Adrenaline (Simpkins, 2015)

Adrenaline If you are not already predisposed to like Christian movies, nothing here will change your mind. That said, every class of films, even in genres you don’t like, have better or worse examples. In terms of writing, acting, and production values, Adrenaline is closer to a television movie than a feature-film, but–and this is meant as a hard earned compliment, not a back-handed one–a competent television movie.

The film’s protagonist is Joseph Jenkins, a young racer who is paralyzed from the waist down as the result of an accident. (The accident itself looked like it might have been animation or shot with a scale model, because the car flips way too many times, but it is still encouraging to see Christian productions dabbling in special effects for key scenes.) In the hospital he is befriended by a physical therapist (young, gorgeous, and female, of course) and another patient (old, African-American, and spiritually Yodaish, of course).

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Richard Gere: Buddhism calms me

Richard Gere uses Buddhism to “dominate” the anger that used to plague him.

The 66-year-old star became interested in the religion when he began asking big questions about the universe and science as a young man. His 15-year-old son Homer is currently considering the same things, and Richard wonders if he might embrace spirituality too.

Buddhism has taught me to look inside myself more deeply, to worry less and less about the opinions of others and to share the pain and the joy or other human beings. It’s also been very helpful in enabling me to dominate the anger I carried with me as a young man. If I get angry, I run the risk of hurting someone’s feelings and I can’t forgive myself on the rare occasions when I allow that to happen,” he told British magazine Hello!

Not Exactly Sci-Fi, Z for Zachariah Is a Slow but Insightful Film

Z for ZachariahThere is a reason a lot of the seemingly monthly religious movies aren’t reviewed by a majority of critics. It isn’t that they are poorly made movies—although A LOT of them are—it’s the fact that they make it very clear that they’re not meant to be consumed as popular entertainment by the widest possible audiences.

Most are marketed purely to religious organizations and suggested as possible church outings. Just this past weekend, we had War Room, which was advertised as having group rates. Many do well their first week (War Room was number two at the box office) by marketing their films this way. What’s unfortunate, however, is while a lot of these movies are marketed and made to appeal to specific religious groups, using popular entertainment to openly explore religious conversations and debate rarely will have the same success rate. One of the best shows on TV right now, Rectify, is one of the most thoughtful shows about religion and faith, and it barely has an audience. Likewise, Z for Zachariah, which is interested in this kind of debate, hid the religious aspects of its story in trailers, likely out of concern that it would ultimately keep audiences away.

Pava Mannippu (1961)

Pava MannippuA story about religious tolerance, the film attempted to bring home the point that religion was created by man to divide people and that one must not give too much importance to it.

IMDB: Three children adopted from their by birth homes and raised by foster parents grow up in Muslim, Christian and Hindu households. But will they ever reunite with their original families?

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Hand of God: Ron Perlman wrestles with morality and religion in Amazon’s new drama

Hand of GodThe guy who played Hellboy, going through hell. That could be the one-line pitch for Hand of God, Amazon’s latest self-funded foray into original drama. After last year’s bleak pilot, the full 10-episode first season is available to righteously binge on from today. It stars deeply furrowed character actor Ron Perlman as a notorious hanging judge in San Vicente, the (fictional) Californian town his ancestors helped establish. But the big man with the gavel has unravelled – his son has been in a coma for seven months and counting, the result of a suicide bid after being forced to witness the sexual assault of his wife.

Driven to despair, Judge Pernell Harris starts experiencing unsettling visions, including cryptic instructions seemingly issued by his unconscious son. After a spiritual epiphany, the judge embarks on his own ad-hoc vigilante campaign to hunt down the criminals responsible for attacking his daughter-in-law, recruiting a fervently religious but volatile convict (Garret Dillahunt) to do most, but not all, of his dirty work. Intriguingly, the judge’s spiritual awakening doesn’t seem to deter him from pursuing his other corrupt shenanigans in San Vicente, notably helping push through a major development deal with the mayor (Andre Royo).

‘The Path of Zarathustra’: A reflective path breaking film

The Path of ZarathustraThe Parsis have always been an intriguing lot universally and director Oorvazi Irani’s “The Path of Zarathustra” is a well-meaning mystical docudrama that gives a brief insight into the community’s faith, religion and their lost identity.

The first frame of this film is very unique. It begins with a reflection of the water in a well which creates ripples. And what follows will surely create waves. Slow, philosophical, weighty and contemplative, this is a reflective film.

Wrapped with personal issues that include romance, the film is the story of Oorvazi. It is her quest in understanding and deciphering her religion.

Religion Today Film Festival: Official Selection

We are delighted to announce our Official Selections for the 18th Religion Today Film Festival (9-19 October 2015). The Festival will include 55 films from 27 countries all over the world, selected from more than 250 which were submitted to the competition. Here follows the list according to category.

Feature Films

ARABANI, Adi Adwan, Israel, 2013, 84’ > Jury of the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome
F.HILAIRE, Surussavadi Chuarchart, Thailand, 2015, 103’ > Jury of the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome
FULL OF GRACE, Andrew Hyatt, USA, 2014, 83’>> Jury of the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome
ISCELJENJE -THE HEALING, Ivan Jović, Serbia, 2014, 90′ > International Jury
MARIE HEURTIN, Jean-Pierre Améris, France, 2014, 95’ > Jury of the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome
MY BICYCLE, Aung Rakhine, Bangladesh, 2015, 64’ >> Cinformi Jury – Information Centre for Immigration
MY MANDALA, Elsa Yang, Taiwan, 2013, 103’ >> Jury of the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome
RIGHT TO SILENCE, Hadi Na’eiji, Iran, 2014, 75’ > Jury of the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome
ROMANTIC NOSTALGIA, Reza Azamian, Iran, 2014, 88’ > Jury of the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome
SIDDHARTH, Richie Mehta, Canada-India, 2013, 96’ > International Jury
THE MONK, The Maw Naing, Myanmar-Czech Republic, 2015, 95’ > International Jury
TIMBUKTU, Abderrahmane Sissako, France-Mauritania, 2014, 97’ > International Jury
VICE VERSA, Amichai Greenberg, Israel, 2014, 61’ > International Jury
VOID Naji Bechara, Jad Beiruty, Zeina Makki, Tarek Korkomaz, Christelle Ighniades, Maria Abdel Karim, Salim Haber, Lebanon, 2013, 78’ > International Jury

Spotlight: New film puts spotlight on Boston’s pedophile priests

SpotlightSpotlight,” starring Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo as reporters working on The Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of pedophile Roman Catholic priests, deals with just a fraction of sexual predation in the church, its director says.

Reports of sexual misconduct by the late British entertainer Jimmy Savile and other high profile cases are an indication of the global scope of the problem, and of failures to deal with it, Tom McCarthy said before his film’s screening on Thursday at the Venice Film Festival.

“These moments where we know people have done things wrong and we don’t, as a society, we don’t stand up to them, it takes years and years and years and the question is why? Why does it take so long?” McCarthy said in an interview on Wednesday.

Film review: It’s religion vs. dancing in “Jimmy’s Hall”

Jimmy’s HallVeteran English filmmaker Ken Loach has said that Jimmy’s Hall will likely be his final feature film, and if so, he’s going out on a fairly pedestrian note. That’s not to say Jimmy’s Hall doesn’t have its strengths, but its story, based on the real-life experiences of Irish activist Jimmy Gralton, is a bit predictable and heavy-handed.

Jimmy (Barry Ward) returns to his small Irish hometown in the early 1930s after living in exile in the U.S., and immediately reopens the community center that caused him so much trouble a decade earlier. The authoritarian local Catholic priest (Jim Norton) doesn’t approve of Jimmy providing a place for locals to dance (to sinful jazz music!), study art and discuss poetry, and he sets about trying to shut Jimmy down.