The Arts & Faith Top 25 Divine Comedies

The Arts & Faith community, which I have been part of for over a decade now, released its fourth Top 25 list today — and the theme this time is “Divine Comedies”. Before the vote, there was some debate as to what this term even means, and after the vote, there was some debate about the results and whether they were diverse enough, etc. But you can get a sense of what the list is all about by reading this introductory essay by my friend Steven D. Greydanus. As before, with our list on films about marriage, I wrote two of the blurbs: one on my second-favorite film of all time, The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), from which the picture above comes; and another on one of my favorite Jesus movies, Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979).

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A few thoughts on the whole Woody Allen situation.

For over two decades now, my official second-favorite film of all time has been The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985). An image from the film’s final scene is embedded in the banner at the top of every post on this blog. Thirteen months ago, I selected this film for a screening and discussion group at a film festival in Texas. Six weeks ago, on Boxing Day, I even got to see the film on the big screen for the first time ever — a 35mm print, even! — as part of the VanCity Theatre’s year-long Woody Allen series.

So I’m something of a fan — not just of this particular film, but of Woody Allen’s films in general, at least for the first two decades or so of his directing career. In truth, the last film directed by Woody that I really enjoyed was Bullets over Broadway (1994), and the last film to star him (or at least his voice) that I really enjoyed was the DreamWorks comedy Antz (1998). Since then, it has seemed to me that most of his films recycle themes that he did a better, more interesting job of exploring in his earlier films; and it has sometimes seemed to me that the moral urgency he brought to films like Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) has given way to a more cynical complacency in similarly-themed films like Match Point (2005).

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