I HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE TO experience a different religious service from mine, during one of the holidays. Entering into the cavernous building, I was immediately taken by the decorations that were hanging down every column and window. Golden gauze like fabric was gently swaying on the currents of air from the open windows. There was an elderly gentleman standing in the aisle that led to the seats. He was passing out ribbons that were attached to the top of wooden sticks, sort of like mini flags. Each of us were handed one; I asked my companion what we were supposed to do with these ribbons. They were to be used during certain passages of the service, where we are to wave them in the air. Okay that was different for me. But then there was another person standing behind the elderly man and she was handing out yellowish colored foam sticks, for lack of a better word; I swear they looked like large french fries! Each one was embossed with the word “HALLELUJAH.” Looking at my friend he was as perplexed as me. After everyone was seated a religious leader came out to explain what to do with the 2 items we were given. No disrespect but it felt like I was attending a sporting event; would we be doing the “wave” next? THE SERVICE BEGAN AFTER THE organ player, who was perched up in the balcony, finished their song. What struck me rather quickly was the amount of songs being performed throughout the service. I could not remember ever hearing so much music at any religious service I attended previously. Being a people watcher I periodically scanned the people around me. Some of them were really into the music, waving their ribbons back and forth in the air; others were jabbing their foam sticks up and down in the air. If everyone had been sitting in bleachers you would have thought they were at a football game; it was surreal for me. At one point in the service the leader walked out into the crowd dribbling a basketball; I knew it, this was a game! No seriously he gave a speech about inclusion, touching on some of the hot topics currently in the news. I have to tell you it felt genuine to me; this individual was asking us to look at something in a different light. Though this was not the religion I was raised with I learned something new. I can say the same for this historical drama. EACH TIME BEING FEARFUL FOR HIS life Luke, played by Jim Caviezel (The Thin Red Line, Frequency), persisted in visiting imprisoned apostle Paul, played by James Faulkner (Atomic Blonde, Game of Thrones-TV). Luke wanted to keep a journal of everything Paul was telling him. Set in Rome during the reign of Nero this film also starred Olivier Martinez (The Physician, Unfaithful) as Mauritius, Joanne Whalley (Willow, The Man Who Knew too Little) as Priscilla and John Lynch (The Secret Garden, Black Death) as Aquila. The first thing I appreciated about this movie was the script was written to tell a story. I do not know how much of it was true but I found it interesting since I have a general curiosity about different religions. However the script did not go far enough; it caused the actors to pale in their roles. I simply found them to be dull and wooden with their acting. Gratefully there was no heavy handed preaching to the viewers, but I would have preferred seeing more story and especially more historical background to the story.
When it happens the mind has a hard time believing it is true. Knowing the difference between fantasy and reality, when one of them crosses to the other side the brain forms a hiccup. It could be something as trivial as checking one’s wallet or purse several times for a missing credit card and then on the 8th try the card is there. For me it was when I was at Yellowstone National Park and saw what actually looked like purple colored mountains, just like the lyric in the song that goes, “For purple mountain majesties.” I was standing on the peak of one mountain looking out and seeing a range of purple mountains as a low hanging, orange sun was piercing holes thru large billowing clouds like they were white pin cushions. The precise rays of sunlight formed little stars across the landscape. At first it did not look real to me; I just stood there and stared in disbelief. But there are other events that happen where a person has to take a step back to make sure what they are experiencing is actually real. Think about it, did you ever dream about something that later came true? Maybe what your ideal mate would look like or what your dream house would be? It can be a bit unsettling at first; however, I will say when it happens it brings a magical quality to it. The way this DVD showed up at my front door with no prior knowledge and its timing really made me experience an enchanting movie watching experience. WHEN Fiona, played by Jeni Courtney (Nothing Personal), went to live with her grandparents she discovered there was something extraordinary about her family members. This film festival winning dramatic fantasy was a special treat to watch because it was based on the same Irish folklore as the animated movie, “Song of the Sea.” I recently had reviewed it here. Having seen the animated picture first, when I started watching this one I could not believe I was viewing the live version of that fantasy tale. With a cast that included Eileen Coogan (My Left Foot, I Sell the Dead) as Tess and John Lynch (The Secret Garden, In the Name of the Father) as Tadhg, I thought everyone did a wonderful job in creating a mysterious and magical atmospheric story about life in a small fishing village in Ireland. The beautiful landscapes and camera shots only added more charm to the story. Speaking of the story, there were differences between the two movies; I found this story was gentler and sweeter in a way, still just as family friendly as the other one. Whether the timing was right or I was in the right frame of mind, I found this DVD drew me completely into its world where I felt I was experiencing a fantasy coming to life.
3 1/2 stars — DVD