Controversy

I wrote this short review in 1997. I went into seeing The Crucible with an expectation it must a meaningful film as the book the film was based on dealt meaningfully with a serious subject. Here is this piece, on the anniversary of The Crucible. The film was released on November 27, 1996, twenty-five years ago to the day.

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Strong

U2 was at the peak of their career when they released Achtung Baby (1991). More relaxed than when they started their musical career, U2 produced with Achtung Baby an album rather than anything resonating beyond the four walls perhaps, but I could be wrong. See the end of this review for more.

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Powers of life

I took an instinctually opposing view to the seemingly prevalent Christian view on Harry Potter. Here’s my review of the first film which I think reflects a grind against the status quo. Of course I was emotionally right at the time, but whether I am or not, I located a common theme and an okay movie which some would say is positive.

The rub that Christians had against the film was it representation and depiction of ‘witchcraft’ but other Christians said the depiction of witches and wizards was sketchy and mechanical and could not be taken realistically.

However the strongest argument against Harry Potter was how children could take the magic in it. Adults may take it as sketchy, but do children have the ability to? To them, it may be fun-fantastical. But Christian were warning that witchcraft is not to be flirted with as it can lead to real life magic.

However, some children may not even be aware of the so-called magical inferences.

In sum, Christians with differing angles all came from a Christian basis. So, we had Christians with the same basis writing and speaking about the same movie from differing angles.

Here’s what I said. I took Harry Potter as fiction with all that entails and included my own Christian perspective on the theme of the film. This is different than approaching Harry Potter as film which is what those against the film did. They had a negative view of the film as a film. The view taken was obviously that magic is wrong for children and they should not engage the film.

As for me, I took the film without raising an issue of conscience for me individually. It was something to watch. I saw it as a story, as fiction, something with a theme. I didn’t take the magic in the film seriously.

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Nice turn of phrase

Burton Cummings (1976), by Burton Cummings. Released October, 1976. I’ve discovered Burton Cummings! Not that he needs to be discovered, having put out solo albums since 1976, and before then leading The Guess Who. I discovered Burton by his self-titled solo debut, the one on review. This is not a religious album, as one may tell by the suggestive “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”, which by the way is a nice jazzed up cover of the original, but there is a song about religion done in a heartfelt, meaningful way, on “I’m Scared”. Throughout, the lyrics throughout have an interesting turn of phrase, the subjects are palatable and if not always palatable the music always is. This is a soft pop rock 1970’s album that may be called easy listening today.

Dreamy

The Cymbal Crashing Clouds (2011), by Ben Shive. Released September 26, 2011. Ben Shive hits the right notes on this alternative album where you should not expect a big statement on life, God, and everything. Rather, the human experience is expressed perhaps explored here and is without an expression of cynicism. On “She’s Invincible” a boy is attracted to a girl and the frustration that goes with that, done with a slight literary bent to the lyrics. On another, with a turn of phrase, Shive brings a smile — “A Last Time For Everything” reverses the ‘first time for everything’ saying. And on that track is more revealing of his Christian roots. “Sorry, but I’m Yours” is an unusual declaration of faith from a human and trusting in God base. The vocalist does not come on strong instead lets the lyrics speak on their own terms. The Christian content, while not overt, is thematic and buried, and the appealing texture on the tracks is dreamy, soft, light jazz, and slightly cool. I was into this album.

Too small

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (The Official Comics Version). Piccolo Books/Marvel. 1983. Reviewed by Peter Veugelaers.

In full color the front cover boasts. The consolation of this comic book is exactly that; in full color. On the other side, the writing is too small. It is not the content of the writing that is to fault, by Archie Goodwin. I could not see the passages in italic and bold font as well as the regular font. As well, many lines are formatted close together, not making for easy reading. Small consolation is found in the color layout and a few bright images of characters’ faces. This is a paperback comic which fits everything into 150 pages so go figure. Need a bigger book where the pictures may look sharper as well. A reject from me. 1 out of 4 stars.

Fun

Follow up to 1996’s Space Jam, Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021), features NBA basketballer LeBron James as the demanding father to a son. The son would rather make video games than play ball, but his father would like son’s eyes on the ball. Then, son goes missing….father can get back son if he faces off on a computerized ball court against a mean team. So, he has to get a team together — from Cartoonsville.

Cultural theme: Why do fathers and sons get on one another’s nerves? The son wants to be a video game programmer, the father wants the son to be a basketballer. Fathers can be demanding and expect a lot from their sons, but this film says it is the father who has to learn to be understanding towards his son.

The theme has a kind of Christian soul.

One may call the film overblown but the first forty or so minutes is pretty conventional as the story establishes itself and is quite entertaining. The rest of the film is visual effects, cartoons-ville aka Looney Tunes, gags aplenty, and a big basketball game between the Goons and the Looney Tunes. It is all a bit of good fun that should please homely audiences.

Soulish

I Love You (the album; 2006), by Diana Ross. Released October 2, 2006. The feel is modernish soul, with a touch of class. Not a very evenly arranged album with too many slower tracks in-between. The cover of Queen’s Crazy Thing Called Love is only respectable because of Diana’s convincing vocals it’s for real. Perhaps better titled “I Love You, (signed) Diana” to inject some warmth.

Real?

Straight Outta Lynwood (2006), by Weird Al Yankovic. Released September 26, 2006. Weird Al has parodied songs by Michael Jackson (“Eat It”) and Madonna (“Like a Surgeon”) and this one is obviously a take on the title of the film Straight Outta Compton. On Straight Outta Lynwood, the lyrics are obviously doing parody, but the music sounds like the real thing. This is not a seamless parody album.

Out of the box

You know, I can’t find the Liquid Acrobat as Regards the Air and that The Marblehead Messenger but what fascinating titles.

– Pete’s quotes (on not finding those albums)

Soft?

This Time Around (2011), by Heather Williams. Released September 27, 2011. Heather Williams’ booming vocals (through the roof on “Hallelujah”) and musical energy certainly cannot be written off. This earnest Christian album hits the high notes. Its got body, heart, and soul and Williams sings like she knows her personal faith and tugs the heart when singing “Start Over”. While it may be just the encouragement someone needs in their walk through life, for me This Time Around is a little soft theologically, a bit too pseudo, and the musical notes here are not really what I am into. But when it touches the heart…

Get real

The question I ask myself is why don’t I do just one version of a review and leave it at that. The thing is that I may dislike a film but see its worth in themes. The traditional way of dealing with this from a Christian perspective is to praise the themes and forget that you disliked the thing. But I don’t forget. I didn’t like the thing! I wouldn’t buy it. Really! But, since I am conscious of the God thing as well, I want to bring something of that out, too, such as in a theme.

The solution was simple: Don’t downplay the so-called God thing in some work I dislike, turn the ‘God-thing’ over in another format of writing.

Therefore: spirit of life category should provide the thematic stuff in movies and music only and related themes. Although some of my earlier film and music writings that are now posted in the spirit of life category do contain some reviewy elements. This reviewy stuff might have been a critique of a theme. My entertainment review category on this blog should provide straight reviews only.

Update: This information in regards to the structure of the blog is no longer relevant. But in terms of reviews I am keeping to subjective reviews in the music category and more or less in the film category.

Cool

Duets An American Classic (2006), by Tony Bennett with others. Released September 26, 2006. An album of swing, brass and jazz, wrapped in cool, should be embraced, should it not? If you are not into this, why harp? Aren’t albums like these a-okay, whatever the case? For me, sometimes.

Trying too hard?

20 Y.O. (2006), by Janet Jackson. Released September 26, 2006. For Janet Jackson to celebrate twenty years of her music with a dance album seemed a good thing for us listeners. Her 2006 dance album celebrated twenty years of her music and presence since 1986’s Control but feels like trying too hard (to impress?) and is too sexualized. And after all Janet’s done in music?

At the office, he says…

I thought to explain some modifications on this blog, so here it goes. Longer reviews I have posted the last couple of months have been shifted to the ‘spirited’ category rather then keeping in the pop life category. These longer reviews are more in line with the ‘spirited’ category, anyhow. These reviews explore ideas and themes more than straight reviews and explore how the ‘spirit’ or ‘life’ of the movie or music got to me. I have more of these kind to post. But the entertainment reviews, which are shorter, are more about if I like something or not. Like I was in process of deciding to buy it or not. These reviews are more straightforward. So, these entertainment reviews are ones like I posted yesterday–the capsule reviews in other words. More coming up. Note: Spirited category has been transferred to the spirit of life category since this post. Update: The structuring as described here is no longer relevant.

Listen

Reviewers tend to gush at certain things and scold, but I wonder if they are truly being objective as they offer their verdict with sweeping words of praise or hatred. Reviewers are objective are they not as they quality their criticism with passages of writing that explore the work and then are sounding fair and unbiased. Most of them know something about their art, do they not, but after all is said, are they still coming down without the objective eye? Would coming down objectively be a denial of their person?

Well, I realize in my approaches to listening to music that I have three ways: I can reject it, I can be open to it without being into it, and I can be just into it. Hence I introduce a new theme on this blog, which tells you briefly, in a few words or more where necessary, where I stand on an album or piece of music. Rejected, open to, or into.

Witty mystery

Sixty years ago this week, in the film Murder, She Said, Miss Marple (played by Margaret Rutherford) is on a train and as adapted from Agatha Christie’s 4.50 from Paddington witnesses someone strangling a woman – it always is a woman! It’s a matter of murder, she said, although the inspector does not believe her ‘overactive imagination’ as she was reading “Death from the Windows” a few minutes earlier.

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A few troughs

A few troughs in this maritime yarn

The Guardian (2006)

Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Melissa Sagemiller, Clancy Brown, Neal McDonough

Running time: 2hrs 19min

Reviewed by Peter Veugelaers

The U.S. Coast Guards get a similar ode to those of fire fighters (Ladder 49) and the Los Angeles police (S.W.A.T). The Guardian (M) is dedicated to these rescuers of perilous capsized boats in the deep and high seas.

In the world of these characters, sacrifices are made in the name of commitment to saving lives. It doesn’t whet the audience’s appetite with such notions, it dishes it out over-generously.  

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Edgy family fun

The film, the story, the cultural theme, and my artistic awareness of Open Season (2006).

Family fun but it’s a bit edgy

Open Season (2006)

Voices of Martin Lawrence, Ashton Kutcher, Debra Messing, Gary Sinise

Running time: 1 hr 26min

Open Season is a G-rated computer-animated feature from Hollywood, an edgier family movie than usual, which adds substance to someone’s point that family genre these has become darker (such as the Harry Potter films). But the genre hasn’t fully crossed over.

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Leisurely tale

Dolphin Tale is a warm, uplifting family tail tale. When a bottlenose dolphin washes ashore entangled in a fishing rope, she is vitally injured in her tail end. The injury may cause her to die as the tail is interconnected to the rest of her important organs. Christened Winter, she is looked after by the CMA (Clearwater Marine Aquarium) which is undergoing changes of its own…

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Comes out in the wash

The plot of this Star Trek film from 2016 is familiar. There is the disgruntled attitude of the star ship crew of the Star Ship Enterprise as they go through the motions of their five-year journey, but just as boredom is setting in, they are summoned to help a species that has lost its transportation. As they go to help provide a suitable alternative spaceship, they are attacked by the Krall…

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A moment with the Oscars

This is one of my early articles, more inclined to be a piece as it is short.

The article is about the Academy Awards. Pretty much I was religiously into the Academy Awards when I was a mid-teenager. The devotion grew less but I kept an eye out for them. In the mid-90’s I got back into the Oscars, without the religiosity that marked my mid-teens, but with a sense of interest in the proceedings. I wasn’t engrossed in them, but took an interest. But it was a strong interest as I was writing film stuff.

So, when the Oscars came around in 1997, I took note because I was writing about film and because I wanted to. I wrote an article that reflected that moment of my pop life. Here was that article, short and I would hope sweet. Nothing eloquent or literary, but quite ordinary, perhaps thoughtful to say the most.

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Unfinished business

Sometimes work is ignored, sometimes work is picked up, but is any of it ever fulfilled? It is the same with the writing side of life. I am attempting to tackle something that I hope the outcome will feel fulfilling but without knowing if it really will. What can you learn from this? I don’t know, can you learn anything from anyone? Maybe it is simply, apply yourself, and just do it.

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More

I’ve been thinking…and there should be more writing and literature on this blog, in the future, than general writing and life talk although I will probably still include that. I would like to see more poetry and reflections and reviews of books, movies and music.

True

A writer has an approach to their work. For me, this is being conducive to my readers. I think this is what every writer wants. To sound conducive and not banging on about something. This is how I approached reviewing films. To sound conducive. Films were not my flavor of the month though But I started writing with something I knew about, as in the 1980’s, before the year 1990, I was an avid moviegoer and knew them all pretty well. In 1990, my views of movies changed.

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Neat freak

Sometimes I wonder if I am a neat freak, but I do not give that thought much time, because I don’t care. I am thorough about things and want things done properly and I applied this last week to finishing off a project. I am glad I have got it out the way as I can relax now that it’s done.

Yet for all my thoroughness, and the frustration this can bring, I am now up to date. Being up to date was my reason for finishing this part of the project off, so I can smooth on into the other stuff in the project without a worry. Now, I am free, when it is done and dusted and the rest is just sailing.

What’s in a blog?

Another blog, another day, another dollar for some, My labor of love in writing the last few days has been thinking, reflecting, soul searching, praying and came up with the best idea possible for me in terms of film blogging. Having written reviews for years, I’m putting them up in chronological order, starting with Ill Postino, written in 1996, as well as bring the new ones. There is also a summary of my reviewing journey there as well to the present time. Here’s the link to the review: I trust the about page will explain my thinking behind it. Update: I did not follow through on this idea for the blog but I am in the throes of appropriating something like it, which will probably turn up in the film category somehow.

When Jesus Returns

Author of When Jesus Returns (1995), David Pawson, tells us that the subject of the Second Coming of Christ has been ‘in vogue’ in Bible-believing churches since the early 1800s. There has been a return to the centrality of the return, like it was central in the early church. Numerous authors and teachers have explained and still are explaining the millennial reign of Christ, where Jesus comes back to rule.

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Tried

I didn’t consider every publication, but I would have liked to. I think I almost did. It felt like it at times. With all that leg work, or my fingers doing the walking as I combed those writer’s guides. But although some were lucrative, and I could have made an effort to ‘cater to the market’, many would not fit in with me.