What Would You Show in a Film Festival About "Calls to Conscience and Action"

Having just seen Born into Brothels again, I’m inspired to consider what other films have done such a great job of making us care about wrongs that need to be righted in the world.

If you were to host a film festival in hopes of inspiring viewers to apply themselves to serve a good cause, what films would you show? What matters would they ask us to consider? Some films are downright preachy, and they end up being more irritating than inspiring. What are the works of art that make us want to put our hands to the plow?

What are 3 – 5 films you would screen at the CALLS TO CONSCIENCE AND ACTION festival?

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  • Gene Branaman

    Peter, here’s a URL for an August 2005 NYT article by Sharon Waxmanan that quotes DVC co-producer & former Sony chairman John Calley. The URL links to a reprint in the International Herald Tribune.

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/08/05/news/davinci.php

    I misremembered the quote. Calley called DVC “‘conservatively anti-Catholic,’ as opposed to destructively so.” To that I say, what’s the difference? Calley is still aware that it’s an anti-Catholic piece. And his definition of “destuctively” I might quibble with. Frankly, the book calls the Catholic Church a sham since it’s the entity that covered up the truth about the sacred feminine & built Christianity around the mere mortal Jesus rather than Mary Magdalen, the embodiment of this divinie feminine (in other words a goddess). That, IMO, is an attack.

  • wngl

    Jeff wrote:
    And so we’ll all be right back where we started, armed with more ammunition for the same debate that’s been going on for decades…

    Centuries, more like; but I agree with you, that this debate is one that will not be resolved by one film or another.

    BTW I did not mean to imply that Last Temptation in any way deserves to be in the dustbin. I wrote that as a pathetic attempt to represent the memories of unbelieving moviewatchers: I suspect they will forget DVC as quickly as they did Scorcese’s worthy effort.

    Last Temptation in fact had a profound impact on me as a Christian. It was my first exposure to the Eastern Orthodox idea that even Jesus knew temptation in his heart, but, unlike the rest of us, he did not give in to it. That is a great question of faith for us mortals. Add to that the sublime humanity with which Kazantzakis imbues his fictional Christ, which I think was conveyed admirably by Scorcese and Willem Dafoe, despite many other problems with the film adaptation.

    I’m skeptical of audience motives. It’s my belief that the majority of everyday, non-professing moviegoers will not go to DVC in order to sound out how they really feel about Christ and the church. They will go to be entertained. No doubt the film will be entertaining. No doubt too, in this light, it will make better box office than Last Temptation.

    But isn’t that why it was made in the first place? I doubt that the Ron Howard/Akiva Goldsman machine didn’t take on this project because they wanted to explore issues of faith. I suspect they saw a bestseller that would adapt well as a thriller on the big screen. Beyond that, the heretical or blasphemous nature of the premise, and the fact that it is a premise that has been popular with the masses practically since the earliest days of Roman Catholicism, likely is not foremost on the filmmakers’ or film distributors minds.

    However, thanks to the incredible box office realized by Mel Gibson’s film, now there is a visible “Christian” demographic to woo. Don’t you think the subsequent uproar around DVC is the result of a well-primed engine of promotion?

    My prayer is that Christians will not treat this film as an evangelical opportunity. To do so, as has been better stated by others, is to enter into a pointless debate about the church that will very likely to further disenfranchisement by folks who could be engaged in more productive ways.

    The Christ of DVC, plainly, is not the Christ of our hearts. Why pretend as if he is? Rather, I would suggest, engage the audience on the merits (or lack thereof) within the narrative set out by Dan Brown, and let it stand or fall on its own. Holy scripture has been with us for two thousand years and running; look at the history of the bible and you will see it has withstood far nastier assaults than the entertainment industry. Will DVC be around as long? I suspect not, so why treat it with equal weight as the Word of God?

  • Anonymous

    Andrew wrote:

    Well put, Jeffrey. I would lump ‘The Last Temptation’ with ‘Jesus of Montreal’ in that both were spiritually rich, even profound, films that I greatly appreciated in spite of their obvious flaws. Considering the director and the source material, I’m not anticipating anything similarly positive from ‘Da Vinci Code.’

    I do, however, appreciate those who have taken the time to point out logically and graciously the historical and artistic inaccuracies contained in Brown’s work; I wish I’d known these things a year or two ago, when a couple of people close to me were discussing ‘Da Vinci’ as if it offered a serious challenge to historical Christianity.

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    Well…

    *I* was moved, changed, humbled, and overwhelmed by The Last Temptation of Christ.

    I recognize that the Jesus of Kazantzakis’ book is not the Jesus of the Gospels.

    In fact, the film grossly misrepresents Christ.

    And Scorsese’s represenation of the life that Jesus rejected in order to carry out his sacrifice… that had a profound effect on me. It revitalized my devotion and faith in Christ, because I had never been so acutely aware of his humanity before… of the fact that God humbled himself to accompany such foolish fisherman, to sit beside them in the cold around a warm fire, to bruise and cut his feet on dusty trails in the desert, to double over from thirst and hunger while fasting in the desert.

    But I was equipped to tell the profound passages from the distortions. For many, I suspect the film threw fuel on the fire of confusion about what kind of man Christ was.

    And I suspect that anyone with an inclication to distrust… anyone averse to the idea of submitting to a higher authority than themselves… they will embrace The DaVinci Code as encouragement to proceed in their skepticism, their ignorance, and their assumption that Christians are just a bunch of whiney, ignorant, gullible dupes.

    Scorsese’s film, at the very least, represented Kazantzakis’ earnest attempt to understand the mystery of a god/man. As a result, there are moments of revelation and wisdom amidst his misconceptions.

    But I have yet to hear anything like that about The DaVinci Code. It doesn’t sound like a story that really grapples with anything at all. It sounds more like the wishful thinking of a writer who wants to dismiss the church, and so he’s willing to accept any evidence he can find without any critical thought. Further, he’s willing to make money off of similarly eager readers and viewers who want to dismiss true faith as well.

    Most non-Christian moviegoers will go to the movie to be entertained, and if they get excited about any of it, it’ll be because they’re hearing what they WANT to hear.

    Most Christians will go in with their radar-detector for sin, and they’ll come out ranting about what they’ve found, having prematurely closed themselves off to any flickers of excellence or revelation that the film might present (even accidentally.)

    And so we’ll all be right back where we started, armed with more ammunition for the same debate that’s been going on for decades… it’ll just be bigger and louder than usual.

    But somewhere, there will be exceptions… the unbeliever who is spurred to investigate this matter more deeply, who actually finds the truth. The Christian who finds something of value in the film, even if it only spurs him to bolster what he really believes by learning to discern the flaws in the movie’s argument.

    The people who get money from all of this, well… they’ll get the reward that they want, empty as it is.

  • wngl

    Good point. While I have personally discussed the issue with people who don’t profess to be Christians, it does seem like the main hubbub is among the body of people who do profess to be Christians or are in fact followers of Christ.

    I do believe Christ calls us to dialogue with the world. How do we fulfill this mission without tripping over the roots of zealotry? How do we distinguish voices of faith from those of the reactionaries?

    Thinking about this last night, I wonder if most moviegoers don’t leave their beliefs in the theatre lobby. When they emerge again from watching a movie, their beliefs are right there still intact and untouched by what they’ve seen. I wonder if this isn’t the case with many people? For instance, how effective of an outreach opportunity was The Passion of the Christ? Did it deeply impact those who watched it without a personal knowledge of grace? I would be very interested in finding out about this.

    I don’t personally know anyone that ever talks about the time they went and saw The Last Temptation of Christ. Is it possible that DVC will go the same way, into the dustbin after flashing in the pan and blinding a few people for a short time?

  • Anonymous

    Amber said:

    Granted, I’m not a film or pop culture expert or anything along those lines, but the only ‘dialogue’ I’ve ever heard about the Da Vinci Code is among Christians. Not non-believers. Not even seekers.

    In fact, the headline of the front page of my local newspaper today was, “Much ado about Da Vinci: CHRISTIANS [emphasis mine] gearing up for film based on runaway best-seller.”

    I would be happy if I thought we were truly engaging our culture. And certainly the fact that the book is a best-seller must prove me wrong, yes?

    Still, I can’t help but feel that Christians are simply being used for their money and being made to look foolish – nothing new there.

  • wngl

    Thank you for clarifying, Peter, the question of what would Jesus have ME do. That seems to be at the heart of our discussion.

  • Peter T Chattaway

    Well, he was certainly pretty clear about what happens to people who don’t. I believe it involves weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    Yes, that’s in the “sheep and goats” passage in Matthew 25 that I mentioned. I’m just harping on the question of whether it was something that Christ himself “would actually do”, as someone claimed here.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always said that the “What would Jesus do?” approach to things is short-sighted because the real question is always “What would Jesus have me do?”. So if Jesus didn’t do something, that doesn’t automatically mean that we shouldn’t do it.

    But in a thread devoted to a book and movie by a heretic who has thrown aside the received tradition and re-created Christ in his own image, I think it is important that we avoid doing the same.

  • Wasp Jerky

    Did Christ “feed the poor”?

    Well, he was certainly pretty clear about what happens to people who don’t. I believe it involves weeping and gnashing of teeth.

  • wngl

    Barbara asks: Would there be anything in a movie that would make you turn away your face in shame and horror, and then (and here’s the biggie!) conclude that the movie would be inherently evil?

    Seeing that the outright denial of Christ’s divinity by the sympathetic lead in a movie who is clearly manifesting the movie’s “Truth” – as in “Seek the Truth – is not bad enough for you. I’m just wondering what it would take?

    I guess I don’t think of Dan Brown’s fiction as inherently evil. Sometimes I wonder about Tom Hanks, though…

    Seriously, the closest to inherently evil I have found a movie to be was probably while I was watching “Irreversible”. Why? Because it delivered me real-time into a rape scene and portrayed true depravity. If I were to attend DVC, I am skeptical that I would find it evil.

    Against Christ there is very little the world of entertainment can do. To blaspheme his name is truly evil. However, I wonder if a work of such shallow fiction is truly capable of being blasphemous. I haven’t read the source material, so I don’t know.

    However, I wonder if audiences will come away from the film with anything that resembles “belief”. What I expect is that they will be either numbed or enraged, depending on their pedigree; those that are numbed are likely not too caught up in what their personal belief system entails and they just go to the movies to pass time. There are a woeful amount of moviegoers that fit this category. They are not seeking, by shelling out for this movie, to sound out the depths of their soul and shape the true and profound borders of their faith.

    If Tom Hanks is meant to represent the search for truth, I don’t expect that it’s the same definition of the word as Christ has intoned it. Rather, I expect that we do not know what truth means to him, outside of some formula hand-wringing and rhetorical speechifying. Here I’m thinking of Hanks in “Saving Private Ryan”, where his shaking hands were meant to communciate some kind of basic connection with the viewer. I suspect he will indulge in similar empty gestures here, as he seeks out a bleached, universalised version of what passes for meaning in his films.

    Is that inherently evil? Well, I know it certainly has nothing to do with Christ. And neither has this film. It has everything to do with entertaining audiences. The only truth in there is about our collective desire for the visceral in the arts, something this film appears to be ready to deliver in spades. But even as I write that, I wonder if I’m not giving it too much credit…

  • wngl

    That’s the key question, Barbara; whether or not those who believe they have been redeemed by Christ have something to say is confronting believers with a call to get the message out. If this blog is any indication, the answer is certainly Yes.

    Does having something to say fit with the hip, teflon image of the Religious Right? Actually, it does. Because if Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson are any barometer, they have too much to say.

    The real question is of conviction. Are we convicted in our belief? If so, how do we communicate grace to moviegoers who are just looking to be entertained? It’s tough, because the cause of redemption is neither hip nor non-stick.

    Even less hip is the fact that people would flock to a movie or book like this. If someone can make a vital connection between spiritual hunger and the appetite for gratification and exploit it… well, look at the names behind this enterprise!

  • Anonymous

    Andrew wrote:

    This reminds me of how, post-9/11, our president urged everyone to cope with that trauma by going shopping.

    Stand for truth by purchasing a ticket to a mediocre film? Fight ‘evil’ via consumerism? It’s a thoroughly American thing to do, surely, but it doesn’t seem Christlike.

  • Peter T Chattaway

    Gene Branaman wrote:

    According to M-W.com, impugn means: “to assail by words or arguments : oppose or attack as false or lacking integrity” & that’s what Brown’s done to Christianity in DVC.

    I never questioned that. What I asked was where Brown had “impugned Christ”. Slight difference.

    The Church is the Body of Christ, Christ being the head. Please explain how the Church can be attacked while Christ is not.

    Well, first of all, “Christianity” is not “the Church”. There is more than one church (Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, etc.), and we are all a part of this bigger cultural phenomenon known as Christianity.

    So, logically speaking, it would be very possible to attack any one particular church (or set of churches) without attacking Christ — especially from the point of view of someone who belonged to another church (or set of churches) that believed it represented Christ better than the other ones did. In fact, we have seen this all throughout history.

    Would you like me to document for you the many ways Brown twists truth, subtly adds fiction to fact, & tells out & out lies in DVC?

    I actually took a stab at documenting them for myself, when I read the book two years ago. But that’s not what this is about. We’re not talking about the claims of this particular book any more.

    Rather, what we are talking about is the fact that The Da Vinci Code is not an attack on Christianity from outsiders, but an attack on one branch of Christianity from another branch of Christianity.

    I have already mentioned Bishop John Shelby Spong, who was floating the theory that Jesus married Mary Magdalene (at the wedding in Cana, in fact) years before anyone had ever heard of Dan Brown.

    As with Spong, so with Brown. These people are heretics, but they are not pagans. They speak error from within our fold, not from outside it.

    Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that the heretical views of Spong and Brown need to be opposed. But my need for integrity, both as a journalist and as a Christian, prevents me from descending into the rhetoric of “Look what they are doing to Christians again!” as though “they” were somehow not professing Christians themselves.

    Brown wants to lead folks from Christianity as it’s been practiced for 2000 years just as much as Pullman does. They just want folks to end up in different places.

    Do they? I am not sure I can imagine Pullman or any of his heroes kneeling in reverence at the tomb of Mary Magdalene.

    Barbara wrote:

    I just can’t wait for post-post-modern Chrisianity to get through its adolescent rebellion phase of “I’m so hip I’m teflon” and “don’t tell me something is TRUE!”

    Heh. I must admit, Barbara, it is a little unsettling to me, how many people talk about using this film as an opportunity for “dialogue”, but when you try to press them on what they will bring to the “dialogue”, they suddenly don’t know what to say — or, worse, actively resist saying anything, lest they appear to be trying to stifle other people’s thoughts and experiences.

  • Barbara

    P.S. On the “This is just a liberal vs. conservative thing”….

    So, the conservative side is that Jesus was the Incarnate Son of God. In dying and rising from the dead (the latter of which is not mentioned in DVC) he destroyed death and restored life. The Bible is the inspired Word of God. The Chuch is the Bride of Christ.

    Now, the liberal side is, all the above is a fantasy.

    Have I got that right? Because that is what is in the Da Vinci Code script.

  • Barbara

    I just can’t wait for post-post-modern Chrisianity to get through its adolescent rebellion phase of “I’m so hip I’m teflon” and “don’t tell me something is TRUE!”

    Anyway, a question I have…

    Would there be anything in a movie that would make you turn away your face in shame and horror, and then (and here’s the biggie!) conclude that the movie would be inherently evil?

    Seeing that the outright denial of Christ’s divinity by the sympathetic lead in a movie who is clearly manifesting the movie’s “Truth” – as in “Seek the Truth – is not bad enough for you. I’m just wondering what it would take?

    It’s important to me, because I’m starting to wonder if Christians have any need at all to be in Hollywood.

    And also, I have a really well-written script on my desk about how Martin Luther King used to like to torture little animals. And I want to know if it’s okay to give it a thumbs up.

  • Gene Branaman

    Sorry, I read the quote from the producer & it was linked on a blog but now I can’t find it. You win that one, Peter. I’ll be more careful from now on.

    According to M-W.com, impugn means:
    “to assail by words or arguments : oppose or attack as false or lacking integrity” & that’s what Brown’s done to Christianity in DVC. The Church is the Body of Christ, Christ being the head. Please explain how the Church can be attacked while Christ is not. How can the last 2000 years of Christian tradition be called a lie & a cover-up for the sacred feminine & it not be an attack directly on Christ & His Church?

    Would you like me to document for you the many ways Brown twists truth, subtly adds fiction to fact, & tells out & out lies in DVC? I’d rather refer you to those who’ve already done the homework like Olson & Miesel in their book The DaVinci Hoax. They use mostly secular sources to prove their point & they do so masterfully. I don’t see how one can read that book & not see that Brown doesn’t have an agenda in regards to Christianity & Catholicism specifically. Historically, heresy has come from within Christianity, yes? (Yes, I’ve used the “H” word.) I can cite numerous ancient Christians who turned heretic beginning with Tertullian & Origen. I’m sure many who read Jeffrey’s blog could, too. Sorry, but I have to draw the line. If my God is called a mere man & that it was really the sacred feminine we should be worshiping & the Catholic Church (&, by implication all of Christianity – I mean, I don’t see nay Prebyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, or any Evangelicals worshiping the sacred feminine, either) is keeping that “truth” from the world, & Dan Brown goes on Today saying *it’s all true & I’ve done my research* & even includes a “fact page” in DVC to prove it, I’m going to call a spade a spade. He’s not attacking just Catholic Christianity here, he’s attacking all of us. It’s not simply an “intra-mural” disagreement from within Christianity. It’s far more than that. Brown wants to lead folks from Christianity as it’s been practiced for 2000 years just as much as Pullman does. They just want folks to end up in different places.

    I’m not trying to judge Brown’s heart but I can read his book & search out the actual facts for myself & realize that the vast majority of what he’s put forth in DVC is easily verified as lies about my Savior. Yet Brown goes out of his way to make it appear to be truth to those to whom it would never occur to check some history books. I’m insulted by that, Peter.

  • Peter T Chattaway

    I say don’t worry about the silly “othercott” and why not focus your energies on feeding the poor or something actually worthwhile. You know….something Christ would actually do.

    Hmmm.

    Did Christ “feed the poor”?

    I mean, apart from the poor people who happened to be among the 4,000 or 5,000 or whatever that he fed miraculously on what I assume were very rare occasions.

    I know Christ indicated that one’s readiness to feed the hungry would have an effect on one’s eternal destiny (that whole sheep vs goats thing). But I’m suddenly blanking on whether “feeding the poor” was something Christ actually did.

    Just thinking out loud here.

    Oh, and if anyone thinks Christ’s claims about himself were not a major part of his ministry and something worth getting worked up about … well, let’s just say he wasn’t exactly crucified for, um, feeding the poor.

    Then again, I also have difficulty saying Christ cares which movie happens to be #1 at the North American and/or international box office next weekend.

  • Wasp Jerky

    Sigh. If only Christians were this enthusiastic about, I dunno, feeding the poor.

  • Justin

    Personally, I have plans to see both. I just dont see why everyone is taking DVC as an attack on Christianity. I agree with what Peter said on the liberal vs. conservative thing.

    I have read all the negativity surrounding the film, and I think that it’s an overreaction. Just because you don’t agree with the views the book proposes, doesn’t mean the movie shouldn’t be made. Just don’t go see it. That’s the beauty of America, we don’t have to watch something if we don’t want to.

    The views held in DVC is nothing new. They have been around for hundereds of years. I don’t believe that DVC and the views it placates is meant to disprove Christianity as a faith, it merely just looks at it a bit differently. I am not saying the view is a correct one, but then again I am not sold on the idea that the Bible is flawless either.

    Besides…if Christ is in control of everything, do you really think He is worried about the ripple effects of a movie? I say don’t worry about the silly “othercott” and why not focus your energies on feeding the poor or something actually worthwhile. You know….something Christ would actually do.

  • Peter T Chattaway

    Do we really need more movies like the Dumb Vinci Code that insult Christians?

    Well, let’s be fair.

    The Da Vinci Code is not the work of non-Christians attacking Christians, the way that, say, the books of Philip Pullman are.

    Instead, The Da Vinci Code is the work of liberal, revisionist Christians attacking conservative, traditionalist Christians. Note how The Da Vinci Code and the novel that preceded it, Angels & Demons, make a big deal of harmonizing science and religion (albeit on science’s terms) and of emphasizing the humanity of Jesus rather than forgetting about him altogether, etc., etc. The Da Vinci Code is only anti-Christianity in the sense that Bishop John Shelby Spong is. In other words, it’s an intra-mural kind of thing.

    And let’s not forget that Christians — including movieguide dot org’s own “Dr.” Ted Baehr — have been quick to claim Ron Howard and Tom Hanks as believers in the past, when it suited their agendas. In fairness to these filmmakers, I think we should allow for the possibility that they are just as Christian as they ever were (or weren’t); we’re just getting a clearer picture of which side of the theological divide they happen to align themselves with.

    Do you think H’wood’ll make any films that treat Islam as DVC treats Christianity? Can you imagine how they’d react if it were Mohammed who were being impugned rather than Christ?

    Um, where in The Da Vinci Code is Christ himself “impugned”?

    Even one of DVC’s producers called it “conservatively anti-Christian” for cryin’ out loud – they know exactly what they’ve made!

    The name of this producer, please? Google turns up nothing.

    This is H’wood’s MO & has been back to the silents.

    Yes, Hollywood has always imitated a hit. But note: Dan Brown’s book became a runaway hit at the exact same time that Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ became a hit! Is it really so hard to believe that Hollywood producers might have figured there was no substantial difference between these two very-very-hot commodoties? They saw “Jesus”, they saw “money”, and they put two and two together and came up with a number they liked.

  • Gene Branaman

    “More to the point, do we really need more movies like Over the Hedge? Seems like we’ve had a glut of them lately.”

    Do we really need more movies like the Dumb Vinci Code that insult Christians? Do you think H’wood’ll make any films that treat Islam as DVC treats Christianity? Can you imagine how they’d react if it were Mohammed who were being impugned rather than Christ? We only recently witnessed what some editorial cartoons did in Europe. So why the double standard with H’wood? Why is it OK for Christians, & especially Catholics, to be maligned & for the God they worship to be blasphemed? And I’m not trying to imply that you’re in any way supporting such a thing, Kool, obviously you would not. But to support DVC, to give it a $60+ million opening weekend is to send a message to H’wood to make Dan Brown’s other books into films (Angels & Demons tells further lies about Christianity & there are more DVC-like books out every month). The message the Othercott would send isn’t one of which sort of entertainment Christians would like to see but one that shows them they can’t produce offensive garbage & call it entertainment. Even one of DVC’s producers called it “conservatively anti-Christian” for cryin’ out loud – they know exactly what they’ve made!

    Lord of the Rings was huge so now we’re starting to getting a bunch of fantasy & fantasy-looking films like Eragon, Beowulf, Tristan & Isolde, etc. American Pie was a huge success so there have been 3 sequels & dozens of imitators culminating in the dreadful The Benchwarmers. Recall the spate of SF movies that hit the screens after Star Wars in 1977. This is H’wood’s MO & has been back to the silents.

    It’s very rare for H’wood folks to *get* a genre & understand what makes films like LOTR so much better than previous fantasy films. Usually, they just beat the genre until it’s bled to death & everyone’s sick of it. George Lucas recently said he thinks the Big Summer Blockbuster(TM) he’s helped to create (some say he did single-handedly) will be dead within 10 years for this very reason & folks will want to see smaller, more personal films. (Blockbuster fatigue, I guess.) I’m not so sure but I know what he means.

    Over the Hedge is part of a genre milking, you’re absolute right, Kool. But which is better to support? We have an opportunity to vote with our dollar & tell H’wood that it’s not OK to malign our faith. If DVC has a bad opening weekend, they’ll get the message. And if OtH has a very nice opening weekend, that message will be driven home.

    Some say DVC is just a fad & will disappear as soon as the next fad comes along. Some have been saying that for 4 years now. I hope it does disappear but what if it doesn’t?

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    Go to the Other-cott site.

    Scroll down to the bottom.

    Click on the link that takes you to more…

  • wngl

    In my blindness, I cannot find that list. Does it include Andrei Rublev?

  • BethR

    Did you notice that the “10 other things to do” list directs viewers to movieguide dot org for recommended DVDs that “support faith”?

  • wngl

    I don’t understand how going to see Over the Hedge (worthy as it might be) will “send a message” to Hollywood about quality Christian films. Is the Christian mission to show the entertainment industry how to entertain them properly?

    When Christ went into the temple, he waded in and overturned the mess he found; he didn’t find a “good” temple to worship at instead.

    The only reason I bring up this example, inappropriate as it probably seems (the cineplex is not a Christian temple), is to clarify our need to glorify God in all that we do. I don’t see how much glory I’m bringing to God by watching one movie so I don’t have to see another.

    Anyhow, haven’t Christians learned anything from Last Temptation? All this othercott biz accomplishes is to increase box office appeal for Dan Brown’s highly speculative and irresponsible fiction. Why fatten his pocketbook all the more?

    More to the point, do we really need more movies like Over the Hedge? Seems like we’ve had a glut of them lately. Personally, I think a better othercott would be to purchase a DVD of The New World and screen it on the wall outside the theatre, so filmgoers can see a real work of art.

  • Peter T Chattaway

    FWIW, I wouldn’t say that I “support” the othercott, but I will say that Over the Hedge is worth seeing.

    What I mean is, I wouldn’t be embarrassed to take anybody to this film, and I don’t think anyone would say afterwards, “Oh, man, did we just pay to see that simply because it wasn’t The Da Vinci Code!?”

    Those who liked Hoodwinked (the Cory Edwards cartoon topped the DVD sales charts last week) might also get a nice deja-vu vibe off of the Ben Folds songs and the hyperactive squirrel.

  • Michael

    Yes, Ikiru is a great example… a student of mine watched that film and it lead him to explore Eastern philosophy, culminating in an amazing final research project and a change in his professional plans (being influenced by the film)

  • Mark

    How about Ikiru? Terminally ill from cancer Kenji makes it a point in his life just to do one thing significant for others, and therefore himself. As a bureaucrat, he makes funding a children’s park possible.

    “Ikiru is a cinematic expression of modern existentialist thought. It consists of a restrained affirmation within the context of a giant negation. What it says in starkly lucid terms is that ‘life’ is meaningless when everything is said and done; at the same time one man’s life can acquire meaning when he undertakes to perform some task that to him is meaningful. What everyone else thinks about that man’s life is utterly beside the point, even ludicrous. The meaning of his life is what he commits the meaning of his life to be. There is nothing else.”

    -Excerpted from Donald Richie’s The Films of Akira Kurosawa, ©1996 University of California Press.

  • Michael

    Thanks Rob for reminding of some films I need to see…

  • Rob Sica

    None of these indulge in the sorts of comforting closure and narrative forms which all too often anesthetize the force of purportedly “consciousness-raising” American films.

    Resnais’ NIGHT AND FOG (concludes with a call for vigilance whose urgency cannot be underestimated to this day — as is grimly driven home by the international community’s feckless and dilatory response to the ongoing genocide in Darfur)

    Moodysson’s LILYA 4-EVER (enjoys promotion by the UN and US State Department in the campaign against human trafficking and sex slavery)

    Haneke’s CODE UNKNOWN (the formal austerity superbly serves Haneke’s office as the bad conscience of the problematic multiculturalism currently under reconsideration in Europe today)

    The indefatigably rigorous Dardenne brothers’ ROSETTA (after which a Belgian child labor law was named)

    Jia’s THE WORLD (though it’s the first of his films to enjoy approval from the Chinese government, it’s nevertheless, I think, the most acutely critical of inequities and injustices apparently endemic to its transformative rapid economic development)

  • Thivai Abhor

    Iron Jawed Angels

    Moving the Mountain

    Hearts and Minds

    The Weather Underground

    Slam

    American Dream

    The Corporation

    Grave of the Fireflies

    Matewan

    Fog of War

    Life and Debt

    Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War

    Super Size Me

    Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism

    Orwell Rolls in His Grave

    The Laramie Project

    I’ve used all of these in courses I teach and various film societies I’ve set up:

    Bluegrass Film Society

  • Christian

    I should’ve posted earlier, but thanks to Darren’s site (Long Pauses), I’ve been reminded about this question.

    I’d pick “My Flesh and Blood,” one of the few films that, through its depiction of service (from an unbeliever!), made me feel ashamed of my own lack of service to others.

  • Dan

    Oops. You only need to see the movie once :)

  • Dan

    What about American History X? To me, the movie was secondarily about race relations, neo-Nazism, or hatred. What was predominant–and most believable–was the role that older men have in the formation of boys. Boys are so easily influenced, for good or ill, by men that give their time to them. Perhaps watching this movie might persuade a man to go into education instead of a more lucrative field, or to become a Big Brother, or give his time to inner-city youths, or help with his church’s youth group, or become a foster parent. There are too many boys without a positive male influence in their lives; I think that vacuum eventually gets filled by something. Unfortunately, what fills it is often destructive.

  • Dan

    What about American History X? To me, the movie was secondarily about race relations, neo-Nazism, or hatred. What was predominant–and most believable–was the role that older men have in the formation of boys. Boys are so easily influenced, for good or ill, by men that give their time to them. Perhaps watching this movie might persuade a man to go into education instead of a more lucrative field, or to become a Big Brother, or give his time to inner-city youths, or help with his church’s youth group, or become a foster parent. There are too many boys without a positive male influence in their lives; I think that vacuum eventually gets filled by something. Unfortunately, what fills it is often destructive.

  • Anonymous

    Ichi the Killer.

  • Carrie

    A while back “Cry Freedom” would have been in the running. Miners have been in the news lately — “Margaret’s Museum” (a bit older) explores the limited choices of the poor in a mining town. Recently, “Dirty Pretty Things” influenced me.

  • Tom Wilkinson

    Three Kings

  • Wasp Jerky

    The Corporation

  • Menshenfriend

    Mad Hot Ballroom

  • Tyler Petty

    Watching “Millions” again made me give money to the Red Cross. In a different way, Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” and “Malcolm X” made me examine my own racism and want to do something to change it.

  • Anonymous

    Bus 174 comes to mind.

  • Nick Alexander

    A film that left a deep impression on me, when I was much younger, was “The Cross and the Switchblade”. The film may be dated today, and the acting may be subpar (Pat Boone and Erik Estrada!), but the story itself is current and pertinent.

  • David Habecker

    John Sayles’s “Men with Guns”

  • Matt Page

    OTTOMH – I’d have to say Hotel Rwanda

    Matt


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