Yup. Have to. Because I loved this movie and I have to shout it out. First of all, don’t listen to the negative reviews. Who knows what the critics are thinking? Maybe they’re as tired of remakes as I am. But this is more a new interpretation of the novel. The novel? Yeah, I didn’t know…
With Roma Downey and Mark Burnett as producers, you can pretty well expect an uplifting message. A few of the actors are celebrities here in the States, but it was refreshing to see so many fresh faces in the cast.
In case you are unfamiliar, Ben Hur is the story of a Jewish prince, at the time of Christ. Judah Ben-Hur’s family adopts a Roman orphan, Mesalla. They grow up as brothers and best friends. Due to his orphan past, Mesalla becomes increasingly restless, as he ponders his place in the world. His love for Judah’s sister is frowned upon by their mother, so he eventually sets out to join the Roman legion and pursue his fortune.
When Mesalla returns, he asks for Judah’s help in keeping the peace for the arrival of the new Roman governor. Instead, Judah protects a Jewish assassin, by taking the blame for an attempt on the life of the governor. An angry Mesalla betrays Judah to a long, slow death as a galley slave.
There is plenty of action. Judah’s escape from the galleys and near drowning; Mesalla’s battle exploits; the chariot race.
The chariot race. Possibly the highlight of the entire film. Even though you know how it turns out, getting there keeps you on the edge of your seat. The horses are fantastic and every precaution was taken to ensure their safety during filming. The actors insisted on performing nearly all the race scenes themselves, instead of letting the stuntmen have all the fun. The Roman Circus was a place of blood and violence, and the chariot race delivered. Even without fake blood spurting on the screen, there was plenty of gory death as charioteers were systematically ejected and trampled.
In the end, hatred and revenge give way to forgiveness and reconciliation, largely due to chance meetings with Jesus. As it should be.
Go see it today and support good, clean, uplifting filmmaking!
Currently in theaters.
In the few years since I last reviewed Carrick Ministries, their focus has broadened and evolved so much that I thought it was worth another mention. Julie is still singing, writing songs, touring, and doing parish missions. Carrick Ministries has also teamed up with a number of other artists, such as Leighton Drake, another fantastic artist/minister I reviewed previously. This enables Carrick Ministries to offer a number of parish missions, events, and even a diocesan Catholic Women’s Conference, coordinated by the team.
Event choices offer themes of: Divine Mercy, Discipleship, Using the Sacraments in our daily lives, “Living Our Creed”, “Living the Mass”, and Marriage. All events are elevated by Julie’s inspirational music and exquisite voice. Dates are still available for Memorial Day Weekend, through October 4th. See Carrick Ministries website for further information and to schedule your event.
An interesting addition to the offerings is the “Gathered in Grace – Women’s Conference”. This is fully coordinated and presented by Carrick Ministries, who will work with your diocese in scheduling, managing and promoting it. The conference offerings include: 2 presenters, Julie and one other; music; materials to help get your conference set up and print ready materials for promotion, as well as a broadcast-ready Public Service Announcement. For more info, testimonials and to schedule your conference, see Carrick Ministries website.
Finally, I cannot help but recommend Julie’s amazing music. Her recordings include Catholic favorites as well as her own compositions. Her voice was exquisite before her bout with a rare and insidious form of lung cancer, and she came back even better than ever. Her personal struggles, reflected in the songs she has written, touch every one of us who have experienced the same or similar struggles. Her faithful reliance on Jesus and “Mamma Mary” is a light of hope for all of us looking for the answer to making it through the trials of this life. Carrick Ministries is now offering Julie’s music in 10 CDs, 3 DVDs, a songbook, and a complete boxed set.
Bella, released in 2006 at the Toronto International Film Festival, is one of those movies that I really meant to see, but never got around to it. Thanks to Netflix, I finally did, and wow, what a great movie!
The story, which takes place in one day, may get a little confusing as the backstory unfolds in flashbacks. Jose, a soccer star who has just signed a lucrative contract, accidentally kills a small child and serves time in prison. After his release, he works in his brother’s restaurant as a chef, where he meets Nina, a waitress who has a brief affair (not with Jose) which ends in an unplanned pregnancy. Nina’s solution is to end the pregnancy, but Jose has other ideas, and Nina changes her plans (as shown in flash-forwards, confused yet?). The subtle anti-abortion message is so powerful, that I can see why pro-life groups adopted this movie and helped to heavily promote it.
I enjoyed the portrayal of Jose’s family and particularly his interaction with his brother Manny, whose compulsive reactions Jose responds to with calm dismissal. Such as when Manny fires Jose, who simply walks out the back door of the restaurant, then returns the next morning and cooks Manny breakfast as if nothing happened.
My favorite scene has to be Jose, sitting with a rosary in his hand, while Nina is taken into the back of the abortion clinic. It’s something you might miss, if you weren’t Catholic, but to me, it screamed the power of Our Blessed Mother’s intercession.
Bella is a story about imperfect people, living sometimes difficult lives and facing complicated choices. It’s about the power of God bringing awesome good out of our human weakness.
|Year of Faith Events – Carrick Ministries|
Julie Carrick sang her first solo at the age of 5. Since then, she has devoted her life and her music to Jesus. Even after surviving a rare form of lung cancer a few years ago, Julie continues to minister and share her faith with Catholics all over the world. We were recently blessed to once again host one of Julie’s fantastic missions: Living Our Catholic Creed.
One thing you will notice about Julie is that she is humble and transparent. She shares freely of her own pain and her own joy. Her music flows from a wellspring of experience throughout her life.
She proudly tells of how her husband of nearly 30 years bore witness to his Catholic faith to a co-worker.
She shares her agony upon learning that her daughter had been raped and subsequently became pregnant. Her daughter Edel’s courage in accepting and embracing that new life is also a part of Carrick Ministries.
She shares her own story of temptation, when she has to make a choice between a lucrative recording contract with “stipulations” and her own morals and values.
Throughout the evening, Julie performs her award winning compositions, as well as classic hymns, interweaving inspiration with quotes from St. Teresa of Avila and an attentive reading of the Creed.
This mini concert/mission is perfect for the “Year of Faith”. You will truly be inspired to live your faith boldly, taking a stand for marriage, for life, and for what “We Believe”.
For more information on Carrick Ministries, available concert and event dates and to order Julie’s recordings, see Carrick Ministries.
No compensation was received for this review.