Continued from yesterday. [Link to yesterday’s post here]
Here are the remaining five films in the Art and Faith Ecumenical Jury’s top ten films of 2016 list, as well as Honorable Mentions selected by each jury member:
Knight of Cups is as pure cine-poetry as it is still being released in theatres. Here we’re witness to a cold, sterile beauty, filled with wide-open spaces in L.A. bursting at the seams with negative space. The people who inhabit those spaces may as well be ghosts, ceasing to exist as soon as we glide past them, hovering on the periphery of Rick’s (Christian Bale) sphere of consciousness.
The film unfurls around Rick, a rich and famous screenwriter, in an existential struggle for him to come to terms with meaning in his life, shambling along like Christian in The Pilgrim’s Progress. Presented with Malick’s typical beauty, the film is incredibly rich, from using recurring visual motifs as grace notes and alliteration, to its symphonic swell that seems as if the film has tapped into the same sensory majesty of music.
The film plumbs the depths of Christian despair and hope, wrapped up in an all-encompassing personal story told without affect or confines of contemporary cinema.
—Josh Hamm, Cut Print Film
There were several movies about Jesus in 2016, each of which tapped into a different genre—the detective work of Risen, the family road trip of The Young Messiah, the spiritual drama of Last Days in the Desert, the epic action of the Ben-Hur remake—but the first and arguably most interesting of the lot was this delightful send-up of 1950s Hollywood, which not only paid homage to a wide range of genres itself (musicals, Westerns, romances, and of course biblical epics) but raised fascinating questions about politics, theology, and the intersection thereof.
The scene where a studio chief asks a Catholic priest, an Orthodox patriarch, a Protestant minister and a Jewish rabbi if his film’s depiction of Jesus “cuts the mustard” is as amusing as it sounds—and it is also one of the most surprisingly theological moments in any movie put out by a mainstream Hollywood studio this year.