Heaven is For Real

Nicole Kidman in Birth

It’s a little too early to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of Birth, a movie where “10 years later” has significance, but I’d like to get started on paying commemorative tribute to Jonathan Glazer‘s 2004 masterpiece for a few reasons. Each of these reasons is actually a new movie with some relevance to Birth, and while that makes it sound like the earlier movie is something so ahead of its time that it fits better among the output of 2014, the pertinence is mostly a coincidence. The first reason/movie, however, is rather obvious. Glazer’s first feature since Birth is currently in theaters, and it couldn’t be any more worth the wait. Outside of both movies beginning with a kind of natal moment for a main character and the way they could be aesthetically connected, reverse-sequentially, through snow-filled settings, there’s little similarity between the movies. The new one, Under the Skin, is about an alien disguised as a human woman (Scarlett Johansson) who predatorily lures men into a trap. Birth is about a little boy (Cameron Bright) who claims to be the reincarnation of the husband of a wealthy widow (Nicole Kidman). Her family thinks it’s all a ruse, maybe to predatorily lure the woman into some sort of financial trap.

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Connor Corum in Heaven Is For Real

Greg Kinnear is the perfect actor to star in Heaven is for Real, an adaptation of the nonfiction best-seller of the same name. The guy from Flash of Genius and Little Miss Sunshine is the one you want for another character struggling in life and trying to convince people of something. He has sad eyes but a charming smile. And in movies like this, no matter how you feel about the message at its core, you’ll like the person he’s playing and want him to succeed. If Tucker: The Man and His Dream or Field of Dreams were remade today, Kinnear would be a great choice to play either’s protagonist. Heaven is for Real is actually quite reminiscent of the latter. It’s set in the Midwest farmlands and deals with a man about to lose everything, it involves a father/son relationship and, most importantly, it involves the afterlife. Yet it won’t be accepted the same way, because Field of Dreams was sold as a fantasy film and Heaven is for Real is classified in the Christian genre (and as a true story). More than most of these kinds of films, though, it has the capability to transcend the faith-based demographic thanks to the appeal of the cast and their winning performances. Kinnear’s is the strongest, though Kelly Reilly does a fine job as his wife, the under-appreciated Margo Martindale stands out in a supporting role and 6-year-old newcomer Connor Corum breaks out as the true star, offering the most adorable, non-precocious work by […]

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God

According to Variety, Randall Wallace (who made the narrative mess that is Secretariat) is set to craft a film version of Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent’s “Heaven is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back.” The book made waves by 1) claiming to be a true account of a 3-year-old’s story that he went to Heaven during an emergency surgery to save his life and 2) for dominating the Best Seller lists. So what’s in Heaven? Angels, of course, as well as a horse that only Jesus can ride, an enormous God and exactly zero eyeglasses. Burpo, the boy’s father, contends that the child mentions details about their family that he had no way of knowing without actually visiting Heaven and visiting with them. The child never mentions that God is made out of Terry Gilliam cut-out pieces. As acknowledged before, Christianity (specifically The Bible) is a big topic right now in filmmaking, but this book comes with a huge narrative challenge. Specifically, it’s made up of the initial hospital drama and the following years where young Colton Burpo relays his account of being inside the Pearly Gates. On the other hand, its lack of cinematic-ness might mark it with potential to be told experimentally. Unfortunately, Wallace – who wrote Pearl Harbor – fell off after We Were Soldiers and Braveheart, and he seems to walk around with a giant hammer in case a bit of subtlety sneaks into his work. This is already an overtly sentimental […]

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