The Glass Window {The Troubadour} (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Stuart Wright is a successful businessman in New York, but the untimely death of his father grinds his fast-paced life to a halt.  Confused about his direction in life, he decides to visit his father’s favorite place in the Bahamas to try to clear his head.  However, all he ends up doing is drinking himself to sleep.  One morning, he wakes up in another man’s makeshift house, and this man proceeds to change Stuart’s outlook on life by sharing with him the true love of Christ.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Unfortunately, The Glass Window begins as a fairly rough production.  This includes some shaky camera work and inconsistent lighting.  There are also some odd sound effects and cheap sets and locations at first.  The soundtrack is generic, and there are several disorienting flashbacks in the beginning.  However, this production makes a concerted effort to improve as it goes on, especially when it comes to the international locations and cinematography.  Camera work calms down, as do the sound effects.  Further, the editing is relatively fine throughout.  In the end, this is an average production due to the latter improvements.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Much like the production, this story begins very predictably with a city character who is forced to return to his backwoods small town that contains all of the cliched elements and dialogue imaginable from this concept.  It’s also basically another prodigal character plot, and it contains several Bible verse clichés.  However, this trend totally changes up in the middle as the story turns into something totally different.  There are many interesting ideas contained within the second half of this plot, even though are somewhat randomly presented.  The Christian message is very good, but it tends to be a bit spoon-fed.  There are very interesting parallels here, but they need deepening.  Also, there are some plot holes in the second half due to the wasted time in the early parts of the film.  Nevertheless, it is a very creative idea with a slightly unexpected end that is likely worth a watch.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Once again, the acting begins fairly rough as the cast members tend to be stiff, overly practiced, and stoic at first.  However, they demonstrate good effort and definitely improve in all aspects in the second half of the movie.  Emotions are mostly realistic throughout, thus making for a good section.  In the end, it many ways, it seems like this film was made in two halves by totally different teams.

Conclusion

The Glass Window joins the ranks of Christian films that contain ideas that are worthy of a remake.  It’s obvious that this creative team has a lot of potential and just needed some further direction when starting this film.  They definitely knew where they wanted to go, but they had trouble starting the journey.  However, they showed that improvement in the middle was possible, which also shows potential for the future.

 

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

 

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Redemption of the Commons (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Victor Clay tried to make it on his own in the business world, but he soon finds himself bankrupt, evicted, and living in his van.  With no more options on the table and not enough money, Victor decides to return to the Commons, where he grew up, in hopes of a new beginning.  But what he finds is a struggling community with no real options.  Will he be able to use what he has learned to help them all succeed?

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Redemption of the Commons is another one of those slightly under-funded productions the raises the question of its own necessity.  While video quality and camera work are good, there is far too much dead air in this film, as well as inconsistent audio quality.  However, the soundtrack is at least interesting.  Sets, locations, and props are quite realistic, even if they are little uncreative.  As is common for this type of movie, there is no obvious editing as content is presented at face value.  In the end, this production is passable, but it could have been more.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Redemption of the Commons is trying to inspire, but it does not inspire much.  As narration guides the story along, there are too many confusing subplots, empty sequences, and time-filling montages.  The plot follows a formulaic return-to-struggling-hometown-plotline in which the returning character is down on his luck in his ‘city’ life but then uses his ‘city skills’ to fix the problems of the small town.  But even this small town seems tiny—the premise and scope of this story is almost insignificant as it really only focuses on one neighborhood.  All the characters fit into predetermined molds and do nothing to hold the attention of the audience.  Dialogue is very flat and empty.  The storyline is extremely linear and leads to an inevitably ‘fixed’ and patched-up conclusion that really teaches nothing useful.  Unfortunately, there is really nothing good to say here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Though this cast is realistic and raw, it also includes some slight cultural stereotypes.  There is some good here, but there are too many lazy performances and uninteresting acting.  Emotional and line delivery don’t seem to be taken seriously enough.  This rounds out an overall disappointing effort.

Conclusion

Films like Redemption of the Commons likely mean well, but the idea is almost doomed from the start.  Is there really a market for this sort of predictable plot anymore?  As Christian film makers, we need to be reaching higher and aiming to be better than the mainstream market, rather than constantly letting the mainstream market dictate creativity.  We should be the leaders in creativity, and so far, we are unfortunately not.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

 

The Book of Genesis [2016] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

As Jochebed and her children hide from the Egyptian soldiers, she recounts the story of her people so far and the struggles they have gone through.  She remembers Adam, Eve, Abel, Cain, Noah, Abram, Sarai, Jacob, Leah, and Rachel and how they went wrong and how God took care of them.  Jochebed wrestles with the truth that God will take care of her and her family too, no matter what odds are facing her.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

It’s obvious that a good amount of time and resources were spent on this production.  Cinematography is clearly professional and well-thought-out, including great camera work and crisp video quality.  Sets and locations are also highly professional and enhance the film.  Audio quality is good and the soundtrack is respectable and intriguing.  The only minor issue to raise here is some small editing issues, including random cuts and transitions that confuse the audience.  However, this is a very high quality production and we can’t wait to see what else Austin Ridge Bible Church produces in the future.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Unfortunately, this is where the positivity ends.  As Jochebed constantly narrates through cryptic monologues, the plot skips all over Genesis without settling down on a coherent thought.  To be titled after to first book of the Bible, there is actually very little true Biblical content and easily a fourth of the film relates to the book of Exodus.  While the psychological elements are somewhat creative, there is no continuity and the overall feel of the storyline is overly artistic and embellished.  Taking on such a large amount of content is ambitious but misguided.  There is no way to understand the characters presented as they are largely silent; everything relies too much on Jochebed’s riddles and musings.  Overall, this is a disappointingly wasted idea can could have gone somewhere but never found the path home.

Acting Quality (0 points)

The casting job falls into the trap many Biblical films fall into.  Not only are there some issues with cultural authenticity (though not full British), but the cast members seem to be purposely acting mysterious.  Their emotions are ethereal and abstract and line delivery is sometimes off.  It’s difficult to put your finger on, but there are not many positive qualities to highlight here.  A stronger cast would have made a difference for this film.

Conclusion

When you’re first starting out with movies, it’s essential to have quality production, which is what The Book of Genesis has.  However, it’s not clear that Austin Ridge Bible Church knew what they were doing with this plot idea.  There is an element of creativity here that could be drawn out by the right team, but this movie just doesn’t make the mark.  When first writing a plot, it’s best to start out small and grow from there, not start out with a big idea that might not pan out.  Maybe next time Austin Ridge Bible Church will find their way to the promised land, because they certainly have the potential to do so.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points