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Feb. 13th, 2016 08:22 am Day #4 Saturday after Ash Wednesday Impatience

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person
be quick to hear,
slow to speak,
slow to anger;
for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
James 1:19–20

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Feb. 12th, 2016 09:11 am Day 3: Friday after Ash Wednesday

e“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life,
what you will eat or what you will drink,
nor about your body, what you will put on.
Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

26 Look at the birds of the air:
they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Matthew 6:25–26

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Feb. 11th, 2016 10:05 am Day 2: Thursday after Ash Wednesday

18 Now bwhen Jesus saw a crowd around him, che gave orders to go over to the other side. 19 dAnd a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

Matthew 8:18–20

Treasure in Jars of Clay

7 But we have this treasure in pjars of clay, qto show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are rafflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but snot forsaken; tstruck down, but not destroyed; 10 ualways carrying in the body the death of Jesus, vso that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So wdeath is at work in us, but life in you.
2 Corinthians 4:7–12

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Feb. 10th, 2016 08:38 am Ash Wednesday - Happy Birthday Lon Chaney Junior !

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Feb. 10th, 2016 08:10 am Ash Wednesday

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (ESV)

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Feb. 3rd, 2016 10:27 pm Hayden Christensen shines in "90 Minutes in Heaven"

With the start of couch potato season (that is, the opening of college and professional football, U.S. Open Tennis, and baseball pennant runs), the motion picture industry has become more strategic about releasing films in September. Nineteen years ago Paramount Pictures found box office gold by releasing The First Wives Club as a counter to non-stop programs of televised sports.

Last week, War Room ended Straight Outta Compton’s August box office domination. Produced for a mere $3 million, War Room has grossed over $39 million, creating a comfortable profit margin. War Room is a faith-based movie about the power of prayer healing a family’s domestic woes.

With little fanfare beyond some cheesy television commercials, 90 Minutes from Heaven opened last weekend. This film is a quiet, thought provoking piece of Christian cinema.

In 1989, Pastor Don Piper (Hayden Christensen) gets into a car accident and is pronounced dead for 90 minutes. Despite the dire situation, another preacher demands he be allowed to pray with the corpse. When he sings What a friend I have in Jesus, Pastor Don Piper is revived.

Enter Don’s wife Eva (Kate Bosworth). Besides being the pastor’s wife, she is also a school teacher with three children. With the support of the family, the community and the medical staff, Eva holds down the house as her husband makes a painful recovery.

90 Minutes in Heaven is a simple drama. Deliberately slow-paced at times, the film accurately presents how medical recovery can be a depressing experience. Eva Piper, Kate Bosworth, absorbs the brunt of the pain and only reveals her vulnerable character when she is alone, away from her children and friends. Considering the bad rap he has endured for his role as “Young Darth Vader” in the Star Wars prequels, Hayden Christensen enjoys career redemption with this film.

Before the screenings of War Room and 90 Minutes in Heaven began, there was a series of interesting trailers about other upcoming faith-based motion pictures, including Captive starring David Oyelowo (Selma) and Kate Mara, and Woodlawn, starring Sean Astin and Jon Voight, as the legendary Alabama Crimson Tide coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Woodlawn should spark local interest because it features the story of Young Tony Nathan, former Miami Dolphin utility player under Don Shula.

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Feb. 3rd, 2016 10:18 pm "Black Mass" is another chapter of Boston Gangster history

Every generation of ticket buyers learns about the underbelly of society through the movies. In the 1930s, Al Capone was represented by movies like The Public Enemy, Little Caesar and Scarface. The Genovese Family was a direct influence on The Godfather movies.

In recent times, the Boston thug and FBI informant James “Whitey” Bulger has been represented by award winning motion pictures set in Boston, most notably Mystic River and The Departed. Each of these motion pictures presents its protagonist as an anti-hero who defies society’s conventions and is defeated by his own character flaws.

As portrayed by Johnny Depp, Black Mass details the 40-year rise and fall of Whitey Bulger. Already a sociopath thug in the Southie section of Boston, Bulger fathers a son with girlfriend Lindsey Cyr (Dakota Johnson). When this son retaliates against a bully in the schoolyard and gets suspended from school, Bulger advises him to avenge himself “when no one is looking.”

Despite his criminal activities, Bulger is deeply connected with the legitimate world through his brother Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch), a member of the state legislature, and FBI Agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton). The legend of Whitey Bulger grows as he becomes the criminal lord of Boston. Bulger’s criminal empire expands to Ireland and Miami.

Johnny Depp is getting his best notices in years. Like a grey-haired cobra, Depp performs with steely restraint. A comforting friend one moment, Depp’s Bulger can easily knife an acquaintance in the back a moment later. While Depp is the master of ceremonies, Black Mass is a full ensemble piece featuring good performances from Joel Edgerton, Dakota Johnson and Benedict Cumberbatch.

While it does not match the artistic heights of The Godfather movies, Black Mass does provide an interesting chapter in Hollywood made gangster movies. Scott Cooper’s Black Mass is a fine companion piece to Ridley Scott’s American Gangster with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe headlining a fine ensemble cast. These movies walk a fine line between fantasy and reality.

When I attended the Friday afternoon screening of Black Mass, the packed auditorium was full of men wearing T-shirts representing Al Pacino’s Scarface, Giancarlo Espositio’s faux fast food chicken shack from Breaking Bad and older men wearing black. This bizarre experience was like going to the opening day of a Marvel comic movie, except that Black Mass does not celebrate heroes.

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Feb. 3rd, 2016 10:17 pm "The Walk" is best on big screen

The Walk is a simple cinematic experience that deserves its box office success and critical acclaim. Told with exuberant energy, this film celebrates the core feeling of what it is to be a New Yorker.

The film opens with Frenchman Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) narrating his story from the torch of the Statue of Liberty. As Petit explains his early adventures as a wire walker, the camera pans back and reveals the old New York skyline, with the Empire State Building in the background and the Twin Towers in the foreground.

After years as a street performer, Petit assembles a team of like-minded individuals to manage high profile challenges. Petit gains notoriety in Paris when he crosses the bell towers of the Notre Dame cathedral. After being arrested and being put in jail for public disturbance, Petit sees himself on the cover of a Paris newspaper. After flipping the newspaper open, he reads that the World Trade Center Twin Towers would soon be nearing completion. Seeing this coincidence as a divine sign, Petit assembles an international team to walk a wire between the Twin Towers.

Released seven years ago, Man on Wire was an Oscar award-winning documentary about the same subject. The Walk is a complimentary film experience that provides cinematic detail as to the nuances of wire walking that stock documentary footage is unable to present. It is a full cinematic experience that needs to be seen on the big screen for full effect.

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Feb. 3rd, 2016 10:14 pm Crimson Peak has moments.

Crimson Peak, a Gothic romance with ghostly overtones, is not family fare. After losing her mother when she was a child, Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) believes in ghosts. Ghosts repeatedly warn her to “Beware of Crimson Peak,” but Edith does not comprehend their meaning.

Enter Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleson) and his serious sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), two English aristocrats in need of American finance. When tragedy strikes her father, Edith goes to live in England in the Sharpe’s mansion, which is sinking into the red clay of the land.

Written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro, Crimson Peak is similar to his previous productions, The Devil’s Backbone, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and The Orphanage. Sadly, the narrative of Crimson Peak bogs down with dullness, despite some good performances by the stellar cast and some eye-catching cinematography that will be studied by artists for many years to come.

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Feb. 3rd, 2016 10:13 pm "Goosebumps" is fun

Given that Halloween falls on Saturday this year, this will be a big weekend for Trick or Treaters. While this weekend seems devoid of movies featuring Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi or Lon Chaney Jr., AMC is bringing back modern classics from the past four decades, including Halloween, Friday the 13th and Chucky incarnations. Only the Hallmark Channel’s Good Witch movies and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown seem to be geared towards family viewing.

Goosebumps has been successful at the current box office because it works as a family motion picture. Based on author R.L. Stine’s series of children’s books, Goosebumps provides plenty of jump scares mixed with humor and teenage character growth.

Dylan Minnette portrays Zach, a new kid on the block who recently lost his dad. His sidekick is Champ (Ryan Lee), who is often nicknamed “Chump” because he is such a goofball. The two befriend Hannah (Odeya Rush), whose weird father speaks with an accent that sounds like a mixture of Alfred Hitchcock and Basil Rathbone. Hannah’s father harbors a secret; he is R.L. Stine (Jack Black) and he has created an army of monsters through his literary creations.

Goosebumps is fun, much like the film Bud Abbott and Lou Costello meet Frankenstein. While Jack Black is over-the-top (Black also voices “Invisible Boy” & “Slappy,” the mastermind ventriloquist’s dummy), Ryan Lee steals the show as a scaredy cat.

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