Movies

Hoops LDS Movie

HoopsEvery now and then I like to go to my local library and check this out. For some reason this is in the non-fiction section so it is free to rent. I watch it and almost like it but it always leaves something to be desired. The idea is cool. A younger brother trying to get his older brother to go on a mission after his older brother left the MTC because he is was not ready. The younger brother and him play basketball as a metaphor for life and is the thing that brings them together. There is a short moment that is almost touching where the younger brother tell him about an experience he had in the MTC about a Sister missionary telling him that she began to feel thing with her heart rather than her mind.

This is not a terrible movie just something is missing when the older brother finally gets converted you just don’t quite feel it. The passion is not there. Both actors have let some people down with their choices and you might think that is why I feel the way I do it is not, people are human and make mistakes and I don’t condemn them at all.

It is weird even though this movie is not on my A list I still enjoy watching it every once in a while.

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Singles Ward 12 Years Later

SinglesWardI got hurt on my mission and had to come home. I got home in 2002 and my family took me to see “The Singles Ward” while I was recovering. I was blown away by how funny it was. I had never seen Mormons making fun of themselves like that before. Then just like all movies time wears on and the charm begins to wear out, then everyone starts making fun of it, and what was once cool becomes uncool. I bought the DVD when it first came out and watched it several times but then the movie laid waiting on the shelf for a few years.

I look forward to my Sunday night movie with my wife. We try to watch something that is Sunday worthy after the kids go to bed. We pulled out “The Singles Ward” last night. Both my wife and I are ex-single warders, we actually met in a stake singles ward, and the rest is history. Singles wards really have only 2 purposes, to worship and to get young adults to marry (more specifically in the temple) that’s it!

Watching this movie brought back some good memories, however, it is really dated:

  1. Pagers are really outdated, who has a pager anymore? Coincidentally who had a pager back in 2002? Even back then cell phones were pretty popular and if he was as successful as he claimed to be he should have had a cell phone.
  2. There are no paper day planners anymore, the industry has changed to electronic devices, Eldon carrying around a planner is kind of funny but does date the movie a bit, at the end him and his wife show that they have evolved and were now using palm pilots, also an outdated technology.
  3. Super Dell the computer guy, it has been a while. Nuff said
  4. Many of the guest actors have passed on or not really in the main stream anymore. and the rising generation will have no idea who they are.

Since it is based in pop culture the movie will eventually fade with time and only those older Millennials/Generation Xer or Ys will remember the show. If I were to show my kids they would have no clue.

However, this movie is still pretty funny. I think it would be a waste of time to show the movie to a non-member or recently baptized member because at that point the movie would not make sense. Most of the movie is just a bunch of inside jokes. Now that it has been 12 years why not give it a try and see what you think. Has time worn this movie out or is it a keeper?

Sisterz in Zion, DVD

PuenteSisterzI often browse through, Deseret Book and Seagull book looking for new material. On the discounted table at Seagull Book I saw this movie, “Sisterz in Zion” I grabbed a copy and decided to sit down and watch it with my wife, hey the film was cheap! The story follows some girls (mostly Hispanic) from New York City who are members of the LDS Church who go to EFY in Provo.

I could kind of relate I have been to lots of youth activities, however, I never went to EFY though.

I thought this movie did a really good job at showing the contrast between sheltered Utah and the ghettos of New York City. I guess I was pretty sheltered until I got to Venezuela on my mission and realized how different the world really was. I had extenuating circumstances and I finished my mission in Florida. I knew a lot of people in Florida just like the girls show in the film, since a lot of people were leaving New York to come to Florida when I was there (and probably still are). I visited with many New Yorkers and Puerto Ricans while there, so attitudes of the girls in this film did not surprise me at all. Coincidentally the living conditions in New York was what really surprised me, this was the first film I have ever seen that actually showed what it was like for people to live in New York. I have seen plenty of films about New York but this actually gave a clear picture of the living conditions of the many people which is sub par.

Many of these girls joined the church when they were older kids like 10 – 13 or in their early teens. It was interesting that they kind of had to learn to live like Mormons without having a lot of examples in their lives, it shows how living in Utah you have a support system that is unparalleled.

When they got to Utah they realized how clean and tidy the streets were. They were surprised to see that there were barrels of candy and other things right in the front of the store where it could have easily been stolen, something that just would have never been done in New York.

EFY was a good experience for them. They had never been around so many people with high standards and moral. Since this is just a review I don’t want to go into too much detail about each thing that happened in the film however, I would highly recommend this film to anybody I think that this film is a good film to show youth groups so that they really understand what life is like without having a support system and living the gospel solo.

One of my favorite parts of the film is when they showed clips of a S. Michael Wilcox talk about the nourishment that we receive Jacob 5:22 was quoted and he said that it matters very little where we were planted but that it is how we respond to the nourishment we receive.

At that end the Young women’s general president Susan W. Tanner speaks to them about staying strong which was quite touching, they also did a “Where are they now” segment at the end showing how this experience really shaped their lives.

I would not hesitate to recommend this movie as good way to kick back on a Sunday afternoon.

For more information about the film visit https://byustudies.byu.edu/showtitle.aspx?title=8016

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Christmas Is Here Again

Christmas-is-Here-AgainIf you want a movie that will melt the heart of even the grinchiest of scrooges this is your movie. This is a cartoon that shares what the world would be like if there was no Christmas and then goes on to show you a little girl who helps bring Christmas back to the world.

Santa’s enemy Krad steels Santa’s sack (which was made of out of the swaddling clothes) and Christmas goes dark for over 30 years. Until this is all uncovered by a little Girl name Sophiana. Sophiana and a group of friends find Krad and help recover Santa’s sack in time for Christmas. There is a surprise ending that makes the movie fun.

The animation is old school. The music is good. The girl who play’s Sophiana’s voice is fantastic. If you can get one of your grinchy relatives, although they probably would not admit it this movie will melt any ones heart.

BYUtv Now and Then

When I got back from my mission in 2003, I was excited because BYU had a new station called BYUtv at first I thought it was really cool just coming home from a mission, it was all LDS based programming, not just public broadcasting like its KBYU counter part. After a while I started getting tired of Scripture study, General Conference, Education Week, and Simply Living. It was like I was watching general conference all the time. I epsecially disliked the show “Simply Living” the name of the show should have been “Simply Feeling Guilty” it basically just gave you some lady’s opinion on how she thought you should live your life and wanted you to feel guilty for all the things you were not doing right, like spending too much, over eating, and not having your food storage.

About 2 years ago I started noticing that the programming was starting to change. BYU began to branch out and get a bit more “hip” (so to speak) they left the old 24/7 general conference format and moved towards other entertainment. They created a show called “Studio C” which was kind of the “genesis” of this new move, a comedy troop that does a Saturday Night Live type of show with family friendly humor. 5 years ago that would not have even been considered. They created show called “Granite Flats” that it also fun, and “American Ride”.

They have even created great movies like “Silent Night” and the “Letter Writer” I am pleased with the change.

This is what the LDS community wants to see, I am so glad that the old ways of the Church only creating show that make you feel guilty and sermons have been replaced with shows to entertain and inspire. You think that it would have happened sooner but all in the Lord’s timing.

I can now watch all this stuff my ROKU which allows me to stream it to my TV.

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Roku a Good Idea for Mormon Families

Back in 2011 I was trying to find some information on some old television shows that I used to watch when I was a kid. I found that I could watch those episodes on Amazon Instant, however, I was not going to

get them becasue I thought that I would have to use my computer to watch them. I did some research and found that I could stream them to my TV, now I am not much of a streaming kind of guy I prefer owning the DVD because that way I get more freedom. The way I could stream them to my TV was from a little device called the Roku. When I say little device I mean it is a little device. The device is about 3 inches by 3 inches and about 1 inch deep, it can connect through HDMI or regular inputs. My wife was not sold on the idea but I got a Christmas bonus and purchased one and now my wife is hooked too. The reason it is such a valuable tool for Mormon families is:

  1. You can get access to the Mormon Channel 24/7
  2. You have access to BYUTV
  3. You have access to PBS and KBYU shows
  4. You have access to cooking channels
  5. They are all FREE

There are paid services but most of things that you would want to watch would be free, the box itself ranges from $60 – $100. I do pay for a few services such as the Story of Liberty. There are tons of great stuff I would not hesitate to get one again.

 

The Christmas Child

Christmas_ChildMy wife and I try to do a Sunday movie night after the kids go to bed. Last night my wife and I watched the Christmas child. The movie was about a man who had been adopted and he never knew anything about his birth parents. His birthday was on Christmas Eve and he knows that he was born in Clearwater Texas because of a photograph of a church, that he had obtained from his fathers safe deposit box. His wife wanted him to stay home instead of taking an assignment in Dallas, since he has been distant from her in recent months. He goes to Texas, with the hope of finding out about his birth, but does not explain that to his wife, she thinks that he is just being selfish and leaving only to focus on his career. He ends up finding out about his birth mother and his grandfather after he does an investigation. I won’t spoil the ending cause it is quite powerful.

I love the spiritual nature of the film. The man ask “Can a man change?” and his Grandfather says “I hope so” I think that is all of our hopes.

The film uses the talents of Steven Curtis Chapman who does a great job, he tells the man that we have not only earthly parents, or adopted earthly parents that love us very much but also a Heavenly Father who loves us. It was interesting that they used the name “Heavenly Father” which is used not as often in other Christian circles other than the LDS church.

I find the movie comforting to me.

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Charlie Brown Holiday Specials

Though not a Mormon thing, the Charlie Brown holiday specials will always have a place in my media library. We recently purchased the Charlie Brown holiday specials on Blu Ray. This was great decisions. They are quite spiritual in nature. In a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Linus quotes one of the original Thanksgiving prayers. In a Charlie Brown Christmas, Linus reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas by quoting the King James Version of the Christmas story found in Luke 2.

The Great Pumpkin is fun though not too spiritual of a message or meaning. However my 1 (almost 2 year old) daughter was running around the house yelling “Great Pumpkin, Great Pumpkin”

In a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Charlie Brown is convinced to host Thanksgiving he serves toast, pop corn, jelly beans, and pretzels, he is chastised for doing so by his friends. my wife and I both agreed that our children would rather have that Thanksgiving dinner than a traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Our children unfortunately are picky eaters, however, all those things they will eat.

Mormons love the message of Charlie Brown.

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Joseph Smith Plates of Gold – Blu Ray Review

I purchased “Joseph Smith: Plates of Gold” on blu-ray. I watched it Sunday night with my wife. I loved the film. A few things stood out to me.

  1. Many of the actors were significantly younger than they usually are in such films. Joseph Smith was quite young and so was the actress that played Emma. This helped me realize that Joseph was indeed quite young when these events took place. Emma and Joseph were in there early 20s.
  2. The movie focused on one event. Usually these kinds of films try to tell the whole story which would take a mini-series, I would assume that creating a mini-series is actually what they are trying to do since this was called “Volume 1” don’t know if we will see “Volume 2” anytime soon though.
  3. The blu-ray transfer was amazing, I noticed this even though my TV is old and only displays 1080i I still thought that the quality of film or digitization was great.
  4. Very good Camera techniques, there is a shot where Emma and Joseph are talking, Joseph is in the background, and while Emma is speaking Joseph becomes blurry and then they switch for dramatic effect.
  5. They did the Book of Mormon chronology correct. Most of the time when the translation of the plates is portrayed they start with “I Nephi having been born of goodly parents . . .” Joseph started out in the Book of Lehi, when the pages were lost, the they actually started out either “Words of Mormon” or “Mosiah” and then translated until he came to the Books of Nephi. It was good see them being as accurate as possible.
  6. They told the story without any special effects, was this to save money? Perhaps it was, however, I kind of think it was a style choice. In today’s world special effects are actually quite affordable. I think this allowed for the story of Joseph Smith to be told keeping the main things the main things. It allows us to look at what happened to Joseph Smith by faith.

I do have to say that the films the Church produces have more of the spirit with them, this is because they are Church approved and they prayed over and worked through by the First Presidency. The spirit of this film was not quite the same as the films produced by the Church however, it was still very well done. I also like that the film showed Joseph as a real person.

I recommend this film to anyone who likes LDS films. I always recommend that you watch movies in blu-ray you will get better quality than, DVD or streaming.

Below is the trailer for this film, enjoy!

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It’s a Miracle – LDS Stage Play – Janice Kapp Perry

So the other day I was going through my movie collection and found “It’s a Miracle” an old LDS stage play from the 1980s. What a great little movie. My wife was mad at first that I was forcing her to watch it, but, by the end we were both reeling on the couch from laughter. It is a very funny insightful, though dated, stage play. My wife did not grow up with the film but she did grow up with the music and she was excited, she had the sound track growing up. Unfortunately the video tape copy that I inherited from my Grandmother had some audio problems. I quickly went on the internet to try to find a copy on DVD and I found a copy on Janice Kapp Perry’s website.

This movie is great and I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys Mormon stage plays and wants a trip down memory lane.

You will want to consider getting this soon before it goes out of print and you can’t find it anymore. 

http://www.janicekappperry.com/index.php?action=catalog&node=missionary&id=58

DVD Cover for It's a Miracle

Here is the cover for the film. The added bonus is that the DVD also comes with a CD of the original soundtrack a great added bonus.

Song Titles

  • It’s a Miracle Overture
  • How Can I Thank Thee
  • Me, a Missionary
  • I Know Everything
  • Forever I Love You
  • Beyond This Moment
  • Michael’s Decision
  • It’s a Miracle (reprise)
  • In the Hollow of Thy Hand
  • A Missionary’s Prayer
  • MTC Victory Song
  • We’re Companions
  • I Love To Be a Guardian Angel
  • Where Is Heaven
  • He’s All I Ever Wanted
  • Well Done
  • It’s a Miracle (finale)

I remember back in the 80s and early 90s when you would go to a missionary farewell and the musical number would consist of a choir of 16 – 18 year old girls singing “In the Hollow of Thy Hand”, watching the movie helped me remember the sacredness of the song and that it was meant to be a song that was a message from a father and mother to their missionary son. I used to not like the song because of the stigma it received from missionary farewells, I am glad I can appreciate the true meaning of the song. There are two other references to the “hallow of thy hand”  an old Irish blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Isaiah speaks of the hallow of His hand in Isaiah 40:12

“12 ¶Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?”

Enjoy this great piece of forgotten LDS pop culture.