Is it May 4 yet? redux

We’re just an hour away from our Call + Response screening, but this new Avengers trailer is just so good I had t to take a breather from promoting tonight’s event.

Granted, The Dark Knight Rises is almost certain to be a better movie. My guess, though, is that Avengers will be more fun. Here’s the new trailer:

“I’ve got an army.”

“We’ve got a Hulk.”

That’s cinematic gold right there. “Gold, Jerry, gold!”

Much like Heath Ledger and Joker, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Robert Downy, Jr. playing Tony Stark. He is that character.

See ya at the movies on May 4!

My church makes the news

Ok, so it was for TribLocal and we wrote the story ourselves. But it was the featured story for a while! That counts for something, right?

Anyway, it looks a little something like this:

Did you know there are as many as 27 million slaves in the world right now?

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Woodridge United Methodist Church is trying to change that. Will you join us?

The statistics are shocking. There are more slaves in bondage today than ever before. In 2007, slave traders made more money than the combined profits of corporate giants Google, Nike and Starbucks. CALL+RESPONSE is a critically acclaimed, theatrically released, feature rockumentary that shines the spotlight on slavery in the 21st century.

Actors and activists Julia Ormond, Ashley Judd, Daryl Hannah along with prominent luminaries Dr. Cornel West, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, New York Times’ journalist Nicholas Kristof and many others offer first hand accounts of the modern day slave trade. Throughout the documentary, these cultural figures share the frightening facts about slavery today.

Lending their voices and songs to the cause are award-winning musicians such as Moby, Natasha Bedingfield, Five For Fighting, Cold War Kids, Matisyahu, Emmanuel Jal, Imogen Heap, Talib Kweli, members of Nickel Creek and Rocco DeLuca, whose musical performances are perfectly in sync with the film’s important message. Dr. West makes the connection between music and slavery, noting that during slavery in America, the only two things a slave had were their bodies and voices.

First time filmmaker/musician Justin Dillon learned about modern day slavery while touring in Russia. His translator, a young girl, told him about an exciting job opportunity in the west. The job offer sounded a “little too good to be true,” and Dillon decided to investigate the offer on his own, discovering the job was indeed an attempt to trick the young girl into a form of slavery. Upon his return to the United States, Dillon decided to act, “I was infuriated that here in the 21st century, there are people living as slaves, with no hope, no options and no future. I knew in my heart that it was up to me to make a difference, to take a stand and actually do something to put an end to this abominable business.” Dillon reached out to politicians and advocates along with musicians, he put out the call and they responded.

Join Woodridge United Methodist Church on Wednesday, February 15 at 7:00pm for a screening event of CALL+RESPONSE. After the screening, the Director of The Salvation Army PROMISE program and Founder of Anne’s House, will present ways modern-day slavery is being fought in the Chicago area. The screening is free and childcare is offered.
Be part of a film experience that has enlisted over 350,000 activists around the world to demand change.

For more information about CALL+RESPONSE, please visit www.callandresponse.com.

For more information about the CALL+RESPONSE screening, please visit www.woodridgeumc.org/learn/call–response

If you’re in the Chicago area, will you join us? Come on Wednesday. Watch the film. Listen to the speaker. Be moved. Be inspired. Let your heart be broken by injustice that breaks God’s heart. Ask questions. Take action. Bring a friend. Be an abolitionist.

2011 Movie Favorites

I’m trying hard to remember what movies I saw in 2011. There was a time in my life that I saw a ton of movies. But, as many of you no doubt have experienced, that was Before Kids. Now we see a few here and there in the theater, and a few more On Demand. I can’t remember the last time we rented a DVD. Oh wait, yes I do. It was more than a year ago when Blockbuster went from charging $0.99 for kids movies to charging $5!! Haven’t been back since. How’s ol’ Blockbuster doing, by the way? Anybody heard much from them lately? ‘Cause I haven’t.

I know I saw Moneyball, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, New Year’s Eve (Hey, it was date night, what can I say? Plus, it was reasonably funny.), The Road (yes, I know it’s a few years old but I saw it for the first time this year), X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern, Cars 2, The Adjustment Bureau, The Eagle (on demand. No idea why I thought it might possibly be entertaining. It wasn’t. But you knew that didn’t you?), and let’s see…oh yeah, Thor and Captain America.

There may have been others earlier in the year, but I don’t remember them. What’s missing from my list? Oh, I don’t know, pretty much every movie on anyone’s ‘best of the year’ list.

Based on my very limited list, I’m sure Moneyball is the “right” answer. And it was very good. We laughed a lot more than I expected. Turns out Brad Pitt is more than just a pretty face.

But this is my favorites list and I’m a comic book geek…a comic book geek whose two favorite super heroes happen to be…Thor and Captain America. Yep, those are my 2011 favorite movies. Don’t make me pick one, because I can’t. I first started collecting Thor and Cap comic when I was in junior high. Picking between them would be like picking a favorite child. It just cannot be done.

While neither movie, er, rises to the level of The Dark Knight, they were both plenty of fun as both offered humor, subtle hints and homages for fan boys like me, and a good mix of fealty to the source materials with a fresh, contemporary take on the stories.

Thor was at its best during the scenes with Thor figuring out Midgard. That’s when his humanity emerged and he became likeable. Which, after all, was pretty much the point. Of course, the big fight scene with the frost giants was pretty darn cool too. And I loved the Hawkeye cameo.

Captain America was at its best creating a new reason for Cap to wear his classic costume. I thought that was brilliant. I also loved how the futuristic fair where Steve and Bucky and their dates go is right out of Marvels – including a glimpse of The Original Human Torch. And making Bucky, the future Winter Soldier, a sniper? Terrific.

Finally, there’s the Marvel signature: post-credits preview of what’s next. With these two movies, that means… The Avengers! (Have I mentioned I’m excited for May 4?)

How about you? What were your favorite movies in 2011?

Today’s dose of awesome

It’s December 30, so everybody and his brother and sister are offering “best of 2011” lists of all sorts. I too have thoughts on best album, best songs and best picture of the year. But right now I don’t need to consider a year’s worth of content. Just this evening, I saw two videos that absolutely epitomize awesome. They are very different from one another, but they both make me very, very happy. I hope these bring you some joy as well.

First, my wife and I saw Mission: Impossible 4 tonight. It was everything everyone says about it: big, loud, tense and looks amazing without the burden of much substance. But seeing that movie meant seeing the Dark Knight Rises trailer! Now, I’ve always been more of a Marvel guy than DC. And I’ve already written that I can’t wait for May 4 when Avengers comes out. That said, for my money The Dark Knight is by far the Best. Comic. Book. Movie. Ever. It’s not even close.

Yet, somehow, based on this, DK Rises just might have a shot at being even better. Take a look:

 

Moving to a different sort of theatrics, here’s some sweetness from the man who (with Sidney Crosby sidelined indefinitely by concussion) is getting some pub as possibly the best player in the NHL right now: Chicago Blackhawk’s Captain, Jonathon Toews. I missed tonight’s game against the Red Wings, (because I was, you know, at the movies) but I saw this terrific goal.

There. Today’s dose of awesome. Now don’t you feel better?