The Song Movie Review (PG-13)

Love and Hate Relationship

On occasion I receive screener copies of films (these days they tend to be digital rather than physical) and usually these are Christian films. I have a love/hate relationship with the Christian movie industry. I want to see good Christian films but the vast majority are crap so when I received the screener for The Song I didn’t set my expectations high – I was pleasantly surprised.

The Story

The Song Movie lead actorsThe Song tells the story of Jeb King (Alan Powell), a singer/songwriter who marries Rose (Ali Faulkner), the woman of his dreams, but almost loses her as well as his young son in the pursuit of fame, fortune, and fun – the last primarily in the person of a talented and free spirited musician – Shelby Bale (Caitlin Nicol-Thomas) who joins his tour as the opening act.

The Bad

The first few minutes of the film are underwhelming and confusing. Telling the story of Jeb’s father Dave – a famous singer/songwriter in his own right – it lacks any narration and covers a large span of time – I found it downright confusing.

The acting throughout the film is solid and sometimes ventures into greatness with occasional lapses into mediocrity.

The Good

The film claims to be inspired by the Song of Solomon – it might be more accurate to say that it is based off of the life and writings of King Solomon (traditionally Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Song of Songs, and some of the Psalms). This could be a recipe for disaster – far too many Christian films skimp on the story and are heavy-handed with the sermonizing – but not The Song.

Instead the song is a genuinely innovative take on King Solomon. It has many subtle references to the story of Solomon (one of the less subtle being that Jeb’s father is David and they both share the last name King) and maintains the overarching themes of Solomon’s life and teachings but with a freedom that allows the story to stand on its own.

There are also a number of times in which Jeb voices over the film with readings from Solomon’s teachings which specifically apply to and illuminate the relevant scene – one of the more powerful being the reading of Solomon’s warning against the adulterous woman.

Ohh, and did I mention the music is catchy? I’m not a musician, but to my untrained ear several of the songs where quite enjoyable.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a fun and thought provoking film, The Song is worth trying. It does contain mature themes (alcohol, drugs, violence) so I wouldn’t recommend it for young children (besides the intricacy of the story and allusions would go over their heads and they’d lose interest) but for teen and adult audiences it should be an enjoyable option.

If you do watch the film I’d like to know what you think of it. Did you like it? What were your favorite allusions to Solomon’s life and writings? What would you have done differently?

Ohh, and P.S., its currently available at your local Redbox…at least it is at mine!

They Like It Too

I’m not alone in my appreciation of the film. While Rotten Tomatoes find the critic rating at only 29% the audience rating indicates 91% enjoyed the film. The IMDb gives it a Metascore of 42/100 while the audience gave it a 5.6/10 and it received a 6 from Metacritic. These numbers aren’t amazing – but they aren’t horrible either.

By comparison, the recent Left Behind movie has a 2% rating from the critics on Rotten Tomatoes and a 47% audience rating. On IMDb Left Behind has a 3.1/10 from the audience, a Metascore of 12/100 and Metacritic gives it a score of 25!

The New Concise History of the Crusades by Thomas F. Madden (Book Review)

I just completed Thomas F. Madden’s The New Concise History of the Crusades, a nice hardcover edition published by Barnes & Noble in 2007. The main text clocks in a little over 200 pages and it covers the earlier crusades in some detail with attention also given to various crusades within Europe and a brief analysis of the impact of the crusades in the conclusion.

Book Cover for The New Concise History of the Crusades by Thomas F. Madden
Book Cover for The New Concise History of the Crusades by Thomas F. Madden

I had previously read James Reston Jr.’s Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade, which I enjoyed thoroughly in spite of some obvious biases and liberties taken throughout the volume. I found Madden’s work similarly satisfactory – though again leaving me with a feeling that I read material written from a specific direction and implying certain things I, as a amateur, am not qualified to comment upon.

The two works may be complementary, in that Madden and Reston Jr. seem to be coming from somewhat opposing perspectives, enough so that Madden specifically calls out Reston Jr.’s work as “simply retell[ing] a story that crusade historians have long ago discarded.” (pg. 217)

The features of the book which I enjoyed the most where its fluid narrative which maintained a good level of readability while addressing complex situations spanning hundreds of years. The book also includes some beautifully clear (black and white) maps of the crusades which are extremely helpful, in my opinion, in understanding where everything occurred.

What disappointed me in the work is that Madden seems to be trying to provide some social commentary on contemporary Christian/Islamic relations but fails to do so clearly enough. I can infer his meaning, as others have done – but I would have liked such an analysis to have been more thorough or abandoned completely.

I looked at several reviews of the work to ensure it wasn’t overly biased, and it appears that it falls within acceptable boundaries of diversity in opinion among scholars. I’ve included links to those reviews below.

Water Within’s Better Off Broken (Song)

I’m always stumbling around looking for new musical artists…and Spotify surfaced a band called Water Within. I’d never heard of them and their songs all had well under 2,000 listens – indicating they aren’t very popular. Usually this means that they aren’t very good…but on rare occasions…such as this one…it means they are amazing and just haven’t made it big yet [but I’m betting they will.]

Water Within Musicians
Water Within Musicians

Their music reminds me of JJ Heller’s earlier albums, though lyrically I can’t place them, perhaps somewhere near Michael Card…so fuse Heller and Card together in your mind and you might get something close to Water Within.

Anyways, I’ve been listening to their album Unlocked and there have been several songs I’ve enjoyed but Better Off Broken knocked my socks off…ok…I wasn’t wearing socks, but if I was…

Seriously, this is my new favorite song…Listen to it and read the lyrics (I listened to the song and wrote up the lyrics, so there are probably some discrepancies between the actual words and what I have).

[Sidenote: While the lyrics are sad, the music is upbeat…and they make it work.]

[Sidenote 2: Calvary Community Church’s (where I pastor) slogan is Broken people growing together communicating the idea that all of us are in need of a Savior and that one of the primary ways God grows us is through deep community]

My scars are so visible.
How can I help but notice
My mind holds tragic memories
Its hard to keep my focus
Who do I think I am
Doubting your voice when
You say you make all things new
Why do I think I can stand
On paperthin pride that denies
That i need you

I’m crying out
Come in tear down these walls
I can’t do this alone
I’ve been so lost
I need to come home
Break through all of the scars
Heal me as only you can
I’ve tried to fix myself
But I’ve found
I’m better off broken

So worn out
So weak now
Your strength in me
Makes me need you
I’ve been wounded
So beaten
The death of me
Lets you shine through

Who do I think I am
Trying to heal a heart
That deceives itself
Why do I think I can stand
When I’m on my face
Oh God, I need your help
I’m crying out

So worn out
So weak now
Your strength in me
Makes me need you
I’ve been wounded
So beaten
The death of me
Lets you shine through

Better off broken (repeated w/variations)

If I’m fixed just break me
If I’m broken then take me
And make me whole again
This is restoration

When I’m lost come find me
When I’m found refind me again
The power of restoration
Ohhhhh

I’m crying out
Come in tear down these walls
I can’t do this alone
I’ve been so lost
I need to come home
Break through all of the scars
Heal me as only you can
I’ve tried to fix myself
But I’ve found
I’m better off broken

Better off broken [repeats with variations]