November 2012 – Unconditional CAUTION
An emotionally charged movie, Unconditional begins with Samantha Crawford contemplating suicide. She cannot continue living without her husband, Billy, and her grief is strangling her. When his life was violently taken, her life was taken too.
Near the point of completing her plan to kill herself, Sam rescues a little girl, Keisha, who has been hit by a car. Through this encounter with Keisha and her brother, Macon, Sam reunites with Joe Bradford, her oldest friend from years ago. Joe has a hard past, including time in prison, and he lives in the same impoverished neighborhood as Keisha and Macon.
Each day after school ‘Papa Joe’, as the children call him, and his friend and future wife, Denise, minister to the children through song, games and food boxes. But, the greatest gift they give to the children is unconditional love. Their love for the children and love for God are what begin to draw Sam out of grief and back into life. She discovers that loving others leads to healing.
Unconditional is a story inspired by true events in Joe Bradford’s life. Joe and Denise live in Nashville, Tennessee, where they continue to work with at-risk children through Elijah’s Heart (www.elijahsheart.com).
A word of caution is necessary. Unconditional is a gripping story with suicide depictions, rough and bloody prison fighting and drinking. The film is a realistic portrayal of the difficulties of life and not suitable for young children. There is no use of objectionable language.
Review by Debbie Fischer
The Escape CAUTION
After the death of their baby daughter, doctors Paul and Kim Jordan move to Thailand. Kim wants a fresh start. Paul wants adventure. Both want to run away from their sorrow and from God.
Their sorrow turns to terror when Paul is kidnapped by human traffickers and caged with Malcolm Andrews, a British man the traffickers are holding for ransom. Andrews is a strong Christian who refuses to lose his faith.
While Kim is searching for her husband, she comes across Malcolm’s wife who is also a strong believer. The Andrews couple shows that faith can deliver strength not of this world. Malcolm and his wife grieve, but it is apparent they do so with hope.
Escape: You can’t Run From God is a riveting story. The acting is stiff at times, but believable. It begins slow but finds its stride during the last act. Violence, death and discussions of human trafficking mean that parents may want to consider before allowing young children to see this film
Review by Teddy James
I Am … Gabriel
Promise, Texas, is seemingly cursed with drought, foreclosures, shrinking church attendance and more. Then Gabriel, a 12-year-old boy, comes to town saying he is there to help. Miracles happen, residents are encouraged and some are motivated to serve others.
I Am … Gabriel stars Dean Cain (The Way Home) and John Schneider (October Baby). They both give very believable performances. However, supporting cast members are less polished. The scenes are often stilted and slow.
Still, the film has an encouraging theme: Life is hard, but deep and abiding relationship with God enables one to walk through its difficulties with hope.
Review by Debbie Fischer
Blue Like Jazz EXTREME CAUTION
Editor’s note: AFA Journal has not reviewed the film Blue Like Jazz, but knowing the popularity of the book it is based on, we went to www.movieguide.org and found this description: “... young man returns to vague faith in God and Jesus after becoming disillusioned and attacking Christianity, religion and morality … very strong politically correct and left-wing revisionist history attitude or tone that’s also anti-American … and strong anti-capitalist elements and acceptance of homosexuality and lesbian women; 22 obscenities (mostly “s” and “h” words), two or three profanities, blasphemy, implied urinating, vomiting, scatological humor … ”
From MovieGuide review
The Sparkle Box
The Sparkle Box by Jill Hardie is a new children’s book about Sam and his family as they find ways to share the love of Christ with others during the Christmas season. Sam does not discover the true meaning of the Sparkle Box until Christmas morning. That’s when he gets to open the box and read all the notes his mom put inside. Each note is a record of an act of love done in the name of Jesus by the family, and the box is a representation of their love gift to Christ.
Every book comes with a “Sparkle Box” that can be easily assembled. It is then placed on the mantel or other prominent place, to be filled during the season with notes recording the things the family, or individuals, have done to honor Jesus by loving and serving others. Learn more about The Sparkle Box at www.thesparklebox.com.
Review by Debbie Fischer
16 changed lives
Have you ever read the ninth-inning miracle of New York Yankees icon Mickey Mantle, that is, the story of his conversion to Christian faith? How about Bill Murray, son of notorious atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair? President Ronald Reagan? Former Playboy bunny Brenda MacKillop?
You can read their stories and 12 more in 16 Amazing Stories of Divine Intervention, author James Lambert’s collection of concise and moving testimonies to God’s grace and saving power. Lambert’s conversion accounts of the famous and not-so-famous are informative, entertaining and encouraging all at the same time.
“Next to the work of the Holy Spirit Himself, nothing challenges us to commit our lives to Christ more than the stories and testimonies of other Christ followers,” said AFA president Tim Wildmon of Lambert’s book.
Lambert is a San Diego real estate loan and sales agent. A long-time activist, his pro-family commentaries appear frequently on AFA’s OneNewsNow.com, ChristianMirror.com, ChristianPress.com and RenewAmerica.com.
Order the book at www.16amazingstories.com or 800-656-8603.
Review by Randall Murphree