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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Monday May 27th 2024

Movie Corner – August 2018


A few summer movies for 2018 worthwhile and inspirational

“I Can Only Imagine”
(2018) Roadhouse Pictures
5/5 Stars

I read about “I Can Only Imagine” back in March, I believe in USA TODAY, one of a handful of films with inspirational-religious theme films such as “God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness,” “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” and “Samson.” I have known for a long time that religious (Christian in particular) films have audiences out there across America although Hollywood for years has pretended the audiences hardly existed, if at all. Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” (2004) more than proved the naysayers, the cynical secularists, wrong.

When I viewed “I Can Only Imagine” (encouraged by my friend, Marvin Windom) I can say the film is one of the most inspirational films of the year. It doesn’t  hit  one over the head with Christian thunderbolts, as one might think. In the midst of summer blockbusters showcasing superheroes, dinosaurs, killers, and those being killed, raunchy comedies, and loads of characters using scurrilous language; a film like “I Can Only Imagine” comes through it all as a mature, inspirational story based on a true story.

J. Michael Finley made his Broadway debut in Les Miserables in 2014, and making his screen-acting debut in “I Can Only Imagine.” He plays Bart Millard living in Greenville, Texas, growing up in a turbulent household where his abusive father, Arthur (played by a stunning performance by Dennis Quaid), causing Bart’s mother to leave her abusive husband. Bart’s father is mainly interested in his son playing football, however, when Bart has an injury in a game, a greater talent emerges: singing and starting a band, a Christian band, named Mercy Me. When Bart reluctantly joins his high school choir, his father makes light of it.

Bart has one fan, a classmate named Shannon (Madeline Carroll), a girlfriend at times, off and on, whatever Bart’s mood. But it is Bart’s dad with whom he has the inner war. How can he find peace with his abusive, alcoholic dad? Yes, even Bart’s manager Brickell (Trace Adkins) sees great talent in Bart and his band, but he knows (and says) Bart is holding back; holding back on firing because the unresolved issues with his dad.

“I Can Only Imagine” is the title song, the song Bart will write and the song hit the top of the Christian as a single of their album “Almost There”, in 2001.

Yet in spite of all the trouble Bart has in his past, with the film’s main theme””reconciliation””Bart becomes the conciliator. Now he knows a burden has been lifted.

Cast: J. Michael Finley (Bart Millard), Dennis Quaid (Arthur Millard), Madeline Carroll (Shannon), Cloris Leachman (Memaw), Tace Adkins (Brickell), Brody Rose (Young Bart) ,Taegen Burns (Young Shannon). Directors: Jon and Andrew Erwin. (PG) Running time: 110 minutes.

Another Summer Movie: Maybe Inspirational, Certainly A Work of Art

“Bye Bye Germany”
(2018) Film Movement
4.5/5 Stars

It’s Frankfurt, Germany,1946, World War II is over, the post war is trying to pick up the pieces from the Nazis and the Holocaust. Six Jewish men, all friends, all Holocaust survivors, are in a camp for Jewish refugees. The opening scene is very significant to the film with a three-legged dog hobbling into the camp looking for a home. As the dog mingles among the Jewish refugees in the camp he gets adopted in the process.

David Bermann (Moritz Bleibtreu, “Run Lola Run” [199], “The Badder Meinhof Complex” [2008],”Young Goethe in Love” [2011]) and his Jewish friends entertain the idea of going to America. One problem they all face is getting the money in a depressed post-war Germany. They all collaborate to become slick businessmen selling fine bed linens to needy German housewives. The men are so good at their sales pitches few households turn them down.

Money isn’t David’s only problem he has to explain under interrogation by hard-hitting U.S. Special Agent, Sara Simon (Antje Traue), asking questions about why he has two passports, why he spent time in Hitler’s mountain retreat, and was he a collaborator?

Director Sam Garbarski’s “Bye Bye Germany” is an elaborate piece of work deserving a great deal of credit for taking something as abominable as the Holocaust and its aftermath yet weaving in humor appropriately adding some balance to the atrocious details. Too few films deal as extensively with what happened immediately after the Nazi regime.

Cast: Moritz Bleibreau (David), Mark Ivanir (Holzmann), Anatole Taubman (Frankel), Tim Seyfi (Fajnbrot), Joel Baseman (Lubliner), Jeffrey Miltelman (Sergeant Harry Ledermann), Antje Traue (Special Agent Sara Simon), Tania Garbarski (Frau Sonja), Vaclav Jakoubek (Krautberg).

Director: Sam Garbarski. Running time; 102 minutes. English subtitles for German dialog. Not Rated.

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