Bright Spots: Chauncy's Chance


So I just happened to see Memphis, Tennessee briefly trending earlier today on Facebook (it appears to have already dropped half an hour after I first saw it), and so I obviously had to see what was going on. I was thrilled to see it was for another positive Read more

As a White Man, I now understand why the O.J. Simpson Jury did what it did


It was a hot Friday night in the summer of 1994. My parents and I had just walked into our house from a lengthy little league game of mine. Despite hours in the heat, I was wound up from the excitement of a win and eager to dive into Read more

Bright Spots: Memphis Teen Pays For College Like A Boss


Every now and then the media chooses to spend a little time on positive stories to share with the general public. I think it's important that we, as consumers, show up with website hits and/or media views to reinforce this positive publicity in a society dominated by negative news Read more

In Defense of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice


Imagine the following: a popular movie genre is categorized by smart but formulaic films, enjoyable and entertaining while also going out of their way to explain everything explicitly to the viewer and not engage any level of mystery or metaphysical questions. Another film comes along in this genre and while Read more

The Bachelor 2016: Finale Recap!


  (Written by @JeremyWilson412. For more coverage of this season's The Bachelor, go here) Another season has come and gone, and one thing was clear from start to finish: America loves Ben. Admit it, you love Ben. It doesn’t matter if you are a single girl, a married woman, or a Read more

Ranking the Batman Cinematic Legacy: The 9 Films featuring the Dark Knight


We’re three weeks from the latest cinematic incarnation of Batman, brought to us this time by action film director Zack Snyder. I would be lying if I didn’t express a certain amount of apprehension for “Batman V Superman: The Dawn of Justice.” Snyder is known for his bombastic sense Read more

Movies

Fatherhood, Faith, and Film

Posted on by Joseph Williams in Entertainment, Entertainment Inspirations, Faith, Featured, Movies | 1 Comment

mejackborn

My son, John (Jack) Joseph Williams III, was born on October 10, 2014. If you visit my social media page or run into me, it’s clear how much I love Jack. And most times, you’ll find me quickly veering away from my usual favorite topics of discussion (politics, film, TV, sports, and books) and talk as much as possible about Jack and being Jack’s father.

I’ve been hesitant to blog about my newfound fatherhood, though, for a variety of reasons. 1) I have no wisdom to offer or insight to provide. If anything, fatherhood simply humbles you and makes you more in awe of God the Father and his love for us. Like marriage, you begin to grasp slightly more yet still only a sliver of the all-encompassing love, grace, and sacrifice of God the Father and Christ the Son. 2) No matter what I say, it won’t be as hilarious as Seth’s “10 Things You Need to Know About Babies that Doctors Will Not Tell You.” 3) Fatherhood is the best thing that’s ever happened to me… but I don’t want to be THAT guy.

Yet here I am, a little over three months into parenting, and I’m blogging about fatherhood. What brought me to this point? Well, like most things with me, it all started with George Bailey.

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A Lego Movie-less Reaction to the 2015 Oscar Nominations

Posted on by Alex Beene in Awards Addict, Entertainment, Featured, Movies | Leave a comment

predicting-the-oscar-nominations

For a full list of nominees, go here.

Alex: No “Lego Movie”? I mean, seriously Academy. No “Lego Movie”?

It was the snub of the morning we certainly didn’t see coming. Sure, things like “Nightcrawler’s” Jake Gyllenhaal getting the boot in favor of “American Sniper’s” Bradley Cooper were a surprise. We’re used to late-in-the-year flicks coming in and snatching of nominations from early releases, though. Read more

A Yawn-Worthy Golden Globes Recap

Posted on by Alex Beene in Awards Addict, Entertainment, Featured, Movies | Leave a comment

71st Annual Golden Globe Awards - Show - Season 71

Care to watch the Golden Globes this year? That’s OK – I didn’t really feel like it either. Yep, this Awards Addict who normally eagerly anticipates this time of year was less than enthused to tune in Sunday night. I sucked it up and gave this trainwreck of a movie season a chance, mostly out of a mental obligation to my profession, I suppose. Read more

The True Story behind “Into the Woods”

Posted on by Alex Beene in Entertainment, Entertainment Inspirations, Featured, Movies | Leave a comment

into-the-woods-01_612x380

Over the crowded Christmas season, I took a day to head to the local theater and watch Disney’s new release “Into the Woods.” The Meryl Streep-headlined musical is an adaptation of the popular 1986 stage production, which was crafted by theatrical legend Stephen Sondheim. Read more

Movie Review: Selma

Posted on by Joseph Williams in Entertainment, Featured, Movie Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment

Selma Movie (2)

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Selma (**** out of 4) is ultimately about the hard sacrifices made by ordinary Americans “in order to form [this] more perfect union” mentioned in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. This sometimes means breaking unjust laws to establish justice or insuring domestic tranquility by disturbing the peace. Our nation’s history and the history of humanity in general is filled with such paradoxes in order to ensure the general welfare of our nation and other civilizations do not leave behind oppressed minorities who have historically been discriminated against and denied equal dignity. The blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity have not always been extended to everyone.

When I taught U.S. History and U.S. Government in a diverse high school, my favorite topics to teach were the causes of the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. These topics allowed me to build from foundational knowledge and push my students’ thinking to new levels. One of my favorite activities was dissecting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail and discussing non-violent protest with my students, pointing out how restrained and strategic agitation could successfully bring white moderates into the fold, forcing politicians to take action. But my favorite question to pose to my students was this: Would you be willing to be spit on, beat up, called numerous vulgar names, and not respond with any violence or hatred in return? If you knew your name wouldn’t be in the history books, would you still be willing to sacrifice your dignity temporarily so that dignity could be recognized by law and fact for yourself and your posterity?

Throughout my history classes, I tried to demythologize the legends from our own history. I tried to teach Lincoln, MLK, and others as the flawed humans they were so that my students could truly appreciate the obstacles they faced, sacrifices they made, brilliance they displayed, and history God gave them the opportunity to shape. I wanted them to know that these men and women were no different from them and that these eras in history required men, women, and children whose names we’ll never know.

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On “The Interview” and Creative Freedom

Posted on by Alex Beene in Entertainment, Featured, Movie Previews, Movies | 1 Comment

The_Interview-Poster-Preview The year is 1940. Adolf Hitler is at the zenith of his power. Having conquered multiple European territories and formed multiple international alliances, the German dictator is seen as the most dominant leader in the world.

Charlie Chaplin – Hollywood’s most dominant leader – decides to release a film that pokes fun at Hitler’s rise. Titled “The Great Dictator,” the release was one of the most daring in cinematic history. A comical piece on Hitler during his massive rampage seemed ill-timed, to say the least.

Of course, studio leaders were nervous. They thought this type of film would jeopardize European distribution for not just the Chaplin release, but all films to follow. Hitler and his allies may not look too kindly at the studio system using their personas for humor and put a ban on Hollywood products in general.

Chaplin himself became concerned his production may be put on the shelf if enough entertainment voices were critical of the film hitting theaters. At the height of Hollywood’s panic, Chaplin received a call from then-President Franklin Roosevelt. He assured the legendary filmmaker to have no fear; the film would be distributed. He would see to it. He thought it was a very important project Americans needed to see.

“The Great Dictator” would go on to be a box office smash and boast strong reviews that produced multiple Oscar nominations, including a Best Picture nod. Today, Chaplin’s first all-talking picture is remembered fondly for its courage. Had studios given into their financial and personal cowardice, it may have never been seen by generations of film-goers.

Flash-forward to 2014, and a new film threatening a global power is getting ready to roll. “The Interview,” which takes shots at North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, hits theaters on Christmas Day.

Well, maybe. Earlier this week, Sony backed away from the release. The New York premiere was canceled, and reports began to surface the studio told movie theater owners it was “up to them” as to whether they would show the film or not in their theaters. screen shot 2014-12-03 at 10.26.10 pmAll of this comes after a fresh threat from hackers who claimed they would carry out “9-11-esque attacks” on theaters who opted to show the film Christmas Day. These same hackers have slowly – and embarrassingly – been releasing personal information from Sony’s servers over the last few weeks in retaliation for the studio’s decision to distributed the James Franco-Seth Rogen collaboration.

Speaking for myself, I will gladly pay money to see “The Interview” in theaters, and I will do so without fear. The real shame here is – unlike in Chaplin’s day – studios have given into fear and are preparing to scratch out most of the impact the film could have had.

Where are the brave studio leaders saying, “We’re not going to give into some sad hackers who want to embarrass us”? Where are public office holders like FDR ensuring the creativity of a group of American filmmakers? Sorry, you just won’t find them.

Yes, we do live in a more global society. It’s a lot easier to attack a company or a country now through digital and viral means than it once was. However, the principles are still the same, aren’t they? At least they should be. This is artistic integrity from a group of our citizens, and instead of standing behind their voices, we’ve got studios and others looking to silence them.

We’ve still got those too scared of terror. We’ve still got those too horrified of offending anyone else, even if it’s fictional satire. The same people who are rarely concerned of their own ramblings online are now worried a film release will ruffle the wrong feathers.

If only Chaplin were still here. Then, perhaps, the team behind “The Interview” would have an entertainment advocate willing to stand with them.