Film Review: God’s Not Dead

If I could think of the most tortuous punishment to inflict on suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, it wouldn’t be waterboarding, nor castration nor even anal rape! I would subject my prisoners to this horrendous film for which the director, the producers and cast members should submit themselves to compulsory sterilization in order to avoid producing more of themselves!

This ‘film’ embodies the persecution complex exhibited by the Religious Right in the United States. Boys and girls, allow me to give you a history lesson.

America. Land of the Free, Home of the Whopper. The founding fathers of this country established the United States as the first secular republic. While Christianity was the predominant religion in the nation, the federal government would remain neutral towards all faiths, granting neither support nor objection.

‘Great Awakenings’ and Freethought movements have occurred repetitively in this country, sometimes simultaneously. Nevertheless, the government always remained secular. Surprisingly, for most of this nation’s history, Christmas wasn’t even considered to be a federal holiday!.

In the 1950’s, the United States was engaged in a proxy conflict with the Soviet Union. To differentiate ourselves from those godless Socialists, our political leaders promoted religion as an integral part of the American identity. Through the next decade, Christian-run private schools faced pressure from the government to desegregate themselves and open their doors to prospective ‘colored’ students.

Religious leaders reacted to those measures by propagating themselves as innocent, unassuming victims, persecuted by the big, bad government . They aligned themselves with the American conservative movement, which camouflaged its blatant bigotry with ‘libertarian principles’ that extol the ‘virtue’ of the free market. Thus, the Religious Right was born. And throughthe Civil Rights Movement, the aftermath of the Roe V Wade Supreme Court decision, the cultural acceptance of homosexuality, the surge in non-Christian immigration, and healthcare mandates from the ACA, the Religious Right never ceased its persecution complex.

The story revolves around Josh Wheton, a college freshman portrayed by Shane Harper. download (2)Josh enrolls into a Introduction to Philosophy taught by ‘Professor’ Radisson, an avowed atheist. On the first day of class, rather than handing his students a syllabis for the course like any other college instructor, Radisson coerces his students write ‘God is Dead’ on a piece of loose leaf and submit it for one-third of their grade. But you know what, guys? God’s not dead! And Josh Wheton, in his defiance to Radisson’s request, sets out to prove that God is surely alive!

‘God’s Not Dead’ is nothing more than a cinematic representation of those contrived intuition-albert-einstein-quoteschain emails and Facebook posts depicting a student ‘logically’ proving the existence of God to his bewildered professor.  The only thing missing from this film is the unraveling of the student’s true identity: Albert Einstein!.

Strawman representations and poorly-crafted stereotypes are prevalent in this movie.  You have your innocent, goody-two-shoes Church boy, your condescending, atheist professor, your vegan, SJW liberal blogger and her heartless atheistic boyfriend, your token Chinese kid, and your jovial African pastor.

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In Theocratic Iran, Ayatollah stone you!

Of course, your modern Christian propaganda flick would be incomplete without the oppressed Muslim girl (who’s really a crypto-Christian) and her abusive father who forces her to wear the niqab (the ninja-looking, face-covering garb), complementing her tightly-fitted, short-sleeved blouse (because obviously, the makers of this movie have never met a Muslim girl in their entire lives).

There are a billion subplots to this film which awkwardly fuse together in the last act. In addition to the war of words between Josh Wheton and Professor Radisson, there’s the internal struggle of the Chinese student caught between his communist upbringing and newly-discovered Christian faith, the liberal blogger’s cancer diagnosis, the banishment of the Muslim (Crypto-Christian) girl from her home when her hidden secret is revealed,

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Hi, we’re actually suburban yuppies but we act like this to pander to stupid rednecks

And we can’t forget the biracial bromance between a local pastor, portrayed by David A.R White (the producer of this colossal mess), and his African colleague!

Oh yeah, not to mention brief cameos from the Duck Dynasty guy. Yes, I’m serious……

By the way, if David A.R White looks familar to you, you might remember a younger-version of him from this classic late 2000’s internet meme below

Transcript:

*David A.R White’s character turns back*

“Hey Scotty”

*Scotty turns*

*With a creepy smile, David holds his fist up, threateningly*

“JESUS, MAN!!!*

*cue awkward, pseudo-inspirational soundtrack*

I was raised Catholic and I’ve seen my share of Christian movies. In terms of production value and acting, this film was on par with normal, Hollywood movies. Then again, most ‘Christian’ movies are shot in some guy’s basement with a few of his friends. This film, in contrast, was backed by a formidable budget and experienced movie personalities.

The soundtrack was deplorable! Then again, I’m not a fan of ‘Christian rock’ (an oxymoron if there was ever one). The opening scene was accompanied by the type of background music that’s supposed to be inspirational but, in reality, unintentionally prompts you to cut off your ears!

But despite all its innumerable flaws, this poor excuse of movie made a striking profit. Apparently, there are more right-wing, religious nutjobs in this country than previously estimated. This explains why Donald Trump is currently a contender in the presidential race.!  The only thing you can do is laugh at the face of absurdity.

 

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 **what really irks me about this film is its self-branding as a ‘Christian movie’. It would be an unforgivable offense to categorize God’s not Dead in the same league as classics including Ben-Hur , The Ten Commandments and Quo Vadis. Somehow, religious-themed cinema have regressed to this abhorrent monstrosity!  As I’d mentioned in another post, the purpose of religious-themed films is to deliver an uplifting message. In contrast, God’s not Dead left the cinematic equivalent of a bitter aftertaste

 

 

Film Review: The Man From Nowhere

-The Unexpected Bonds of Unconditional Friendship

On the surface, ‘The Man from Nowhere’ is an South Korean mystery thriller centered around a mysterious pawn shop owner well-trained in the martial arts. However, this eye-dazzling action-packed flick is actually a work of poetry celebrating the virtues of unexpected yet unbreakable bonds.

This film could rightfully be compared to Pierre Morel’s ‘Taken’ starring Liam Neeson. However, ‘Taken’ circles around a father attempting to rebuild a relationship with his estranged daughter, only to find her kidnapped by human traffickers. In contrast, ‘The Man from Nowhere’ is a story about two people who are nothing more than strangers.

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Cha Tae-sik is a unlikable pawnshop owner,who operates from his apartment. He is scorned by his neighbors and is assumed to be a child molester. Despite such an outlandish rumor, Cha Tae-sik always seems to have one little girl following him around. This young child is So-mi. Her mother, Hyo-Jeong, is a heroin addict who unwisely steals drugs from an organized crime syndicate. Hyo-Jeong’s drug habits self-destructively lands her daughter in hot water with a crime syndicate, prompting Cha Tae-sik to embark on a life-threatening, dangerous mission to save his only ‘friend’ during which, in the process, his dark past comes to light.

Kim Sae-ron gave a heartwarming, emotional performance as So-mi. It is no wonder she is currently the most demanded teenage actress in South Korea. So-mi is a neglected child, verbally abused by a mother who craves a heroin-induced intoxication over the love of her download (1)only daughter. Detaching from her mother, So-mi turns to her neighbor, Cha Tae-sik, and invests all of her affection towards him. When So-mi infers Cha Tae-sik’s seemingly apathetic attitude towards her, she laments:

“Mister? I embarrass you too, right? That’s why you ignored me? It’s okay. My teacher and all the kids do that too. Mom said that if I get lost, I should forget our address and phone number. She’s gets drunk and says we should die. Even though that pig called me a bum…you’re meaner. But I don’t hate you. Because if i did, I won’t have anyone I like. Thinking about it hurts me here. So I won’t hate you”

It baffles me on how the most unloved tend to be the most loving. So-mi understanding of unconditional love is remarkably insightful. Even if she remains an social pariah, she imagesunabashedly retains her love for Cha Tae-sik because that is her source of sustenance and hope. Her love for Cha Tae-sik is the net preventing her from falling into the abyss of nihilistic despair.

Bin-Won’s interpretation of Cha Tae-sik’s character was quite intuitive. He successfully captured the aura of mystery surrounding Cha Tae-sik. Dashing, with an edgy streak, our protagonist could trigger the interest of any viewer. He utilizes his astute martial arts skills to dazzle the audience while fighting off crime bosses. As the movie processes, his secret past is revealed, including a tragic event that changed his life forever.

The other cast members also played their roles well, including Kim Hyo-seo as Hyo-Jeong, Kim Tae-Hoon as the detective, and Thangagong Wanktrakul as Rowan. Kim Hee-won was downloadexceptionally menacing as Man-Seok, from the crime syndicate.

Lee Jeong-beom’s sense of direction is nothing short of sensational. The background setting was so authentic, you felt as if you were there. The action scenes were astutely choreographed. The soundtrack was so unique and eerie, it would implant itself in your head for at least a week.

The Man from Nowhere is a beautifully-crafted movie that attests to the greatness of Korean cinema. Highly recommended!

 

Film Review: Alif

One Woman Against the Ummah

“A follower of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) asked him, “who should I respect the most in life”?  The Prophet said : “Your Mother”.  “Then who?”, the follower repeated the question. The Prophet answered, “Your Mother”. “Then who?”, the question was repeated again. The Prophet answered, “Your Mother”.  After the fourth time, the Prophet then answered, “Your Father”. 

Alif is one of Alif-2015-Malayalam-HDRipthe most striking stories I’ve come across. Following the ‘New Generation’ trend in Malayalam Cinema, Alif deviates from the mainstream Malayalam cinematic trope of hypermasculine, larger-than-life ‘heroes’. Alif is a simple story about ordinary, down-to-earth characters. Similarly to recent films like English Vinglish and How Old R U, the plot for Alif resolves around an asthma-affected , economically-disadvantaged, Muslim mother of two who embarks on the journey of self-discovery that enable her to be pillar of strength for her family.

Our protagonist is Fatima, portrayed by Lena. She is a relatively poor woman who lives in a meager wooden hut with her mother, Aatta, her grandmother, Ummakunju, along with her two children, Sainu and Ali. The family, which include four generations of women, belong to the Mappila Muslim community, the descendants of Arabian merchants and converted South Indian natives inhabiting the northern districts of modern-day Kerala.

Aatta, portrayed by Zeenath, is the sole breadwinner of the household. Her means of income includes serving as a housekeeper to the more affluent families in their village. Fatima, constantly burdened with asthma, has her world shaken when her unlovingmaxresdefault (1) husband, Abu, portrayed by Irshad, announced his intentions to divorce her and leave the family. When Abu recites the term ‘Talak’, customary in Islam for divorce proceedings, you could clearly witness Fatima’s heart sinking while the rest of the family put on brave faces despite anticipating the dreadful future.

Afterwards, there is an announcement for a sermon being delivered that night by a well-known Muslim scholar on the subject of family life. The recently-divorced Fatima attends the lecture, joining members from her local mosque. The Muslim scholar emphasizes the importance of female submission and stresses that it is the duty of every wife to unconditionally submit to her husband.

Fathima, uncharacteristically for her at this point in the film, stands up and openly criticizes the Muslim scholar, chiding him for twisting the Qu’ran and Sharia in order to indulge his own misogyniAlif-malayalam-movie-stills-(6)4483stic inclination. She laments that these regressive attitudes enabled her husband to divorce her and leave the family. Fatima tearfully calls  for reform, stating that change is crucial not only for Muslims, but also Christians and Hindus as well.

Unfortunately, the Muslim scholar admonishes her, leading the mosque commitee to banish her and her family. Ostracized by the villagers, Fatima is forced to overcome the many hardships that await. How she gathers the boldness and fortitude that gives a ray of hope in such a distressing situation forms the rest of the story.

Although this film, directed by Muhammed Koya, is aimed specifically towards Mappila Muslims, the underlying feminist themes could equally be applicable to Christians and Hindus. As poignantly and bluntly stated in the film, women are often the first victims of religious fanaticism.

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul of Tarsus claims that, in an ideal Christian household, husbands are the heads of wives. For centuries, women were not allowed to preach in a church. Even today, the Roman Catholic Church does not permit women into the priesthood. While Pope Francis is currently looking into whether women can serve as deacons, many conservative Catholics continue to be aggressively opposed to the very idea of a women serving at the altar. My own mother shakes her head when seeing young girls serving as altar servers with their male counterparts. Surprisingly, her rationale is menstruation.

I rest my case.

In the realm of male chauvinism, these four generations of women assert themselves boldly and gracefully. For example, when the school instructor expels young Ali because of his mother’s ‘scandalous’ reputation, Aatta insists that she has the knowledge and ability to teach her grandson all he needs to learns about his Islamic faith.

In their humble dwelling, a portrait of an elderly man in traditional Islamic attire hangs from the wall. This man is Kuhammu Saihib, the late patriarch of this courageous clan. A revolutionary activist during the 1940s and 1950s, Saihib instills in his children and grandchildren a set of principles advocating progressivism and open-mindedness in a land severely lacking in both.

Fatima, when sunk in the depths of depression, is visited by a apparition of a smiling, compassionate Saihib. From beyond the grave, Saihib recalls the tale of Mohammed’s wife, an intelligent and brave women who questioned her husband on why the Qu’ranic verses gave preference to men. He gives his granddaughter his full blessing and complete encouragement, assuring Fatima that she is on the right side of the brewing controversy.

In my opinion, Ali is the most captivating character. He embodies the innocence of an angel yet, paradoxically, displays a mischievous streak that rivals Bart Simpson! As the youngest main character, Ali doesn’t fully understand the ramifications of his family’s ‘dishonor’. In fact, he’s barely aware of the concepts of ‘dishonor’ and ‘excommunication’. When he visits his actor-gourav-menon-new-stills-36177friend, Mehru, to watch television with her, Ali is kicked out by Mehru’s mother. While the young girl disappointingly watches her friend leave, Ali wanders to through the village, distraught and confused. And it doesn’t help that he happens to see his estranged father, who is now clearly in a relationship with another women. When Ali returns to his home, he remains silent as he sits with his grandmother. Yet the look on Ali’s face is enough to break anyone’s heart.

Despite being snubbed by the majority of the village, the family, nevertheless, is shown an adundance of empathy from a few good men. The character of Chandran, portrayed by the regrettably late Kalabhavan Mani, is quite noteworthy. He is one of the few non-Muslims in the Mappila-dominated village. Chandmaxresdefaultran is an avowed communist, who articulates his ideology to Ali as simply dedicating one’s life to the upliftment of the poor and downtrodden. My own grandfather, who passed away in 2012, used to explain his leftist views in the same way. And while I wouldn’t identify as a communist, similar to Ali, I dream of diving into social activism and
addressing the strenuous burdens the poor have to endure.

While the mosque committee resolves to banish Fatima and her fa
mily, there is one dissenting member: Hajiyar. Portrayed by Joy Mathew, Hajiyar is one of the few staunch defenders of Fatima and her family. He condemns the narrow-minded attitudes of his colleagues and, in a futile attempt, encourages them to be sympathetic toAlif-2 the plight of women.

This film is not a major ‘hit’. The director is unknown amateur. The actors are relatively unknown to the majority of Malayali moviegoers. However, I don’t think I could have picked a better cast. All the actors plays their roles perfectly. Nilambur Ayesha’s role of Ummakunju is nothing more than poetic justice. A veteran actress of yesteryear films, Ayesha was one of first Muslim women to pursue a career in music and cinema, while being censured by her fellow Muslims. She paved the way for other aspiring actresses in her community, including Zeenath.

The dialogues were realistic and heartfelt. The interactions between the various characters felt authentic. I wish I could say the same for most Indian films. The cinematography the mesmerizing, particularly the ending scene when Fatima and daughter walk through an spellbinding array of paddy fields and vegetation overlooked by palm trees and a clear blue sky, inspiring the motto of Kerala, ‘God’s Own Country’.

The portrayal of the Mappila community seemed fairly accurate. The soundtrack provided a genuine representation of Mappila folk music, a nostalgic rhythm where Arabian and Malabar tunes intertwine. The dialect used in the film was fairly fascinating. It is a varient of Malayalam laced with Arabic, Persian, Urdu and even Tamil loan words.

There weren’t too many flaws with the film. However, I think the editing and post production could have been enhanced to give the film a more professional look. I also think that the Sainu’s character was too passive for a film espousing woman’s empowerment. Also it would add at least thirty minutes to an already two-hour movie, I think it would benefit the audience if the film took a glimpse into Sainu’s life and her role as a teenage Muslim girl trending the line between her traditional Muslim upbringing and the liberal globalized world of modern India.

In closing, definitely watch this film! It may not be a hit like the vastly overrated ‘Premem’ (oh yea, I’ll be ready to read those angry emails) but I think it’s one of the best film of 2015. However, I must warn you. The story is very heartbreaking. In fact, one of the main characters untimely passes away ( I will not reveal who it is). So make sure you have a box of tissues nearby.

The A Dude Responds to Questions Women Have for Men

I never cared for BuzzFeed. Its nothing more than a media outlet pandering to pseudo-intellectual millennials mindlessly skimming through clickbait articles. Lately, Buzzfeed has jumped on the SJW bandwagon, with numerous articles and videos berating White people and humanoids with y chromosomes for being pale-skinned and possessing a well-endowed dick.

One of those videos features a group of young twenty-something year old boards with no lives inquiring their male viewers on their alleged ‘privilege’,  in the passive-aggressive tone girls are known for. Since I have a penis, I thought it would be suitable for me to respond to those well-thought-out questions.download (9)

1) How does it feel to be the same sex as Donald Trump?

I don’t know, bitch. How does it feel to be the same sex as Sarah Palin? Or Hillary Clinton? Or Lady Malcolm (fictional character, yes I know).

2) Why do you hate Rom-Coms?

I don’t know, why do you hate videogames? You see what I did there? People are  allowed to have their own preferences. I personally don’t care for any story with a romantic element but you know, plenty of guys love rom-coms.

3) Why do you make women sit around and talk about men in movies…when y’all easily sit around and talk about boobs for hours?

I really don’t know how to respond to that question? What are you talking about? I’ve never met a guy who makes ‘women sit around and talk about men in movies’. And I’ve never had a conversation with guys about boobs ‘for hours’.

In fact, here’s how a normal conversation around boobs would transpire.

Guy1: Hey, check out the rack on that chick

Guy2: Nice! Hey, by the way, did you see the game last night?

I mean, how do you even have a hour-long conversation about boobs?…Unless, you’re referring to a medical lecture

4) Why do you assume that you wrote like TV shows or movies that star a female lead will be terrible?

Who are you addressing? I don’t know any guy who wants to return to Shakespearean-que plays, with only male actors.

5) Why are you surprised when women are funny?

Well, I’m not. I’ve met plenty of girls who had me at tears from laughter. Although, let’s be frank. Comedy is a male-dominated profession for a reason. Christopher Hitchens actually wrote a column for Vanity Fair on how men are evolutionary driven to be funny in order to attract a female mate. It’s a fascinating theory and perhaps, I’ll expand on that theory along with my own opinions on the topic through a later post

6) Why do you think we’re obsessed with you when we want to hook up?

Oh I see how it is. You want to lead a guy on so you can get your pussy wet. You’re free to do what you want. However, you’re the type of girl who deserves to be slut-shamed.

7) Why can’t I sleep with as many men as I want to without being judged?

You ever heard of the master key and keyhole analogy? Look, you’re free to live the way you want. But if you open your pussy for every guy and his stepbrother, don’t be surprised when you’re branded the town whore.

8) Why is a women considered a tease when she doesn’t sleep with you on the third date but is a slut when she sleeps with you on the first?

 Well every guy is different. And it seems you’re talking about two different guys with that question.

9) In what world does no mean yes?

Well, not all guys are rapists and it irritates me when an entire gender is branded as a caste of potential sex offenders.

10) Why do you say women are too emotional to be leaders then justify cat-calling by saying men can’t control themselves?

Funny thing, I’ve heard women claim that women are incapable of being leaders. Frankly, I have no problem with female supervisors. As long as she’s competent, I can no complaints

11) Why do you think that just because you’re nice to me, I owe you my body?

Well, I agree with that question. Self-professed ‘nice guys’ are the worst. And any moron is capable of being ‘nice’. I mean, if you want a girl, you need an actual personality.

12) Why would you ever send an unsolicited dick pic? 

For the same reason some girls post naked pictures of themselves. People be acting dum’

13) Why do you think its okay to harass women but get offended when someone does it to your sister, its not okay?

Agreed. But keep in mind, most guys are not like that

14) How does it feel to interrupt me when I’m making a point?

Right? Because girls are incapable of interrupting anyone….

15) Why do you have to sit with your legs wide open?

Let’s just say some of us are packing

16) Why are women perceived as the weaker sex?

Because the average man is stronger than the average woman? Why do you think guys are always relied upon for heavy lifting?

17) Why is it so bad to show your emotions

There are moment where you need to emotionally unburden yourself. However, there are times when you have to remain stoic.

18) Why are you always trying to prove your masculinity to me?

Define ‘trying to prove masculinity’

19) Why the fuck isn’t it ladylike to cuss?

Nothing wrong with spouting a swear word or two. However, there are certain situations where cursing is completely prohibited. I mean you wouldn’t swear in front of your co-workers or your grandparents, would you?

20) Why is it your first instinct to doubt women who have been sexually violated or raped?

Well, in our judicial system, the alleged perpetrator of a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Merely being accused of sexual abuse is enough to demolish a man’s reputation. Like in any criminal case, the burden of proof has to be met.

21) Why do you assume a woman’s angry because she’s on her period?

I don’t know? Why do you make baseless assumptions about men?

22) Why do you think women who wear makeup are false advertising. We can say the same thing about your dick size.

How???? That is such a pea-brained comparison? Women wear makeup every day. Guys don’t normally talk about your dick size on a regular basis. After all, everyone knows size doesn’t matter

23) Why isn’t it weird that there are a bunch of old White men sitting in a room making legislation about what I can and can’t do with my body.

Well, those old White men have been elected to office. If you don’t like it, why don’t you vote for a young, Black woman. Or maybe run for a political position instead of complaining like a nagging housewife.

24) Do you have a coochie?

Oh, that’s the new slang for vagina?

25) Why are straight guys obsessed with lesbians

I love chocolate chip cookies. I would love to have one in front of me right now. But you know what would be better? If I had two cookies! Maybe three…or four…or a million! Yum Yum Yum. I’m cookie monster!

You see my point?

26) How does it feel to get kicked in the balls?

Hmm…not so bad actually? Then again, I’m into BDSM.

27) Do you ever get tired of trying to be manly all the time?

Define manly

28) Why are you so afraid of gender equality?

I’m not and neither are most males

29) Why do you I deserve to be paid less than you?

The ’70 cents to a man’s dollar’ gender pay gap is an oversimplification of the salary disparities between men and women. Since the implementation of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, it is illegal for an employer to pay female employees less than male employees. 70 cent per dollar ratio is a gross average that does not account for career fields and other variables that have nothing to do with an employer’s bias. I’ll do a post on the gender pay gap and its misconceptions on another day.

30) In what world does 70 cents equal a dollar?

Mars

31) In what world does 68 cents equal a dollar?

Venus

32) Why are you intimidated by a woman making more money than you?

Oh, believe me, a lot of guys would love being pampered and spoiled by a sugar mama

33) Why are opinionated women seen as bitches when opinionated guys are seen as bosses?

No, opinionated guys are seen as douchebags. If you have an opinion, especially a contrarian one, some people are not going to like you. Deal with it.

34) Why aren’t you speaking up when you hear male friends make jokes that are offensive to women.

Because unlike you, my friends have a sense of humour.

35) Why are you afraid of recognizing your own privilege?

I acknowledge that I have advantages which others can only dream about. I live in a first world country. In that first world country, my family and I belong to a relatively higher strata of the middle class (although we’re not upper-middle class). I belong to an ethnic group designated as the ‘modal minority’. I have access to education. And yes, I’m also male and heterosexual.

I also have disadvantages. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon. I’m at risk for thyroid cancer and diabetes. Mental illness also runs in my family. And despite my national-born citizenship, my anglicized first name (consistently ranked among the top ten most common American given names), and my inland northern accent, I’m often mistakenly for a foreign resident.

 But you know what, I’m not going to bitch at people who don’t share those disadvantages. We should just work together at leveling the playing field without shaming anyone!!!