Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Heart of the Beholder

Marketed as a controversial true story. This independent film was written, produced and directed by Ken Tipton (whose life it is based on) delves into the lives of a small community in St. Louis where a once top notch computer specialist, Mike Howard, gives up a lucrative job to follow an entrepreneurial dream. Mike is one the first people to open a video rental store in 1980.

Success is slow to come but it does come. With it comes the sanctimonious escapades of a group of religious harlots with their own agenda. They begin to target Mike's "Video Library" with a vengeance when he refuses to remove movies from his store that they deem inappropriate for human consumption. Movies like Hail Mary, Splash and The Last Temptation of Christ. When legitimate campaigns don't work the leader resorts to black mailing a local prosecutor into destroying Mike's and his family's livelihood.

This movie is very disturbing on one hand but entertaining on the other. The recognizable actors (Matt Letscher, Sarah Brown, Michael Dorn, Jason Wiles, Priscilla Barnes) are great and so is the filming. Surprisingly, many scenes are delivered tongue-in-cheek, like when an adult movie from Mike's "Video Library", submitted into evidence, is shown to the jury members.

If you take all the religious goop out of the way, it's a simple story about man who hits rock bottom, how he chooses to react to it and how he fights his way back after loosing everything he thought was important to him. He comes out of a dark tunnel with a fresh lease on life.

I watched the film at the online Heart of the Beholder web theatre which took me pretty much all day (as they were cut into 72 1-2 minute scenes) but I couldn't tear myself away. I sure wouldn't pay the $200 'rare' cost that is being sold in the third party area at Amazon but you can buy an online version from the official website for $7.99 or a physical copy can also be bought or rented from the site as well.

Heart of the Beholder is an interesting movie delivered with taste and humor. Our personal freedoms are often taken for granted in the day-to-day and this film is a good reminder of what we should appreciate. I will admit it is a little one sided in perspective and this film certainly wouldn't appeal to everyone. Now I don't know if it's really a "true story" but I enjoyed it and recommend watching it.

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