The Arts and Faith Top 25 Films on Memory

By Ryan Holt

RASHOMONFor me, there is no more acute reminder of the passing of time than the Academy Awards’ “In Memoriam” montage. Every year, as I watch the parade of faces and names that will never again illuminate the screen, it’s a reminder of the fragility and brevity of life. Even the great icons are inevitably absorbed by the past.

Cinema, after all, is a kind of collective memory. Films are both time capsules, preserving the original period of their release, and a collection of thoughts and ideas that extend from the artists and craftsmen that lived in its time.

Thus, the Arts & Faith Top 25 Films on Memory is an exercise in commemoration. It is an attempt by Image’s Arts & Faith online community to celebrate and examine the unique ability of cinema to speak to the theme of memory. [Read more...]

Hazel Motes Is Out of Time

wisebloodTCM broadcast John Huston’s film version of Wise Blood yesterday, and I wound up watching it again. The whole movie is available on YouTube, so there was no need for me to delay my plans for two hours. I did it anyway.

I wanted to see some perfect casting—Brad Dourif, Mary Nell Santacroce, and Ned Beatty, to name just a few—and Huston’s low-budget cinematography. The story, set in post-World War II, is shot in 1970s Georgia, and the blend of the earlier and later dates gives a timelessness to the production, one I think Flannery O’Connor, author of the novel upon which the film is based,  would appreciate.

[Read more...]

The Sublime and Beautiful

sublimeFrom antiquity to the Enlightenment, one of the great aesthetic dichotomies involved the sublime and the beautiful. If the contrast of those terms is any indication of meaning in Blake Robbins’s movie of the above-referenced title, the intention is extremely subtle. The film deals with unspeakable tragedy, and one would be hard-pressed to find any conventional definition of either term as fitting for what transpires.

However, if they are taken not as terms to be distinguished, but as terms that inform a third object—due to an important excision of the second article “the”—there is more of an argument. That is, if the terms are taken as adjectives modifying a particular person or state—“that which is sublime and beautiful”—then you can see what he is after. Still, it takes some convincing.

[Read more...]

Childhood Cinema Redux

3460Over our recent winter break, my husband and I introduced our two older kids to some comedies from our youth. The criteria were simple: streamable through Netflix, not too much bloodshed or T&A, and shorter than, say, 100 minutes.

Revisiting a childhood movie as an adult can be a disarming experience. I never understood all the fuss about A Christmas Story, for example, until I watched it as a parent. I screamed with laughter when the mom shut little Randy in the cabinet with his milk—not because it shocked me but because it could very well happen in our house.

We began this mini-festival with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989). (Hey, it was sitting there most bodaciously for the taking.) It made me laugh as a teen and made me laugh now, especially Ted’s observation that “strange things are afoot at the Circle K.”

[Read more...]

Arts & Faith Ecumenical Jury Awards: The Top Ten Films of 2014

Guest post by Kenneth R. Morefield

In my post announcing the formation of the Arts & Faith Ecumenical Jury, I stated that I hoped we would “enlarge or expand the perception of what is meant by either labeling a film a ‘Christian’ film or suggesting that it should be of interest to Christian audiences.”

I’d say we did that. [Read more...]