Heat (1995)

I saw this film with mates, of course. Later I reviewed it, sent it off, and they chose to publish it. Pretty much my review summed up my view in a nutshell. Although there was no exploration of theme as a potential Christian review would do, I mentioned things that came more to the fore of my writing later on, the violence for instance. In the review, I mentioned the violence in the movie but did not condemn it for the violent scenes. Maybe Christian reviewers should always come down harder on violence, but my impression at the time was less focused on that manner of view. This was a time of pure film appreciation. My mates called this type of film action.

An intense, sometimes bloody, and inherent psychological thriller that stars Al Pacino and Robert De Niro on screen together.

Heat’s editing, cinematography and Dolby digital sound make for impressive viewing with star performances. The violence depicting robberies are brutal but the technical aspects of these scenes are excellent.

Centering on Vincent’s (Pacino) tracking down of a gangster, Neil (De Niro) it is an unpredictable suspense film with intrigue near its core.

Reviewed by Peter Veugelaers 1996, GiveWay Magazine.

Stations, by Derek Lind (New Zealand)

In 1994, an editor let me review this album for his Christian magazine “Reality”. I hustled him to review The Winans “All Out” but I did not succeed. He really wanted someone to review Derek Lind’s Stations album, so gave me the job. I was not that enthusiastic to do it. However, I pretty much liked Lind’s previous album Slippery Ground so had a connection. Lind is known in Christian circles for his unapologetic content.

Reviewed by Peter Veugelaers. 1994.

When leading New Zealand ‘underground’ artist Derek Lind performed at last January’s Parachute Music Festival he gave us a taste of his not-yet released new album. That Saturday night at the festival the atmosphere was electric, charge with anticipation—an atmosphere reflected in this album, which bubbles with poetic honesty.

As with his previous releases, Stations has a distinctly New Zealand flavour. Here that flavour comes through most strongly in “My Grandfather,” Derek’s engaging recollection of his personal heritage, marvellously captured, while “Ukulele” also embraces his Rarotongan wife Ra’s family heritage.

Yet Lind’s vision is international too. His travels with Tear Fund around parts of Asia have resulted in a number of powerful, poignant songs throughout the years.

Most of this continent’s inhabitants live with violence, oppression and poverty, making Derek’s lifestyle, as he says on the album jacket, seem “petty” and very comfortable. This is indicated in the beautiful song “Nothing Looks The Same,” written in Manila: “I get to fly away/You get to stay”—a powerful reminder of our privileged global position which digs deep at the soul. What could I do in their situation? Can I help them?

The song “Lightening Strike” adopts another familiar Lind line: the angry, voice-in-the-wilderness prophetic denunciation of the American Christian music industry, of people living double lives. Yet this voice is heard less often on “Stations”, which opts by and large for a quieter, more intimate atmosphere, more akin to the song “Picture” on his Slippery Ground album.

In “Ukulele” Derek sings, “This was going to be a picture, but it turned into a song.” Derek Lind, once an art teacher himself, paints a number of deftly sketched, sharply realized pictures on this album, portraying real life situations in a thoughtful, stimulating and challenging way.

A very accessible album with warmth, backbone and integrity.

Reviewed for Reality magazine.

The Black Hole

1979.

**

The doctor is “mad or genius” but which way he is depends if he succeeds on getting through to the other side of the black hole.

Who knows, until the scientist tries, but branded of dubious stability when he wants to drive right into the dreaded deep, dark, black hole and find what lies behind there, even ultimate knowledge. Of sound mind?

The crew of the spacecraft the USS Palomino – featuring actors Robert Forster (Captain Dan Holland), Joseph Bottoms (Lieutenant Charles Pizer), Anthony Perkins (Dr Alex Durant), Yvette Mimieux (Dr Kate McCrae) and Ernest Borgnine (journo Harry Booth) – parks by the Cygnus to repair their ship and find Dr Hans Reinhardt (Maximillian Schell) about to unleash his quest.

Director Gary Nelson and writers Jeb Rosebrook and Jerry Day may not have known or may have known they were carrying a theme of temptation and desire.

I thought Reinhardt was being tempted by foolish pride…the same temptation that is described at the beginning of the Bible. Playing on the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, his downfall may be assured. Pride before a fall. But this theme does not entirely follow through.

The real theme here is in taking the next step in the progress of humanity, which may turn out as real progress or a fool’s game. An outrageous turn of events may make sure the scientist’s assumptions, that one can drive through a black hole and come out the other side. In that, the doctor may not be so “mad” after all.

The viewer is offered robots, humanoids, Vincent – a knowledgeable assistant for the Palomino and the action is heating up when Reinhardt begins to summon his ship into the black hole. However, with some religious profanities (some would say understandable since they come from the mouth of a journalist) the theme of progress, from a Christian perspective, is nullified. God, in Genesis, made human endeavor to be done in reference to him, not without him as a curse word.

True

A writer has an approach to their work. For me, this is being conducive to my readers. I think this is what every writer wants. To sound conducive and not banging on about something. This is how I approached reviewing films. To sound conducive. Films were not my flavor of the month though But I started writing with something I knew about, as in the 1980’s, before the year 1990, I was an avid moviegoer and knew them all pretty well. In 1990, my views of movies changed.

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Babe (1995)

I did not see the theme of this family film at first, but did the theme have certain connotations and would it have mattered to a Christian perspective? If I was aware of something off color thematically in it then, would have I reviewed the film differently? How would I review it now if I found myself offside with the theme in it? Would it come in as one of those films I review in the middle of the spectrum or would I give it full marks because it does not seem to matter? Back then, I was captured by the warm glow the film gave off. Here was my review, from 1996.

Just like a nursery rhyme, Australian film, “Babe”, is about a farm pig who thinks he is a sheep dog. After being won by farmer Arthur Hoggett (interesting name) at a fair, the pig Babe embarks on a journey and makes friends and enemies of a bestial nature in the process. Great entertainment, “Babe” is winner of Best Comedy at the Golden Globes this year and a box office hit.

Reviewed by Peter Veugelaers, GiveWay magazine, 1996.