Monday, June 18, 2012

Must-See Family-Friendly Movies on Netflix Streaming

Like many families we cut the cord on cable TV.  It seemed like it was a lot of money for sub par content.  Now, there are some shows that I love on Cable, but I just couldn't rationalize the expense.

Luckily there are some other options to get some entertainment into the home.  The Mormon Movie Guy recently wrote an article for Median Magazine about some great family friendly flicks streaming on Netflix that you can watch right now!

"Though their stock has fallen in recent months, Netflix Streaming is still arguably the best place to watch movies online. At only $7.99 per month for unlimited viewing of thousands of films and television shows, for many families it's the main source of entertainment (especially now that you can connect your TV to Netflix). But how does one sort the trash from the gems?"
Below are a few of his selections and a few of my own.
The Office (TV-14, 2005-2010)

One of Netflix Streaming's best benefits is television programming. Easily one of the best shows on television, and better than the English version, The Office is a mockumentary about office life that just about every drone can relate to.  We all have known a Dwight or a Ryan.  If you haven't seen it yet, now if your chance.  The box set of seasons 1-5 will set you back about $100, but Netflix is streaming 1-7 right now.

Annie (PG, 1982)
"The classic musical about the spunky little orphan and her billionaire adopter is as fun and lively today as it ever was."

Conspirator TheThe Conspirator (PG-13, 2010)
"Gripping true story about the trial of the Lincoln assassination conspirators, with brilliant performances by James McAvoy (Chronicles of Narnia) as an unwilling defense attorney and Robin Wright (The Princess Bride) as the mother of an accused rebel who may be punished in his stead. Robert Redford directs. Has some language and intense moments." (For the longest time I thought this movie was "The Lincoln Lawyer."  Turns out that is a different movie.)
The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (TV-Y7, 2010)
I guess I just haven't gotten enough Avengers after seeing the film.  I started watching this with the boys, and found myself watching episodes on my own to see what happens next.  It is done very well and has Stan Lee on board.  

emmaEmma (PG, 1996)
"Delightful adaptation of the Jane Austen novel stars Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man) as a Victorian young lady who delights in matchmaking but struggles with her own love life. Squeaky clean and totally charming."
End of the SpearEnd of the Spear (PG-13, 2005)
"Well-made, well-acted, and incredibly powerful Christian drama about a group of missionaries who travel to the jungles of Ecuador to teach a bloodthirsty native tribe about the Prince of Peace before the government wipes them out. Beautifully shot with lovely music. Though in my opinion it contains nothing offensive the film is PG-13 for a reason, with male rear nudity of the natives and fairly graphic depictions of tribal warfare. Highly recommended for teenagers and up, as it beautifully contrasts the viciousness of the world with the love and forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ. Based on a true story (a worthwhile documentary about the same events, Beyond the Gates of Splendor, is also available on Netflix Streaming)."
forever strongForever Strong (PG-13, 2008)
I caught this one the other night based on his recommendation.  I was very pleased. "Inspiring true story about the Highland Rugby Team, led by Latter-Day Saint coach Larry Gelwix. Directed by Ryan Little (Saints and Soldiers), this is a solid sports film with wonderfully redeeming messages about wayward youth finding their way. Has some teen drinking and partying (portrayed with tragic consequences and contrasted with better choices later on) and one comedic vulgar gesture."
huntredoctoberHunt For Red October, The (PG, 1990)
"Brilliant and intense Cold War thriller pairs Sean Connery with a very young Alec Baldwin, both attempting to avert disaster aboard nuclear submarines. Has some PG-level gunplay and language. Based on the Tom Clancy novel."

karate kidKarate Kid (PG, 1984)
"The original classic about a young man who learns courage and integrity from a karate master."
The Rocky Series (PG, 1976-1990)
From the Best-Picture-winning Rocky and its underrated, character-driven sequel Rocky II to the Reagan-era machismo of Rocky III (versus Mr.T) and Rocky IV (dumb-fun patriotism as the Italian Stallion takes on a giant Russian), and the pathetic/depressing Rocky V, most of the classic series is here. Sadly, the surprisingly excellent 2006 finale Rocky Balboa, which redeems the franchise and sends it off on a high note, is not. Seek it out, it's worth the watch.
saintsandsoldiersSaints and Soldiers (PG-13, 2003)
"Ryan Little's stunning WWII drama remains one of the finest films to ever come out of Mormon Cinema, with a terrific ensemble cast and a powerful spiritual core to go with its gripping combat scenes.  Rated PG-13 for war violence and mild language."
senseandsensibilitySense and Sensibility (PG, 1995)
"Wonderful Jane Austen adaptation starring Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Kate Winslet, and, in a rare romantic lead role, Alan Rickman (Snape from Harry Potter).  Terrific viewing for die-hard romantics." (My wife convinced me to watch this with her on a Sunday afternoon, then she fell asleep 20 minutes in.  I always finish a movie and this one was pretty good.  If anything you will score points with your lady if you watch it with her.)
Veggie Tales (Not rated, 1997-2010)
These are a Sunday Morning staple in our home.  It can be a struggle some weeks to keep the kids focused on Sabbath oriented things, yet not go crazy.  We usually try to stick to the episodes that mirror a Bible story.  Once of my favorites is when they tell the story of King David who has a lot of Rubber Ducks, but covets someone else's Rubber Duck.  "A total of 19 titles from the clever and charming Christian children's series are currently available on Netflix Streaming."
Whale Rider (PG-13, 2003)
Whale Rider
"As far as girl-power films go, you'd be hard-pressed to find one more profoundly moving and culturally sensitive as this tale of a young Maori girl in New Zealand who longs both for the approval of her grandfather and the opportunity to prove herself worthy to be the tribe's first female chief. Rated PG-13 for a few profanities (no f-words) and the implication that a man is having a child out of wedlock (portrayed with appropriate sensitivity to such a situation). A moving tale of familial bonds.Great for teens and up."

So what are some Netflix gems that we might have missed.  I only have two episodes left in The Avengers so I will be looking for something new.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Let's all go to the Movies! (Movie Ticket Giveaway)

To celebrate the redesign of our web page we are asking you to help us get the word out!  In return we will help you get to the movies!  Rafflecopter is helping us run a contest where you can will a 4 pack to the theatre of your choice. (Of the theatres we have selected)

We have All Access Passes to any AMC, Regal, Cinemark theatre.  Click on the image above for pass Terms and conditions. The contest ends on June 30th so set your calendars to check back in on that day, or just come back every day between now and then to earn more entries!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Batman's Mormon Connections

   Guest Post from the Mormon Movie Guy.  He writes a great blog similar to ours reviewing movies from a Latter-day Saint Perspective. 

I've got Batman on the brain and will until the release of The Dark Knight Rises in July. Ergo, I thought it'd be fun to explore the Caped Crusader's notable connections to our faith, specifically in director Christopher Nolan's take on the legend. I've already elaborated elsewhere on the Gospel parallels of the first two films, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, so here we'll take a quick look at key actors from the series. Among them we find the star of a film especially beloved by Latter-Day Saints, supporting actors from two very different films about Mormon missionaries, and two Brigham Young University alums. While this may not seem very impressive, it becomes noteworthy when one considers that I could come up with only one "Mormon connection" among the combined films of the Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Spiderman, X-men, and Harry Potter franchises: actor Sean Astin (AKA Samwise Gamgee) co-starred in Forever Strongwhich was about a real-life Latter-Day Saint rugby coach and was directed by Saints and Soldiers' Ryan Little. So, without further adieu, in the words of Heath Ledger's Joker: "And here...we...go!"



Though Bale's take on the Dark Knight, especially his layered portrayal of Bruce Wayne, has rocketed him to stardom (raspy Bat-voice and all), to many Latter-Day Saints he will always be roguish paperboy Jack "Cowboy" Kelly in Disney's 1992 musical Newsies. Though the film was a critical and commercial bomb, it has since become a cult classic in many circles. The Latter-Day Saint community took to it immediately, however, embracing it as family-friendly entertainment with catchy tunes. I have it on good authority that the show-stopping dance numbers by strapping young males made this movie a staple of many Beehive and Mia Maid sleepovers. Though Bale now looks upon the film with a kind of fond embarrassment, Mormon culture owes him a debt of gratitude for feeding our insatiable hunger for cheese.


In the third film, Matthew Modine plays a role audiences know little about, except for his inquiring about Jim Gordon's job in the first trailer (see below). A little-known fact is that Modine was raised in a Mormon family, spending part of his childhood in Salt Lake City. Though not a baptized member, he briefly attended Brigham Young University before deciding it wasn't for him. As a knock on Mitt Romney, Modine recently tweeted against Latter-Day Saint racism (something I address in my articles "Race in Mormon History" and "Racism in the Book of Mormon?" Part One and Part Two). Apparently he doesn't realize that the Church condemns racism, teaching that all are alike unto God. Still, Modine seems like a good guy. Actor Eric Stolz describes him as "a virtuous man- kind, honest, steadfast and true." Liam Neeson (Batman Begins) says of Modine that "there's something old-worldly about Matthew. He's gracious and warm, and it's very comforting." It'll be interesting to see what Nolan has in store for him.


Before she suited up as Gotham City's preeminent femme fatale, Anne Hathaway popped up on our radars as Jean, a swing-dancing, fun-loving Mormon girl who captures the heart of young John Groberg (Christopher Gorham, TV's Covert Affairs) at Brigham Young University. Her love ultimately keeps him alive while they're apart. Based on the incredible true story of Elder Groberg's perilous LDS mission to Tonga in the 1950's, The Other Side of Heaven is a handsomely-produced tale of faith, compassion, and cultural appreciation. Above all, it is a timeless romance that Box-Office Magazine described as an "undeniably uplifting story, made all the more inspirational by the fact that it's true." 



How Joseph Gordon-Levitt's police officer fits into the plot of The Dark Knight Rises is unknown, but judging by the most recent trailer his role is substantial. Before wearing a cop's badge, however, he wore the name-tag of a Mormon missionary in the gay-cinema drama Latter-Days. Gordon-Levitt plays the judgmental companion of a secretly homosexual elder who falls for their neighbor. Though I've not seen this decidedly R-rated approach to our faith, I understand that it doesn't portray us in a kind light. That said, Gordon-Levitt is a terrific actor (I loved his work in Inception) and I'm sure he'll impress us again come July. For now, enjoy this awesome clip from 500 Days of Summer, where his joy at finally getting the girl overwhelms him.


The sad downfall of Harvey Dent, Gotham City's virtuous, "white knight" District Attorney, provided The Dark Knight (2008) with the emotional core of an epic tragedy. Brigham Young University graduate Aaron Eckhart gives a dynamic performance, more than holding his own onscreen with Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning Joker. The fact that Eckhart was raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is well-known. That he served a two-year LDS mission to France and Switzerland is also common knowledge. What many forget is that one of his first acting roles was in a New Testament video produced by the Church, the classic Godly Sorrow. He plays the square-jawed fiance of a young woman who has been unchaste with a previous boyfriend (see Eckhart's scenes below or the full video here). Of his religion, Eckhart told Entertainment Weekly "I'm sure people think I'm a Mormon, but I don't know that I'm a Mormon anymore, you know? To be honest, to be perfectly clear, I'd be a hypocrite if I did say that I was, just because I haven't lived that lifestyle for so many years.'' That said, Eckhart remains a friend to the faith, often praising the virtues of its people, even though his life has taken a different path.

Feel free to let me know if there are any connections between Batman and the Latter-Day Saint faith that I've missed. I personally cannot wait for July 20, when our local multiplex is screening all three of Nolan's Batman films on the opening night of The Dark Knight Rises. I wouldn't miss it (and I won't).

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Kimbra- Vows: Mormon Music Review

 Unless you have been living in a cave for the past 6 months you have probably seen Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know."  Have you wondered who that girl was with the haunting melodic voice?  
Kimbra is also an import from the Australian market. (by way of New Zealand.) Her debut album in the states, Vows, is a solid offering.  The album has a smooth jazz-pop sound that is catchy and easy to relax to.

Best song on the album is "Settle Down" which is being offered as a free download on Amazon.  Of course I am a sucker for any song with hand clapping.  The track starts off slow with only verbal beats and slowly grows to a great bass with perfectly synced harmonies and then softly fades away.

"Cameo Lover" is is like a party for your iPod!  It has a full sound and is certainly the funnest dance track on the album.  Plus the video has a reappearance of the little girls from "Settle Down."

The last single I will highlight is "Good Intent."  It has this sort of slinky calypso sound that evokes the emotion of the message of the song so well the lyrics aren't even needed to convey the theme that damage awaits those who give into temptation.  The video has an excellent group dance number at the end.

Kimbra's voice is clean and sweet and it even survives the rigors of a live performance.  The slower songs on the album are not the greatest, but the solid songs really round it out and made it a great purchase.


The album is about as clean as they come.  There is not any foul language or even any real adult content.  Your Stake President wouldn't even cringe if you played it at a Church Dance.  More than you can say for Katy Perry.
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