Machine Gun Preacher

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr strips down to his boxers and starts a new training regimen to make him look more like Huge Jackman. He’s got a head start, considering his torso looks almost like Jackman’s… if you turn it upside down. After duking it out with some robots in a boxing ring, Kevin tries his hands at politics because it’s the kind of business where you don’t necessarily have to look like Ryan Gosling to get a young hottie like Evan Rachel Wood. But the primary system leaves him depressed and cold, so he takes a trip to the Sudan to play target practice with some warlords. He hears the Sudan is simply lovely this time of year.

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Machine Gun Preacher is a biopic that does not sugarcoat its violent lead. Unlike most bio films, this is not about a common man rising to become a perfect hero, but instead, a true anti-hero. Sam Childers — biker turned preacher turned freedom fighter — is not the most likable man in the film. Not only would you never want to hang out with him on a weekend, but even after finding Jesus, he commits inexcusable acts. The violence of Childers, at least when he is in Central Africa, is not part of those inexcusable acts. Many critics have said the film takes a very right-wing stance — and perhaps it does, at times — but the methods Sam uses are very black-and-white. He’s an eye for an eye guy. When Sam uses violence to save children, that’s when he becomes his true self. However, when he’s asked to be the father of his own family, that doesn’t come as easy. Again, not your average hero. Recently I had the opportunity to speak with screenwriter Jason Keller about his dynamic lead’s acts, as well as the themes of the film, not making a lifetime movie, and the process of writing for a true visionary.

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No one can ever criticize Marc Forster for covering the same ground. Thematically, all his work ties together, but rarely does he play with a certain genre more than once. Over the past ten years he’s made a James Bond picture, a meta drama, an adaption, a 90 minute nightmare, and a raw family drama, and is now working on an epic zombie film. Forster is not only an eclectic filmmaker, but a candid one. In our interview for his latest drama, Machine Gun Preacher, the acclaimed director could not have spoken more objectively about his work, and what people think of it. Prime examples: Quantum of Solace and Stay. Upon the the release of both films, they were heavily criticized, and unlike how most directors may have responded to such criticism, Forster didn’t go with a simple “they didn’t get it.” In our chat, he openly discussed issues with some of his work, along with capturing his imagination, making blockbuster films personal, and the ethics of Machine Gun Preacher.

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People are already ragging on World War Z, a movie over a year away. Adaptation always requires changes, but a book like World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War requires many, many changes. The structure doesn’t lend itself to a big budgeted Hollywood film. Director Marc Forster, clearly, knows this. Instead of making a documentary zombie movie, it’s a Brad Pitt and his family trying to survive movie! That’s not the World War Z fans know — and despite the current popular belief — that’s not the approach Forster is taking. A few weeks ago I spoke with the filmmaker, and his zombie epic was briefly touched upon. The interview was for Machine Gun Preacher, so I didn’t set out to ask about WWZ. But after discussing a few different aesthetics he’s shot and trying to bring smarts to blockbuster filmmaking, his currently filming adaptation naturally came up. Despite the narrative changes we all know about, Forster did set out to capture the spirit of the book, the political spirit:

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Machine Gun Preacher! It’s not just fun to say! It’s a movie, too! Marc Forster’s latest (the one before the World War Zadaptation fans everywhere are already bemoaning) focuses on a true-life story that comes oh-so-conveniently pre-packaged with a catchily-nicknamed protagonist. The film stars Gerard Butler as that supposed “machine gun preacher,” Sam Childers, a former drug dealer who turned his life around to save the often-orphaned children of East Africa, youngsters forced into the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to serve as soldiers before they’re even old enough to properly wield a gun. The synopsis for the film makes the story seem fantastic, and in the hyperbolic sense, because the concept of a former drug dealer saving African child soldiers by way of going straight into the belly of the beast and rescuing said kids by hand (and with a machine gun) is all a bit too much to believe. Yet, Childers is indeed a real person, and Forster’s film does depict some real life instances in between a mess of standard action film beats. Take a look at the boom-boom-pow trailer after the break.

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With the Toronto International Film Festival mere weeks away, cinephiles everywhere are prepping to ship off to America’s hat for ten days of films and fun, all fueled by bagged milk and and trademark Canadian politeness. TIFF has already established itself as North America’s premiere film festival (duking it out with Sundance for top billing), but this year, the festival’s programmers have truly outdone themselves when it comes to putting together a drool-worthy schedule. This year’s TIFF has already announced the bulk of their lineup, including The Ides of March and Moneyball and their documentary and genre picks, but they now round out their programming with some final and spectacular picks.

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