Why Do These Three Movies Matter?

In this episode of Inside The Epicenter, Joel and Carl dive into the world of movies, sharing their thoughts on recent films and highlighting some thought-provoking issues. 

They review the latest Mission Impossible installment and chat about the film Sound of Freedom and the upcoming film Golda, the story of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. As always, Joel and Carl bring their unique perspective, biblical insights, and a dash of humor to the table, making this an episode you won’t want to miss!

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- Big spectacular movies, very pro-American, and again, but character-driven. These are different from Vin Diesel or I don't know, Steven Seagal films back in the day, where it was pure action, but you really didn't, these characters were plastic and one-dimensional, two-dimensional at best.

- The Joshua Fund goes to the movies. This summer has a lot of great movies coming out. And of course, Joel Rosenberg, our founder, loves the movies and has some great insights into some the movies that will be in your box office this summer. "Mission Impossible," the "Sound of Freedom," and "Golda." Hi, and welcome to "Inside the Epicenter" with Joel Rosenberg, a podcast of The Joshua Fund. A ministry dedicated to blessing Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. I'm Carl Moeller, executive director of The Joshua Fund. And today, we're talking with Joel Rosenberg, who's here in the United States in Denver, and is gonna give us some insights into these movies that are coming out this summer. And Joel, welcome. So glad you can give us your take on these movies.

- Well, I did go to film school and I've never made a movie, but you know.

- Well.

- I do love movies. And I'm still hoping that one of my thrillers or several of my political tools will become movies. We actually have a movie deal on "The Kremlin Conspiracy," if that moves forward in a significant way, we'll certainly update this audience about that. But it's an early stage. A really great screenwriter has done two drafts on that script, so we'll see.

- We're excited.

- Yeah, so I'm kind of excited. But I love movies and I love summer movies in particular, because those are usually blockbusters and they're usually the movies that are designed to pull people out of their homes away from Netflix, away from Paramount Plus and Disney and Amazon, whatever and go into the big screen. And that is getting tougher and tougher to do for several reasons. First, of course, during COVID, all the movie theaters were shut down, which I really didn't understand. And I don't wanna get into a whole COVID rant right now.

- No, no.

- But I will say, so, just to be clear, churches had to be closed, but strip clubs and bars and casinos, those could be open. But movie theaters in which you could literally pick your seat and they could separate people by two, three, four, five seats that they wanted, and you're looking forward and you're not doing anything, those had to be closed. I really didn't understand the whole concept.

- Totally, totally crazy. So, yeah, and you've written, I mean, obviously you write thrillers, you've written also nonfiction books that are really, some of the content of this podcast that we go over on a regular basis. Some bible study books and range of things. But you've written some really great thrillers over 15, I think bestseller books, New York Times and others. I mean, honestly, Joel, you've got a lot to say about what some of these movies are about. Let's start with that first one, "Mission Impossible" what is it? "Mission Impossible 7"?

- "Mission Impossible 7." And the penultimate, meaning this is the next to last there will ever be with Tom Cruise playing Ethan Hunt in "Mission Impossible." Well start with, like, Tom Cruise is a nut. I love him, but he's a bit of a nut. And of course, theologically, we're way different. He's a scientologist and we're Evangelical Bible believer, Born Again Christian. So a little bit different there. But I will say the one connection that we have, aside from being interested in thrillers, he's super successful, and me, a little bit less so. But Tom Cruise was born in Syracuse, New York, and I was born in.

- I didn't know that.

- Syracuse, New York.

- I didn't know that.

- And I don't know if there's something that's in the water in Syracuse that leads people to have a passion for thrillers. I don't know about that.

- I didn't know it was a particularly exciting place when you really-

- Apparently, or not exciting enough. Meaning we had to add some thrill into our lives. 'Cause it's sort of, I don't know, sort of a dying city. Kinda sad. But look, one of the things that's interesting about the "Mission Impossible" series is, in my view, every single one of the "Mission Impossible" movies has been better than the one before. And you almost can't say that about sequels. Of course, famously, "Godfather 1" was an Academy Award-winning movie, multiple Academy Awards and was amazing. And "Godfather 2" might be as good as the original. It might be better in certain ways, but you certainly have to have seen the first one. But it won a raft of Academy Awards as well, but rarely are sequels as good. It's just not the nature of the beast. And yet, it really owes to Tom Cruise. He has this passion for taking the audience on a bigger, better, more exciting, more intense and more emotional ride. He's been very careful. And then one of the things I like about the "Mission Impossible" series is that it's very character-driven, even though there's these huge set pieces of dramatic stunts, which he does himself and the stunts himself have gotten better. He's gotten away from CGI. The first one, there's a big moment on a train that's going through the tunnel from England to France, it's all CGI. But over time, he thought, "Why am I doing CGI? We have the money, we make a billion dollars a movie. And I want to do crazier stunts than I did the last time, so let's just do it. Let's just go crazy." And so he teaches himself to like fly a helicopter by himself, but not just a fly it, but fly it in a death spiral that's almost gonna crash but then he doesn't at the last minute. And they film it with multiple cameras so you know he's really in that helicopter and he really is flying it by himself and there's nobody else in there. And if he makes a mistake, he's gonna die. I can't imagine what the insurance costs are on a film like that. Because this is the biggest grossing box off a star on the planet, bar none. And this one, I gotta tell you, I loved "Mission Impossible 7" with one exception. I mean, there's a couple exceptions, but because it's part one of two.

- [Carl] Oh, really?

- So it does leave you hanging, and it does leave you to some degree, unsatisfied because there's a critical plot element

- [Carl] That's not resolved.

- That you don't understand exactly why they're going after this thing. In movie making, it's called a McGuffin, where they don't really tell you exactly why do we need this? In this case, it's in the trailers, but it's like a certain type of key that looks like a cross. You need both halves to do something, but you don't know what.

- What that is, yeah.

- And so, it's amazing this to fill up two hours and 47 minutes in a billion dollar movie, where you're like, "But what does it do?" I don't know, but everyone seems to-

- Still don't know.

- To die to get it or to get both parts of it and then figure out what do you do with it. But it was fun. I gotta say, friends and I, we saw it in DC when we were visiting family and that side, we're here in Denver visiting my folks who are not doing so well in their mid-80s. But wow, we saw in IMAX, I not only encourage people to see it.

- That's the thing.

- But see it in IMAX. This is the way summer movies are made to be watched and listened to.

- Well, I hope that we can continue, this sort of occasional series on our podcast about talking about different movies and things like that, because-

- It's a funny version.

- If you've never discussed a movie with Joel Rosenberg people, I want you to know, it's a highlight. He's got so many insights into how this was done, or how the producers and the directors are creating an environment that makes you actually believe that Ethan Hunt is going to be able to somehow grab onto the ledge and hold on while things are actually literally falling apart. I mean, that's-

- Or drive off a mountainside on a motorcycle and then parachute his way down into a train.

- Oh goodness.

- It seemed unlikely, and it is. But you think of also, just as an aside, first of all, that's an amazing, if you get a chance to watch the YouTube video of how they made that scene, how they practiced for it, because it's not normal. There's no roadmap, literally or figuratively on how to drive a motor motorcycle off a mountain and then parachute down and land in a train. Nobody's ever done it. And so they had to build this huge ramp, and then there's wind, cross currents. How are they gonna have the cameras? There's gonna be a helicopter filming right above them, but that's gonna create down pressure. And so they did it, I don't know, like 100 times. That's 100 motorcycles they destroyed.

- Line item on the budget here.

- Just line item on-

- The motorcycle.

- I mean, I love this movie, and I think one of the things that's also important about Tom Cruise movies, even though he's a nut, God bless him, but I mean-

- Yeah, he's whack.

- He's an very eccentric person, and he needs Jesus. In addition to that, I mean, that being said, I would just say he's very pro-American. And one of the things he has done, starting with the original "Top Gun" in 1985 or '86, I think it was '86.

- '86, yeah.

- That was the first movie that was a pro-American military movie after all the movies and the sadness and the controversy over the Vietnam War.

- [Carl] Vietnam War, yeah.

- And suddenly he was like, "Yeah, I get it. People don't only like that war, but we're still the greatest country in the world, and we've got a great Air Force or Navy in this case, and let's celebrate that." And people loved it. I loved it. I think, by the way, you and your wife and I saw a "Top Gun-"

- I was gonna say.

- In Jerusalem. How do we not do a podcast on that?

- But I thought-

- I don't know.

- That was even better than the first. But again, pro-American, these movies are not woke. I mean, there's flaws. I mean, the CIA sometimes has infiltrated by somebody who's horrible and trying to do something bad. But these are movies that celebrate America being great, but still having to be highly vigilant against all enemies foreign and domestic. And I think that's one of the reasons they do so well, because they're just not buying into the wokeness that is infected Hollywood and most of popular culture.

- Well, I think you're gonna see that, and I'm sure we're gonna talk about that as we talk about some of these other movies that the movies that are trying to, I would say, and maybe you can comment on this, socially manipulate us into thinking black is white and right is wrong. I think we so sometimes might have a visceral reaction to that, and people don't wanna be manipulated like that. But if you go to a "Mission Impossible," or a Tom Cruise "Top Gun" movie, and you can escape but you can actually be reinforced in some of those better values, I think that's what drives people to pay the money to go to a box theater through the box office.

- I agree. I think it's the combination in this case of yes, these are huge, spectacular spectacles, meaning you can't get this experience on the small screen, first of all. These are movies made to be seen in a theater. They're made to be seen on-


- If at all possible with Dolby surround sound that's making you shake in your chair. So, secondly, they are very pro-American. And I'll note back to "Top Gun" since we mentioned that a moment ago. I remember when the trailer came out for "Top Gun: Maverick" which I think I've seen nine times. I think three times in the theater but I just love that movie.

- I can tell you how it ends.

- I won't tell you right now, but for those who are like, but I'll ask anybody who's watching this, why haven't you seen Maverick? At least once, much less, six, seven, eight, nine times? But in the trailer for "Top Gun: Maverick," there was a weird moment where Tom Cruise is picking up a leather jacket with all kinds of patches from his various military deployments overseas around the world. And he's putting on this leather jacket, it's the same jacket he wore in the 1985 or '86 film, but in '86, it had a patch from Taiwan. The Republic of China. Not the communist China, which is mainland, but the island. And then this trailer, it had been blurred out, and it wasn't Taiwan anymore. And people were like, "Whoa." I mean, it was a little detail, but that struck us, many of us, myself included as well, I'm not sure if the term woke is right, but you're basically kowtowing to a communist Chinese regime, why? Understandably, you wanna sell this film into Chinese theaters, and you wanna reach a billion people. But should you? I mean, if you really, you can't defend Taiwan, which is a democracy threatened with annihilation, or being gobbled up by communist genocidal thugs, you really think that your "Top Gun" movie's gonna work? And to his credit, Tom Cruise changed that. He didn't make a big announcement about it, but when you see the film, the Taiwan patch is back.

- [Carl] It's back.

- That's just one signal that usually, Hollywood goes the other direction. If you're not woken enough or you're not anti-American enough, then the pressure will cause you to Hollywood to go even in the wrong direction even more. So big spectacular movies, very pro-American and again, but character-driven, this is, these are different from Vin Diesel or I don't know, Steven Seagal film back in the day, or where it was pure action, but you really didn't, these characters were plastic and one-dimensional, two-dimensional at best. And Tom Cruise and McQ, he calls him, Christopher McQuarrie, his director-writer, these guys really think about what makes it emotionally interesting? What can we surprise the audience in their relationships? And how does this team of friends handle these assignments when maybe they could just let one of their friends be killed for the greater good? But Tom Cruise's character, Ethan Hunt, will never do it. And that it's considered a flaw by some, but a strength by others. And I think those relationships, those three elements, make "Mission Impossible" movies huge. And next one, this is the last, next to last, but the next one, that's it for Tom Cruise. He's finishing this series.

- Well, I mean, he should be, he's gonna start collecting social security checks.

- Well, how does he do these things?

- I have no idea.

- It's amazing.

- Hey, look, I think that's some of the things that I make a connection to your work in fiction, because you have heroes who do amazing things, and yet there are some things that they won't do because there is a character element that defines them and brings them more reality, I would say, than the superheroes or the heroes that almost have no boundaries on their own moral frameworks and own emotional and psychological frameworks. Those are important components that bring us closer into those characters. And you and I have talked a lot about different movies that we love in different genres, but they're always expositions or explorations of character and of who people are and what moves them and drives them, that's truly what makes a drama a drama. Otherwise, it's just, eye candy or empty entertainment, I guess.

- Yeah, and those films rarely work. No matter how good the special effects are, how big the stunts are, if it's not character and emotionally-driven, it won't work. Now, I appreciate you saying that 'cause it's true that my novels compete up against all the best ones in the business, but I have several self-imposed challenges. I'm not gonna put gratuitous sex scenes or any sex scenes, it doesn't have to be gratuitous or not, into my novels. Well, that's something that some thriller readers look for, so you're not gonna find it in mine. And there's not gonna be all kinds of profanity or obscenities in my books, which is a mainstay. I don't think it's done by other writers because they think I need to fit this in. It's just how they think, how they talk. But I don't do that, which makes mine very different. But also, then I have spiritual themes. Maybe not over the top, preaching sometimes, but sometimes, prophetic elements or other, which again, makes it very, very different. And my "Markus Ryker" in the current series isn't an assassin. He's somebody who's trying to protect, he's a protector by nature and training. He's not hunting people as a normal way. I mean, he is in this particular "Libyan Diversion" book, but that's because of some other factors that are not normal for him. But all that to say, yeah, I think Hollywood has gone off the rails in so many ways. But these films this summer, there are a few. "Mission Impossible" is the biggest. But there are these two others, "Sound of Freedom" and "Golda" coming up, which we'll play a moment. I would say another one, which we are not gonna spend time on, but I did see the, the end of the "Indiana Jones" series with Harrison Ford, which I've heard a lot of people hate in terms of critics. I liked it. I didn't love it, but I was glad to see it. And by the way, Syracuse is mentioned in this, so I should just bring this up. One of the pot elements says that there are clues to be found in Syracuse. And this young woman goes, "Syracuse, New York?" And he's like, and Harrison Ford character was like, "No, no, Syracuse, Sicily in Italy." I thought, whoa. How often does Syracuse get mentioned in a... So I know this is not inside Syracuse, it's Inside the Epicenter but I am referencing that theme.

- There's some Syracusean cabal that's getting mentioned in all these films, apparently. Hey, Joel, we're gonna take a quick break right now. We're gonna come back and we're gonna talk about those two other movies that you wanna discuss because of some really powerful themes and things that are involved in both of those. We'll be back in just a second. Our verse of the day today is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14. "If my people who are called by my name, humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." And our prayer requests today are number one, to pray that God continues to help the leaders of Israel lead with wisdom and the fear of God. And second, pray that God helps the Jewish people to always remember their divine heritage and help them come to a knowledge of Jesus as their Messiah. Well, Joel, we're back, and I wanna give a note to our listeners that we've just gotten word that President Biden will be meeting with Israeli President Herzog, and President Herzog has just landed in the US for those meetings with President Biden. And I know our listeners will want to keep those meetings in prayer. In addition to that, we found out also on this podcast, just as it's been going on, that President Biden has finally called and invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to the United States for a state visit and a meeting. We both know that these are both long overdue and really indications of where this current administration sees the relationship with Israel. And I don't wanna get us off into that, 'cause we are talking about the movies. But Joel, maybe you could give a little bit of a comment on those things that we just got word of.

- Yeah, I appreciate you bringing it up, Carl, because it is just unfolding as we're recording this. And so we will unpack those elements, why they're significant, what Herzog is saying, not only to President Biden at the White House, but in his speech to a joint session of Congress. He's only the second Israeli president to ever address the entire House and Senate in a joint session in all of modern Israeli history. So that's important. Who is Herzog? Why did he get invited? What did he say? Why is it important and what did he say to Biden? And of course, the Netanyahu-Biden relationship, which has been frosty and tense and problematic. So we'll get it into all of that in a very soon upcoming podcast, absolutely. But it might be worth pivoting then, not yet to "Sound of Freedom," which is a very important film. Maybe probably I would say the most important films that come out this summer. And one that everybody needs to see. And I want to talk about it, but I would say let's pivot into this movie called "Golda" which is about the story of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1973. It's coming out this fall or actually, late August. It just premiered at the Jerusalem Film Festival over the summer. Helen Mirren, the Academy Award-winning diva, superstar actress, very, very impressive. She plays Golda Meir. The first and so far, only woman to ever be Prime Minister of Israel at a time of intense strain between Israel and the United States. President Nixon was the president at the time. Henry Kissinger was the Secretary of State. Henry Kissinger is portrayed in the film, a very, very powerful set of events in this film. I haven't seen the film yet. I've seen a lot of reporting about it and we have requested interviews with the director. Guy Nattiv is an Israeli director, as well as Helen Mirren for my TBN show, "The Rosenberg Report." Guy Nattiv has said, "Yes, we're waiting on Helen Mirren."

- [Carl] Wonderful.

- But it's a very interesting film. We'll get into it, but I just wanna say it's not out yet, but I am anticipating it. Now, it could be terrible. I don't know yet.

- That's happened before.

- I can't review it. But Golda Meir story is interesting and the way Guy Nattiv and his screenwriter chose this particular story is important because you could do a whole what's called a biopic, a whole biography of the life of Golda Meir, and I'll mention some facts about her in a moment 'cause as you mentioned, I'm here in Denver. She lived in Denver. And you're like.

- What?

- Yes. She grew up part of her teenage life here in Denver. We'll get back to that in a second. What are you talking about? She was not born in Israel and she grew up as in the United States for a while. But what's interesting is he chose to sort of narrow cast into her life at the moment of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, where then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat launched the horrific sneak invasion of Israel on Yom Kippur, which is the day of atonement, the highest holy day on the Jewish calendar. Sadat wasn't alone coming in from the south, from Egypt. He had also gotten the leaders of Syria to attack and invade Israel from the north. This was the worst invasion in the history of modern Israel. Israel was so caught off guard. This was a massive intelligence failure for the Israeli system. Golda Meir made major mistakes in the weeks and months leading up to the war and during the early stages of the war. She doesn't survive the whole thing politically, but she doesn't lose the war. She and her team win the war against all odds. And her character, her grit, her resolve, but also her flaws really come through in the story. Now whether it comes through in the film, we'll have to see. We've seen some really disappointing movies about Israel in the last decade or so that you think. Really? How did you blow that? Like there's a movie about the Entebbe rescue where a plane of Israelis were taken hostage by Palestinian terrorists. They were flown to Entebbe, Uganda and Israel mounted a secret commando raid to rescue all the hostages. And they did. And there was only one fatality, sadly, tragically, that was Benjamin Netanyahu's older brother, Yonatan or Yoni, who was shot in the back from a sniper, just as they were getting in the plane, just as they were about to take off. That's one of the most dramatic stories in the history of modern Israel and the movie is terrible. And you think, "How did you blow that story? You gotta be kidding me." So that's one of several movies that have just, oops, not gone well. So I have high hopes for this one, "Golda," but we'll have to see.

- Well, I mean, certainly it has the earmark of a movie that could make a profound impact on people's understanding and really hopefully, keep a positive conversation available about the national bravery of Israel, the lessons of leadership and the lessons of difficult choices that leaders need to make sometimes. And of course, with candor, it wasn't just sort of an idea, but she's actually been given an award at the premier by the president of Israel. Didn't President Herzog give Helen Mirren a special award for portraying Golda Meir in this?

- Yes, which is ironic because when she was chosen, when she was cast to play Golda Meir, there was a big bruhaha in the media. Like, why would you choose a non-Jewish woman to portray,

- This icon.

- The Jewish hero of Israel? I don't find that type of attack line reasonable. I think that has a lot of woke elements. Look, actors and actresses portray people they're not.

- And it's by definition.

- That's sort of the point. A director can usually hire almost anybody that he or she can afford. Sometimes, the film budget doesn't allow for the actor or actress that you want. But what you're casting is someone who can portray the character of this person so that we see them. We're not watching Helen Mirren as a Brit, a white British person. We're looking this person as a Jewish Israeli. And if she doesn't convince us of that, she shouldn't have been in the film. But she is an extraordinary actress. And by the way, the makeup job for her is spectacular. And by the way, Golda Meir, God bless her, was not the most attractive world leader. There's actually a Seinfeld moment where they're sitting in the coffee shop, Jerry, George and Elaine, and they're all talking about who's the least attractive world leader. And they're like, "Oh, I think de Gaulle." And then the other one's like "Lyndon Johnson." And Elaine says, "Have you seen Golda Meir? She can make them all run up a tree."

- That's horrible.

- Golda Meir was not elected Prime Minister of Israel 'cause she was a movie star. An A-list right out of central casting. But because she represented something, and again, a woman elected as Prime Minister of Israel, but also anywhere in the Middle East or almost anywhere in the world. At that point, the Women's Rights Movement hadn't been getting all kinds of people, women elected to office. So this was a big deal. People were choosing her big deal. Now she made some major mistakes. But the reason the movie is significant, and why I hope it goes well, is because it raises a very important question from the epicenter, and that is this. Golda Meir had intelligence suggesting that an attack was coming, but she dismissed it, she and her generals, because Israel had been so dramatically successful in 1967, just a few years prior to 1973, that she felt that the country was invincible and no one would dare attack Israel. And so she didn't launch a preemptive strike or even mobilize the vast majority of the forces based on the growing intelligence that was telling her there was a problem. This is significant now, because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a huge decision to make. Many people think that Israel, because of all of our defense capabilities, missile defenses and so forth, maybe that we're invulnerable to an Iranian nuclear attack. And that maybe we don't have to take preemptive action to stop Iran from being able to build the bomb. But others, worry if you don't strike first, you may never have the chance to strike at all. In other words, an Iranian leader years ago, Rafsanjani said, "Israel's a one-bomb country." I don't know if that's really true, but his argument was, if you drop one nuclear weapon on Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, you're gonna so decimate the Israeli society, the economy, and you're gonna kill so many people, but you're also gonna ruin their economy, their tourism, their trade, that you can end Israel with one nuclear bomb. Hope that's not true.

- And I hope they don't have that as a philosophy.

- The Iranian leadership wants to bring about a second Holocaust. If the Iranian leadership could final finally build nuclear weapons and attach them to the high speed ballistic missiles they already have, they could do in about six minutes what it took eight of Hitler six years to do. And that's to kill 6 million Jews. And the movie "Golda" talks about a prime minister hesitating in the face of imminent annihilation Interesting under pressure from an American president not to act. And it's relevant now because Israel has to make some decisions. I don't wanna go to war with Iran, but Netanyahu has to make a decision soon. Are we gonna take preemptive action or are we just gonna let Iran get the bomb and then hope that they never use it?

- Well, I mean, that's an important reason alone to wanna go see the movie "Golda." And it comes in light of the fact that many movies talking about the past give us insight into the present, it may be the future because of the way they lay out those decisions that need to be made, and in some cases, aren't made. Or I remember seeing some films, "Ten Days in October" about the Cuban Missile Crisis. And largely just dialogue, because it's dialogue, but it puts you into the room of making strategic decisions that really, the fate of the free world and the world at at large would really pivot on. And we know, we call this podcast "Inside the Epicenter" because Israel is the epicenter. It's the apple of God's eye. It's the center of all human history and all prophetic history as we look forward. What are some of the lessons do you think that we can, I know neither of us have seen this movie, but from the experience of Golda Meir and the Yom Kippur War, what are some of those lessons that we might be able to take from this movie and make it a must-see for us?

- Well, for me, one of those lessons is that people who misunderstand the nature and threat of evil risk being blindsided by it. And even though Golda Meir had great strengths, but she miscalculated terribly. She was able to recover because she remained strong and she didn't give up or have a mental breakdown in the midst of this war. But Israel was so, excuse me. And so losing the war in the early stages of October, 1973, that the history books are filled with account, that she was being advised to pull Israel's nuclear weapons out of storage and use them against the Egyptians and maybe even the Syrians to end this war and to protect Israel. She chooses not to. She believes that Israel can win conventionally, but the Israel's backs were up against the wall. That's the danger of waiting. Israel doesn't have strategic depth. Israel's a small country, and we can't take a first punch. Well, if you see the other team bawling up their fist and getting ready to punch, you have to strike first. . So this is a big issue. But some other things that are interesting just a little bit, and I know we wanna get into the "Sound of Freedom," which is I think is the most important movie of the summer and most impactful to me.

- You mean it's not "Barbie"?

- No. So Golda Meir is interesting for several reasons, just a little bit of biography, because she was born in Kiev. That's the way we grew up saying it. But now it said, you say Kyiv. She's Ukrainian, she's Jewish. So she was living, her family was living in exile. But it's interesting to be born in May of 19, or sorry, 1898, may of 1898 being born as a Jew in Ukraine, which was a hotbed of antisemitism at that time, as was all of all of Russia what became the Russian Federation. But it's interesting, those were her roots. And because of persecution and poverty and lack of opportunity for Jews, her family decides to leave. Now, I am interested, I read her biography when I was in college at Tel Aviv University, and I've always been intrigued with her story. There were policy issues I disagreed with her on, but I'm intrigued with her story because my family were Orthodox Jews in just a little bit north of that in Minsk, which is the capital of what's now known as the country of Belarus or White Russia, but was then part of Russia and in the Soviet era, of course, was part of the Soviet Union. So, and both Golda Meir family and mine didn't go to Palestine, British mandated Palestine at that time. Both of our families left under Jewish persecution in what we know today as Russia or Ukraine, and came to the United States. Golda's family settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And my family, on my dad's side, settled in Brooklyn. At the age of 15, Golda Meir decides she doesn't like Milwaukee. And she has some relatives, I think a cousin in Denver, Colorado. And she basically escapes and decides to relocate herself 'cause she wants more educational opportunity and she hears from her family and friends, that she can go to Denver. And so there's actually a Golda Meir House Museum here in Denver. To my shame, I've never gone-

- I've never even heard of it.

- I mentioned this morning to my wife before we did this podcast. And she's like, "I've been there. Yeah, your mother took me years ago." I'm like, "Well, why didn't you take me?" I don't know. I was probably on some book tour or something, so I'd like to go there. So it's interesting because she's born in Kyiv, she doesn't become an American citizen, but she starts growing up in America. Well, I'm not aware of that she was an American citizen. I'll have to look that up. But then she emigrates as my family later did to Israel. And think about that. You're not born in Israel. You're not raised in Israel. You eventually go to Israel. But then you become the prime minister of Israel as a woman?

- That's amazing.

- That is such an interesting story that again, I just pray that the movie does her justice. She was a cover story in Time Magazine. She's not like most other leaders. And so I think her story is so interesting, and I hope that people will read her autobiography and go see this film, and I'll review it for All Israel News and for my TBN show. Hopefully, we'll get the interviews and maybe we'll do another podcast on it once we've seen it.

- Well, we certainly feel like movies are an important way for this culture to interpret things that are going on. And I know another movie we'd like to talk about at some point in time I'd like to talk about sometime is "Oppenheimer." I'm looking forward to seeing that. Because again, we're faced with a very, very volatile world. And movies like "Golda" and like "Oppenheimer" give us that insight. But now to move from a movie that we neither of us have seen to a movie that both of us have seen, and that is extremely powerful and perhaps tells truth in a way that makes us uncomfortable, is the movie the "Sound of Freedom." It's out now. And if people haven't had a chance to see that movie, I highly recommend it. And Joel, maybe you can talk a little bit about your perspectives on the movie, the "Sound of Freedom" with Jim Caviezel

- Absolutely. Well, first of all, "Sound of Freedom" is the most important movie of the summer. It's been the breakout hit of the summer, making $85 million so far as we speak, where nobody thought it was gonna do anything. And it's also a very surprising movie in the sense that it was finished in 2018 and yet no studio was willing to release it for five years. The movie company that made "Sound of Freedom," which is about a homeland security agent for the United States. A guy named Tim Ballard, played by Jim Caviezel, who of course famously played Jesus in the "Passion of the Christ." And this character, it's a real true story of Tim Ballard become so horrified by human trafficking, particularly child trafficking, particularly child sex slave trafficking, that he decides to quit his job with Homeland Security to get in even more directly involved than the US government would allow him to rescue children that have been captured and forced into sex slavery. It's a very powerful story. It's tastefully told, meaning you can feel how evil these things are, but you're not having to see things. I mean, I wouldn't have been able to watch it. I wouldn't sure what I was gonna get. You don't have any doubt what's happening, but they're careful to make you understand how horrifying this is without taking you over a line and much less, God forbid, glorifying or in any way or any of it.

- [Carl] No, I agree.

- You feel how ugly and disgusting it, and you think, how come more people aren't trying to stop this and to rescue kids out of it? But what's key, and I just wanna make this one other point right now, is the company that made "Sound of Freedom," the film company then got bought by Walt Disney. And Disney refused to release the film, and it took legal battles to get the rights to the film back to the filmmakers. And then after they went through all that process, then they had to go try to find a distributor to release the film and put it in theaters. And it took them five years and nobody wanted to do it. And they finally found an independent distributor out of London, I believe it was called Angel Films, or Angel Movies or something like that. Who did some crowdfunding to raise some money. And very quickly was like, "Yeah, this is important. We will do it." And most people thought, "Well, that's not gonna go anywhere." And it's been decimated huge by the Rolling Stone and all kinds of other far left heartless publications who've trashed this film. And you're like-

- I don't know why.

- Wait a minute. I'm not saying it's the greatest movie ever made technically, but it's powerful, it's emotional and it's important. How cold-hearted could you have to be in the media, not to say, "You know what? This is an important film. You should see it. You're not gonna feel comfortable through it, but it's heroic, it's important." And we can't all agree in the United States or in the media about the importance of fighting sex slavery for children? What is wrong with the media? It's just... As shocked as you and I are about media bias, why I started All Israel News or the Rosenberg Report. I just can't believe the campaign against this film.

- Yeah, that was a mystery to me and it was one of the reasons I really wanted to see it. Obviously, I had heard about the important part, but I said, "What could the left object to about a film that is portraying heroic activity to stop child sex slavery?" I mean, okay. You can say maybe it was made badly or maybe, but it's not. It's actually really well made, really well acted. I was, I was surprised maybe in sort of that way that we still sometimes are by faith-based, and believe me, it's not really a faith-based film, but it's an important faith component of Christianity to stand for those that are the weakest and the most vulnerable.

- But they're right on the-

- Very, very.

- You don't see a bunch of process, you don't see your sermons. You know what's driving two of the characters but it's pretty...

- It's very light.

- Very lightly told.

- But it's so powerful and it's so moving and it's so real on some levels that I was stunned to really go back and say, why would people... You have to ask yourself, is there something else going on that literally cannot allow someone, even with very, very different political and social views to unite on this simple piece of common turf. It's bad that a million children a year, up to a million children a year that we know of are abducted worldwide into child sex slavery, and somebody's gotta do something about it.

- Yeah, absolutely. And I think particularly, we can't get into all of this, but I have to say, my disappointment with the Walt Disney Corporation. Here's the company that's most defined in our minds over the last hundred years as being the most pro-family, pro-child company in the world in terms of entertainment. And yet, something has gone seriously wrong at the-

- Deeply wrong.

- Upper echelons of the Walt Disney Corporation. And obviously, they're waging this battle politically in Florida to encourage the teaching of just...

- Yeah.

- Very anti-biblical sexuality to school children in elementary ages. And again, this is not a political endorsement, it's just a notation that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the entire Florida legislature's like, "This is not appropriate." You can disagree and you can talk about homosexuality versus biblical sexuality, but we're not doing that for second graders, third graders. We're not gonna allow the encouragement of changing your body, slicing off body parts, changing your gender. We're not gonna encourage that in our public school system in the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth graders. It's just not appropriate. It's not right. We're not gonna do it. That is common sense. And yet, the Disney Corporation has gone to war with DeSantis and the people of Florida as far as I can tell to say, "No, that type of bizarre sexual discussions and behavior should be taught to minors." And you're like, "What are you talking about?" And so for Disney to have a film in its possession, which is a hugely important film about protecting vulnerable children and to not wanna release it, I'm not gonna say why I think they didn't wanna do it. I don't know, I would like to hear somebody say from the top of the company, "We didn't believe in this film because" what? What could you possibly... You put films out about everything. So why would this be anathema to your company? And I just don't, I mean, I think I do understand it, but it bothers me.

- Yeah, it bothers me too.

- Thank God this film, its makers worked so hard to get the rights back and to release it. I do have a couple criticisms of the film but I still think people should see it. And the criticisms I have don't undercut it. I think it just would've been stronger in a couple of areas.

- Well, I left that theater and my wife would tell you, I've never been as impacted by a movie in quite a long time. And I don't think it was simply because of the movie. I love movies. I love to be moved by movies. I love "Saving Private Ryan," I can hardly even talk about the first scene, or the last scene there where he says, "Tell me I'm a good man" without choking up. I mean, that's what the movies should do for us, to bring us to that emotional place of authenticity. But when you see a movie like "Sound of Freedom" and you know unmistakably that this is happening right now, there's a darkness here that you see. And like you said, it's not exploitive, it's not in any way, sort of the way Hollywood might portray this, but is portrayed in such a tasteful yet powerful way. I left wrecked. I mean, I'm not gonna put it any other way. I was just like, I don't know where to go with this. And I think a lot of people might find it to be a very disturbing film in that sense, but hopefully-

- And we should know. I would not take a teenager until you, as a parent, have seen it. Not because of what you're gonna see, but because the emotional impact of what they're saying is happening is so profound that I just wanna give this parental guidance. It's definitely a PG film, but go see it as a parent. In fact, go take your small group Bible study. Go take some neighbors.

- That's what we did.

- To see it. You won't be able to talk about it that night, but maybe after a day or two, after you come up for oxygen again, you can discuss it and then decide whether your individual children or which one of them at which ages are capable of it. It's a judgment call that I think should be taken very, you have to be very discerning for your own children.

- Well, as you know, we're working at the podcast and also at the Rosenberg Report to have some time with both the star and the director of the film, because we feel like there's a connection here. And even obviously it's a bit, anytime we talk about the movies, we're always having to Say, "This is about the epicenter." but there's so much of this that goes on globally and so much that we're trying to be about here at the epicenter about a broad understanding of why these things are important, that I think it's important for us to talk with people who are making films that are shaping the conversation.

- Absolutely, and maybe we should do a show this fall on the pandemic of sex trafficking, even in Israel and throughout the broader Middle East. It is an issue. I don't have to give my credentials again on how much I love Israel. I'm a citizen. My sons have served in the army there. We're all in. But it doesn't mean that Israel's a perfect country and sex trafficking is as much of a problem there as it is in the United States. And I think it's actually even worse in some Muslim Arab countries. And so putting a spotlight on that and saying, "Well, what can we do about it? Aside from praying, how can we be helpful?" I think is important. Helping young people be protected. People who might be vulnerable to this, how do they protect them? What are ministries in Israel that are doing the right thing on these things? All of these things are important, and we'll talk about them. I will say, I do wanna give my one critique of "Sound of Freedom." I know we only have a few moments here. Because I saw a very interesting podcast with Jordan Peterson and Tim Ballard and Jim Caviezel, but Ballard, of course, being the guy who actually is the guy who did this, who was the Homeland Security officer who quits his job to go rescue children because the US government wouldn't let him do it. In the podcast, the conversation Jordan Peterson had, What's interesting is that Ballard makes it clear that it wasn't just like resigning his job. He was 10 months away from being vested in his pension after, I think it was almost 20 years on the job.

- [Carl] 20 years service, yeah.

- And so there was a huge financial cost. Working for the US government isn't a lucrative position. And if you do 20 years in the Homeland Security Department, you're not gonna get rich. But one of the benefits is, and I don't have a pension, I don't work for the US government. But he was about to have, a pension, which would take care of his family to a certain degree, in the last season of his life. But 10 months out, he decides, "No, I'm quitting and I'm giving that up, and I'm gonna go hunt bad guys and rescue children." Good for him. But the film doesn't portray that emotional key moment. That to me, is the key moment. It doesn't portray it as effectively as it could be. In the podcast, it's much more powerful and it's odd in the way the movie was done. Again, it doesn't take away from it, but it would've added about 25 or 50% more emotional impact. 'Cause at that moment, it's almost glossed over what a big decision he's making. And again, I won't tell about how they do it. I'm just saying, I've been talking to friends about how would I have done it based on listening to the actual story and just thinking, hmm, it's just a miss. It doesn't mean that the film is bad. Not at all. But when you realize, and again, last point here is, here's somebody who sees evil and decides what am I supposed to do about it? And he's being counseled by people, don't do anything, do the next 10 months of your job, get vested in your pension, and then you could then do it. And he's thinking, "But these are specific children that aren't gonna make it for 10 months." And other people are saying to him, in real life, "You can't save every child. Take care of yourself and your family." Which is not an unreasonable thought. He wants to quit but then he's afraid that his wife will say, "Are you insane? You do have to think about us first." But in fact, and this is my one other criticism of the film that in truth, in reality, it's the wife, Tim Ballard's wife who says, "Honey, you have to do it. You'll be haunted. You'll not be able to sleep if you don't do this and I'm all in." And he's like, "Yeah, but it's gonna cost us a lot." "It's gonna cost us more if we don't do the right thing, if you don't do the right thing. I'm with you, honey." That is not what every wife is gonna say but it's pretty powerful. It's not depicted in the film until right at the last frame of the film gives a lot of credit to his wife and says that he wouldn't have done it without her. But sadly, they don't actually show that.

- It could have been a huge win.

- And the character of his wife played by Mira Sorvino. Maybe they filmed it and they thought it was too long but I think it's a mistake that they didn't show her and her role more robustly because it is part of the true story. And ultimately, this story is not just about human trafficking. It's about if you see something wrong and you think, "I could make a difference," how do you, as an individual or as a couple, what do you do? Are you willing to take a risk even though it's gonna cost you? And I think that ultimately is in our day and age, and what we talk about in the Inside the Epicenter is about how do I and my family, my marriage, how do we make a difference in a world that hates our values, but still needs to hear the truth of God's heart and love and forgiveness? So to me, that's the core of the film. It's done well, but not nearly well enough compared to what the true story is.

- Yeah, the true story. I don't know, maybe one of the reasons they pulled back a little bit. It was 'cause I don't know if anybody could have walked out of the theater on two legs if there was more emotional impact. But I will say it really did strike me that Tim Ballard was kinda like the biblical men of Issachar who understood what was really going on and took the appropriate action. Took action. And I just have to say, this is a movie that will leave you with a psychological burden. It will leave you with a burden of, what can I do? What should I do? And I don't know of anybody that I've talked to after the film who could, who literally walks away and goes, "Yeah, it was a good movie. Whatever." That's not the kind of film you're gonna see.

- Exactly.

- This will wrap. The key point, especially for an "Inside the Epicenter" review of the movie, which is every major Bible character, even minor Bible character we see has to make a choice. The world is evil. I know God personally. He is calling me to do something for him, to do justice, love, mercy, and walk humbly with him. That's what we're commanded in Micah to do. Am I gonna do it? This is Moses's choice. Am I gonna leave the palace and do, or am I gonna leave the desert and help liberate my people? I don't wanna do it. No, God, I'm not gonna do it. I'm not the guy. Gideon hiding in a cave from the enemy, God calls him. That famous moment where the angel says, "The Lord is with you, O, valiant warrior." That is Bible humor because he's hiding in a cave going, "I'm not a valiant warrior," but with God, you can be one. But he has to make a choice. Will I or won't I? Will I accept the call or won't I? Peter, and all the Apostles but Peter is like racked with, "I'm not sure I'm up for this. And I don't even wanna be identified with Jesus in the final moments before his crucifixion. But he's calling me to be his witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, into the very end of the world." Will he do it or will he not? We love, and you could add Ruth and Naomi, I mean, there's plenty of women who make these decisions and Mary, the mother of Jesus. So that is what the Bible calls us to. We may have different spheres that we're supposed to be involved in. Not everybody's called into fighting sex slavery or trafficking, but what is it that you're called to do and will you do it even though it costs you? We all have to wrestle with that. But that is really, in many ways, the heart of the biblical story, which is, these are the people made the right decision when it was hard. And these are the people who made the decision and we're never gonna hear from them again. Which side do you wanna be on?

- Well, which side are you on? Hey, Joel, thank you so much. This has been great. Anyone, whoever gets to go to the movies with Joel Rosenberg is gonna enjoy it. And obviously we've talked about some heavy movies and some important movies, but this is what this podcast is all about. That we are here to help each one of you have more tools to understand what God is doing around the world, but particularly, in the epicenter. And if you'd like to learn more about The Joshua Fund, our website at joshuafund.com is the place you wanna go. There, you can learn about what God is doing in the Middle East and what The Joshua Fund is doing in this epicenter to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. And how you can participate in the healing work that we're doing in this critical region. And as always, you can check out our show notes for anything you heard on the podcast that you'd like more information on. For Joel Rosenberg, I'm Carl Moeller. Thanks for listening to "Inside The Epicenter."

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