Monday, October 3, 2016

FADE OUT for Reel Cathedral

Hello everyone, 

It is most definitely with a heavy heart that I write this post. Heavy, but not without hope. 

I (Alexis) have been struggling a lot this past year with a creative depression. While I'm writing and creating personal projects more than ever, I find myself uninspired and despairing the current climate of the film and television industries. This has made me thoroughly unmotivated to talk about films or series lately, which is something I never thought would happen. 

I have come to a conclusion on a difficult decision... this will be the last post on Reel Cathedral. I will still leave this site up because I am proud of the work me and my guest writers have done. I want to thank everyone who has supported Reel Cathedral since my first posts in 2010. It's been a wonderful journey and I am so grateful for it.

There are a couple of reasons for this FADE OUT, and I would like to share them if you'll permit me. 

The first is personal time and energy. I need to shift my focus to my own creations. I have my novel to finish in the next two months, I am still waiting for word from Amazon Studios regarding my TV pilot submission (it's been almost 5 months! Let's hope that's a good thing because most are rejected rather quickly), and then I have a feature script to finish after that. Though I love discussing the video arts, my calling is to create and that must come first. 

The second reason is more abstract, but it's none the less a reality.  In my last podcast here The Trouble with Reboots, Remakes, & Rehashing I briefly touched on some of my angst regarding the current climate of film & television, and the lack of original, risk-taking storytelling. Overall, we are being served more of the same over and over again, yet as a mass audience we eat it right up and give feedback that we are satisfied with being served the same microwaved leftovers repeatedly. 

I, however, am not satisfied by this cultural shift. For example, I found The Force Awakens to be decent, but not great, and I'm really not excited for these live action Disney remakes, when I was once Disney's biggest fangirl. Though there are a lot of Blockbusters I AM excited for, I find myself primarily refreshed and inspired by quieter films from a more independent background.

I know I am not alone in my feelings, we are many. Yet, we who oppose the incessant flow of remakes and reboots, unfortunately have the quietest voice in the media and the masses. It would seem that now just isn't the time for the renaissance of the screen, but I hope it is soon. 

I am going to do small things to show my support for independent gems, and not give my money to any of these remakes (ex. I will not be seeing the Beauty & the Beast remake in theaters, try not to have a heart attack). This might seem dumb or pointless to some, maybe it is, but it's my conviction. Money is the only language studios understand, and though it will make little difference (kind of like my vote next month), I will stick to my guns on this and focus my energy and support on as much original and independent content as possible.

I can wallow in despair about the way things are, or I can shut up and do something. Even if I am never successful in my own endeavors to share my stories with the world, I am a creator and a storyteller, and I must be true to myself.

I will still contribute occasionally to Reel World Theology, so be sure to keep up with their fantastic site and follow them on their social media pages on Twitter and Facebook.

You can continue to follow me and my projects on Twitter @phoenicianrises. I love connecting with others on Twitter, so I hope to see you there! 

Thank you all again for 6 wonderful years of support and engagement. Reel Cathedral is an idea, and it does not end on a webpage, but lives on in those who want to think deeper and understand the stories they are being told. Peace and blessings to you all.

With love from, 


My personal logo created by Danielle Pajak. You will see it again.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Moral Dilemma Dialogue: Machine Gun Preacher

My friends at Reel World Theology created a series called Moral Dilemma Dialogue, in which we take one film and examine a moral dilemma presented within it. Two people take opposing sides of the dilemma and argue their case. The arguments are presented sight-unseen of the opposing side’s approach, and with no rebuttal. That is where you, the audience, come in.

This is my second time participating in this series. It's challenging, but I really enjoy it. This post in particular is geared toward Christian ethics so keep that in mind. 

Let us know what you think! 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Episode 5: The Trouble with Reboots, Remakes, & Rehashing

Is Hollywood out of ideas? Will this nearly decade-long deluge of reboots, remakes, and rehashing the familiar ever end? I have some thoughts on this and the future of film and TV in this week's episode of Reel Cathedral Bytes.

I want to know what YOU think too. So please leave me a comment here below, on Soundcloud, Twitter, or Facebook and lets talk about it!

Play the episode here...

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Reviewing the Classics: Rebecca

It's that time again where I get to review another wonderful film of old on Reel World Theology's Reviewing the Classics series. This time it is a Hitchcock favorite of mine. Can't believe I am the first writer in the series to do a Hitchcock! 

Before Gone Girl, before The Girl on the Train, there was... Rebecca

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Midnight Special Podcast with Reel World Theology

Since I did a wonderful podcast with my peeps at Reel World Theology, I did not do my own. But never fear, this week I will be back in action.

I absolutely loved Midnight Special and was so glad I got to be part of this podcast. I'm becoming quite the Jeff Nichols fangirl, and I cannot wait for his upcoming film Loving which already had me with glistening tears and throwing all the Oscars at the screen just from the trailer.

Without further ado...

Friday, August 26, 2016

Episode 4: Five Things I Love About Outlander

Hi all,

Here's the latest episode of Reel Cathedral Bytes podcast all about the fabulous Starz series, Outlander! A little late as Season 2 ended earlier this summer, but I just had to talk about it after finishing it last weekend. (*mostly* spoiler free!)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Episode 3: The Emotional Impact of The Little Prince

The Little Prince (Netflix original film) had a big impact on me personally. So much so I can barely gather my thoughts in this podcast haha. It's the animated retelling of the French allegorical masterpiece.

Apologies that it's a week late too due to some technical issues. But, I have since then started Stranger Things so... yay!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Suicide Squad and the Climate of Film Criticism

Hi all,

I've had some issues recording my weekly podcast, so in lieu of that, here's a super great podcast I got to be a part of on Reel World Theology, where we discuss the polarization of critics and audiences, the place for critics, and how it applied to the recent release Suicide Squad

Just a heads up, it is very long, but a great discussion! Let us know in the comments how you feel about this issue. 


#106 – Suicide Squad and Critical Consensus

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Episode 2: "Alias" 15 Years Later

I can hardly believe it's been 15 years since Alias was on TV.  WHAT??? Alias first aired in ABC September 2001. It's still one of the best series out there and here's why...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Reel Cathedral Bytes: Episode 1 - The Introduction

Well, I somehow managed to learn some recording software pretty quickly and throw a little intro podcast together!

I am so excited to launch this new phase of my film analysis and review on this site. As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago (HERE), I am focusing on a lot of personal writing with my young adult novel and screenplay projects. So for me, podcasting is the perfect solution to still be able to regularly discuss film, TV, etc... while channeling my writing energy to my projects that are high on my priority list.

So without further ado, here is the intro. I will keep the episodes 15 minutes or less (this first one is just over 6 minutes) and I will occasionally have guests too so we can hear from other people and get into a broader discussion. My goal is to publish these weekly on Wednesdays. I am going to try my hardest to keep that commitment.

Thanks to everyone who has followed me since I started this blog six years ago. It took me a long time to find my "voice" but I think I've got it now.

Peace and blesssings,


Monday, July 25, 2016

Five Things to Love about Star Trek Beyond

Well, it's no secret what a Star Trek lover I am. So it's therefore no surprise that I would do a post about the latest film.

I wrote a post about the first trailer, because it wasn't very good and everyone was up in arms. Though it made me a little hesitant, I also trusted the creators and they did not let me down, though of course I can only speak for myself.

So without further ado, click the link below to read my post on Reel World Theology...

Monday, July 4, 2016

Times are a Changing: An Update

Hey all,

It's been a while since since the last post, and for that I apologize. I am shifting gears here and want to run an idea by everyone as I go through this change.

Most of the readers know that I, Alexis, write screenplays and tell stories in just about any way possible. I submitted a TV pilot script to Amazon Studios in early May, and currently I am rewriting my novel to be published by the end of this year (more details to come).

With all the writing I do outside of this blog, I'm discovering that I can't hold up writing posts at the rate I used to. Not only for this blog, but for the site Reel World Theology where I also contribute. I still want to contribute to both, because I still am passionate and have things to say about film and television, but I think writing consistently is on its way out for me. I will have some guest contributors here, but it's time for something new on Reel Cathedral.

I am thinking of having a small weekly or biweekly podcast posted on this page called Reel Cathedral Bytes. Right now I am trying to find a free podcasting editor that I can learn quickly so I can record the sessions and edit myself. I will discuss Film/TV topics in 10-15 minutes and I will also have guests with me at times. I will continue to contribute to Reel World Theology as well, but more podcasting than writing if I can help it. This way, I can still do my thing here without it draining all my writing energy from my other projects, which are the main goal and priority of my life.

This is something I will probably launch in the fall. What do you guys think about byte-sized discussions?

I also wanted to share the two recent posts I did for Reel World Theology. Click the links below to check them out!

Thank you all and I'll be in touch! Please don't forgot to follow Reel Cathedral via social media by clicking the links in the sidebar, also my personal twitter is @phoenicianrises.

Love from,

Reviewing the Classics| Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Moral Dilemma Dialogue: Minority Report

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Wolverine l Celebrating X-Men Week

I have loved X-Men since I was a child watching the original 90s animated series. I was always drawn to the characters and their struggles with their own inner power, as well as misunderstanding from the outside world.

Since Bryan Singer's first X-Men film in 2000, I have also loved the movie franchise. Well cast and with the exception of a couple of bad eggs (*cough* The Last Stand *cough* X-Men Origins: Wolverine) fantastically executed. My favorites are as follows:

1. X2 
2. First Class
3. X-Men
4.  The Wolverine
5. Days of Future Past

My post for First Class remains the highest viewed post on my site to this day. Can't believe that was FIVE years ago! Time is flying...

Reel World Theology and company have done a series for X-Men Week to build up toward the release of X-Men: Apocalypse this weekend. I got to write about The Wolverine, and it was great to watch it again. Please check out my post and all the others for X-Men Week!

Review | The Wolverine



Monday, May 16, 2016

Podcast: The Shawshank Redepmption

Yay! I love doing podcasts and was honored to do another one with Reel World Theology. This is for a series called Reel World Rewind in which we discuss "older" films over about 30 minutes.

Shawshank Redemption is one of my absolute favorite films. It still hits me hard every time I see it. Give a listen and let us know what you think of it and the others in the series!

Reel World: Rewind #004 – The Shawshank Redemption



Monday, May 9, 2016

FLASH REVIEW: Captain America: Civil War

It's time to implement something new here on Reel Cathedral

For the past year I've been posting on the Facebook page some short reviews or responses to current films when I'd like to comment, but perhaps not write a full analysis.

I am going to shift and start posting these Flash Reviews on the website directly. I'm happy to say this first one is for Captain America: Civil War, and even happier to say that it's from a new guest writer Tyler Logwood. Tyler also lives in Arizona and is probably the biggest Marvel fan I know. Here's what he had to say about the film...

Marvel continues to fire on all cylinders serving up yet another solid superhero mashup of epic proportions and solid performances from the characters we've grown to love. 

This film feels like what the Avengers 2 should have been. Yes, there are many heroes in the film, and sometimes the film feels like it's getting close to an ensemble picture (Avengers 2.5), but it does a well enough job at reminding the viewers that this is indeed a Captain America story. 

As Captain America: The Winter Soldier changed the MCU, Civil War will also change the world these heroes occupy. Coming into it, I was very concerned as to how much the film would borrow from the Civil War comic. I'm glad that the film is actually its own unique story and only taking some story beats from the comic. Tom Holland as Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther both have scene-stealing appearances, and they will each have solo films, which I can't wait to see given their performances in Civil War.

There are many moments of pure geek awesomeness to be had. Some scenes are ripped right off the comic pages, but at the core of all the epic and exciting set pieces, Civil War is a film about friendship and what are you willing to do for that friendship. Downey and Evans fall back into their respective roles and bring all the emotion necessary to provide a compelling story between our heroes. 

In my book, Captain America: Civil War is the third best Marvel film behind Winter Soldier and the Avengers. Fans can rest easy now, knowing that Marvel continues to not disappoint and we have plenty more amazing stories on the way. Can't wait to see where our heroes will end up next!

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Huntsman: Winter's War

Hi all! I've reviewed another film for Reel World Theology, The Huntsman Winter's War. I also did a repost of my Snow White and The Huntsman review on their site as well. 

Please click the link below and as always leave comments and let me know what you thought too! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Peggy Carter: Empowered from the Inside Out

This is more of a ramble of thoughts that came to mind while watching Agent Carter season two recently.  Finally I've been able to organize these thoughts somewhat. This month we celebrated International Women's Day, as well as Women's History Month. In light of this, I wanted to share my own perspective on female strength, especially as it pertains to the lovely Peggy Carter.

I have to admit, I am always on guard when I watch films or shows when a feminist theme is present. It's not that I'm against the message of strong women and female empowerment, OBVIOUSLY. I myself am a woman trying to compete in an extremely male dominated industry, so I know what it's like. I am on guard because when things get preachy and stand on their own soapboxes in storytelling, I immediately check-out, even if it's for something I agree with. Ham-fisted themes and morals sour the experience. (See James Cameron's Avatar for a good example of ham-fisted storytelling).

When I saw a Peggy Carter series was in the works, I was definitely hesitant. I didn't care for Peggy  in Captain America: The First Avenger. I thought she was a kind of a snot. However, the film itself was not very well written or executed, so a lot of that was not the character's fault.

Fortunately for Peggy Carter (and for us!), a show is exactly the platform needed to give the character the justice she deserves. The feminism in Agent Carter is sophisticated and balanced. You will find both fantastic females (Peggy, Anna, Rose) and supportive, loving men (Daniel, Jarvis, and even Howard Stark at times).

Love this photo of Peggy. ♥
The moment that sold me for good happened at the end of season one. Peggy has basically been tossed aside again, and the glory given to men above her. Daniel Sousa really cares for her, so he gets upset when the other men don't give her the credit she deserves. He asks how she can take it, she replies...

"I don't need a congressional honor. I don't need Agent Thompson's approval or the President's. I know my value, anyone else's opinion doesn't really matter." - Peggy

This is where Agent Carter stands out as a program. Peggy understands trying to impress others or prove herself to men just to feel validated is wrong. She realizes simply knowing her own worth and being confident in that is what truly makes her strong. I love that Peggy isn't in it for the credit or pat on the back from the world. It seemed to start out like that for her, but at the end of the day she does what she does because this is her calling and passion, and she's good at it.

I think if we as a society focused less on female validation from the collective, and more on encouraging women to be THEMSELVES and to find strength in their own identity, we would see an astronomical change. Women don't need to be "like men" or even to run with the boys to prove themselves. Peggy doesn't try to be a man. Though she's tough, she's also very feminine, well mannered, moral, and emotionally sound. These are all qualities to be praised, not scorned, and she knows it. In her time, it is a man's world, but she doesn't feel the need to assume the behaviors and attitudes of men in order to thrive in that world. Essentially, you go girl!

The beautiful Hayley Atwell who plays Peggy Carter.
 "I would hope that young girls can see that they don’t have to sacrifice their femininity to be taken seriously in the workplace, but also that they don’t have to rely on their physicality or their appearance. That it’s important, if not a lot more so, to be able to use their intelligence, their wit, their humor and their warmth to be able to get where they want to and achieve their goals in life."
- Hayley Atwell                

Couldn't have said it better.

Kaylee Frye fanart
There has been a very specific image emerging in our culture of what a strong woman should be. This image conveys you need to be a gun-toting, weapon-wielding, action babe in order to be strong, or that you have to embody male attributes in order to be strong. Feminine qualities are often seen as weak or something to be shirked ASAP. Star Wars: The Force Awakens had people salivating over Rey as if she were some new-fangled idea of strong girlhood. However, there are already many similar female characters in existing stories. Kaylee Frye in Firefly, for example, could wear engine grease and fix banged up, old spaceships long before Rey was even in a glint in J.J. Abram's eye. These characters have always been there, but unfortunately they were not always acknowledged and praised the way they should have been. 

I love the Furiosas, Reys, Peggy Carters, and Black Widows as much as the next nerd, but they aren't the only examples of female strength. We are narrowing female contribution and potential by implying otherwise.

We received a great (yet very under-appreciated) example of female strength last year in Cinderella. (Funny enough, Hayley Atwell played her dying mother in that film). Ella didn't swing punches or wield a sword, but she was incredibly strong and resilient. She was stuck in an awful situation of abuse, grief, and servitude. Her mother's words to her were "have courage and be kind." Being kind is a remarkable and rare strength. Her kindness, even to others who were not kind to her, shone radiantly throughout the story. It's a Christ-like quality through and through. Ella learns to stand up for who she is an not be ashamed of it. When the prince comes to her in the end, he sees her as the servant she is. She says proudly, "I am Cinderella." What was once a scorning nickname becomes a badge of pride when you find confidence and strength in who you are and are true to yourself. (I talk more about these qualities in Cinderella HERE)

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 
- 1 Peter 3: 3-4         

A lot of times when hearing this passage in 1 Peter, I see people squirm in their seats. But why? Why does "gentle" and "quiet" automatically equate to weakness in our minds and not strength? A gentle and quiet spirit takes more strength and self-control than a loud, and harsh spirit that only thinks of itself. Peggy is outspoken and sassy, but she does have a gentle and quiet spirit. She doesn't seek glory for herself, draw extensive attention to her physical beauty, or make everything in her life all about her. She respects herself, guards herself, values herself. She is kind to others, she encourages others to better themselves, she loves her teammates, she lays down her life daily as an agent for her community and for her friends. She knows she fights for something greater than herself and, even if she never gets the fame and glory, it's apparent throughout the story that the greater good is sufficient for her.

She is empowered from the inside out.

The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It would be revolutionary if these qualities became the ideals of strength, not just for women, but for men too. I love seeing the good guy kick butt, but I feel an even greater admiration when the hero's brightest light is glowing from what is inside. The very heart and depth of a person. As a society we have praised and elevated outward appearances - looks, practical skills, physical strength, social status, occupation - that we have forgotten to look at the heart, as God does. Think of how less dark the world would be if we let light those inner lights be what shines brightest.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Spring Update and Brief Hiatus

The entry to our new townhome!
Hello my darling readers,

I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my posts. Film and Television arts are my passion so thank you for supporting that. This blog passed 60k views this month, which isn't astronomical in this competitive internet world, but I'll take it!

My husband and I recently found a house so we will be spending the next month painting and fixing up our new place and then finally moving in on April 2nd. We are so excited!

So, in order to prepare for this big change, I will be taking brief hiatus from now until the end of April. So not too long! I will still be checking in on my Twitter, Instagram,  and Facebook occasionally so follow me there if you haven't already. 

I'm also working on a television pilot of my own, that I hope to have that completed and submitted to Amazon Studios by summer.

When I come back, I'll be ready to talk about some spring film releases and series. March and April are crazy full of wonderful content.

All the best to you guys, happy spring!


Me spackling our new place.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Top 5 80s Fantasy Films

Man, my third post on Reel World Theology in a week. Shazaam!

Fantasies from the 80s are among some of my favorite films in general. The use of organic effects that stretched creative effort and artistry is what gets me. They may not hold up to first-time 21st-century viewers, but I personally feel really taken in by them, in ways CGI often still fails to do. Here are my personal Top Five favorites of the genre. Leave a comment on the post and let us know what yours are! 

Top 5 80s Fantasy Films



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Reviewing the Classics | It Happened One Night

As promised, here's my post for Reel World Theology's ‪#‎ReviewingTheClassics‬ series with one of my favorite films ever, It Happened One Night.

This film is the definitive romantic comedy, still making us LOL even 80+ years later. Moreover, it has genuine heart. This film graces many top 100 lists so be sure to add it to your own queue!

Reviewing the Classics| It Happened One Night

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Top Five Romantic Comedies - My First Top Five List!

In the midst of real life craziness this past week, I got to do something super fun for Reel World Theology. In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I made a Top Five‬ list for romantic comedies! Additionally, my number one pick will have a separate post all it's own tomorrow so be on the lookout for that.

This is my first time doing any sort of of a "Top" whatever list because it's SO HARD to narrow it down, but I really enjoyed it and definitely hope to do more. Thanks peeps!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Favorite Films of 2015

Well folks, it's that time of year again. I'll admit as each year passes I get less and less thrilled about doing my list. Mainly because of the increasing industry-wide trend of films being flashy, overly polished cash hogs, with shallow story and character development. I'm deeply depressed about this current normality, but that's a story for another day. 

Nevertheless, here is my list for 2015. This year, it's not in any particular order as far as greatest to least, other than Mad Max my #1 of the year. I did miss a few films too so that might be why some are not on the list, but overall I can't say I was interested in much beyond this. 

If you’ve read my past yearly round-up posts, you know what to expect but, if not... 

*Disclaimer: Let it be known that my system for awarding and choosing favorites is based on my own personal taste, mood, appeal, and knowledge of film. Although I do judge films based on the standard criticisms, I do not cater to Hollywood’s opinion or anyone else’s. To argue or dispute my statements would be futile, as I am not implying my preferences are standard. I choose creators based on the proficiency and uniqueness of their work and productions for the same reasons.

Favorites of 2015

1. Mad Max: Fury Road -  My favorite film of the year! This deserves best picture because it's so unique in every way. It may be an "action film" but it demonstrated the power of showing, not telling through stunning visuals and creating relationships and tension using camera angels, landscapes, and expressive acting. It's a fast-paced roller-coaster, but it's not mindless. I have a full review and analysis HERE. 

2. Testament of Youth
3. The Martian
4.  Brooklyn
5. Ex Machina
6. The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
7. The Revenant
8. The Peanuts Movie
9.  Avengers: Age of Ultron
10. Mockingjay Part II
11. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
12. Inside Out
13. Cinderella
14. Shaun the Sheep
15. The Hateful Eight
16.  Spectre
17. Ant-Man
18. MI: Rogue Nation

Biggest disappointments of 2015:

Crimson Peak
Viktor Frankenstein
The Good Dinosaur

Favorite Male Performers of the Year

Tom Hardy (Legend, The Revenant, Mad Max)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
Domhall Gleeson (Ex Machina, Brooklyn, The Revenant, The Force Awakens)
Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, The Force Awakens)

Favorite Female Performers of the Year

Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, Testament of Youth, Man from UNCLE, The Danish Girl)
Jennifer Lawrence (Mockingjay Part 2, Joy)
Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Saorise Ronan (Brooklyn)

Best Directors

George Miller - Mad Max: Fury Road For bending all the rules of what an "action movie" is and can possibly be. For using visuals in innovative ways to tell the story. 

Alejandro González Iñárritu - Revenant For telling a story in the most challenging way and not giving up on it. Also for overwhelming genius in cinematography and using only natural lighting, which is a feat in itself. 

Outstanding Musical Scores

The Hateful Eight by Enio Morricone & others 
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. by Daniel Pemberton & others
Mad Max: Fury Road by Tom Holkenborg
Testament of Youth by Max Richter
The Martian by Harry Gregson-Williams