Movie Reviews

Year in Review … 1975, That Is

By December 30, 2016

It’s the time for year-in-review articles and retrospectives, as we get ready to kick 2016 out the door. I’m not sure how to put my thoughts about this year into coherent words, so maybe I’d rather write about some other proxy year instead. Some months ago, I posted about the Church’s annual Church in Action films by profiling the 1973 version. I recently began teaching Institute in my stake and because of a boundary change I took over mid-semester in the Cornerstones class about Church history and the Restoration. Joey Stuart’s thought-provoking piece earlier this fall on Mormonism’s biggest “change year” challenged me to find a way to present some of the rapid transformations in Church demographics, policies and practices that have taken place in recent decades for the last class in the semester. I thought bringing in one of the Church in Action recaps might highlight both continuity and change in recent Mormonism. It definitely did; we had a lively discussion about the film and what had / hadn’t changed since then.

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The Church in Action, ca. 1973

By April 13, 2015

While doing a close reading of Rick Turley’s essay for our #JMH50 roundtable series, I came across a tidbit that was new for me. He writes,

Beginning around 1970, our department had sponsored newsreel-style movies under the series title The Church in Action. These annual or five-year retrospectives used existing footage to feature newsworthy events like the international travels of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Brigham Young University’s dance teams. Useful though they were in featuring Church events in multiple countries, these films did not begin to capture the depth of Church history around the globe. [1]

As a scholar of religion and media, my ears perked up.

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What’s the Best History Movie?

By July 3, 2011

For me, the best history movies is Revolution, staring Al Pacino. This movie is a little weird from an artistic point of view; it was majorly panned by the critics. However, from a historical point of view, this movie is awesome. The movie is dark and gritty (I think they used all natural lighting), the people are all dirty and it presents an earthy view of the American Revolution.

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“I Was Told That It Was True, and It Was a Marvelous Day”

By March 9, 2008

Such, more or less, was Darius Gray’s summary of his initial reaction to the 1978 revelation.

Today was the Ogden screening of Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons. I along with Christopher, Ben, and our female companions drove up from Provo to support Margaret and Darius. Margaret told us afterward that we couldn’t use such words as amazing or incredible to describe this documentary, but such words do indeed fit. But I’ll humor her and give a more substantial response to the film.

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Movie Review: Emma Smith: A Really Great Catch

By November 18, 2007

Warning: Plot spoilers follow.  

Tonight my girlfriend and I attended an advance screening of the forthcoming movie, Emma Smith: My Story. It was, to say the least, better than we had expected. I’m not a film critic, so I cannot critique the movie based on editing, music, camera angles, or even dialogue. However, none of these more aesthetic characteristics stuck out as being “bad” to me, despite being told before hand that the movie was still very rough. If I came into this movie with little historical

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