Tag Archive: easter

Live from Jerusalem

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

As Easter comes closer, I have to admit I look forward to the annual showing of Jesus Christ Superstar.

I remember when I was a kid and people hated this version of the crucifixion story. It was too secular. The music was loud and bombastic. It seemed to have no understanding of the greatest story ever told. It was blasphemy.

I can’t remember what my very religious grandmother may have thought about the movie. I can’t imagine she was very happy about the movie as she was a bit old fashioned.

Jesus Christ Superstar Ted NeelyI must have known about it because I remember singing the title song and having a classmate tell me I was going to to to the fiery place. Nancy was Catholic and must have heard that from her parents or her priest.

As the years have past and I have seen the movie again. I found it to be heart breaking and beautiful as we walk through the last weeks of Jesus’ life. I always thought that the cast were experimenting with how things happened in that way. I always got the sense that they thought this time it would be different, that they could do this and Jesus wouldn’t die.

Ted Neely was in his prime at the time of the filming of Jesus Christ Superstar. He was young and handsome in that early 70s style. His voice could be gentle and ferocious. The scene in which Jesus destroys the temple sticks out for the anger we seldom ever saw from Jesus. The same goes for the Hosannah scene in which Jesus comes to Jerusalem in triumph.

Later scenes walk us through the various parts of the story in which Jesus confronts his immediate future and what he must do, no matter how difficult. Strangely enough, we never see the resurrection, we never see the next part of the story. It simply ends with the crucifixion and the regret of the remaining characters.

john-legend-sara-bareilles-jesus-christ-superstar-portraitsThis Sunday a new version will be shown live with John Legend in the lead role. If I have learned anything over the years, it is that Legend has a fantastic voice with a great range. His songs have great emotional scope so I feel confident that he can make the role incredible.

These live musical events have been going on for a few years now and they seem to be very successful. It is exciting to see performances in a live setting as you never know what can happen. But the other part of a live performance is that the emotions of the performers are more raw, more tangible.

Because the play was so popular with an iconic performance by Neely, it will be interesting to see how John Legend handles the role. I am also anxious to see Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene and Alice Cooper as King Herod in this production. While not everyone will agree with the rock opera treatment, I find telling this story in different ways brings the story to a larger audience, always an interesting challenge.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.


Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

As Easter creeps closer, there are things to be done.

It is the traditional time of Spring Cleaning. So much dust and dirt collects in my house that I feel like I can never keep up with it. One week I clear cobwebs and the next week they are back again. Dirt and sand gather for some party I was never invited to join.

During this time of the year, now that taxes are done, I find myself going through a ton of paper that needs to be shredded. I always think I am going to get at those big closets or piles of clutter but the regular stuff gets me distracted every time. In the end my goal becomes to get through one nasty place a day.

All of this is in preparation for Easter, making sure the house is ready. Or maybe it hearkens back to the Jewish holiday of Passover in which cleaning happens in earnest. There can be no leavening agent left in the house before the start of Passover which is the night of April 3rd this year.

I always remember this because the Last Supper was the Seder dinner, the first night of Passover that Jesus and his disciples would have observed.

Image from Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

For this week we think about those Christian movies more than usual. And in the past few years, Hollywood has responded to people wanting more movies about Christian faith. I recently watched Heaven is For Real starring Greg Kinnear. I am not sure a movie like this would have starred a big name of a name or talented actor of an actor as Kinner as recent as a few years ago if the script was poorly written.

If you are looking for a movie that is family friendly, this one is beyond a few outbursts of anger and one scene in which dad tells his daughter she needs to punch someone without hurting herself. But content wise, this movie is better for pre-teens and up. Their minds are better able to understand the nuances.

The story is about a four-year-old boy who nearly dies from mis-diagnosed appendicitis. It is during this time that he goes to heaven, meeting family members, Jesus, and God. As the boy recovers he slowly begins talking about his experiences with his family. For the dad, who is a minister, it causes a crisis of faith. He is torn by people who support him and others who doubt that such a thing could happen.

Kelly Riley, Connor Corum, and Greg Kinnear in Heaven is For Real

Kelly Riley, Connor Corum, and Greg Kinnear in Heaven is For Real

Many of my friends who have seen this movie state that the book is better and I do not disagree. In the book, much of the action took over two years to happen. As the movie goes, much of the action takes place within a year’s time. But Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly give heartfelt sincere performances as parents trying to understand what has happened to their son and how that affects their life in the present.

I enjoyed the movie because of that sincerity. I likes the little boy who focuses on what he saw for minutes at a time while his father seems to want to dig deeper. That’s how we adults operate, we want every detail and the little kids want to play in the sand box. I believed the story that this child saw something but defining it for adults was not always easy. Isn’t that faith in a nutshell?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Getting Ready for Easter

Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


I have to admit I am a big Facebook fan.


I have connected with former classmates and friends with whom I have lost contact. I stay in touch with former co-workers and fellow writers.


Image from Everything Holiday

Image from Everything Holiday Facebook page

But I also get to see great room designs and recipes. In fact, this past weekend I saw a recipe for colored cookie-dough Easter baskets.  You take small scoops of the dough, dye it the colors you want and shape it into a basket that fits in a mini-muffin tins. Later you fill the baskets with jelly beans and other good stuff.


I saw another recipe for a ring bread that was covered with sprinkles. I am sure there will be plenty of recipes that look fun to try, and I cannot wait to see them all.


Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com


One of the programs I have been hearing about is The Bible on The History Channel. This is a five-part mini-series produced by Roma Downey (Touched by An Angel) and her husband Mark Burnett. I was able to see one 2-hour episode and enjoyed the story of Jesus’ birth.


Roma Downey played Mary as a 20-something. She was very beautiful and appropriate. The scene in which she gives birth to the baby is outstanding and heart warming as people came to the young couple’s aid. But nor did the producers shy away from the violence of the time period. Harrod’s demand that all baby boys be put to death and the very narrow escape of Mary and Joseph.


Sadly, I missed the final episode as I was in bed sick. But as of April 2nd, the series will be available on DVD. I am willing to bet that this will be a hot item since the show has been wildly popular on the History Channel. I do not know what that says to you but to me it shows a country that is wildly curious about the good book. People want to know.


Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Now when it comes to this time of year there are lots of religious movies from the past. I think about The Robe starring Richard Burton as a drunken tribune who wins Jesus’ robe during the crucifixion. He does his duty and takes the robe with him. But Marcellus is plagued by nightmares and visions, causing him to return to learn more about the last owner of the robe.


This 1953 movie won two Oscar awards for set design and costume design. It was also nominated for best actor in a leading role, best cinematography and best picture. It also won a Best Picture award from the Golden Globes. Now you are probably wondering who should see this movie. Because of the censorship laws at the time, there is not much that is objectionable but the context is meant for teens and adults.


Finally, I feel the need to mention The Passion of the Christ. This ‘R’ rated movie directed by Mel Gibson is a puzzle to me. It is incredibly violent and harsh. It is also filled with some beautiful re-enactments of famous art pieces.  I can only recommend it if you are fully aware that this movie is rated ‘R’ for prolonged violence and torture. I do not recommend this movie for children under the age of 10.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Over the past weekend, I was able to go to the play at the Grade School.

I thought the cast did a wonderful job and I don’t say that because my son was one of the pirates. Ok, maybe a little. But the rest of the cast did a great job as well. It was light and fun, a great piece of diversion.

Afterwards, I was talking to another parent whose child loves pirates. I know most people have come to love pirate movies thanks to Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean series.


Poster Image from IMDb.com

These movies are fun and lighthearted while being action-pack. And then there are the crazy costumes of various characters slowly being turned into creatures of the sea. These are movies best suited for intermediate grade school children because some parts are too intense and too sensual, in my opinion.

Another movie featuring pirates is Jonah: A Veggie Tales This movie features our favorite vegetables is a re-telling of the biblical story of Jonah and the Whale. The comic relief comes from the “pirates who don’t do anything” and remind us to laugh during a serious tale. This is a great flick for pre-schoolers and up.

The rest of the week is the end of the Lenten season. Good Friday, and the rain that always seems to accompany it, will be here before we know it. That will be followed by Easter Sunday and the reminder of the Resurrection.


Ted Neely in Jesus Christ Superstar, Image from IMDb.com

There are several movies that discuss the crucifixion but few that talk about the miracle afterwards. One of my favorites is Jesus Christ, Superstar with Ted Neely in the titled role. I am blown away by the emotional depth and tragic insight of the score by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice throughout.

I know that there are many people who love The Passion of The Christ starring Jim Caviezel and directed by Mel Gibson. The movie has startling beautiful scenes that are reminders of famous paintings and sculptures of various parts of the crucifixion.  But there are also shockingly violent moments that take my breath away as I look on in horror.

This movie is rated “R” for good reason and that does not include “right.” It is for graphic violence. It is not a scrubbed clean version and only the person(s) in charge of the house should decide if children younger than 12-years-old should view this movie.

Have a peaceful Good Friday and a happy Easter.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

During this time of year it is easy to find various religious movies. Or at least it used to be.

Oh, the memories.

Charleton Heston as Moses in "The Ten Commandments," picture from IMDb.com

 The Ten Commandments and Samson and Delilah.  

There are also the movies that weren’t exactly religious but set in the same time period.

Spartacus and Ben Hur


Then there are those set in different time periods.

Sidney Poitier in "Lilies of the Field," picture from IMDb.com

Lilies of the Field and Song of Bernadette


While we love these, what is called for this time of year are the movies about Easter.

The Robe and The Greatest Story Ever Told.


However, in our modern times realism must take precedence.

Jim Caviezel as Jesus in "the Passion of the Christ," picture from IMDb.com

We watch every grisly detail with The Passion of the Christ starring Jim Caviezel and directed by Mel Gibson. This is not a movie I recommend for children under the age of 10 as the violent scenes are intense. You feel every jarring bit and wonder how any man could have taken this. Perhaps that was Gibson’s point while making the most gruesome religious movie I have ever seen.

On the other hand, there are moments of stunning beauty as Gibson recreates well-known artistic tableaux. Not sure that is enough to make me want to watch this movie again.

The Last Temptation of the Christ has also seen its share of controversy.

Daniel DaFoe in "The Last Temptation of the Christ," picture from IMDb.com.

In this movie, we see what might have happened if Jesus came off the cross to live with women and have a family. But we are also given food for thought that Judas might have been in on the plan to betray Jesus. And that the two men might have been the best of  friends.

It is a movie I watch, despite Harvey Keitel’s Brooklyn accent, for the idea that Christ might have been tempted but in the end he still did as he was foretold to do.

Finally, the movie that has become a must see at Easter in Jesus Christ Superstar.  

Ted Neeley as Jesus in "Jesus Christ Superstar," picture from IMDb.com

I was a little girl at the time the movie came out and I remember how it was considered sinful just to sing those songs out loud. Maybe it was the spectacle, the fact that Jesus dies on the cross and doesn’t have a resurrection, that Judas lives and Mary Magdalene is not a vilified persona.

What I love about the movie is the strong character of Jesus who admits sometimes he is scared or get angry at what is happening around him. That he knows what must happen and yet can’t do damage control with the crowds or the disciples.

None of these movies ever seem to get the whole story right. But how could they?  There is so much to cover and the crucifixion must be one-third of your story. They can never get in all of the parables and the beatitudes, all of the intrigue that happened in front of Jesus or behind closed doors. Do any of these movies contain the episode with Zacchius?

Still, it make me wonder if in hearing only a small part of the story does that lead some to find out the rest of it in the most popular book on the planet. 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.

Family Movie Night

With the Easter holiday just around the corner it is time to pull out all of those classic light and fluffy Easter  movies.

I bet you are thinking “what classic light and fluffy Easter movies?”


The only one that comes to mind immediately is Easter Parade starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. Perhaps there are some TV animated movies but none come to mind as a “must-watch.”

This year that has all changed.

This year we have Russell Brand starring as E.B. in Hop which opens on Friday, April 1st. It is a cute movie that combines live action with animation  seemlessly.

E.B. at his drum set from the movie "Hop," picture from IMDB.com

E.B. is the son of The Easter Bunny. He is afraid of never being good enough for his perfectionist but loving father (Hugh Laurie). Plus, E.B. has a dream to be a drummer in a band. So the night before he is to be crowned as the new Easter bunny, E.B. runs away from home.

Meanwhile, Fred O’Hare (James Marsden) has been given an ‘intervention’ by his family who are tired of his slacker ways. He has been out of work for a year and cannot find a new job because nothing is ever quite right for him.

E.B. and Fred (James Marsden) in "Hop," picture from IMDb.com.

It is during this period of change that the two young seekers find each other. And freak out. Somehow these two work out a compromise and begin to really like each other.

Back home, trouble is brewing. E.B.’s disapperance has been noted. The chick who is second in command, Carlos (Hank Azaria) has decided it is time for a regime change. Will E.B. get his chance to shine? Will he save the island? Will Fred figure out what he wants in his life?

While there are times I wished this movie could move just a little faster, there were other times I was totally and completely won over by E.B. He is not a bad bunny, just a little self-absorbed and needing to learn a few lessons the hard way. Fred, on the other hand, got on my nerves. Can James Marsden play anything besides goof (Enchanted) or super serious (X-Men)?

Russell Brand gives voice to E.B. in "Hop," picture from IMDb.com

I have to admit I was taken aback when I saw that Brand was going to be in this family movie. With Brand, I think of a comic who is willing to take things as far as they will go in an adult sort of way.

He was Aldous Snow, the ‘hip’ rock star in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. He returned as the same rocker in need of career rehab in Get Him to the Greek. Why in the world would I think that this man is capable of the restraint needed for a family movie about the Easter Bunny?

The answer is that I have also seen Brand in Bedtime Stories with Adam Sandler and as the voice of Dr. Nefario in Despicable Me. Brand uses restraint in regards to language but his characters are funny and relatable, especially with kids.

The adults can relate to E.B. who is terrified to work under his father’s shadow. Kids will laugh at the jelly bean joke and the chase scenes and the pink berets. All will be taken in by the sweetness of the story and the feel-good moments. While no one will mistake this movie as a classic, it is a movie that you will watch again and again because it’s enjoyable.

Which isn’t to say there aren’t some forced moments here. Or that there were times characters needed to say things that were not said, that some of these characters needed to act in a way most of us would. 

However, if your goal is to find light-hearted, feel-good fare for the Easter season that the whole family can watch, Hop is the movie for you.

(Two and a half-stars)