Roland Emmerich’s disaster films are escapist fantasies that imagine how we humans will respond in the face of certain (almost) global destruction.  As I mentioned in a review of 2012 yesterday, they often present an emotional utopia of family togetherness against this dystopic background.  Another recent film, the post-apocalyptic story, The Road, unfortunately presents a perhaps more realistic portrayal of the human response to global destruction and survival of said catastrophe. (more…) Read more

There’s an interesting thread to Roland Emmerich’s disaster films.  Against the backdrop of alien invasions or global warming is the story of geographically or emotionally separated families reuniting with one another.  The same plot can be seen in his third attempt to destroy the planet in 2012.  (more…) Read more

“But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”  Matthew 6:6 Given the above verse, I thought it was particularly interesting that conservative evangelicals got all bent out of shape over President Obama’s refusal to hold a public event around the National Day of Prayer.  Something about the above verse also makes that national observance seem slightly out… Read more

Over the course of this semester, I have been teaching a course entitled “Theological Crises and the Development of American Cinema.”  In it, we have been looking at, among other issues, the representation of race and ethnicity in the history of American film.  In preparation for the final series of classes, I am developing lectures and discussions on the emergence of the Hollywood blockbuster from the late ’70s until today.  A significant feature in several of these films is the… Read more

Check out the latest from Jason Derr after the jump, an attempt to look at the theological concepts in the ABC TV series, FlashForward.  The article is written in consideration of the first six episodes and not of the series as a whole. (more…) Read more

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  (John 15:13) “Then he said to them all:  ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.'” (Luke 9:23-24) There is a clarion call to self-sacrifice in the Christian life.  Yet the example of… Read more

Last summer, we saw an alien spaceship settle over a capital city.  Despite the potential for inter-galactic diplomacy, let’s just say the relationship between the aliens and earthlings, in Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 ended (or suspended) less than amicably.  Though of a different sort, aliens have once again arrived and are hovering over numerous capital cities in ABC’s remake of the ’80s science fiction series, V. (more…) Read more

Getting into the mind of a 12-year-old boy is no easy task.  Crafting that internal world into a film is even more difficult…I would imagine.  Maurice Sendak did it effectively enough in his book, Where the Wild Things Are, a fantastic tale untainted by the ravages of internal or external dialogue.  The book’s ten or so sentences probably helped make it my favorite book to “read” as a child.  The danger of watching the film adaptation of the book is… Read more

Students of religion and film or theology and film must reckon with the ever-presence of violence in much of contemporary cinema and throughout film history.  However, this is only slightly different from the engagement that theologians, religious studies scholars, and the faithful must undertake in relationship to violence in their sacred texts.  On one level, cinematic violence is less problematic than “religious” violence because at least the directors don’t usually justify said violence by claiming that “God told them to… Read more

“I’d love to watch that film with the Women’s Studies Group at the Graduate Theological Union.” You won’t hear me say that phrase too often; however, Lars von Trier’s latest release, Antichrist, would make for an engrossing discussion with the right audience.  I also wouldn’t mind discussing the film with ministers, therapists, and those in training.  The film has polarized critics like most of von Trier’s work is apt to do.  Whether critics love it or hate it, most of… Read more

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