Discarded Things (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Grace Wyatt felt like she had finally buried her past by becoming a successful professor of music. However, her husband’s untimely death sends her back into a spiral of addiction and bitterness. Once Grace is able to recover, she’s assigned to live as a volunteer at a house program for troubled teens. Though Grace initially clashes with the leadership decisions of the program, she eventually finds her niche helping the teens find their voices. Nonetheless, Grace has no idea that she still has to make peace with her past to move forward in life.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

As a whole, the production quality of Discarded Things is professional…at least it gets there eventually. In the beginning, there’s a driving soundtrack that doesn’t always fit the mood although the score is still intriguing. There are also some background sounds and sepia tone flashbacks. The editing is sometimes choppy, cutting off scenes for no good reason. However, all productions elements improved in the latter two-thirds of the film, offering good video quality and camera work. Also, sets, locations, and props are professional. The improvement is good enough to warrant a high score in this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

The creative team behind this screenplay really had a lot going for them as they demonstrated a strong understanding of how hidden church problems and childhood trauma can affect people for their entire lives. This narrative contains an excellent portrayal of fundamentalist legalism and its consequences, and this is done via a good application of flashbacks that provides believable reasoning for character motive. However, Discarded Things has a rare problem: it’s too short. The fact that so much content is squeezed into this movie creates various issues, such as too-obvious dialogue. The writers rushed through important sequences, using montages as a crutch and implying that substance abuse rehab is a really easy fix for people. Platitudes are also used to quickly solve problems. It’s very evident that too much is being covered in this linear plot with the limited amount of time that’s been allotted. There are many complex and interlocking storylines that we barely get time to explore, and this lack of development causes some otherwise meaningful events to occur without proper buildup, thus making them empty and meaningless. Though most of the conversations are good, the characters are under-developed, but their major potential can still be seen. There are obvious themes throughout the narrative that slightly tie everything together, but the conclusion of the film is quite cheesy. In the end, this section is a mixed bag that could have been so much more than this.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

Despite a few moments of cast members over-acting and being a bit too dramatic, the acting is still very strong in Discarded Things. Karen Abercrombie appeared comfortable in her role, and Cameron Arnett is always a standout. This particular role for Cameron was perhaps his best to date. In the end, the acting is quite good, earning a great score.

Conclusion

This screenplay likely would have worked better as a series that blended what the protagonist learned from rehab with what she taught the teenagers. In this current form, this was too much content to cram into one movie, and this was a rare instance where we actually need to see more of these characters rather than less. We need to observe their journeys so that the payoffs don’t feel cheap due to lack of proper buildup. However, on the whole, some viewers will enjoy Discarded Things in its current state, and this film overall demonstrates huge potential for the future.

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

DiVine Appointment (status unknown)

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Status currently unknown

Writer(s): Tara Lynn Marcelle

Director(s): Tara Lynn Marcelle

Producer(s):  Jason Campbell, Tara Lynn Marcelle, April Kennedy

Starring: Chris Minor, Jenni Kennedy, Darwin Shaw, William McNamara, Kera O’Bryon, Matthew Lloyd, Micah Lynn, Troy Means, Mai Arwas, Bryan Michael Nunez, Timothy Goodwin, Gabrielle Diaz, Joe Estevez

Plot Synopsis: After a tragic accident, Jordan Travis is forced to quit his band at the start of their success. Empty and broken, he finds a job in the wine vineyards of Northern California. What follows, is a series of people and events that lead him back to his first love, and ultimate destiny, which can only be found in a ‘Divine Appointment’.

My Name is Paul [2013] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

What if the story of the Apostle Paul took place in the near future, when the government cracks down on religious freedom and forces the true Christians underground?  Paul seeks out Christians to bring into custody to further his status among the government, but a profound experience causes him to turn around and change his ways by joined the very people he once tried to stamp out.  Now he is on the run from his former employers and the Christians are wary about trusting him.  Will the Way be able to prevail in the face of grave opposition?

 

Production Quality (2 points)

It is clear that many attempts were made in this film to craft a very professional action-based production, which is something we rarely see in Christian film these days.  Video quality is what it should be and camera work is great, especially in the action scenes.  Audio quality is mostly good and the soundtrack is intriguing.  However, sometimes there are some oddly lit scenes, as if the producers are trying to be too artistic, and the indoor sets sometimes suffer from lack of creativity.  Yet the outdoor locations are very well-constructed.  The editing sometimes leaves something to be desired, as some scenes lag too long while others are cut short.  But in the end, this is a commendable effort and one that will hopefully yield even better fruit in the future.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

It’s definitely not easy to take on such a large Bible-story-set-in-the-future concept, especially with all of the characters that are involved.  Sometimes it’s too awkward for the writers to try to force parallels; it might have been better to keep the associations looser.  However, there is still lots of good plot content—perhaps too much content for a film less than two hours long.  This is a highly complex story that sometimes gets lost in itself and may have been better suited for a miniseries, since there are a lot of ideas crammed into such a short time frame.  This is a good problem to have, yet it leaves too many disjointed subplots in its wake.  The characters are pretty good, even if they are limited in scope.  The biggest red flag to raise here is the very confusing and isolating ending that is hard to explain or understand.  In the end, this story desperately needed to be a series in order to be truly effective.

Acting Quality (3 points)

The casting and acting is clearly the strongest point of this film, as there are no errors to speak of.  This is a very large cast, yet they are all very talented and cast very appropriately.  Emotions are believable and line delivery is on target.  The cast members make this film as good as it is.

Conclusion

We realize it’s hard to make an independent series or miniseries, but with the PureFlix on Demand platform, things have been made easier.  More budding film makers need to take advantage of this resource to boost their brand so that we can see some actually worthwhile Christian series come to light.  Regardless, with some production tweaks, more funding, and continued casting success, this creative team is going to go big places.

 

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

 

Virtuous [2015] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

After Simone Burner is attacked by the grandson of a powerful man, she is arrested for the grandson’s murder and mostly everybody in the city turns against her for no particular reason.  Therefore, she has to seek out the help of an estranged attorney who doesn’t really like her as her last resort.  Meanwhile, there are tons of others subplots are all going on at the same time as other random characters are briefly introduced who have very loose connections to the original point.  With so much going on, the question is not what will happen, but will anyone understand what is happening?

 

Production Quality (2 points)

Virtuous has a professional and adequate production, as evidenced by clear video quality, good camera work, acceptable audio quality, and an intriguing soundtrack.  Sets, locations, and props are professionally chosen and presented.  On the surface, it seems like Virtuous checked all the necessary boxes to receive a passing score.  However, the major detractor here is the horrific editing.  Somewhere in post-production, someone needed to sit down and have a serious talk with the JC Films team about whether or not it’s justified to have a 150 minute film that has next to no continuity.  This was the editor’s job; however, this was not done, and thus, it leaves a gaping hole in this film.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

As previously mentioned, this perhaps the most convoluted and non-continuous plot in all of our viewing days.  With hundreds of subplots that have very little connection to one another, there is no way to make sense of what is going on as the story hops from one random thing to the next.  There’s all kinds of intrigue with this local judicial and law enforcement system and how corrupt businessmen are trying to control stuff, plus some stereotypical down-on-his-luck who takes on a seemingly impossible case that has some ties to a non-profit involving Erin Bethea, and this doesn’t even cover the random guy in the hospital and the nurse who takes care of him who also has a questionable position on the jury of the original trial.  This previous run-on sentence doesn’t even cover all the points Virtuous tries to expand on.  It’s like twelve different people all had ideas and decided to shove them all together into one bloated film.  With so much going on, there is no hope for character development as dialogue is stunted and all over the place.  The only characters that stand out are strawmen villains, unfortunately.  Yet despite all of this massive blending of concepts, there is a really interesting idea somewhere lost in the fray that would be better served in a miniseries format.  It’s disappointing to see good ideas go to such waste, especially when it’s like this.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

With so many cast members, it’s really hard to keep up.  This is an unusually large cast for a Christian film, thus making the performances inconsistent and random.  Sometimes line delivery and emotional delivery are good, while other times they are not.  Overall, it comes out as fairly average.

Conclusion

When you’re in the process of making a film that is over two and a half hours and you actually have the budget to make a film this long, perhaps you need to stop and consider: with so much content, I should make this a series!  People love series: just look at the unexplainable success of When Calls the Heart.  Why not, instead of making a cumbersome film like this one, try something different and create an interesting genre-busting Christian series.  It would be a huge hit.  Yet once again, we are left wondering what could have been.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points