Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Depp’

sleepyFriday is October 31st and that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  For some it represents a Satanic holiday, for others it represents Reformation Day, for a few it’s a day for them to dress inappropriately and not feel as inappropriate (it’s always inappropriate…just so you know), and for most it’s an easy day to score some candy.  So, whether or not you’re knocking on doors, hiding in your house with the porch lights off, or treating it as any other day…I hope you have a nice Friday.

One truth we cannot escape is the reality of seasons.  Pretty much anywhere you are, there’s been a change in the air.  For most, it’s a bit cooler and Fall has been ushered in.  Without a doubt, this has brought a certain feel into your life.  Maybe you like the Fall, maybe you hate cooler weather, or maybe you’re indifferent, but I would venture to say you are participating in this seasonal feel whether you think about it or not.

It could be that you’re simply wearing different clothes that have been hanging dormant in your closet.  Maybe you have filled your pantry with meals you only cook during certain times of the year.  It could be that you look forward to that pumpkin spiced latte, beer, or shake that’s only available for a limited time.  Or, maybe there are certain movies you watch and they revolve around the seasons.

Christmas is, most likely, the obvious time for seasonal flicks.  (You can check out our top 10 Christmas films here.)  However, I’ve received a few emails from Redbox and Netflix that seem to imply others have certain films they watch around this time.  Friday the 13th and Halloween are obvious favorites for people who liked to be spooked – and relish in gore, for that matter.

I, for one, always like to watch (at least part) of Sleepy Hollow around Halloween each year.  For starters, I grew up watching the Mickey Mouse version of Sleepy Hollow and have since been intrigued by the story.  I don’t know how others couldn’t be fascinated of a story about a headless horseman – am I right?  The first time I saw Tim Burton’s rendition of Sleepy Hollow, I thought it was very well done.  I also thought Johnny Depp did an excellent job – and this was years before his Pirates of the Caribbean fame.  However, I must say that I don’t enjoy the latter half of the film as much now and am a bit disappointed in some of the content.  So, I’m not recommending you watch it.

For me, one of the main reasons I enjoy the film is the cinematography.  It just seems to capture the feel of the Halloween season I described earlier.  There’s an eerie darkness throughout that seems to resonate with the overall sense of the season.  However, why is it that we have this feel?  Why do we eat certain foods and watch certain flicks during certain times?  Well, I think it’s because of the Garden.

You see, one of God’s many graces he continues to bestow upon us is the change in seasons.  Variety is the spice of life, because God knew what he was doing.  The same temperature, the same food, the same day after day after day, would become a bit mundane.  However, God – in his infinite grace – still blesses us with different feels associated with seasons, even though we sinned against him.  He still allows us to anticipate cooler or warmer temps instead of punishing us by making the weather a cool 50 degrees or a warm 80 every day until he returns.

In his grace, we still have different seasons and I think this is one truth that still reverberates with creation.  These seasons point to our infinitely creative God and we try to capture this feeling by capturing the seasons.  We capture the seasons with our meals, films, and traditions.  There’s something “pre-fall” about these feels and we long to hold on to them in various ways.  So, whether it’s the cool air of Fall, the warm sand at a beach, or clutching a cup of hot chocolate by a fire, enjoy the change and give thanks to the Creator of that great gift.

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Rango: What’s in a Name?

Posted: September 4, 2012 by Josh Kwasny in Action, Animation, Comedy, Drama, Family
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Johnny Depp is an incredible actor. His skill and creativity has given us some wacky characters. Some of my favorite include Willy Wonka, Edward Scissorhands, and, of course, Captain Jack Sparrow. After last week, I have a new Johnny Depp character to add to my list…Rango.

Rango is the story of a lonely lizard thespian lost in a desert land. This floral-shirt-wearing reptile is not only lost geographically, however. Truth be told, Rango has lost himself – his life is nothing more than an act. Rango isn’t even his name.

After wandering around the barren desert in search of water, this lonely lizard finds his way to the small town of Dirt where the local “Dirtonians” are suffering from a severe water shortage. To escape the threat of a gang of local thugs, our lizard friend creates the rough and tough character, Rango. When he saves the day as this newly created tough guy, the mayor of the city of Dirt makes him the sheriff. His new job is to serve and protect the city, which includes what is left of their water supply.

In many ways, this film is like other animated stories – full of great (and odd) characters, funny lines, and plenty of animated action. Rango, however, goes a bit deeper with the storyline. Rango is spiritual journey…a story for those thirsty to find meaning. Rango the reptile is in search of himself – desiring to find his purpose…his calling in the vast world.

(Warning: Spoilers ahead)

One of the strangest, but most interesting scene takes place after the townsfolk finds out that Rango is a sham – living a lie. When the trusting “Dirtonians” realize that Rango has played them for fools, they cast him out of the town to wander the desert again. Embarrassed and distraught, Rango hits the road. It is at this point, that he discovers “The Spirit of the West.” Rango has a philosophical, Zen-Buddist-like conversation with…yep, you guess it…Clint Eastwood. (I said it was strange.) You can watch the scene below.

“It doesn’t matter what they call ya’…its the deeds make the man…”

Clint’s simple, yet profound advice is problematic from a biblical worldview. That is not to say that his profundity completely misses the mark. It is true that “the deeds make the man” – if you mean that your deeds reveal your character. “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright” (Proverbs 20:11). Our deeds do matter…but they do not ultimately make us who we are. Our deeds – like our hearts – are fickle (Jeremiah 17:9). They cannot be trusted. After all, Rango did many good deeds in the city of Dirt, but he was a liar and a fraud.

With all due respect to Clint, his wise words are far from wise because from a biblical perspective, “what they call ya'” matters most of all. A Christian finds his or her identity in their new name – “Child of God.”

Every human being can call God “Creator,” but not every human being can call him “Father.” This new status comes only through relationship with Jesus Christ. Those who profess faith in Christ receive a new identity – real purpose on earth. It is this new name that defines us. The apostle John said it this way,

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God ” (John 1:12).

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are…” (1 John 3:1).

The doctrine of “Adoption” is one of the most precious gospel truths. I praise God that at the end of the day – despite my imperfect and inconsistent deeds – my identity…my purpose…my life is found in the fact that I am called “Child of God.”

I know, I know–they should have probably stopped with just a trilogy.  Or maybe even with just one.  I certainly did miss Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann–not to mention the pirate with the wooden eyeball and his sidekick.  And yes, we’re all agreed that Penelope Cruz was an utter disappointment as a replacement heroine.  But, I would argue that Johnny Depp easily makes up for those weaknesses in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, as he has really carried all four of these swashbuckling adventure films.

And now for the boldest assertion of this entire post: This fourth installment is the best of the series!  Before you stop reading because you are laughing so hard, let me clarify a bit.  Pirates 4 is the best because it will give your family the most to talk about from a Christian worldview perspective.  The three other films are pretty much mindless, sword-fighting fun.  But for some reason, the writers of this installment took it to another level.  They decided to make some fascinating statements about eternal life.  Other than the joy of watching the antics of Captain Jack Sparrow, what more could we ask for!

Pirates 4 centers on the search for the fountain of youth.  The Spanish are pursuing it.  The English are pursuing it.  Blackbeard and his daughter are pursuing it.  Captain Jack Sparrow, of course, is right in the middle of it all.  From the very beginning, this is more than just a search for a mythical place.  As Jack’s dad tells him: “The fountain will test you.”  That truth frames the rest of the movie.

So let’s try to piece together the eternal life/salvation threads (you can enjoy the fun fight scenes in-between).  Spoiler Alert! A missionary is brought along on Blackbeard’s ship in hopes of saving the evil pirate’s soul.  Blackbeard’s daughter is putting her faith instead in the fountain of life to give her father eternal life.  Barbosa wants to take Blackbeard’s life, out of revenge for the loss of his leg.  The missionary saves a mermaid (her tear is needed for eternal life) and begins to see her as something more than a soul-less creature.  [We find out later that the mermaid also spared the missionary’s life out of love for him.]  Jack Sparrow ends up saving the life of Blackbeard’s daughter, out of some mixture of love and guilt.  Are you following all this?  The climax actually sorts everything out in a fascinating way…don’t read anymore if you don’t want to know the ending!

All three search parties finally make it the fountain of youth.  While the English and Blackbeard’s pirates fight, the Spanish finally show up.  The Spanish commander gives the best line of the movie as he casts away Ponce de Leon’s magical chalices: “Only God can grant eternal life, not this pagan water.”  Hooray for the Spanish!  Love the Spanish!  Then another great line is given to Blackbeard: “You are a fool.  You seek in this place what only faith can provide.”  Of course, we get the response of the cynical, athiestic Blackbeard next: “In faith there is light enough to see, but darkness enough to blind.”  What? Take that, Christian!

It actually gets even more interesting after that exchange.  The mermaid retrieves the chalices and declares to Jack Sparrow: “Don’t waste my tear” (translated: give eternal life to someone worthwhile).  From the fight over the fountain of youth, both Blackbeard and his daughter are mortally wounded.  Blackbeard chooses to save himself when he could have saved his daughter, still operating from his own selfish wickedness.  But Jack, knowing sinful human nature, switches the chalices, saving the daughter and killing Blackbeard instead.  And then comes his great line on salvation: “Your father saved you, perhaps he now has eternal life.” And finally, the missionary finds ultimately his eternal in the depths of the sea with the beautiful mermaid, who says: “I can save you if you only ask.” 

Now when I first saw the movie with my children last summer, I asked them a simple question to get the conversation started: “Who’s the real hero of the story?”  Was it Jack for giving eternal life to Blackbeard’s daughter?  Was it the mermaid for the giving of her tear and the salvation of the missionary?  Was it Barbosa for effectively killing the bad guy, Blackbeard?  Or, were the Spanish the true heroes, for pursuing the destruction of the pagan temple of eternal life?  You probably know my answer.  The Spanish clearly stayed committed to this foundational Biblical truth: Eternal life is found in Christ alone.  These seemingly narrow-minded religious zealots really understood the source of true life.

Pirates 4 reminds us that people have always sought eternal life outside of Jesus Christ.  In our day, we have all manner of “fountains of youth” that deceive us into thinking they will extend our lives or give us abundant lives.  I’ll leave it to you to think through what some of those idolatrous fountains are!  Many people seek them aggressively like Blackbeard and his pirates.  Others are simply pragmatists about eternal life, like Jack Sparrow.  And, unfortunately, there are even those within our churches who, like the missionary, abandon their faith for idolatrous loves.  May we always be zealous like the Spanish, both believing in Christ alone for eternal life and proclaiming that truth to the world!

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How were you contacted for 21 Jump Street?

It was kind of an amusing, topsy-turvy process.

In March of last year, my agent submitted me. I was up for a small part in one scene. I auditioned and was called back to meet the directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, two very funny gentlemen who previously directed the animated family movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. After meeting them and playing the scene in a variety of ways, I was cast.

Several weeks later, I was getting ready to fly down to New Orleans and start work –literally zipping up my suitcase, in fact- when I received a phone call explaining that (a) the script was being rewritten, and (b) my scene had been cut.

No scene, no job. It happens.

About a week after that, I was surprised to receive another call from my agent explaining that the rewrite was in and I’d been cast in a new role. Still a small role, but it was funnier, and no audition was necessary.

When I arrived on location, I met the directors again. They graciously commented that, after umpteen weeks, the couple auditions, and that false start with casting, it was nice to have me finally playing a part. Considering the fact that they were calling the shots on this big movie, I was amazed they remembered who I was.

Do you have much screen time?

No idea! The movie opens later this week, and I’ll find out then. I’m just in the one scene for a very short amount of time, and that’s if I’m in it at all. I suspect that I am, but you never know.

Any lines?

One, but it’s a good line.

Do you have much screen time with the main actors, Jonah Hill & Channing Tatum? If so, what was it like working with them?

Who knows how much screen time I have with anybody, but I did work a little bit with Jonah Hill and Brie Larson (The United States of Tara, Rampart), who plays a significant character in the movie. They were both very polite and welcoming, as were the other cast and crew that I had time to meet.

Here’s an example of what it was like to work on the movie. One the most recognizable cast members was Rob Riggle. While not necessarily a household name, he’s contributed to some really good comedies -The Other Guys, SNL, The Daily Show, etc.- and he’s patently hilarious. (Anyone who’s ever seen The Hangover should remember him as the Vegas cop who screams, “In the face! IN THE FACE,” after Zach Galifiniakis is electrocuted by a taser, well, in the face.)

I mention Riggle because, even though he had no written dialogue while I was on set, the directors turned the camera on him and gave him a take to just improvise. What followed was possibly the funniest three or four minutes I’ve ever seen. He just went off. I can’t repeat most of it because it would spoil a gag that will inevitably make it into the picture, but I think the directors finally called cut purely because everyone behind the camera eventually broke down and started laughing. That was the sort of work environment I experienced that night.

After I got back to New York, I quickly started taking classes at Upright Citizens Brigade, the school in which Riggle began studying sketch and improv. It’s probably been one of most creatively rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.

I hear Johnny Depp makes a cameo, did you get to meet or see him?

I’ve never met Johnny Deppy, and I can neither confirm nor deny his involvement.

What is your role in the film?

I play an EMT.

Does a smaller role still give you fulfillment as an actor?

Absolutely. There’s an old saying: “There are no small parts, just small actors.” It’s cheesy, but usually true. Give a hungry actor the smallest chance to contribute to a story and he’ll probably do it.

Also, there’s an interesting challenge to being the guy that has one line in one scene. You still have to come in and be a seamless part of the same story, but you’re only going to get a few seconds to do so. A day player can ruin a movie or make it infinitely better.

What are your standards regarding choosing a movie to participate in? What’s the thought process?

If I need a job and someone’s interested in me paying me a decent wage to work on a movie, television show, commercial, play, musical, variety show, I’m probably going to do it. And that’s the case with me almost all the time.

Beggars can’t be choosers and I didn’t have the choice between playing the EMT in 21 Jump Street and another acting job. Fortunately, the script was good and very funny, and the cast and crew were nice and had been successful movies many times before. The odds that it’s going to be great are pretty strong, but, even if they weren’t, I’d have said yes in a heartbeat.

Maybe one day, I’ll work frequently enough to be more discerning. But I’m not there yet.

Would you kiss another woman or man in a film? Would you participate in a sex scene if asked? Where would you draw the line?

I don’t know. I’m hardly ever asked to participate in scenes in which I kiss anyone, much less disrobe.

What’s your advice to young Christians pursuing a career in acting?

The same advice I’d give to anybody: Be humble. Work hard. Know that you’re almost always in a position to learn and audition. Learn your lines perfectly.

Never let the word “No” discourage you. There’s plenty of rejection in this business. You have to face that, and then try again.

Constantly question your desire to act. If you don’t love it, there’s no point in continuing to try.

What’s your biggest fear in acting?

Sometimes I worry that there’s not a place for me in the business. That usually crosses my might right before I get hired for something new.

What do you love about acting?

The chance to help tell a good story and tell it really well.

Has filmmaking deepened your view of God?

I’d like to say yes, but, honestly, I have no idea. It has deepened my view that most ministers should, when speaking publicly, be really interesting.

TURNER CRUMBLEY has appeared in feature films, on television, and in theatres across the United States. His recent stage credits include Dracula, The 39 Steps, The SantaLand Diaries (New Stage Theatre), Big River, A Simple Gift (Mill Mountain Theatre), Sweet Charity (Sierra Repertory Theatre), Louis L’Amour’s ‘One for the Mohave Kid’, The Minute Men (Great American Melodrama), Blood Wedding (Warehouse Theatre), The Diary of Anne Frank (Stage One), and Disney’s Beauty & the Beast (Jefferson Performing Arts). Film credits include Contraband, 21 Jump Street, and the award-winning, independent feature Glorious Mail. As a director, Turner’s credits include the plays The Good Thief by Conor McPherson, John Patrick Shanley’s Welcome to the Moon (both New Stage Theatre) and the short film A Mile of Wolves. Turner is a Laurel, Mississippi native and a University of Southern Mississippi graduate.

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Not too long ago we interviewed my friend, Turner Crumbley, about his role in Mark Wahlberg’s most recent film Contraband. It was very interesting for us at Reel Thinking and it seems that it was interesting to you as well, because we had some very large hits on those days. Since we didn’t just want to do a follow-up interview with Turner on the same film, he went out and got another role – just for us.

So I’m obviously kidding about that, but I’m not kidding about the fact that he does play a part in 21 Jump Street. The film stars funny-man Channing Tatum and heartthrob Jonah Hill and it opens this Friday. It tells the story of two slacker cops who are sent, undercover, to high school with the hopes of bringing down a drug dealer. Although the synopsis seems like an action/drama, it is a buddy comedy that promises laughs. For those of you who are a bit older, you will know that 21 Jump Street was a television show starring Johnny Depp, who is said to have a cameo in the film.

So tomorrow we will have our interview with Turner discussing the film, but highlighting questions about Christians starring in movies. 21 Jump Street has some questionable content, just like Contraband did, therefore, we hope these interviews raise some interesting thoughts for you to reflect on. We hope these posts are not only interesting to our readers, but help in cultivating discernment.

Be sure and check back tomorrow (we hope, Turner is pretty busy so it may be a bit late) to do more reflection on Christians and film.