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The Apostle (1997)
Disturbing, haunting, inspiring
As a Christian, I was initially distressed by what seemed to be the caricaturing of a Southern Pentecostal Holiness preacher. Indeed, my movie companion never got beyond this and hated the movie. But hang on! The more I watched Duval's portrayal, the more his character became powerfully real, showing a soul-wrenched complexity rarely witnessed on the screen. For those inclined to dismiss "heart-felt religion" as a delusion or pretense, look closer. The powerful interplay of temptation and inspiration, the confrontation of evil and goodness within the soul of a man reveals a truth many in our society are unwilling to ponder, let alone admit.
Granted, the portrayal is accentuated (Hollywood rarely deals with issues subtly) and at times seems melodramatic. But beneath the clamor is an earnest spiritual battle that strikes deep into the heart. Thank you, Robert Duval, for taking the gamble of putting together The Apostle.
A Vow to Cherish (1999)
A simple real-to-life story with powerful impact
I wasn't expecting to be so impacted by this film portraying a family just like the one you'd expect to be living next door. They are ordinary flesh-and-blood people, not like the typical Hollywood fare. They face an all too common problem--debilitating illness. But the story-line grips the heart with a powerful lesson. Casting, script, direction, and acting flow together with a surge that draws the viewer deep into the story. Give this film your full attention and its message will truly inspire.
Un tè con Mussolini (1999)
A simple delight featuring an enchanting cast. There is nothing profound, spectacular, horrifying, titilating, or passionately sensual here. If that's what you're seeking, look elsewhere. But all in all, Tea with Mussolini makes for a pleasant time spent in a setting none of us is otherwise likely to visit. Having been there through cinema, I'm glad I went. Casting Cher seemed odd, but in the end she pulled it off.
Die unendliche Geschichte (1984)
Wholesome and enchanting family film
It's been nearly 15 years since I first saw the movie, but I enjoyed it just as much the second time around. The child actors are convincing, the storyline inventive, and the imaginary characters (With the exception of that cocker spaniel dragon) well conceived. This is one that children, parents and grandparents should watch together. It effectively builds toward an ending that all will cheer.