Searching For Sugar Man

Searching For Sugar Man (2012) PG-13

 

Subject: This movie chronicles the quest of two men in South Africa to find a singer named Rodriquez in the United States who impacted their nation with his music.

 

Writer, Editor, and Director: Malik Benojelloul

 

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

This is probably the best documentary that I have ever seen. It follows the true story of two men, Craig Strydon and Stephen Segeman, from South Africa who track down an American singer named Rodriquez whose records spoke powerfully to their generation in the 1970s when the apartheid was enforced and outside music was strictly monitored by the government. 

 

What makes this story so amazing is Rodriquez did not even know about his fame in this far away country  because his records were smuggled in and the hundreds of thousands of all the records sold there were manufactured without his knowledge, and from which he did not receive a dime. 

 

What especially intrigued Strydon and Seegeman was the fact there was so little known about the singer and that rumors abounded in South Africa about what became of him--some saying he had committed suicide on stage. 

 

Although it is not clear if Rodriquez is a Christian, his attitude and reaction to learning about being ripped off, decades later, is exemplary. An interviewer asked him in so many words: "So, what do you think? Your life could have been better."

Rodriquez responds without a trace of bitterness: "Would it have been?"

 

As a Christian viewing this film it reminds me that God sees everything we do for Him and one day will reward us whether we are ever recognized in this life, or not.

 

"And if anyone gives even a cup of water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward" (Matthew 10:42).

 

*Rated PG-13 for some brief strong language and some short discussions of sex and drugs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

A gifted, unknown, Hispanic, poet, singer/songwriter from the U.S.  finally gets his due

Amy

Amy (2015) R 

 

Subject: Chronicles the turbulent life of the British singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse. It includes many impromptu videos from family and friends,  interviews with people who knew her best, and clips of Amy performing hit songs in studios and concerts.

 

DIrector: Asif Kapadia

 

Distributor: A24

This raw, and sometimes raunchy, documentary chronicles the rise and fall of Amy Winehouse, a British musical phenomenon, her tragic slide into drug addiction, and her eventual death by an overdose at 27 years old. Ironically, her song, “Rehab,” which catapulted her to international fame, was about her refusal to go into a rehab center.

 

The film’s strength lies in its inclusion of many videos of Amy taken by friends, family, and professionals when she was a child growing up as well as when she began her singing/songwriting career. Starting off as a jazz singer in small pubs with intimate crowds she eventually wrote songs that went mainstream and placed her before tens of thousands of adoring fans. Amy’s response to a reporter’s question about how she would handle fame, if it ever happened, seemed almost prophetic: “I’d probably go mad.” We see Amy performing some of her hits in studios (one song is particularly crude) as well as in concert. Her insecurities are evident when she agrees to record some jazz songs with one of her idols, Tony Bennett. Even though she had achieved amazing success by this time she still expressed doubts about her ability.

 

The movie also shows the destructive nature of her relationship with her boyfriend, Blake Fielder-Civil, and how they both encouraged each other to do drugs. On top of her personal struggles, the film shows, too, the media frenzy surrounding her life and her difficulty adjusting to her role as a musical icon. When she won music awards there was high praise but when she hit bottom she was publicly humiliated and ridiculed by late night comics and tabloids.  

Some of Amy’s comments in the film reveal what she thought contributed to her struggles. She says, “my mum was too easy on me” and “it would have been good if my dad was around so he could tell me to ‘listen to your mum’ sometimes.” She also says at one point about her childhood: “My dad was never home.” Mitch Winehouse (her dad) confessed that he had found another woman during her childhood and had kept it a secret for many years. When she was asked by Blake why she had a sexual appetite ‘like a man’ she blamed her promiscuity on her parents’ divorce.

 

Although the film is artistically well done I would not recommend it because of the vulgar content, Amy’s general seductiveness, and the heaviness of seeing a young, talented musician slowly kill herself…while the world watches.

 

"There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 14:12).

 

"For everything in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever" (1 John 2:16&17).

Many Beautiful Things

Many Beautiful Things (2015)

 

Starring: Ashley Lane Adams (woman portraying Lilias Trotter), Michelle Dockery (voice of Lilias Trotter), John Rhys-Davies (voice of John Ruskin)

 

DIrector: Laura Waters Hinson

 

Writer: Laura Waters Hinson

 

Distributor

 

 

This excellent documentary on the life of the obscure artist/missionary to Algeria,  Lilias Trotter, from the Victorian age, is a challenging look at the cost of following the call of God on your life--regardless of the sacrifices, or circumstances. Trotter, who lost her father when she was 12 years old became a Christian very young. She was also gifted with a unique artistic talent that was eventually recognized by the celebrated artist and critic of the period, John Ruskin, who went so far as to say that if she devoted herself to her art she "could be the greatest living painter and do things that could be immortal." Ruskin also credited Trotter as being the one who convinced him that women could also produce art at the same high level as men.

 

In fact, Ruskin became Trotter's art mentor and welcomed her often at his art community to develop her talent. Trotter, however, had other passions besides art.  She was part of what was known as the "Higher Life Movement" and worked as a counselor at Dwight L. Moody evangelistic crusades. She also boldly sought out the prostitutes in London at night, despite the danger as a single woman, to share with them the gospel and to teach them practical ways to make a living. Later, attending a Christian meeting, she heard a speaker ask the audience if there was anyone who felt called to North Africa, and Trotter responded.

 

Yet, despite her zeal, the North African Mission rejected Trotter because of an apparent heart condition. Undaunted and able to finance her own trip she went to Algeria with two other single women at 35 and ministered there for forty years. She also kept a meticulous journal that included numerous sketchings and drawings. Meanwhile, Ruskin, tried to convince her through an ongoing correspondence to focus on her art.

 

The rediscovery of Lilias Trotter's art and ministry can largely be atrributed to Miriam Hoffman Rockness, who wrote Trotter's biography, A Passion for the Impossible (published by Discovery House Publishers in 2003) after decades of extensive research.

 

In regards to her ministry, Trotter's attitude was that she could learn from anyone, regardless of their background. She also pioneered the idea of teaching poverty-stricken women, rejected by their husbands, how to make sellable products from which they could support themselves. It was documented one day that a woman ministered to by  Ms. Trotter expressed a sentiment probably felt by many: Nobody ever loved us so much!"

On her death bed in Algeria Lilias Trotter was reported as saying: "Oh. I see six chariots! I see many beautiful things!" That's pretty impressive given that Elijah only got one for his ride home.

 

In many ways Lillias Trotter's life's motivation was similar to William Booth's (the founder of The Salvation Army) who wrote the following: "Some people's ambition is gold. Some people's ambition is art. Some people's ambition is fame. My ambition is the soul's of men."

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share  your master's happiness'" (Matthew 25:23).

Steve McQueen:     American Icon

Steve McQueen: American Icon (2017)

Director: Jon Erwin

Writers: Parker Adams, Greg Laurie

Distributor: Fathom Events

In 1972, Steve McQueen was the highest paid actor in the world. With such hits as  The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963), The Sand Pebbles (1966; for which he was nominated  for "Best Actor in a Leading Role") and Bullitt (1968), he was  one of America's most popular and charismatic film stars.

In this documentary, Greg Laurie, a mega-church pastor/evangelist and radio preacher, and fan of McQueen as a teenager, gets on his McQueen replica motorcycle and takes trips to interview people who knew McQueen best, especially at the end of his life, to determine if McQueen actually became a Christian.

 

Narrated by actor Gary Sinise, the film covers McQueen's difficult childhood,  his time in a reform school and the marines, his three marriages, his acting rivalries with Yul Brenner and Paul Newman, and his terminal illness and last days. The interviews include those with McQueen's widow, Barbara Minty McQueen, as well as others who knew him well or admired him from the movie industry. Threaded tastefully throughout the film are clips from McQueen's most famous movies and  photos of the actor taken by his wife from her personal collection. Mel Gibson speaks about McQueen's unique acting abilities and how he was inspired and influenced by him.

In terms of McQueen's conversion to Christianity, in addition to asking direct questions to his wife, Laurie also talks with the pastor where McQueen went to church as well as the son of the man who mentored McQueen as a pilot and became a godly father figure to the actor.  The film ends with a recording of the actor speaking about his faith two weeks before his death.

Laurie does an excellent job with this documentary summing up McQueen's life and his eventual embracing of the Christian faith and, perhaps, gives McQueen the best posthumous gift of all--an opportunity to testify to the world that in spite of all the fame and fortune he enjoyed,  he still needed God to find peace.

"Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:23 & 24).

"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).

 

 

 

 

 

          I Am Israel

I Am Israel (2016) 33 minutes

Director: David Kiern

Writer: David Kiern

Narrator: John Rhys-Davies

This short but excellent documentary by American filmmaker, David Kiern, unabashedly shows the director's love for Israel, the renaissance of that country today, and the importance of standing with this country on the global stage. In light of the recent protests by many countries in the UN against President Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem be officially recognized as Israel’s capital, this film is a valuable educational tool for Christians and a clear testimony that God is still “on the move” in this nation.

Narrated impeccably by Welsh actor, John Rhys-Davies ("Gimli" from Lord of the Rings), with a beautiful, original, orchestral score by Bob Farnsworth, and stunning aerial cinematography by Natalie Kiern (the director’s wife), the film focuses on a group of Jewish people who live in Israel including:  a grandfather, a housewife and mother, a “cowboy” in Golan Heights, a celebrated painter, a tourist guide, and a vineyard grower.

Throughout the film there are references to prophecies being fulfilled today in Israel such as from Isaiah 35:1&2: “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the Crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy… .”

 

One of the people interviewed, Yaakov Berg, Russian-born but a Jewish resident in Israel since he was three, speaks of how his father always wanted to touch the land in some way. In the 1990s, Berg began drilling in a mountainous and desert area in Israel to plant his first vineyard. He says: “People told me nothing will grow here…but the land has come back like a dead man back to life.”  An aerial view of the acres and acres of vineyards proves his point. Davies narrates that these same desert lands have not flourished since the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

Another prophesy alluded to is from Jeremiah 23:3 which states: “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.” Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a member of the “Knesset” (the legislative body in Jerusalem) says emphatically at the end of the movie: “Never before in the history of mankind has a nation left its homeland and returned to its homeland.” Another rabbi, Rabbi Jeremy Gimpel, gives the statistics: “In 1916, there were 60,000 Jews in Israel. Today there are six million. This is unprecedented. Something is happening here of historic proportions.”

As Christians, it is vital that we strongly support Israel, especially as their allies are shrinking around the world. This film will recharge your faith as you consider the ancient prophesies being fulfilled today in this country, and renew your commitment to the Jewish people as you see some of the amazing things happening there through  these ordinary people.

Don’t be surprised after seeing this film a seed is not planted in your heart to see Israel for yourself.

*Perfect film to show to church groups now to counter the current trend to trash Israel and also to all who are planning to go to Israel, or are thinking about it.

"The nation is like a mighty lion; When it is sleeping, no one dares wake it. Whoever blesses Israel will be blessed, And whoever curses Israel will be cursed" (Numbers 24:9).

      Operation Toussaint

This film is about Tim Ballard, a former special agent with Homeland Security, who leaves his U.S. government job and all its benefits, to start a non-profit organization to work with countries around the world to rescue children caught in human trafficking. The movie shows how and why Ballard started the organization, Operation Underground Railroad, and his first mission to Haiti, which was inspired by a newscast about a Haitian pastor's son being kidnapped. As a father of seven children (now nine), Ballard is passionate about his crusade to save helpless children.

 

The documentary also features comments by Tony Robbins, Glenn Beck, and Orrin Hatch. Beck makes a provocative comment that many will say they would have been abolitionists in the time of the Civil War but are silent when it comes to modern day slavery that is happening all around us. * Although the film may come across as a fundraiser at times, it is encouraging and inspiring to see a man who is willing to risk his life and job security to go wherever in the world to rescue children--he and his wife have even adopted two children that he helped rescue.

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" (Edmund Burke).

*A similar thing could be said regarding abortion. Many would say that they would have opposed the Nazis if they had lived in Hitler's Germany but do nothing when it comes to abortion's silent holocaust today.

                Free Solo

 Free Solo (2018) PG-13

Starring: Alex Honnold, Jimmy Chin, Sanni McCandless, Tommy Caldwell

Directors: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

Distributor: National Geographic Documentary Films

Searching For Sugar Man

Searching For Sugar Man (2012) PG-13

 

Subject: This movie chronicles the quest of two men in South Africa to find a singer named Rodriquez in the United States who impacted their nation with his music.

 

Writer, Editor, and Director: Malik Benojelloul

 

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

This is probably the best documentary that I have ever seen. It follows the true story of two men, Craig Strydon and Stephen Segeman, from South Africa who track down an American singer named Rodriquez whose records spoke powerfully to their generation in the 1970s when the apartheid was enforced and outside music was strictly monitored by the government. 

 

What makes this story so amazing is Rodriquez did not even know about his fame in this far away country  because his records were smuggled in and the hundreds of thousands of all the records sold there were manufactured without his knowledge, and from which he did not receive a dime. 

 

What especially intrigued Strydon and Seegeman was the fact there was so little known about the singer and that rumors abounded in South Africa about what became of him--some saying he had committed suicide on stage. 

 

Although it is not clear if Rodriquez is a Christian, his attitude and reaction to learning about being ripped off, decades later, is exemplary. An interviewer asked him in so many words: "So, what do you think? Your life could have been better."

Rodriquez responds without a trace of bitterness: "Would it have been?"

 

As a Christian viewing this film it reminds me that God sees everything we do for Him and one day will reward us whether we are ever recognized in this life, or not.

 

"And if anyone gives even a cup of water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward" (Matthew 10:42).

 

*Rated PG-13 for some brief strong language and some short discussions of sex and drugs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

A gifted, unknown, Hispanic, poet, singer/songwriter from the U.S.  finally gets his due

Amy

Amy (2015) R 

 

Subject: Chronicles the turbulent life of the British singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse. It includes many impromptu videos from family and friends,  interviews with people who knew her best, and clips of Amy performing hit songs in studios and concerts.

 

DIrector: Asif Kapadia

 

Distributor: A24

This raw, and sometimes raunchy, documentary chronicles the rise and fall of Amy Winehouse, a British musical phenomenon, her tragic slide into drug addiction, and her eventual death by an overdose at 27 years old. Ironically, her song, “Rehab,” which catapulted her to international fame, was about her refusal to go into a rehab center.

 

The film’s strength lies in its inclusion of many videos of Amy taken by friends, family, and professionals when she was a child growing up as well as when she began her singing/songwriting career. Starting off as a jazz singer in small pubs with intimate crowds she eventually wrote songs that went mainstream and placed her before tens of thousands of adoring fans. Amy’s response to a reporter’s question about how she would handle fame, if it ever happened, seemed almost prophetic: “I’d probably go mad.” We see Amy performing some of her hits in studios (one song is particularly crude) as well as in concert. Her insecurities are evident when she agrees to record some jazz songs with one of her idols, Tony Bennett. Even though she had achieved amazing success by this time she still expressed doubts about her ability.

 

The movie also shows the destructive nature of her relationship with her boyfriend, Blake Fielder-Civil, and how they both encouraged each other to do drugs. On top of her personal struggles, the film shows, too, the media frenzy surrounding her life and her difficulty adjusting to her role as a musical icon. When she won music awards there was high praise but when she hit bottom she was publicly humiliated and ridiculed by late night comics and tabloids.  

Some of Amy’s comments in the film reveal what she thought contributed to her struggles. She says, “my mum was too easy on me” and “it would have been good if my dad was around so he could tell me to ‘listen to your mum’ sometimes.” She also says at one point about her childhood: “My dad was never home.” Mitch Winehouse (her dad) confessed that he had found another woman during her childhood and had kept it a secret for many years. When she was asked by Blake why she had a sexual appetite ‘like a man’ she blamed her promiscuity on her parents’ divorce.

 

Although the film is artistically well done I would not recommend it because of the vulgar content, Amy’s general seductiveness, and the heaviness of seeing a young, talented musician slowly kill herself…while the world watches.

 

"There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 14:12).

 

"For everything in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever" (1 John 2:16&17).

Many Beautiful Things

Many Beautiful Things (2015)

 

Starring: Ashley Lane Adams (woman portraying Lilias Trotter), Michelle Dockery (voice of Lilias Trotter), John Rhys-Davies (voice of John Ruskin)

 

DIrector: Laura Waters Hinson

 

Writer: Laura Waters Hinson

 

Distributor

 

 

This excellent documentary on the life of the obscure artist/missionary to Algeria,  Lilias Trotter, from the Victorian age, is a challenging look at the cost of following the call of God on your life--regardless of the sacrifices, or circumstances. Trotter, who lost her father when she was 12 years old became a Christian very young. She was also gifted with a unique artistic talent that was eventually recognized by the celebrated artist and critic of the period, John Ruskin, who went so far as to say that if she devoted herself to her art she "could be the greatest living painter and do things that could be immortal." Ruskin also credited Trotter as being the one who convinced him that women could also produce art at the same high level as men.

 

In fact, Ruskin became Trotter's art mentor and welcomed her often at his art community to develop her talent. Trotter, however, had other passions besides art.  She was part of what was known as the "Higher Life Movement" and worked as a counselor at Dwight L. Moody evangelistic crusades. She also boldly sought out the prostitutes in London at night, despite the danger as a single woman, to share with them the gospel and to teach them practical ways to make a living. Later, attending a Christian meeting, she heard a speaker ask the audience if there was anyone who felt called to North Africa, and Trotter responded.

 

Yet, despite her zeal, the North African Mission rejected Trotter because of an apparent heart condition. Undaunted and able to finance her own trip she went to Algeria with two other single women at 35 and ministered there for forty years. She also kept a meticulous journal that included numerous sketchings and drawings. Meanwhile, Ruskin, tried to convince her through an ongoing correspondence to focus on her art.

 

The rediscovery of Lilias Trotter's art and ministry can largely be atrributed to Miriam Hoffman Rockness, who wrote Trotter's biography, A Passion for the Impossible (published by Discovery House Publishers in 2003) after decades of extensive research.

 

In regards to her ministry, Trotter's attitude was that she could learn from anyone, regardless of their background. She also pioneered the idea of teaching poverty-stricken women, rejected by their husbands, how to make sellable products from which they could support themselves. It was documented one day that a woman ministered to by  Ms. Trotter expressed a sentiment probably felt by many: Nobody ever loved us so much!"

On her death bed in Algeria Lilias Trotter was reported as saying: "Oh. I see six chariots! I see many beautiful things!" That's pretty impressive given that Elijah only got one for his ride home.

 

In many ways Lillias Trotter's life's motivation was similar to William Booth's (the founder of The Salvation Army) who wrote the following: "Some people's ambition is gold. Some people's ambition is art. Some people's ambition is fame. My ambition is the soul's of men."

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share  your master's happiness'" (Matthew 25:23).

Steve McQueen:     American Icon

Steve McQueen: American Icon (2017)

Director: Jon Erwin

Writers: Parker Adams, Greg Laurie

Distributor: Fathom Events

In 1972, Steve McQueen was the highest paid actor in the world. With such hits as  The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963), The Sand Pebbles (1966; for which he was nominated  for "Best Actor in a Leading Role") and Bullitt (1968), he was  one of America's most popular and charismatic film stars.

In this documentary, Greg Laurie, a mega-church pastor/evangelist and radio preacher, and fan of McQueen as a teenager, gets on his McQueen replica motorcycle and takes trips to interview people who knew McQueen best, especially at the end of his life, to determine if McQueen actually became a Christian.

 

Narrated by actor Gary Sinise, the film covers McQueen's difficult childhood,  his time in a reform school and the marines, his three marriages, his acting rivalries with Yul Brenner and Paul Newman, and his terminal illness and last days. The interviews include those with McQueen's widow, Barbara Minty McQueen, as well as others who knew him well or admired him from the movie industry. Threaded tastefully throughout the film are clips from McQueen's most famous movies and  photos of the actor taken by his wife from her personal collection. Mel Gibson speaks about McQueen's unique acting abilities and how he was inspired and influenced by him.

In terms of McQueen's conversion to Christianity, in addition to asking direct questions to his wife, Laurie also talks with the pastor where McQueen went to church as well as the son of the man who mentored McQueen as a pilot and became a godly father figure to the actor.  The film ends with a recording of the actor speaking about his faith two weeks before his death.

Laurie does an excellent job with this documentary summing up McQueen's life and his eventual embracing of the Christian faith and, perhaps, gives McQueen the best posthumous gift of all--an opportunity to testify to the world that in spite of all the fame and fortune he enjoyed,  he still needed God to find peace.

"Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:23 & 24).

"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).

 

 

 

 

 

          I Am Israel

I Am Israel (2016) 33 minutes

Director: David Kiern

Writer: David Kiern

Narrator: John Rhys-Davies

This short but excellent documentary by American filmmaker, David Kiern, unabashedly shows the director's love for Israel, the renaissance of that country today, and the importance of standing with this country on the global stage. In light of the recent protests by many countries in the UN against President Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem be officially recognized as Israel’s capital, this film is a valuable educational tool for Christians and a clear testimony that God is still “on the move” in this nation.

Narrated impeccably by Welsh actor, John Rhys-Davies ("Gimli" from Lord of the Rings), with a beautiful, original, orchestral score by Bob Farnsworth, and stunning aerial cinematography by Natalie Kiern (the director’s wife), the film focuses on a group of Jewish people who live in Israel including:  a grandfather, a housewife and mother, a “cowboy” in Golan Heights, a celebrated painter, a tourist guide, and a vineyard grower.

Throughout the film there are references to prophecies being fulfilled today in Israel such as from Isaiah 35:1&2: “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the Crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy… .”

 

One of the people interviewed, Yaakov Berg, Russian-born but a Jewish resident in Israel since he was three, speaks of how his father always wanted to touch the land in some way. In the 1990s, Berg began drilling in a mountainous and desert area in Israel to plant his first vineyard. He says: “People told me nothing will grow here…but the land has come back like a dead man back to life.”  An aerial view of the acres and acres of vineyards proves his point. Davies narrates that these same desert lands have not flourished since the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

Another prophesy alluded to is from Jeremiah 23:3 which states: “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.” Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a member of the “Knesset” (the legislative body in Jerusalem) says emphatically at the end of the movie: “Never before in the history of mankind has a nation left its homeland and returned to its homeland.” Another rabbi, Rabbi Jeremy Gimpel, gives the statistics: “In 1916, there were 60,000 Jews in Israel. Today there are six million. This is unprecedented. Something is happening here of historic proportions.”

As Christians, it is vital that we strongly support Israel, especially as their allies are shrinking around the world. This film will recharge your faith as you consider the ancient prophesies being fulfilled today in this country, and renew your commitment to the Jewish people as you see some of the amazing things happening there through  these ordinary people.

Don’t be surprised after seeing this film a seed is not planted in your heart to see Israel for yourself.

*Perfect film to show to church groups now to counter the current trend to trash Israel and also to all who are planning to go to Israel, or are thinking about it.

"The nation is like a mighty lion; When it is sleeping, no one dares wake it. Whoever blesses Israel will be blessed, And whoever curses Israel will be cursed" (Numbers 24:9).

      Operation Toussaint

This film is about Tim Ballard, a former special agent with Homeland Security, who leaves his U.S. government job and all its benefits, to start a non-profit organization to work with countries around the world to rescue children caught in human trafficking. The movie shows how and why Ballard started the organization, Operation Underground Railroad, and his first mission to Haiti, which was inspired by a newscast about a Haitian pastor's son being kidnapped. As a father of seven children (now nine), Ballard is passionate about his crusade to save helpless children.

 

The documentary also features comments by Tony Robbins, Glenn Beck, and Orrin Hatch. Beck makes a provocative comment that many will say they would have been abolitionists in the time of the Civil War but are silent when it comes to modern day slavery that is happening all around us. * Although the film may come across as a fundraiser at times, it is encouraging and inspiring to see a man who is willing to risk his life and job security to go wherever in the world to rescue children--he and his wife have even adopted two children that he helped rescue.

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" (Edmund Burke).

*A similar thing could be said regarding abortion. Many would say that they would have opposed the Nazis if they had lived in Hitler's Germany but do nothing when it comes to abortion's silent holocaust today.

                Free Solo

 Free Solo (2018) PG-13

Starring: Alex Honnold, Jimmy Chin, Sanni McCandless, Tommy Caldwell

Directors: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

Distributor: National Geographic Documentary Films

Academy Award winner for Best Feature Documentary in 2019, this film is about the famous professional mountain climber, Alex Honnold, and his journey to take the challenge of his life—free soloing (meaning climbing without ropes or protective gear) the face of El Capitan, a majestic granite mountain 3000 feet high, in Yosemite National Park, which he finally does on June 3, 2017.

Produced by National Geographic Documentary Films, the movie includes many interviews of other mountain climbers such as Tommy Caldwell who helped Honnold prepare for the climb, his mother Dierdre Wolonick, his girl friend, Sanni McCandless, and, of course, multiple scenes with Alex himself talking about what motivates him and his life growing up.

Honnold is asked at one point why he would do something so dangerous and he responds by saying, “All of us can die at any moment.” He also tells us he has a “warrior spirit” which pushes him to excel in what he does because one false step could be fatal, and the importance of facing his greatest fears head on. When talking about what makes his girl friend, Sanni, tick, he says: “She likes to be comfortable and cozy…but no one does anything great by being comfortable and cozy.”

One scene shows him answering questions from students from his old high school. He says:”It’s great being paid to do what you’re passionate about.” In fact, he is so passionate about his profession; he seriously considered breaking up with his girlfriend after he had two climbing accidents, thinking that maybe that close relationship was causing him to lose focus. He changed his mind when Sanni asked him bluntly, “Will you be better off without me?”

In describing his childhood he confesses that they did not hug or say ‘I love you’ in his family, and hugging is something he had to learn when he got older. He says with a smile, “I think I’m a pretty good hugger now.” He also said his mother was someone that was hard to please.

In terms of maybe dying in his attempt to conquer El Capitan and grieving friends and loved ones, Honnold says glibly: “People move on. They meet other people. They get over it.” As an afterthought he says: “Maybe that was a little callous.”

The cinematography, of course, is excellent, as would be expected from National Geographic. The ascent footage is amazing to watch as Honnold methodically works his way up the mountain face, through one seemingly impossible stage after another. I liked his attitude of facing his fears, constantly challenging himself to excellence, and moving out of his comfort zone to grow. Yet, I wonder if this constant search for something more death-defying is nothing more than hubris masking a false belief in his invincibility, which will eventually end his life.

In terms of spirituality, this film does not offer much. In Wikipedia it is written that Honnold considers himself a “militant atheist.” According to the Bible, your god is what you serve or live for (or called an “idol” when not the true God), and though climbing a mountain can be an awesome challenge and victory, it has no love…nor power to save.”

“For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land” (Psalm 95:3-5).

 
 

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