Every now and then a movie strikes us deeply and we're moved to respond. Often these responses bloom out of our Mythic Movie night discussions. Here's a collection of movie responses from over the years.



Last Updated November, 2012

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.



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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.



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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.



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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?

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The Matrix

"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.

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L.A. Confidential

"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....

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Pearl Diver

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 this...

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Chumscrubber

"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 living?" Each phrase is simple but voices a dark reality that runs beneath suburban bliss...

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Koyaanisqatsi

Koyaanisqatsi 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...


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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...


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The Bay of Love and Sorrows

Watching the movie of David Adam Richards' The Bay Of Love And Sorrows and reading the story of the great banquet in Luke 14:15-24 was like having the same yarn told stereophonically. The Bay Of Love And Sorrows kicks off with a party, a rural New Brunswick booze-fest back in the heady utopian days of the early '70s. Two men, Michael Skid and Everett Hutch, were celebrating their homecoming: Michael from his exotic pilgrimage to India, and Everett from his dreary confinement in a provincial penitentiary...


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Ponette

"Please God, let me talk to my mommy!" mumbles a desperate four-year-old Ponette in her school's chapel. This prayer is her last resort to bring back her mother who recently died in a car crash. The movie Ponette follows the months after this tragedy as the little girl struggles to come to terms with her loss...


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Crash

Crash is a collision of prejudices, of self-concepts, of what we thought was the truth. It makes us look at ourselves differently, breaks apart our self-illusions, lays bare both our deceptions and our tenderness. This movie is about justice, but not the kind of litigious righteousness we usually demand. Rather, the justice of the second chance, of undeserved mercy...

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Pieces of April

We long to be whole, but as we move through life we inevitably lose parts of ourselves along the way. And consciously or not, we spend our lives trying to tie the pieces back together. Peter Hedge’s movie, Pieces of April, reflects this torturous journey in the poignant story of a white middle-class family barely holding together at the seams...

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Tuesdays with Morrie

I finished reading the inspirational book Morrie: In His Own Words (Life Wisdom from a Remarkable Man) this week and, in the hope of deepening our viewing of Tuesdays With Morrie, I thought I'd let you all know a bit about it. It was originally titled Letting Go by Morrie Schwartz. In the wake of the success of Tuesdays, it was renamed in 1996...

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No Such Thing

What if all myths were one myth? What if all fables were true? What if our everyday lives repeatedly told tales of good and evil, monsters and maidens? What if we failed to see this because we know there’s no such thing...





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Smoke Signals

Art Wilson, a Wolf Clan Chief of the Gitxsan First Nation, described aboriginal spirituality with these simple words: “knowing who you are and where you fit in.” Smoke Signals (1998) can be seen through the lens of this definition. Victor Joseph (Adam Beach) and Thomas Builds-the-Fire (Evan Adams) are both on a quest towards a better understanding of who they are and where they fit in...

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The Last Temptation of Christ

The inscription on Nikos Kazantzakis' tomb in Heraklion, Greece reads: I hope for nothing.I fear nothing. I am free. The same inscription could have been placed on Jesus' tomb had they buried him in Kazantzakis' The Last Temptation of Christ...





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Jesus Chris Superstar (2000)

"Do you think you are who they say you are?" Debates on the humanity and divinity of Jesus have raged for centuries. Often the humanity has been pushed aside in favour of Jesus' full divinity. The film Jesus Christ Superstar (2000) turns the question on its head, assuming the humanity and questioning the divinity...



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Titus (1999)

Titus jumps off the screen and into your gut from the beginning. There is something chilling about the young boy playing war with his action figures as his own city is bombed in the background. It's not the precariousness of his situation; it's the revealing way in which his play mirrors the front page news we all know. The boy is bloodthirsty...

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Dogma (1999)

Religious dogma can be a comic gold mine. This isn't necessarily cynicism. If holding certain beliefs betrays the spirit of the original spiritual experience they point to, it's time for change. There is something healthy about opening up your beliefs to review, and laughing at how you cling to old habits and religious props that no longer support or feed your soul...

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The Rapture (1991)

The Rapture is difficult to evaluate. It honestly deals with the struggle to overcome meaninglessness yet the screenwriter's point of view is so cynical and apparently postmodern that there is no possibility of any genuine healing or meaning...



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Mill on the Floss (1997)

One night, needing some light reading before bed, I naively picked up George Eliot's Mill on the Floss . Several hours later, I was well into the book and couldn't put it down. Far from being light, this story riveted me back 140 years, into the heart-wrenching loves and hates of people caught in forces beyond their control...


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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

In thinking about the movie tonight, I was struck with how free a character Mac was. Authorities and limits didn't mean anything to him; neither did routine or regularity. It was disturbing in a way to think how he might live his life. Not because of what he would or wouldn't do, but because he saw himself as free. Disturbing that we might choose whether or not we want to be free...

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Eleni (1985)

Eleni tells the sotry of Nicholas Gage, a driven New York Times journalist who returns to Greece in the late 1970's to unearth the events surrounding his mother's death at the hands of a Communist firing squad during the Greek Civil War in 1948. Nicholas tracks down and confronts her torturer and sentencer with the intention of repaying injustice in kind...

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Immortal Beloved (1994)

The use of biography needs to be seen in light of our lenses. For instance, if I put on the lens which admires genius and passionate yearning, I can be quite encouraged when I see the ambiguity of the person I am striving to understand...





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Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1941)

As Arthur Paul Patterson writes in his introduction to Watershed Online's Frankenstein pages, it isn't the gross out, gory stuff of horror that shakes us to our bones; it is the searing truth of its indictment that nails us against the wall saying, "here, look at this horrific spectacle - this is you!"...


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Hamlet (1990)

Isn't there a lot of doggone hype about Shakespeare? Yet I often wonder if someone's cultural popularity is often a reflection of their superficiality. Consider the relative emptiness of Madonna or Quentin Tarantino or Michael Jackson. How can the same culture adore a crotch-grabbing Michael and also embrace a dead, white Renaissance playwright...

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