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.

Mandolyn Mae: Indie Musician.

Go Listen to Mandolyn Mae…

I like Mandolyn Mae’s music, you should too. You can listen to her debut CD Once on Spotify. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find anything by here since (Once was released in 2013) nor does it appear she has been touring this year…but she does have an active Twitter account. You can also check out her Facebook page – though it has been languishing.

Mandolyn Mae's Once album cover.
Mandolyn Mae’s Once album cover.

I was reminded of her music this evening as I was going through some old documents on my computer and stumbled across the lyrics I had typed up for two of her songs: Here We Are and Tonight.

I couldn’t find these lyrics online when I first heard the songs and a quick search didn’t turn them up now either…so I figured I’d mention how I liked her music and include the lyrics here in case other fans are looking for the lyrics to these songs as I was…

My favorite songs from Mae are the two mentioned above and The Only Person Alive.

Caveat About Songs…

The songs for which I am giving the lyrics became favorites for me during an extremely difficult phase in my life…I’m not still in that phase and so the lyrics don’t reflect my heart as they did then…but their power to provide soothing to me in the midst of that ordeal was significant.

In other words, don’t think I’m depressed, sad, angry, etc. b/c I posted the lyrics for these songs….or that these songs reflect my thoughts/feelings toward that individual with whom I went through such a difficult time… 🙂

Here We Are Lyrics

A photo of Mandolyn Mae.
A photo of Mandolyn Mae.

so this is what it feels like
to look at you in the candlelight
and know we cannot be together now
i know we said its over
but its hard getting over
your the one that i’ve been loving all this time
and i think you and i both know
when we both broke into pieces
you cannot fix this

here we are
at the end of it all
and there is nothing i can say
to take back all i ever said
and there’s no drink
none that i can see
that can make me forget
all that you once meant to me,
what you once meant to me

its amazing how much time can make
before i get the worst of mistakes
like the time you said i could not do this without you
when i knew that it was ending
and i thought that i could mend this
but i can’t b/c i don’t trust you anymore
but honey you and i both know
that we could go on for hours
talking about failure

here we are at the end of it all
and there’s nothing i can say
to take back all i ever said
and there is no touch
in the clubs of all LA
that can make me forget
all that you once meant to me,
what you once meant to me
what you once meant to me

i’m at a war with regret
over all the time i wasted
against all the time i spent
loving this boy i knew
the man i knew
this love i knew that became me and you

so this is what it feels like to know that for the first time
my skin won’t feel your breath on me tonight
here we are at the end of it all
and there is nothing i can say to take back
all i ever said
and there’s no love
nowhere i’ve ever heard of
that can make me forget all that you meant to me
what you once meant to me
what you once meant to me
what you once meant to me
what you once meant to me

Tonight Lyrics

i thought about you and i pray for you today
that all the sadness that you carried
would somehow walk away
you would find comfort
and some sort of calm
and a way to recover
from all thats gone wrong

and how does it feel tonight
to know for the first time in your life
i know that your a liar
a performance and a cheater
how does it feel tonight

i thought about you and i hurt in my heart
to know you where lonely
and everything you had fallen apart
there was a day i knew every line on your face
but sometimes when he kisses me i couldn’t tell you your name

and how does it feel tonight
to know for the first time in my life
i know that i don’t want you
even though my daddy loves you
how does it feel tonight

and how does it feel right now
to know that this heart of mine
has found someone who loves me better
and i love him more than ever
how does it feel tonight

this is over
never again
you weren’t worth it
never again
never again
and how does it feel tonight
to know for the first time in your life
i know you are in fact a liar
and a world class cheater
how does it feel tonight
how does it feel tonight