How Should We Raise Smart Kids? A Review of Gifted

The new film Gifted (2017) plays up our love for, and fascination with, brilliant, sassy kids, as well as our disdain for overbearing parents. It is, at core, a moral exploration of the challenges of parenting, namely, what should a parent want for a child? Complicating the situation is that the usual decision-makers for the child, her biological parents, are either dead or completely out of the picture, and there are two adults competing to answer that question with, or maybe for, her. [Read more…]

Why is an Evangelical Pastor Excited About Moonlight Winning Best Picture?

I am an Evangelical pastor who is conservative theologically, believing the historic orthodox doctrines of Christianity, including the inerrancy of Scripture, the unique sufficiency of Christ, and the establishment of marriage as between one man and one woman. And I’m also excited that Moonlight won Best Picture at the Academy Awards just a few weeks ago. [Read more…]

Martin Scorsese’s Silence: Is Some Soil too Rocky for Jesus?

In the song “The Silence of God,” Andrew Peterson sings: It’s enough to drive a man crazy, it’ll break a man’s faith It’s enough to make him wonder, if he’s ever been sane When… Heaven’s only answer is the silence of God It’ll shake a man’s timbers when he loses his heart When he has [Read More…]

Drowning in His Own Private Ocean: Denzel Washington’s Fences

My father grew up in a poor neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA called Hazelwood in the 1950’s and ‘60’s. He used to play basketball with a kid from the neighborhood named Freddie Kittell. All the kids thought Freddie was pretty strange because he almost never talked and would often play ball barefoot, even in the winter. [Read More…]

Hacksaw Ridge: Pacifism or Just War Theory?

Say what you want about him, but Mel Gibson does not go halfway. The 60-year old director, who has one more Best Directing Oscar than Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Howard Hawks, Robert Altman, and Spike Lee, has shown in films like The Passion of the Christ (2004), Braveheart (1995), and Apocalypto (2006) that he has the courage of his convictions and vision. Such intentional conviction makes the end of Hacksaw Ridge (2016) a bit of a headscratcher when the vision goes from courageous defense to inspirational slaughter. [Read more…]

An Unholy Alliance: Christianity and Slavery In Birth of a Nation (2016)

In the new film Birth of a Nation, based on the real life story of Nat Turner, we see both sides of the coin. In the film, starring, produced, and directed by Nate Parker, we see young Nat being taught to read by his master’s daughter. He grows up to be a preacher, which is good when he is able to minister to his people, but is damaging when he is made to preach obedience to other slaves by his master and a conniving white preacher. [Read more…]

20 Great Films From Around The World

I’m often asked by people in my church, “Jonathan, you’ve convinced me that I really do want to become a more well-rounded film viewer. I am ready to commit to watching subtitled movies and to expand my horizons beyond Hollywood. What should I watch in world cinema?” (Actually, I’ve never been asked that, mostly I just get asked what my favorite film is and if I can recommend anything they might like, without having to read subtitles) [Read more…]

The Need For The Resurrection in “The Wait”

The Wait (2016, L’Attesa in Italian) is a new film available to stream from filmmaker Piero Messina, who was an Assistant Director on Oscar Foreign Language Film Winner The Great Beauty. It is a psychological character study that rewards the patient viewer with beautiful images and much to think about, eschewing big plot turns and dramatic monologues. [Read more…]

The Lobster, Singles, and The Church

The twist in The Lobster is that instead of being paired based upon your virtues, the compatibility is between people with similar negative traits or idiosyncrasies. In a particularly slapstick moment, a man smashes his face against a desk in order to convince the others that he gets nosebleeds just like a young woman he has met (it’s unclear whether he actually wants to be married to her or just avoid becoming an animal). [Read more…]

Stop Scrolling: 10 (More) Hidden Gems on Netflix

Do you find yourself on Netflix scrolling through recommended lists, simultaneously overwhelmed by the endless selection and unable to pull the trigger on a film that would be worth your two hours? Allow me to recommend ten hidden gems that are currently on Netflix, films that I have really enjoyed [Read more…]