(But Won’t be Heard in Church because of their rating)
I enjoy films and the art of film. I enjoy films for what they teach me and for what they stir in me. The more frivolous and mindless entertainment centered films of the mainstream rarely entice me. I prefer a film that speaks to me on deep emotional, spiritual, and philosophical levels. Does it make me think about big picture ideas and soul matters? Does it inspire me to make my patch of earth a better place? Does it stir a longing for the glory, beauty and wholeness of God and His ways? Films that pose these questioning thoughts are few and far between, but their impressions last longer than most of what drivels out of a Redbox. Here are my picks in no order of importance and what I find most valuable in their viewing.
1. Joyeux Noel – This film is a war film, but it grapples with the absurdities inherent in any conflict that has reached the war level. It subtly reveals the hypocrisy of ‘christian/church’ blessing of ‘just’ wars.
2. Ghost of Girlfriends Past – Weird and crude at times, but it champions the rightness and benefits of a committed, monogamous relationship like few films I’ve seen. It does this by comically exposing the pitfalls of living fast and loose. The tale’s key moral could be straight out of Proverbs.
3. Temple Grandin – Jesus said the meek shall inherit the earth and the story of Temple Grandin is truly inspirational. Her disability and troubled upbringing could have been an easy path to desolation but she perseveres and realizes her dreams. The inherent worth of all people is emphasized despite their oddities or imperfections (as defined by general society)
4. Precious – Shocking and raw – but so powerful. Jesus tells us to go into the byways and alleys to bring in guests to the dinner He’s preparing and Precious is about one of those persons that is at the bottom – the very bottom. One scene in particular where the main character gazes through the grating of a church’s gate at the worshipers inside speaks volumes. This film screams at us to open our eyes to the marginalized and despised, and it begs us to do something for them. It is Jesus crying out to us to do something for the least of these.
5. No End in Sight – Heart wrenching documentary grappling with the height of bedlam in Iraq after the american empire’s invasion. The years 2005-2006 were particularly devastating upon the Iraqi population. The violence and arrogance of men depicted stirs a longing for the day when all swords will be beaten into plowshares.
6 Gran Torino – Gritty film involving an old codger of an american retiree, his heirloom car and some immigrants. A journey of tough love turning into tender and sacrificial love.
7. Adam’s Apples – This off-beat, satirical film’s main character embodies the sacrificial lamb, nonresistant selflessness only associated with Jesus Christ. The joy of the film is to see this character’s ‘absurdity’ (or his absurd love) actually producing positive results.
8. The Soloist – Another film about the least of these. Homelessness and its complexities is misunderstood by much of american churchdom. This film is going to tell you something different than you’ll hear from a radio talk show or ‘christian’ politician. (why american evangelicalism is so beholden to those two things in the first place is another can of worms…)
9. Born in Brothels – Yet another excursion into the lives of the marginalized. I believe this theme and the guilt of our apathy and the motivation to do something about such societal ills should be a constant in our churches. It should overshadow our selfish tendencies that tend to make church about our programs, our spirituality and our feelings.
10. Millions – This gem is a great family film but deals with the deep issues involved with money, greed, blessing, taking and giving. The main characters are children and their unlikely happenings, but the questions that are raised would give any adult discussion group a lot of meat to chew on.
There you are. Hope you have a chance to take in all or any of these films and ponder the ideas and questions they stir.