Archive for the ‘ Inspriational ’ Category

The Instant Critic plays golf in Orlando

Greetings, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, we took a break from movies to remember the High Rise flood.

This week, we are hitting the green and heading to Disney World.

SEVEN DAYS IN UTOPIA (G, 98 minutes – featuring Robert Duvall, Lucas Black, Deborah Ann Woll and Melissa Leo)

I usually cringe at the thought of a faith-based movie. Since faith-house cinema almost limits itself to “gems” such as Facing the Giants and Fireproof, the average Christian film buff finds the situation dire when looking for a movie with a deeper meaning.

Thankfully, Seven Days in Utopia rises above the usual faith-based fare to offer viewers an uplifting tale of finding yourself in the most unlikely of places.

The story centers on Luke, a disgraced golfer who stumbles upon a small Texas town after a minor car crash. While there, he meets a former golfer (Duvall) who helps to give Luke the training he needs to continue in his career.

Going in, I had no idea that the film held a Christian base, but I was surprised and pleased that I enjoyed the film at the level I did. Sure, a few moments of genuine corniness are in store, but the earnest approach made those moments strangely tolerable. As a Christian, I’m glad to see a good movie from our side every now and then.

On the acting side, Duvall can never be bad in a movie, and up-and-comer Lucas Black manages to hold his own with the screen vet for the second time.

If you are looking for a film that you can safely watch with the folks over Spring Break, Seven Days in Utopia easily takes the cake.

This film and the upcoming Blue Like Jazz (a film I thoroughly enjoyed) give faith-house cinema a bright future.

DISNEY PARKS: UNDISCOVERED DISNEY PARKS (TVG, 43 minutes)

As a longtime advocate of Disney World, I found this short television special to be a must for those considering a trip down to the house of the mouse anytime soon.

While I’ve never been to the West Coast, I can say that I have been to Orlando fourteen times (the next trip steadily approaches).

Even I learned a thing or two watching this informative special.

Disney Parks: Undiscovered Disney Parks gives you exactly what it promises. Viewers are taken backstage to see some of Disney’s best-kept secrets, whether it is a private restaurant or an inside look at the mechanics of a certain electrifying parade.

Sadly, some of the information in this special will be old news for longtime park-goers, but for those new to the Disney experience, the short episode offers a great deal of intriguing information about the theme park and its surrounding resorts.

If you are headed to any of the major Disney parks in the foreseeable future, I recommend you give this television special a try. It may not be a movie, but it’s easily worth your time.

What say you? What’s your take on the current climate of faith-based cinema? Are you more of a Universal Studios type of person? Let me know in the comments section.

You know the drill. Recommendations are more than welcome and can be placed in the comments section as well.

Next week, the Instant Critic and his fantastic readers will be receiving a well-deserved week of rest.

Until then, may your sunscreen be effective and your break wonderful.

The Instant Critic

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The Instant Critic goes swimming with Elmo: Reviews of Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey and Oceans

Welcome back, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, a sleek adventure and a masterful documentary caught our attention.

This week, I have decided to take a look at another two documentaries currently featured on Netflix Instant.

BEING ELMO: A PUPPETEER’S JOURNEY (PG, 76 minutes – featuring Kevin Clash and narration by Whoopi Goldberg)

Who says that nice guys finish last?

This heartwarming documentary tells the story of Kevin Clash, the kindly, humble voice behind one of pop culture’s biggest icons.

Even as a young boy, Clash always had a dream. Educated to adore everything about puppeteering, the future star would create puppets out of simple supplies as a child. This love carried Clash far beyond anything he could ever imagine.

Interestingly enough, his rise to fame did not come through anything but pure service. Clash was discovered through his work with a children’s hospital.

If anything, Clash’s discovery sums up the documentary.

Kevin Clash deserves every accolade he has received. He deserves the doors that were opened for him. He deserves any sort of fandom or recognition.

Clash uses his gifts to help other people. Even with his worldwide fame through Elmo, Clash still makes time to meet with children and families in need – just like his days working at the children’s hospital.

The film itself takes viewers on quite a journey. Clash’s story inspired me in a way that I had not been in a good while. Seeing someone so genuine achieve their dreams through positive focus and goodwill is nothing short of captivating.

I wholeheartedly recommend giving this fantastic, fascinating documentary a try. The film is true inspiration in its purest form.

OCEANS (G, 84 minutes – featuring narration by Pierce Brosnan)

Rather bluntly, Oceans gives its primary focus away in the title.

The second film released in the cannon of the Disneynature series, Oceans offers an intriguing look into life below the surface.

Led by the soothing narration of James Bond himself, the documentary features stunning scenes of marine life. A few moments will leave your jaw firmly placed upon the floor.

Not every second can be called pure gold, but when the documentary hits its stride, you will be mesmerized by the spectacle.

A few moments in the film almost seem staged – a true testament to the quality of the footage.

One scene, a battle between two groups of crabs, really stands out.

At the end of the day, the documentary is a pleasant voyage into the depths of our planet’s oceans.

What say you? Have you seen either of these documentaries? Do you like movies focused on nature?

As always, the lines are open for a few requests. Let me know if there is a film you would like to see covered with next week’s post.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movies wonderful.

The Instant Critic

Watch the Mane Attraction: Reviews of Secretariat and High Noon

Welcome back, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, I offered insight on two of the finest films on Netflix.

This week, we’re headed to the stables to take a look at movies featuring everyone’s second favorite four-legged animal, the horse. By request, I’ll offer some thoughts on Disney’s Secretariat. Also, I’ll take a look at the Gary Cooper classic High Noon.

SECRETARIAT (PG, 123 minutes – featuring Diane Lane, John Malkovich and Fred Dalton Thompson)

When I think about Secretariat, I can’t help but remember the stunning horse-racing sequences. No matter the medium, a good horse race will always catch my attention. The filmmakers should be thankful for the fact that these scenes worked. When I say thankful, I mean thankful.

Without the horse racing, Secretariat amounts to nothing more than the typical melodrama found on the Hallmark Channel. I found some merit with the performances, but the film struggles early on to find its narrative footing. Is this truly a story worth telling? The last 45 minutes seem to indicate so. If you can stomach a little Disney-approved inspiration alongside a slightly overlong runtime, this film warrants a viewing.

Now, let’s look at a film where the horses serve as transportation instead of entertainment.

HIGH NOON (NR*, 84 minutes – featuring Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly and Lloyd Bridges)

High Noon refuses to go down in history as anything else but a classic Western. Two-time Academy Award winner Gary Cooper, unarguably one of the greatest actors of all time, gives a demanding performance as Will Kane, a retiring Marshal who must garner courage to face an old enemy. Director Fred Zinnemann gives Cooper the perfect stage – a world where Kane, forsaken of all help, must solemnly walk alone into his possible doom. It’s a striking portrayal of true, unflinching grit in the face of evil.

Despite the high quality of the work, some viewers might be afraid to watch an entire film in black-and-white.

Please don’t let the cinematography turn you away. Titles like High Noon set out the blueprints for the films we love today. If you want to see where modern-day adventure and drama gained inspiration, watch the classics. It doesn’t hurt that they’re also fantastic films.

High Noon really is something special, largely in part to Cooper’s portrayal of a truly courageous individual. If you love a good Western, here’s your movie.

And if the theme song doesn’t get stuck in your head, I don’t know what will.

*I would equate this film to about a PG rating. There’s a little violence, but that’s about it.

So, what do you think?

Am I being too hard on Secretariat? Are you affected by black-and-white cinematography? Does it really matter to you? Let me know in the comments section.

For next week, I’ve offered a poll to see which genre I should focus on. Be sure to cast your vote!

As always, if you’d like to see a certain movie reviewed, let me know. I’ll feature it with next week’s post.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movies wonderful.

The Instant Critic