Of Gods and Men
Why does suffering exist? You might argue that random genetics or natural disasters cause suffering, that this is an inevitable implication of natural selection. But what about suffering caused by human neglect or intent? Certainly the state of our world today is a compelling question for believers: 'Why does God allow suffering?' Whatever philosophical or religious slant on life you take, you can't avoid grappling with the question of suffering. The movie Of Gods And Menallows us a unique view into how persons of faith existentially live this question.
Mary and Max
Sometimes strangers make the best friends. So reads the tagline for Adam Elliot's 2009 animated film, Mary and Max. And it certainly is an unlikely friendship that grows between an 8-year-old chubby Australian girl and a 44-year-old Jewish American man who has Asperger's syndrome. As unlikely as picking a name out of a phone book, which is how Mary first came to write Max.
Happy Go Lucky
Am I happy like Poppy in the movie ‘Happy Go Lucky’? Well, the answer would be ‘yes’ and ‘no’. I am an extremely optimistic person and like Poppy try to see the ‘silver lining in every cloud’ and the truly delightful in even the most dismal of situations. However, along the way both Poppy and I have met some characters who challenge our optimistic view of life.
Lady in the Water
M. Night Shyamalan's movie Lady in the Water reminds me that we habitually live relatively mundane, banal lives. Although our sensitive egos may disagree, our imaginations look out onto a rather narrow expanse. Yet when we are called on by the Transcendent, and we decide to cooperate, life becomes surprisingly three-dimensional and purposeful. By throwing our will into the search for our true vocation, is it possible that we will learn strange and mysterious things?
"How do you profit from it all?” My friend and I had been
discussing documentaries over coffee-break, when he suddenly posed this
question. He was asking whether all this insight and commentary was
just entertainment, or whether it evoked a response in us. His question
has been rolling around in my mind ever since, and came up again when
I watched The Matrix. It has been years since this movie became a phenomenon
yet I still feel the urgency of the question: “Do you want to
wake up?” I think the gift of The
Matrix was to bring this question to the forefront of pop culture,
particularly through three insights.
"Off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush." So reads one
of the tag-lines for the movie L.A.
Confidential, which Watershed saw in November 2006. Said by
the editors of the tabloid magazine in the movie, it could also have
been spoken like a mantra by each character in the movie as they hid
their base, unethical lives....
I was early for the movie. Recently I had joined a Spirituality
and Film course. The night's movie, Pearl
Diver, was about estranged Mennonite sisters. As I waited for
the doors to open, I reflected on the irony of how Mennonites champion
reconciliation but also struggle with conflict within their congregations.
Perhaps, as Miroslav Volf maintains in Free of Charge: Giving and
Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace, forgiveness and reconciliation
are related but distinct attitudes. I wondered how the movie would explore
"In no way, whatsoever, do I blame you for what happened." If
I had to pick the through line for The
Chumscrubber I would have to go with this one. At least that's
the phrase that has haunted me the most. Other lines would do too. For
example: "Don't ignore me" and "I'm not dead but you call this a living?"
Each phrase is simple but voices a dark reality that runs beneath suburban
takes us on a journey into unknown territory. Without language, plot
or narrative, the film immerses us in images of humanity’s relationship
to the earth. Manipulating time through rapidation and slow motion,
punctuated with Philip Glass’s mesmerizing music, Koyaanisqatsi
allows us to see the technological world we’ve built on nature’s
shoulders, and asks us whether life lived out of balance with creation
is ultimately tenable? Seen through a faith perspective, the movie evokes
the question of whether life outside covenant with God is possible...
2001: A Space Odyssey
When I learned that the first movie we would be approaching through
the Ignatian method was 2001:
A Space Odyssey, I was simultaneously excited and wary. My
first exposure to the film in 1968 blended seamlessly with my naive
countercultural utopianism. The scene that stuck with me most viscerally
was the psychedelic roller-coaster ride through the planetscape beyond
Jupiter. I can honestly say that the idea of being a loved sinner never
crossed my mind...