The vocation of a movie critic

Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday “came out,” as they say, as a Christian, writing a thoughtful essay about her faith and her calling.   (more…)

The new Martin Luther movie

downloadMartin Luther:  The Idea That Changed the World is a film funded by Thrivent to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  First Lutheran Church in Ponca City secured a local movie theater and opened it up for free to anyone who wanted to see the movie.  (Go here to learn how to host a screening and for further information.  It will reportedly be shown on PBS.  I suspect its longer life will be on DVD eventually.)  So we attended the screening.

The movie is not a drama about the life of Luther, as earlier Luther movies have been.  This is a documentary with dramatic re-enactments.  There is a narrator throughout (Downton Abbey‘s Hugh Bonneville), with experts discussing the different facets of Luther’s life and career.  Meanwhile, we see these episodes acted out, with the requisite settings and effects.  I’m not a huge fan of this hybrid of documentary and drama, but this one works as well as I’ve seen.  Luther’s life is so interesting and so inherently dramatic that the narrative is gripping and entertaining, even though it is continually interrupted by the scholars.  (Review continued, plus trailer, after the jump) (more…)

‘Selma’ movie slanders LBJ?

The movie Selma will be released next weekend and is already receiving great acclaim and Oscar buzz for its portrayal of Martin Luther King’s crusade for Civil Rights, centering in the demonstration he organized in Selma, Alabama.

But narratives, even apparently factual movies, like to have a villain, so Selma turns President Lyndon Baines Johnson into King’s nemesis.  But historians are disputing that characterization, pointing out that LBJ was the president who proposed, pushed through, and implemented the Civil Rights laws.  In fact, he even proposed the tactics to sway public opinion that King used in Selma!

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A Christian movie without the Christianity

A new “Left Behind” movie comes out today, this one with Nicholas Cage and big Hollywood studio connections.  But, according to Christianity Today movie critic Jackson Cuidon, this story–supposedly, like the novels and earlier movies it is based on, about the Last Days according to premillennial theology–has NO Christianity in it.  Yes, one might say that about the other renditions, but this one leaves out virtually all references to Christianity (except for a few negative ones) and is played as just another disaster movie!  And yet it’s being marketed to churches in the hopes that they will buy up big blocks of tickets!

After the jump, an excerpt from Mr. Cuidon’s review.  At the end, he gets to the real problem about how desperate Christians are to have their identity acknowledged. (more…)

The movie vs. the flannelboard

We saw the movie Noah.  It had some good cinematic touches (such as the imagery with the seven days of creation), and I don’t begrudge some of the imaginative liberties (such as having the animals be in suspended animation on the ark).  I was even finding myself liking it for awhile.  Some of the criticisms, I saw, were ill founded.  (That they made Noah a vegetarian?  Well, compare Genesis 1:28-30 and Genesis 9:2-4, which suggests that God gave permission to eat animals after the flood.)  But the flaws in the movie kept getting more and more damaging.  Like an ark that has a few leaks, which let in more and more water, the force of which makes the leaks bigger, until the sides stave in and the vessel goes down to the watery depths. (more…)

Classical education goes to the movies

Classical education does quite a bit with aesthetics and encourages deep reflection on works of art.  Thanks to James Banks for alerting me to a new website entitled FilmFisher.  It features movie reviews by classical educators and their students, as mentored by the classical educators.  The discussions of the films–which thus far include Noah, 300, American Hustle, Gattaca, Non-Stop–are very perceptive, going far beyond the usual reductionistic Christian movie reviews.  (Some of you high school or college students should sign up to be a reviewer!) (more…)

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