere nowadays.  Sometimes in so many words, sometimes only implied but it’s message becomes more popular all the time.  Indeed, sometimes it can be hard not to be embarrassed because of some of our leaders’ choices in this day and age.  But is what we so often hear said about America in school, on tv, and in books correct?  Should we be embarrassed about the idea of America and what it was founded on?

Settling down to watch this on Independence Day last year, I found this documentary to be enlightening and spot on with its assessment of America’s past. Writer and director Dinesh D’Souza addresses such topics as the discovery of North America, colonization, slavery, treatment of the Native Americans, and America’s wars up to the present day.  Saul Alinky and Howard Zinn’s books and worldviews are also discussed.  Some shocking stories from this country’s history that haven’t made the history books are also uncovered.

At first I felt depressed as I watched the facts about the present state of our nation honestly dealt with.  It was so heartbreaking, I wasn’t so sure I could watch to the end because I felt despair taking over.  However, about halfway through the film, D’Souza provides us with some inspiration to be the America we need and that the rest of the world needs.  By the end, I felt uplifted and encouraged.

Lest you might be hesitant to watch a film with snarky back-biting and mud-slinging, I’ll assure you that you won’t find those types of negative elements in this one.  Instead, I appreciated that D’Souza (himself an immigrant from India) treated with respect all of his interviewees who held a different opinion than his.  I would be interested in seeing D’Souza in a debate or lecture in person sometime.

Much of this documentary is dramatized for us through actors’ portrayals.  Overall, I found the film to be eye-opening, truthful, and balanced.  This would be great for families to watch together (especially high school/college age kids), or for the regular joe who would like some good arguments the next time he finds himself in a discussion about politics.

~Happy Independence Day, America!~

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Posted by on July 4, 2016 in Movie Reviews


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Edgar Harrell’s Story

d0514d0abee471e4c05a881c3932ed31Not one weekend newspaper goes by that I don’t see at least one -if not several- World War II veteran obituaries.  It is estimated that 430 of the ‘greatest generation’ vets pass away each day.  So with Independence Day approaching, I thought I’d post a link to the story of a noble WWII vet with a remarkable survival story.  I remember listening to Edgar Harrell being interviewed years ago by Charles Morris on Haven Today.  It was such an edge-of-your-seat true tale that we didn’t dare miss the next day’s episode!  I wasn’t able to find that same interview unfortunately, but you can listen to Harrell’s interview on In the Market with Janet Parshall by clicking here.  You can also watch him tell his story on a video posted below.  Edgar wrote an autobiography about his experiences called “Out of the Depths.”  I highly recommend this to you!  And don’t forget to say thank you to the veterans who fought for your freedom (regardless of which war) in your life!


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Some Great Voice Over by the late Fred Thompson…

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Posted by on November 3, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Book Review: The Y Factor, by Liam Roberts

The Y Factor: Scientists Discover a Genetic Secret that Threatens to Wipe Israel Off the Map...Genre: Christian; contemporary; suspense thriller; intrigue

Plot Summary: Computer analyst Eric, and geneticist Alana are a college couple in love when they both take jobs at the National Geographic working as part of the team on the Genographic Project.  But they soon discover that things are not as they seem.  Mysterious computer glitches, disappearances, and secrets abound and they are determined to get to the bottom of it.  Traveling from Cairo, to Tokyo, from Delhi to Pakistan, their international adventures collide with Muslim extremists and a bizarre plan for world domination.

My Book Review:  Hmmm… Suspense, international intrigue, and the National Geographic… sounded like quite an interesting combo to liven things up after I’d spent weeks on an old classic.  I think this especially grabbed my attention since I’d seen a documentary on tv about the NG’s Genographic Project, which can be seen here.

Exploring the author’s website, I discovered that Liam Roberts is a pen name used to protect Roberts’ family, since he writes about certain explosive topics.  This was his first novel, and there should be a sequel expected sometime in the near future, which I am looking forward to reading.  Some are calling his writing, “Christian Tom Clancy”.  I guess I wouldn’t know, but I was impressed that it wasn’t blatantly obvious this was his first book.  I felt the pacing was well-done, and he manages to pull off characters who develop relationally despite the fact that they are separated through three-fourths of the way through the novel.  And we see Eric’s spiritual development as well.  A lot of suspense thrillers don’t throw much by way of a personal life into the story for the characters.

In some ways, the story felt a little unrealistic – not in terms of jihadists (I know that is a reality), but because the main characters are mere college-age students who embark on their own to fight off terrorists, while there is barely little mention of their parents or home life.  I also felt there was no real closure as to what happened to their friend, Hamdi.  We just are left to assume what happened because Eric and Alana apparently lose interest in him.  And I don’t understand the purpose for the character Para, Alana’s assistant in India.  She is in, and then out of the story, but she seems to be unnecessary to the plot.

U.S. Navy Seals ~ someone is about to have a very bad day...I can’t say I was able to follow all of the computer-techie lingo or the maneuvers in the SEALS’ derring-do toward the end of the story, but they were painted in such glowing terms, that I didn’t really mind and was able to follow the gist of things.

Whether it be on topics such as genetic research (and biblical interpretation of it), or Muslim terrorists, the author shows he has real knowledge of what he is talking about.   I think part of what made the story appeal to me was the interweaving of the real life Genographic Project and it’s fascinating findings.

If this story peaks your interest …if you like science thrillers (with a Christian spin) …if you like stories surrounding the War on Terror … this book is for you.  Roberts packs a lot in this exciting novel.  Even SEALS and an attractive Israeli secret agent make an appearance!

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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Book Reviews


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Movie Review: Unbroken

4fe30e0b0eaa6477f240667d2e04f4b5Based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand.

Version: 2014; directed by Angelina Jolie

Genre: WWII drama; biography

Plot Summary: [from IMDb:]After a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, Olympian Louis Zamperini spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen before he’s caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.”

My Review: Ever since I saw the original CBS documentary about WWII vet Louis Zamperini as a kid, I wished his story could be made into a movie.  I was greatly interested when his story was written by author Laura Hillenbrand as the bestselling non-fiction book, “Unbroken” a few years ago.  When I heard that the story would be filmed for the big screen, I was ecstatic but nervous.  Would Angelina Jolie be able to do his story the justice it deserved?  [See my book review here and interview with author on Janet Parshall’s In the Market here.]

Unbroken” came out in theaters Christmas Day and my family and I went to see it last night.  By this point I didn’t bother going with my fingers crossed because I’d heard so many good things about the relationship between Jolie and Zamperini:

As I had been reading the book, I wondered how it would be possible to translate this to film.  There were so many important events in Zamperini’s life: his rebellious childhood, athletic career, military life, survival on a lifeboat, POW camps, post war life with his family…  How could this be fit into a regular two hour movie?  I worried.

I will try not to give away too many spoilers.  But I was astounded at the handling of this true-life story.  I have to say that I have never seen a movie that was so true to the book as this one.  I’m sure many Unbroken fans will be pleased about this!  Of course, much of the story had to be condensed to fit a limited timeframe, but many small details were left intact that could have been left out otherwise.  From Louis’ class ring to the real picture of Phil’s sweetheart Cecy, these accuracies felt realistic. I felt I could appreciate my viewing experience all the more by having read the book first, but this isn’t absolutely necessary for all.

This was no shabby B-movie.  Casting was great and the acting fantastic!  Even though the actors may not have all looked like the photographs of the people they were playing, I think good choices were made all the way around.  I worried about who they would pick to play Watanabe, but Japanese actor Takamasa Ishihara played this evil character well.

Probably one of the main things I was impressed with was the careful handling of the story’s pacing.  As I said before, I had been worried but I need not have been.  Louis’ prewar life is told in balanced flashbacks.  The 47 days spent on the liferaft drags on, but I thought this was great from a storytelling point of view.  It created an atmosphere for the viewer to get the feeling of languishing with the survivors of the plane crash.   I do wish there had been more shark-fights as there had been in real life, but I suppose one can’t have everything!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI also felt the film did a great job at making you feel the pain and misery of the POWs at the Japanese camps.  I’m sure it was even worse in real life and that the movie “cleaned it up,” but still the viewer gets a taste of it…

This obviously isn’t a movie for the very young.  There are some very subtle sexual innuendos and a little foul language.  Nothing to make me cringe terribly, and it probably wouldn’t have been in keeping with reality if there hadn’t been some of these elements.  There is no sleeping around.  There is backside nudity that isn’t in a sexual context, but rather in a POW context.  Men are violently beaten nearly to death, but I didn’t feel it crossed the line into Rated R territory.  If you’re wondering if Gaga the Duck makes an appearance, the answer is no.  Thankfully we are spared that!

One of the things I worried about going into the movie was how Louis’ conversion after the war would be portrayed.  At first I was a little disappointed to find that his postwar life is entirely told in footnotes at the end.  However, I did not get the feeling that it was glossed over with the intent of making light of it or excluded for the sake of covering up Louis’ spiritual beliefs.  In the movie, we see Louis promising to devote his life to God in the middle of a storm, and he shows interest in his friend’s belief in God, along with other allusions to faith throughout.  After thinking about it, I realized that there really could be no way to film his life with Cynthia and his meeting with Billy Graham without making the pace of the story feel unbalanced.  The quality of the telling of A) his lifeboat survival (w/ prewar flashbacks) and B) POW camp life would have had to have been sacrificed in order to make time for about 30 min. of his postwar life.  So, I accept their decision in this.  I did not feel they dishonored Louis or God with the footnotes at the end.

There is one bugaboo I will mention and that is that I was dissatisfied with the way in which they expressed Phil’s faith.  Louis asks Phil if he thinks God has a plan for them in all their suffering.  I can’t remember the exact quote, but Phil says something to the effect that “the only thing they can do is to live the best way they can, have a little fun along the way, and when it comes time to die an angel will say they can ask all their dumb questions now.”  This didn’t feel like something Phil would have said.  From the book I gathered he had a personal relationship with God that was more than a “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” sort of faith.  There: my complaining is over!

I hope many will go out to see and support this fine movie in the theaters.  It really is worth your time!  And give a round of applause at the end as the credits start to roll for Louis Zamperini (who passed away this past July).



Posted by on December 27, 2014 in Movie Reviews


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