Sep 30, 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps


Money Never Sleeps kicks off in 2001 with Gordon Gekko being released from jail after serving out his time for insider trading, racketeering and other nefarious activities. Standing alone outside of prison, Gordon's been forgotten by the world. Not even his daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), is there to greet him. However, Gordon may be down but he's not out. He sets to work writing a book all about his get-rich-quick schemes.

Flash-forward to 2008 and Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf) is a rising star at the investment firm run by Lou Zabel (Frank Langella). Lou's Jake's mentor and friend, but the 75 year old Lou appears to be losing his footing in the market. The market's about to go into free-fall, and Lou's company is not in any shape to survive the crisis. The Federal Reserve Bank steps in and, led by Lou's rival Bretton James (Josh Brolin), forces Zabel to sell off his company for pennies on the dollar. Losing his business and with his reputation ruined, Lou steps in front of a train and leaves others to clean up the mess.

Jobless, Jake takes in a lecture by Gekko, who's now a bestselling author and who also happens to be Jake's girlfriend's estranged father. After the lecture, Jake seeks out Gordon and after briefly sizing each other up, they make a mutually beneficial deal. Gordon wants to be back in his daughter's life and Jake wants to pick Gordon's brain about who could possibly be behind the collapse of Lou's company and ultimately responsible for forcing Lou into taking his own life. Jake wants revenge, Gordon wants back in the game, and neither is afraid of getting their hands dirty. Lying, cheating, back-stabbing and playing loose with other people's money - it's all in a day's work for these Wall Street types.

about the film
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps was directed by Oliver Stone and is rated PG-13 for brief strong language and thematic elements.

Theatrical Release: September 24, 2010

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Sep 28, 2010

Film Review: The Social Network


A mesmerizing, bewildering and infuriating protagonist makes this movie about Facebook's creation a must-see.

"The Social Network" has as its protagonist a character drawn in a Shakespearean mode, a high-achieving individual who carries within him the seeds of his own destruction. This would, of course, be young Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), the man behind the social-network phenomenon Facebook.

As the movie makes abundantly clear, the facts behind its founding are in dispute but, without a doubt, Zuckerberg did create Facebook. Yet far from celebrating this feat, the movie examines how a man who cares little about money became the world's youngest billionaire yet lost his one true friend.

At least that's what the movie says happened. The film, written by Aaron Sorkin, is based on Ben Mezrich's book "The Accidental Billionaires" and Sorkin's own research yet neither writer, predictably, was able to talk to Zuckerberg to get his point of view. So it is as a fictional construct -- based on ample public sources, however -- that "Mark Zuckerberg" achieves its Shakespearean dimension. He gains the whole world but loses his most meaningful asset because of a fatal flaw on view in the very first scene.

"Social" has the potential to be that rarity -- a film that gains critical laurels and award mentions yet also does killer boxoffice. Certainly, Sorkin, the film's director, David Fincher, and its heavyweight producers have crafted a smart, insightful film that satisfies both camps. The hook is the film's of-the-moment topic but the payoff is its hero. Or antihero or villain or whatever.

The very first scene? Harvard undergrad Mark and his girlfriend, Erica (Rooney Mara), are trying to have a dinner date at a noisy Cambridge brew pub. Or at least she's trying. He's talking a mile a minute with every syllable screaming egocentricity and dripping with sarcasm and defensive insecurity. She can't even change the topic. Indeed, she can't even tell what the topic is.

After one insult too many, it's easier for Erica to break up with Mark. So the flaw is most ironic -- the guy who will revolutionize the way people communicate can't communicate himself. He is virtually blind to anyone else's perspective.

Pissed off, Mark jogs home to get drunk, hit his computer and, to take his mind off Erica, accidentally invents Facebook. Okay, it's not Facebook; it's Facemash, a stupid idea that only a genius computer hacker/scientist would dream up in which he hacks into Harvard's computer system, downloads all photos from the "facebooks" of the university's houses and asks students to vote on which girls are the hottest.

The contest goes viral, crashes Harvard's computer system, earns Mark a reprimand from authorities but attracts the attention of Harvard twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer and Josh Pence with the help of special effects). These are wealthy and privileged scholar-athletes trying to develop an inner-campus website to create a place for students to meet, greet and perhaps score dates.

They approach the anarchist-hacker, who is intrigued by their idea but prefers to go to his best friend and fellow Jew, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), to finance a social network that contains elements of the Winklevosses' idea but transforms it into what we now know as Facebook.

Then the rest of the movie, in an inspired move by Sorkin, takes place at legal depositions. Because a few years later, Facebook is a billion-dollar miracle and lawsuits are flying everywhere: The twins and their Indian-American partner Divya Narendra (Max Minghella, who doesn't look or act Indian), and Eduardo, who has been frozen out of Facebook thanks to the Svengali-like efforts of Napster creator Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), are all suing Mark.

As everyone recollects his version of events, the film flashes back to these developments. You understand no one's testimony is reliable but Sorkin tries to sort out the possible scenario that lands everyone in this legal soup.

The story thus becomes a tale of power, fame, betrayal, revenge and responsibility. Under Fincher's astute direction the characters fairly pop out at you. Even in a one-scene performance, famed Harvard president Larry Summers (Douglas Urbanski) startles the viewer with his abrupt impatience and sterling wit as he dismisses the twins' heavy-handed attempt to enlist the school in their cause.

Fincher also places events in milieus that ring true. His portrait of campus life among America's elite is pitch-perfect, every bit as much as the drug-and-party excesses of Silicon Valley and the war rooms of corporate attorneys.

There have been complaints from early screenings that no one is very likable in this movie. You'll get no argument here but that's beside the point. "Mark Zuckerberg" is thoroughly unlikable but he is an original. Ask yourself: How many truly original characters show up in American movies?

Mark exists in his own world. He dresses like he just rolled out of bed and doesn't relate to people half as well as he does to computers, algorithms and user databases. He finds people, at best, helpful to his creations or, at worst, annoying. He cannot speak civilly to anyone yet has the verbal skills to hone in on sore points with his acquaintances. His oral jousting with the deposing attorneys is brilliantly rendered in dialogue Sorkin presumably lifted from transcripts.

About the only character that comes off well is Garfield's Eduardo. The guy seems to care genuinely about his ex-friend and is bitterly unhappy about his treatment by Mark. Everyone else is borderline manic, such as Eduardo's sweet-and-sour girlfriend, played by a Brenda Song.

The production is the best studios can offer with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' hypnotically repetitive score, Jeff Cronenweth's fluid, sparkling cinematography and Donald Graham Burt's pinpoint-accurate production design all major pluses. There's no flaw here.

So the film comes down to a mesmerizing portrait of a man who in any other age would perhaps be deemed nuts or useless, but in the Internet age has this mental agility to transform an idea into an empire. Yet he still cannot rule his own life to the point he doesn't lose what's important to him.

At least that's what the movie says.

Opens: Friday, Oct. 1 (Columbia Pictures)
Production companies: Columbia Pictures in association with Relativity Media present a Scott Rudin/Michael De Luca/Trigger Street production
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Max Minghella, Josh Pence, Brenda Song, Rashida Jones
Director: David Fincher
Screenwriter: Aaron Sorkin
Based on the book by: Ben Mezrich
Producers: Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Cean Chaffin
Executive producers: Kevin Spacey
Director of photography: Jeff Cronenweth
Production designer: Donald Graham Burt
Music: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
Costume designer: Jacqueline West
Editors: Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter
Rated PG-13, 120 minutes

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Movie Review: Date Night


Steve Carell and Tina Fey combine talents to deliver one of the more entertaining comedies of 2010 with Date Night, directed by Shawn Levy (the Night at the Museum movies). There just hasn't been that much to laugh at (at least intentionally) in theaters this year, so it's refreshing to finally get a chance to see something that, for the most part, delivers on its promises - and isn't in 3-D.

Date Night is a fast-paced action comedy featuring two of TV's funniest people together for the first time on the big screen. Carell and Fey have great chemistry, and their big, disastrous night out as a couple is believable and relatable. Well, not the part about being chased by goons with guns while trying to drive a borrowed sports car attached to a taxi through the streets of New York. That only happens in movies. But just trying to recapture some of that relationship spark, trying to get out of a rut and rediscover why you're with your partner - that's what makes Date Night so relatable, enjoyable, and funny.

The Story
Phil (Carell) and Claire (Fey) lead busy lives, work keeps them hopping, and when they're not dealing with clients, they're pulling mom and dad duty at 5:30am for their full-of-energy kids. They go out on special 'date nights' all alone to the local family friendly steak joint where the waiter knows them by name, and that's about as exciting as their social life away from the children gets. But after friends of theirs share the bad news that their marriage is breaking up, Phil and Claire start to feel a little worried about how their own marriage has become less about their relationship as a couple, and more about work and parenting obligations.

"James Franco and Mila Kunis in Date Night photo"

James Franco and Mila Kunis in 'Date Night.'
© 20th Century Fox
Deciding the best way to spice up things is to head to Manhattan to a swanky restaurant, the Fosters show up without a reservation only to be dissed and then ignored by the maitre d'. Hanging out in the bar on the off-chance a table is freed up, Phil and Claire hear a reservation being called out for the Tripplehorns, with no one responding. They decide to act like they're the Tripplehorns and 'steal' the reservation. It seems like an innocent enough fib, but oh boy, does it lead to trouble aplenty.

Escorted from the restaurant by two thugs, Phil and Claire soon find themselves on the wrong end of a gun - and it's turned sideways. Killshot! The thugs (played by Common and Jimmi Simpson) demand a computer flash drive that the Tripplehorns are blackmailing a mob boss (Ray Liotta) with. Obviously the Fosters don't have it, but the hoodlums don't believe their 'we stole someone else's dinner reservation' story. This case of mistaken identity escalates into a full-on chase through Central Park and the streets of New York at night, with only their wits - no cell phones, no weapons, nothing to help them fight back - keeping them a step ahead of the bad guys. Oh, and they do have a little assistance from a shirtless, totally ripped Mark Wahlberg as a security/computer expert who once upon a time hired Claire as his realtor.

The Acting
Carell and Fey bring 'must-see' comedy from TV to the big screen with Date Night, which isn't nearly as sharply written as either The Office or 30 Rock but works nonetheless. Carell proved he can handle action comedies with Get Smart, but Fey's never been put to the test quite like this before. And, surprisingly, when she gets into 'kick butt and take no prisoners' mode, Fey's convincingly tough. I never realized she had that in her.

Director Shawn Levy packed the supporting cast with familiar faces, from Mark Wahlberg as the scene-stealing hunky security expert with a hot Russian girlfriend who thinks Carell and Fey have arrived for sex, to James Franco and Mila Kunis as the real Tripplehorns, to Ray Liotta as the mob boss everyone's terrified of, and William Fichtner as the DA who wants to sweep his city clean of crime. Some of the supporting players, like Mark Ruffalo and Kristen Wiig, are in and out too quickly (pretty much just drive-by cameos), but this is after all Carell and Fey's show, and they carry the load admirably enough.

"Tina Fey, Steve Carell and Mark Wahlberg in Date Night photo"

Tina Fey, Steve Carell and Mark Wahlberg in 'Date Night.'
© 20th Century Fox
The Bottom Line
I wasn't sure just how well Date Night would work given the fact trailers most often show off the best scenes. And if what was showcased in the trailer was the best bits from Date Night, then I wasn't holding out much hope for the actual film. But Date Night turned out to be an entertaining, quirky comedy with plenty of physical comedy done by two actors unafraid to look ridiculous. And, thankfully, the trailer didn't represent the film's funniest moments by a long shot.

The only time Date Night lags is when it tries to get all serious about the Fosters' relationship issues. Other than that, the movie really flows well. And it capitalizes on Carell and Fey's ability to improv* and spout one-liners that, had they been uttered by less talented comedians, wouldn't have sounded so spontaneous and funny.

Date Night may use a tried and true formula - mistaken identity causes chaos in the lives of everyday folks - but with Carell and Fey (and Josh Klausner's script), it feels fresh. With car crashes and shootouts, and for the women eye candy in the form of Mark Wahlberg, Date Night should appeal to both sexes equally. It's got a little something for everyone and it's actually perfect for a date night out.

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Movie Release on October 2010


OCTOBER 1, 2010

CASE 39 - Starring Renee Zellweger and Bradley Cooper
LET ME IN - Starring Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee
THE SOCIAL NETWORK - Starring Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake

OCTOBER 8, 2010

IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY - Starring Keir Gilchrist and Zach Galifianakis
LIFE AS WE KNOW IT - Starring Josh Duhamel and Katherine Heigl
MY SOUL TO TAKE - Starring Max Thierot and John Magaro
NOWHERE BOY - Starring Aaron Johnson and Anne-Marie Duff
SECRETARIAT - Starring Diane Lane and Scott Glenn

OCTOBER 15, 2010

CONVICTION - Starring Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell
JACKASS 3-D - Starring Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O
RED - Starring Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren

OCTOBER 22, 2010

HEREAFTER - Starring Matt Damon and Bryce Dallas Howard

OCTOBER 29, 2010

SAW VII 3-D - Starring Tobin Bell

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Sep 25, 2010

Iranian film version of Jesus: Jesus was never crucified


A film about Jesus that script the script based on the Islamic perspective recently released in Iran. The film will cause a reaction from the Christian community, because Jesus told not die on the cross, but was replaced by Judas Iscariot. The film is titled "The Messiah, The Spirit of God", written, produced and directed by the producer from Iran, Nader Talebzadeh. The film was made in Iran and Jesus was played by an actor in Iran. This film is based on the teachings of Al Quran about Jesus and based on the contents of the Gospel of Barnabas, a book which is not included in the canon of Scripture. Making the film was funded by an Iranian state-owned TV channel.

Dr. Emir Caner, a dean of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary recommend to Christians watching this film, because in it reveal a lot of new things, like when Jesus was being replaced, why the mother and the disciples did not recognize that the person they were following was exchanged before being on the cross, and what is the purpose of God 'blinding the crowd included all the disciples of Jesus and Mary the mother of Jesus, so they still think that Jesus was being crucified. (Watch trailer & The Muslim Jesus)

Caner, who is also a professor of history, said he believes that ultimately this way, we watch as he asked on that point of view, we can accept this film.

"Maybe the Muslims and Christians will realize through this film that the Koran only offers a possible story that might occur at the time, even though the Bible was clearly written a detailed history of reliable and has proved even to this day." Similarly Caner write a statement.

Almost as a whole "The Messiah," the appearance of Jesus in the film version of Jesus is similar to that made by the western world. Blonde hair and perform miracles. Only thing different is how Judas arrived - arrived miraculously changed resemble Jesus and replace Jesus was crucified.

"He (Jesus) is not the Son of God and never be the Son of God. He only prophet and he was never crucified, it is another person who was crucified to replace him," Talebzadeh told CNN.

One motive of making this film, according to Talebzadeh, is in response to films about Jesus that made the Western producers, like the movie "The Passion of the Christ" starring actor Mel Gibson in 2004. According to him, this film presents the story wrong about Jesus from the teachings of Islam.

Phenomenal movie that involves almost more than 1000 people this is the greatest movie ever made in Iran. The film will also be aired in 20 episodes on TV channels owned by the government of Iran [syarif / eng /]

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Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010)


“Superman/Batman: Apocalypse” is the latest direct-to-DVD animated feature from Warner Bros. and D.C. Comics, and is a direct sequel to last year’s “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies”, which saw the crimefighting duo of Batman and Superman going up against President Lex Luthor. Now that Baldy has been knocked down a peg or two, the heroes have gone their separate ways. Sort of. They are reunited when Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy) discovers a naked Kryptonian girl named Kara (voiced by Summer Glau) in Gotham City’s harbor, having crashed to Earth on her ship. Read more

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Women Without Men


In n 1953 Iran, Sisterhood Sought During a Coup

Every frame of “Women Without Men” and every image within those frames attest to the background of its first-time director, Shirin Neshat, as a photographer celebrated for her explorations of Islamic gender issues. This visually transfixing film, which originated as a video installation, has the feel of an exhibition of Ms. Neshat’s work whose figures have stirred to life to play out a tragic feminist allegory.

With its intense chiaroscuro and meticulous manipulation of color that ranges from stark black and white to richer, shifting hues in scenes set in a metaphorical orchard, the film surpasses even Michael Haneke’s “White Ribbon” in the fierce beauty and precision of its cinematography (by Martin Gschlacht). Two of the film’s recurrent images are of a long dirt road extending to the horizon on which the characters walk, and a brook that suggests a deep current of feminine resilience below an impassive exterior.

“Women Without Men” conveys the slightly detached formality of a pageant, whose four main characters, Iranian women from different classes and backgrounds, have more symbolic weight than flesh-and-blood reality. It was filmed in Morocco, with Casablanca doubling for 1950s Tehran.

The most memorable of the four is Zarin (Orsi Toth), an emaciated prostitute who impulsively flees the brothel in which she works and finds temporary refuge at a women’s public bath. Here she furiously scrubs her body raw in an anguished attempt to erase the imprint of the men who have used her. At once monumental and pastel-hued, the bath scenes suggest Ms. Neshat’s response to the famous Ingres canvas “The Turkish Bath.”

Loosely adapted from a magical realist novel by Shahrnush Parsipur, who appears briefly as the brothel’s stridently bossy madam, “Women Without Men” is set in August 1953, when an Anglo-American-backed coup d’état toppled Mohammed Mossadegh’s democratically elected government and installed the Shah as dictator. The number of women has been reduced from five in the novel to four in the film.

Ms. Neshat, who was born four years after the coup, left Iran in 1979, just before the Islamic Revolution that drove the Shah into exile. Her film, very critical of the coup, implies that it made the eventual revolution and subsequent turmoil inevitable.

Ms. Neshat, who lives and works in New York, continued to visit Iran until she was banned from the country in 1996 for the political content of her work. Since 1998, she has collaborated with her husband, Shoja Azari, a video artist and filmmaker, with whom she wrote the screenplay for “Women Without Men.”

Besides Zarin, the characters include the 30-year-old Munis (Shabnam Tolouei), a virtual prisoner in the house she shares with her tyrannical fundamentalist brother. To his chagrin, Munis is not only unmarried but also spends her days glued to the radio, hearing about events leading up to the coup. After he furiously unplugs her only connection to the outside world, Munis commits suicide by jumping off the roof of the house. On discovering her body, her brother curses her for disgracing him. (In the novel he kills her.)

The third woman, the religiously observant Faezeh (Pegah Ferydoni), is a friend of Munis who secretly longs to marry Munis’s brother. After Munis’s death, Faezeh hears the voice of her friend speaking to her from underground and digs up Munis, who, in a magical realist trope, begins a second, independent life working with an underground Communist group publishing and distributing leaflets.

Fakhri (Arita Shahrzad), the fourth woman, is a wealthy 50-year-old, unhappily married to a general who reviles her for being menopausal and sexually unresponsive. When an old flame returns to Tehran with his American wife, Fakhri leaves her husband and buys an orchard that becomes a mystical retreat to which Zarin and Faezeh gravitate and form a mutually protective, healing sisterhood. If their self-imposed exile in this mysterious woodland hideaway is idyllic, compared with their former lives, Zarin hovers between life and death.

Eventually soldiers arrive during a party at which Fakhri entertains the guests by singing. Although the soldiers and the guests mingle warily, there is no mistaking the celebration for what it is: a last hurrah for a kind of social mobility and political freedom that may never return.

Opens on Friday in Manhattan.

Directed by Shirin Neshat; written by Ms. Neshat and Shoja Azari, based on the novel by Shahrnush Parsipur; director of photography, Martin Gschlacht; edited by George Cragg, Jay Rabinowitz, Julia Wiedwald, Patrick Lambertz, Christof Schertenleib and Sam Neave; music by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Persian music by Abbas Bakhtiari; production designer, Katharina Wöppermann; costumes by Thomas Olah; produced by Susanne Marian, Mr. Gschlacht and Philippe Bober; released by IndiePix Films. In Persian, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 39 minutes. This film is not rated.

WITH: Pegah Ferydoni (Faezeh), Arita Shahrzad (Fakhri), Shabnam Tolouei (Munis) and Orsi Toth (Zarin).

see official trailer

visit the official website of women without men film at

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Sep 15, 2010

Terry Jones: Pastor Behind 'Burn a Koran Day'


Terry Jones at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., Monday, Aug. 30, 2010. Jones plans to burn copies of the Koran on church grounds to mark the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States that provoked the Afghanistan war. Collapse (John Raoux/AP Photo).

The controversial Florida preacher, who first lit a spark on Facebook when he called for people around the world to set fire to copies of the Koran, is now at the center of an international conflagration.

Jones' plan to set ablaze thousands of copies of the Muslim holy book on Sept. 11, a day he's dubbed International Burn a Koran Day, has become a flashpoint. What has been seen for weeks as a strange front in the culture wars, this weekend became a front in America's real war, with Gen. David Patraeus weighing in to say he believed the display would be detrimental and dangerous to U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan.

Jones recently told ABC News he and his flock would continue "to pray" on whether they would follow through with the bonfire, but suggested they would indeed burn the books on Sept.11.

Jones, 58, is perhaps the unlikely face of what's become a small but international movement that preys on growing hostility and uneasiness in the lead up this year's 9/11 anniversary of the U.S. terrorist attacks.

A former hotel manager, Jones, who worked as a missionary in Europe for 30 years, took over as head of the Dove World Outreach Center, a fundamentalist Christian church in Gainesville, Fla., in 1996.

He is often seen on the church's 20-acre compound with a pistol strapped to his hip.

A fan of Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" -- a poster adorns his office walls at the church -- Jones launched an online video series called the "Braveheart Show," which he uses to preach anti-Islamic sermons to an audience larger than the 50 families who belong to the church.

Jones is the author of "Islam Is of the Devil." That phrase also adorns several billboards on his church's property. Jones said he first began using the phrase last year but since 2002 has marked 9/11 with sermons about Islam and the dangers he believes are inherent in the faith.

In August 2009, two children, a 10-year-old and a 15-year-old, who belong to Jones' church, were sent to school wearing T-shirts that read "Islam Is of the Devil." They were sent home for dress code violations.

According to the Gainesville Sun, Alachua County officials revoked part of the church's tax-exempt status earlier this year, saying portions of the 20-acre campus are used in for-profit businesses. The property is valued at more than $1.6 million, but the 1,700-square-foot taxable portion is worth only $135,000, according to the Gainsville Sun.

Jones' bank, he has said, recently demanded repayment of the $140,000 balance on the church's mortgage.

As of Sept. 7, 8,663 people had become fans of the International Burn a Koran Day page on Facebook.

Jones believes Islam promotes violence and that Muslims want to impose sharia law in the United States.

Jones previously told that he planned to burn "a few hundred Korans" in a bonfire on church property. He's expecting a crowd of "several hundred" but believes others will burn the books on their own.


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Sep 14, 2010

Terry Jones, Braveheart and Koran Burning


Until a year ago, Terry Jones wasn’t a public figure in Gainesville, Florida, or anywhere else.

Then seven children who attend the Dove World Outreach Center, where Jones is senior pastor, went to school wearing white T-shirts with red lettering saying “Islam Is Of The Devil.” The Alachua County School District banned what it deemed ”offensive” clothing, and the students’ parents sued. The publicity seemed to encourage the 58-year-old pastor, said Eddie Gilley, director of Baptist Collegiate Ministries in Gainesville.

“It’s like the little boy in the grocery store who throws a tantrum,” Gilley said in an interview. “He only does it again if you pay attention.”

By Thursday, Jones had commanded enough of it to warrant a telephone call from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who asked the minister to call off plans to set fire to copies of the Koran on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Jones and his church had gone from what Gilley called ”irrelevant” to international notoriety, spurring demonstrations in Afghanistan and Pakistan and eliciting a warning from President Barack Obama that the Koran-burning could endanger U.S. troops.

“They had engaged in controversial behavior before but were very, very marginal,” said Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe, who is gay and drew a protest before his election from Dove World Outreach, which posted a sign saying “No Homo Mayor” outside. “Now we are horrified that the whole world is associating Gainesville with this.”

Canceling the Plans

Jones couldn’t be reached for comment. Phone calls to his office were met with a busy signal. At a press conference this morning, Jones said he had canceled what he advertised as International Burn a Koran Day, repeating comments he made Thursday after meeting with Muhammad Musri, an imam and president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, based in Orlando. At a televised news conference on the front lawn of Dove World Outreach on Thursday, Jones had said he made the decision after he received “a sign from God” in the form of an assurance from Musri that the Islamic center to be established near the World Trade Center site in New York would be relocated.

Musri, who appeared with Jones at the Thursday news conference, said there was no agreement to move the Park51 center, only a plan to discuss the possibility with the owner. Later, the pastor told the Associated Press he thought Musri “clearly lied to us.” At today’s press conference, Jones said he would fly to New York tonight in hopes of meeting with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Muslim leader behind the mosque plan.

‘Violence in Islam’

“All they have to do is just move it a little bit,” Jones said of Park51. “We are hoping we can come to a conclusion that can make everyone happy.”

In Afghanistan, a man protesting the Koran-burning plans was shot and killed today after crowds attacked a NATO base, according to Reuters news service. Jones said he shouldn’t be held accountable.

“I think that’s absolutely terrible,” Jones said. “I haven’t even done anything, and it reveals the violence in Islam.”

Musri, who first visited Jones on Wednesday, described him as “sincere but misguided.” In Gainesville to attend an interfaith service at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Musri said he decided on the spur of the moment to go to Dove World Outreach Center. He walked past a sign promoting International Burn a Koran Day, and through a phalanx of law enforcement officers and reporters, and said he was surprised when an assistant to Jones told him the pastor would see him.

Discussing the Koran

“It seems that the whole world was there, which I think is part of the problem,” Musri said in an interview.

Their discussion took place in a church office decorated with a poster from the Mel Gibson movie “Braveheart” and an American flag. Musri said the pastor didn’t appear happy to see him at first.

“He asked me if I was armed and planned to hurt him and I said no, I come in peace,” Musri said. “He is not a charismatic or sophisticated man, but he is very loud.”

Jones, who told him he had never read the Koran, listened as the imam told him the Sept. 11 terrorists weren’t inspired by the Islamic writings, Musri said.

“We were able to break some ice and get some genuine conversation on his concerns,” Musri said. “I asked him, what would Jesus do in your position today? Would he love his neighbor? If we are your enemies, you are supposed to love your enemies. I think that resonated a bit.”

Christianity ‘Watered Down’

Jones, who wrote a book titled “Islam Is Of The Devil” and sells T-shirts and coffee mugs with the slogan on the church website, has made his case against the Muslim religion on YouTube, where he has posted more than 10 videos this year under the rubric “The Braveheart Show.” Titles include “Is Islam the Anti-Christ” and “Islam Will Take Over If Christians Remain Silent.”

He began publicizing the Koran-burning event in July.

“Christianity has gotten so watered down, I think that we felt it was time to do something radical,” Jones said in a deposition he gave on Aug. 10 in the suit the parents filed against the school district in federal court, challenging the constitutionality of the district’s action. A mediation conference held Aug. 31 failed to settle the case, according to court records.

Jones said his parishioners number about 50, down from a high of 100, and he offered an explanation.

“The things that we’re involved in are just really way too hot for your normal Christian and your normal person, period,” he said. “They are interested more in just having a good life.”

Former Hotel Manager

The president of Dove World Outreach since 2001, Jones entered the ministry in 1979 while working as a hotel manager in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, according to his deposition. In the 1980s, he said, he and his family moved to Germany, where he led the Christian Church of Cologne. Members of the congregation eventually split with Jones, according to Der Spiegel.

It was while Jones lived overseas, he said in the deposition, that he learned about “the violence that is connected with Islam.”

In his YouTube videos, Jones asserts that “there is no such thing” as moderate Islam, that Islamic law calls for violence, hates Israel and Christians, and that Islamic immigration to the U.S. should be barred.

“They are only coming to this country to take over, to try to enforce, through population growth, through political means, through educational means, to enforce and force their laws, their Islamic laws upon, us,” he says. “In Europe, they have already done it.”

Selling on EBay

Jones runs Dove World Outreach with his wife Sylvia, according to the church website. The 20-acre campus, in northern Florida about 68 miles (109 kilometers) from Jacksonville, is worth more than $1.6 million and lost part of its tax-exempt status this year because part of it is used in for-profit businesses, the Gainesville Sun reported.

In his deposition, Jones said he and his wife sell “vintage designer furniture” through TS & Company, which is located on the church property. His eBay profile says TS is a Christian firm that uses its earnings to help the needy in Gainesville. Jones said in the deposition that he also runs a ministerial training academy at the church and that four people are enrolled in the three-year program.

Standing outside Dove World Outreach on Thursday evening, 26-year-old Dave Ingram, who described himself as a minister in the church, said that with all the media attention, it might not matter whether the Koran event went on or was abandoned.

“We believe God is using this and has used this and will use this to spread the gospel,” he said. “The phones are ringing off the hook.” [bloomberg]

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Film Review: Braveheart


Runtime: 2 hr. 57 min.
Genre: Action & Adventure, Drama, Classics
Theatrical Release: May 26, 1995 Wide

Synopsis: In the late 13th century, William Wallace returns to Scotland after living away from his homeland for many years. The king of Scotland has died... In the late 13th century, William Wallace returns to Scotland after living away from his homeland for many years. The king of Scotland has died without an heir and the king of England, a ruthless pagan known as Edward the Longshanks, has seized the throne. Wallace becomes the leader of a ramshackle yet courageous army determined to vanquish the greater English forces. At the historic battle of Stirling, Wallace leads his army to a stunning victory against the English. Knighted by the grateful Scottish nobles, Sir William Wallace extends the conflict south of the border and storms the city of York. King Edward I is astonished by the unexpected turn of events. Unable to rely on his ineffectual son Prince Edward, Longshanks sends his daughter-in-law Princess Isabelle to discuss a truce with Wallace.

Starring: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, Catherine McCormack
Director: Mel Gibson
Producer: Alan Ladd Jr , Mel Gibson
Studio: Paramount Pictures

One of the weakest films to ever win the Best Picture Oscar, in a year that most handicappers predicted would see Ron Howard's "Apollo 13" taking the award.

Though released by Paramount in May, the Academy voters, notorious for their short memories, didn't forget the historical epic at Oscar time and honored it with ten nominations. The studio's heart was brave, entrusting star-director Mel Gibson with $35 million for his second feature.

There's plenty of action, romance, and blood in this thirteenth century tale of a Scottish hero who returns to his homeland after England's cruel king assumes power.

"Apollo 13" notwithstanding, it was not a particularly strong year. "Braveheart" competed against "Babe," the Italian entry, "Il Postino" ("The Postman") and Ang Lee's literary adaptation, "Sense and Sensibility."

Opening to mixed critical reviews, "Braveheart" is also one of the least commercial of Oscar winners, grossing only $75.6 million domestically, though internationally the movie was more popular, accounting for a worldwide box-office of $202.6 million.

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