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The One Minute Review of Les Misérables

Here’s what Thomas McKenzie thinks of Les Misérables.
These were my thoughts.
I can see where he’s coming from. Painfully so, in some cases.
It raises interesting questions about transferring a work created for a particular medium to another medium, which, though similar, is really quite different in its capacity to communicate.
I wouldn’t watch this if you haven’t seen the movie, but if you have you should get a laugh or two.
And, by all means, go and see the movie.

One Minute Review: Les Miserables from Thomas McKenzie on Vimeo.


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Advent – A Review Of EMU Music’s New Album

EMU Music introduce their latest album, Advent, with this blurb:

“What if God was one of us,” sang Joan Osbourne in 1995. The truth is that he is, for ‘one of us’ is precisely what the eternal Son of God became just over 2,000 years ago, and he remains ‘fully human’ – without, of course, ceasing to be ‘fully God’. The Bible is crystal clear about this: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”, writes the apostle John. “And we have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The songs on this album are each in their own way a celebration of the reality, purpose and implications of the incarnation. It is our hope and prayer that as you sing these songs together, they will bring glory to our great King Jesus and blessing to his people.

The album contains ten tracks, all new.
Seven of the tracks make references to the incarnation in their first stanza, and then by degrees refer to Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and the current implications/future hope of his followers.
Three others seem to more fully focus on the complementary theme of advent, the second coming of the Lord Jesus.
Lyrically, a lot of thought, craft and effort is evident. (There are a couple of instances of differences between the lyrics as recorded and in the liner notes, btw)
Musically, the variety of styles reflects the five (or six) different composers listed.
This far down the track, if you’re familiar with the EMU collective you’ll have your own favourites, and I really don’t think any of them are heading in very different directions from previous efforts.
I tend to gravitate toward the more melodic and acoustic tracks such as Trevor Hodges’ See The Man (while wondering about how the One day a Saviour will return line really fits in verses 1 & 2); Philip Percival & Simone Richardson’s Did You Know and My Heart Delights; and Mike Begbie & Rob Smith’s Immanuel – God Has Come. For those who like jangly, stadium-style guitar chord intros there’s plenty for you too. And there’s one Nicky Chiswell track, One Of Us, which she, sadly, doesn’t sing.
Introducing new songs in the Christmas season is tough work, but the above mentioned scope of the lyrics means they can be used pretty much any time of year, particularly at Easter.
Producing an album of original music aimed squarely at the Advent/Christmas season is a brave move by EMU. These won’t replace your favourite seasonal songs, but as a helpful supplement their appropriate use will help congregations think about their lives as disciples of Jesus without the over-familiarity or sentimentality which can be so prevalent at this time of year.


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Breath Of Life – A Review Of EMU Music’s New Album

EMU jumps on board the modern-hymns express with Breath Of Life, their newly released album.
The modern-hymns movement seeks to take lyrics from older hymns, remove archaisms from their wording and provide them with new musical settings, recognising the enduring worth of historic hymnody.
Readers of this blog will have heard of Indelible Grace, Sojourn and Zac Hicks, among others; along with the fine modern hymn writing of Keith Getty and Stuart Townend.
So I was really looking forward to EMU’s contribution to this growing and very welcome trend.

Which makes this a particularly challenging review to write.
For an album whose tagline is Historic Hymns For Contemporary Christians, after listening to Breath Of Life I just can’t quite figure out where these particular contemporary Christians are.
Perhaps from twenty years ago.
EMU has generally functioned as a collective, so no overarching musical style has dominated.
The music has generally been secondary to the lyrics, which is preferable to say, Sovereign Grace Music’s output where the lyrics are pretty much dependent on the music to carry them.
But this album sort of sounds like late eighties and early nineties AM radio pop music. Having determined that Contemporary seemingly means pop, this is music which already sounds dated, and I can’t see how it will travel too well. The problem for me is that these sound neither cutting edge or timeless, and they barely sound timely now.
Apart from a few exceptions, such as Trevor Hodge’s Breath Of Life, the melodies don’t hook, and while I could imagine that groups persevering with these settings will eventually get people singing along, I can’t really see these as tunes that you’d find lodging themselves in your memory.
(And I’ve listened to this between five and ten times.)
By now when A Mighty Fortress Is Our God comes on, I automatically hit the next-track button (and my daughter always thanks me), and when How Firm A Foundation starts I keep flashing back to Together In Electric Dreams.
An anthem like Glorious Things Of Thee Are Spoken is transformed to a love ballad, the new melody of Praise My Soul The King Of Heaven is less instinctive that its non-contemporary counterpart.
Sigh.

Apart from the above mentioned Breath Of Life, O For A Thousand Tongues is probably the only other track that elicits a thought of ‘that’s interesting’.
If you’re singing the best of the EMU catalogue already (and there’s plenty there) and want to introduce some hymns to your group then Breath Of Life will be a low impact way to do that. Anyone used to EMU’s musical idiom will find this familiar and comfortable ground.
Hopefully EMU will revisit this concept in the future, but stretch themselves musically a bit more.


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Blind Film Critic

Blind film critic Tommy Edison shares his reviews of various movies in short clips.
Interesting insights from a perspective that most viewers of movies don’t have.
Edison’s a pretty happy reviewer, lots of laughs (and a few pretty obvious jokes).
Here’s Thor 3D


And Inception. More on YouTube and Edison has his own site.


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One Minute Review Of Soul Surfer (via Rabbit Room)

There’s been comment online about the movie Soul Surfer along with thoughts about good and bad Christian movies or movies with Christian themes.
Thomas McKenzie provides a One Minute Review of Soul Surfer (that runs over four minutes) where he weighs in with his thoughts.
I like McKenzie’s reviews. Watch a few of them. They’re more entertaining than the actual movie sometimes.

One Minute Review: Soul Surfer from Thomas McKenzie on Vimeo.


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Tim Challies Review Of Rob Bell’s Love Wins

“Wait until you read the book before you form a judgment…”
What if the purpose of the book is to preclude a definitive position?
Tim Challies reviews ‘Love Wins.’

(Yeah, my copy is on order.)


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What ‘Inception’ Is Really All About

Steven Grant is a writer who shares his thoughts on a variety of subjects in an occasional column called ‘Permanent Damage’.
In this post he provides his understanding of what the motion picture ‘Inception’ was all about. I’ll be honest and say that his perspective had not occurred to me, but it makes a lot of sense and takes the movie to another level, as it were.
Now, if you go through to Grant’s article, he introduces his theme, then inserts some other material that you may or may not find interesting, and then resumes his explanation.
Spoilers aplenty, consider yourself warned.
If you’ve seen the movie, pondered its structure and concluding scene, this will be of interest.
Of course you can all tell me that this is what you thought all along and I’m the only one who didn’t get this idea…
Prepare to think about ‘Inception’ differently after reading Permanent Damage.