Reviews

James St. James
Crystal Pugsley
Amanda Henry




"INTO HIS ARMS"
Review by James St. James
JAMES ST. JAMES' HOLLYWOOD Syndicated Radio/TV
June 4, 1999

  Forget the theory that a movie must be made in Hollywood, New York, Vancouver or Chicago..."Into His Arms" is a movie made in Rapid City, South Dakota that will appeal to anyone who enjoys a good story told in an inspirational way.

  "Into His Arms," is not a film student production, it is a first-class movie produced by first-class filmmakers. If you like the inspiration of the TV series, "Touched By An Angel," you'll love the story told in "Into His Arms." Fresh faces give a fresh look at a story that any and all families can relate to. This movie offers questions of faith, and in a very honest way leaves those questions to be discussed and answered by it's viewers long after the movie is over. This is a movie that should be seen and then discussed by every member of the family. Without preaching, it opens avenues of conversation for many important aspects of life. Those heralding the merits of family values should incorporate the values of this movie.

  Outstanding is the performance of Marcia Welch-Kahler who plays a "Meryl Streep" type role so strong that I'm sure, if seen, by Miss Streep, she would be impressed. Please Marcia, when Hollywood discovers you, please hang on to the hyphenated last name. It is a touch of Midwestern reality that is so lacking in Tinseltown.

  I make my living seeing movies in Hollywood. Some are winners, most are losers. What a pleasant surprise to find a honest-to-goodness winner in Rapid City. As I said, this is a first-class production presented by first-class people. My standing ovation goes to the Linn brothers, their cast and crew for an outstanding venture called, "Into His Arms."


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"INTO HIS ARMS"
Review by Crystal Pugsley
Plainsman
November 14, 1999

  Make a point to see 'Into His Arms' while it's here.

  It's one of the most inspiring movies to hit the silver screen. It's filled with action, drama, and a message that will touch the depths of your soul.The movie, 'Into His Arms,' Will begin playing at Huron Cinema 3 on Friday and will show only through Tuesday.

  The synopsis of the movie was written by Michael Linn six years ago, when he was only 19, and it was inspired by questions that gripped his heart when he read of a child abduction and the ensuing search. His first and most compelling question, he said, was how a loving God could allow such pain and anguish in the world. And second, how can a Christian family deal with tragedies and crisis that arise in their lives?

  With very little money and only a vision of what this brief synopsis he had written could become, Michael and his twin brother, Marc, worked with another Rapid City man to bring the script to life. They chose a cast, all people who live and work in the Rapid City area, and then they began filming - using borrowed cameras on weekends when everyone was free from their regular jobs. It was a process that took four years. Many times, as they worked on scenes, ideas would come up and subtle changes would be made. By the time they had finished, their movie 'Into His Arms' had developed a life of its own.

  And itís a life that has literally touched thousands of people. They had originally thought the film would be transferred only to video, which is how two previous films they created while in high school were released.
But the theater -in Rapid City decided to give theme a five-day run to show the film. The response was so overwhelming it was held over for almost a month, with word-of-mouth praise bringing people from as far away as Wyoming. More than 4,000 people filed into the theater during the time it was there.

  The success of their work was more astounding than either brother had ever anticipated or hoped for. That's when the decision was made to test the waters in a wider area, and the movie is being shown in theaters across the state through early December.

  During a preview of the movie earlier this month in Huron, the screen came to life with the drama of an ordinary family in Rapid City forced to deal with, the trauma of losing their daughter when she was abducted in a crowded shopping center. Their inner turmoil and struggle to understand how a loving God could allow this to happen is something that can be felt by everyone in the theater as the story unfolds.

  The twin brothers who created the movie said they made no attempts to "convert" anyone, and when they released the film they weren't even sure if they had actually answered the questions that tugged at Michaelís heart when he wrote the synopsis. But they've been told by many times that they hit the nail on the head, especially in their focus on forgiveness in the film - even forgiving God for allowing the tragedy to occur.

  There are no easy answers to the questions that Michael sifted through when he wrote the original synopsis to the movie. Yet somehow, the answers are there on the screen - not in words - but in a sudden understanding within. One of the best things about this movie is that there are absolutely no vulgar swear words, something that is all too common in movies from Hollywood.

  This movie is for everyone - young, old and in-between. If you haven't been to the theater in years, make a point to go to this movie. You will never regret the decision. And if you're like many others who have seen this film, you will leave changed- It will touch your very soul.


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"INTO HIS ARMS"
Review by Amanda Henry
Rapid City Journal
May 28, 1999

  To answer everyone's first question, Yes. This is a real movie. "Into His Arms" features a complex narrative, glossy production values and, perhaps most importantly, a genuinely cinematic vision.

  That said, audiences who go in expecting "Into His Arms" to look like "Armageddon" will be struck by the obvious differences between a no budget independent and an umpteen-million dollar Hollywood product. These are amateur actors, working on a voluntary basis, squeezing in scenes on weekends and holidays over a four-year period. But in spite of the odd moment in which this doesn't look like a Hollywood movie, it nearly always feels like one.

  Without giving up any of the plot, suffice it to say that there are moments in "Into His Arms" that had this jaded moviegoer on the edge of her seat, caught up in either empathy or suspense. There is a real originality to the film's pacing, with the dramatic ebb and flow following unexpected patterns. Scenes of high drama are interspersed with surprisingly lyrical passages, and the story frequently takes off in unexpected directions, without ever losing its main focus. Visually, the camera set-ups are universally proficient, with occasional flashes of striking aesthetic sophistication. The Linn brothers are known for their technical expertise. Watching "Into His Arms" makes it clear that they also have an eye for color and composition and camera motion, the impact of the human face in close-up and the play of light and shadow.

  The score - an original composition by former Rapid City resident James Jacobson - was one of the more expensive elements of the production, but it's money well spent. "Into His Arms" is intimately concerned with emotional states, and the music is a powerful method of communicating the film's shifting tones.

  The other thing viewers will notice early on is that "Into His Arms" openly addresses questions of faith. The film doesn't proselytize, but characters with strong religious beliefs do discuss that aspect of their experience with a candor seldom seen in mainstream films.

  Potential audience members alarmed by the combination of serious subject matter -- a missing child -- and religious undertones can take comfort in the fact that there is plenty of good old-fashioned plot (car chases and startling revelations) to look forward to. Most fun of all are the cameos by various local figures who, while not necessarily Hollywood-bound, acquit themselves quite well on camera.

  Many of the lead performers will also be familiar to fans of community theatre. Standouts include Irene Handren-Seals, who brings an extremely natural film presence to her role as the best friend, Christina Carlson-Junti as the older sister, and Travis Opdyke and Marc Linn as cops with opposing world views. The most difficult role belongs to Marcia Welch-Kahler. Welch-Kahler hits the right marks in moments of high drama, but is most affecting in the extended close-ups that make use of her highly expressive face.

  Those who recall earlier Linn productions -- the ray-gun spectacular "Escape Through Time," or their irreverent movie reviews for KOTA -- will find their expectations transcended by "Into His Arms." Technologically, aesthetically and thematically, this is a major step forward into mature filmmaking. And since Michael and Marc are still only 24, the future of local movies looks bright.


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