Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Faith, Politics & Social Change
January 22, 2008

I’ve watched the movie Amazing Grace a couple times in the past month or so. If you haven’t seen it, you should bump it to the top of your queue. If you live near me, I’d be glad to let you borrow our copy.

Anyways, if you don’t know already, the movie is about William Wilberforce and his work (along with his friends) to end the slave trade in the United Kingdom.

In searching for a little more information about Wilberforce, I came across some information about Wilberforce’s group of friends – the Clapham Sect. The Clapham Sect worked together to bring about social change in many different areas within UK society. I found the following characteristics of the Clapham Sect at OnMovements and thought this was worth sharing and discussing.

…the Clapham Sect shared these characteristics:

1. A common commitment to Jesus Christ and a clear sense of calling.

2. A commitment to lifelong friendship and mutual submission.

3. A thoughtful pursuit of causes marked by careful research, planning and strategy.

4. A friendship that was inclusive and focused on essentials. (Wilberforce, for example was Wesleyan and his closest friend Henry Thornton a Calvinist.)

5. A long view on completing projects. Abolition of the slave trade took over 20 years.

6. They saw no dichotomy between evangelism and social action. Their magazine, The Christian Observer, exemplified this.

7. Their faith was integral to all of life…family, career, friendship and more. They allowed no compartmentalization.

8. They made family life a clear priority and delighted in each other’s marriages and children.

9. They enabled one another. They recognized each other’s passions and supported one another in them.

10. They worshiped both privately and publicly, gathering twice weekly at the Clapham Church.

I think this relates to my previous post. What do you think? Can this happen today? Is it already happening in certain places/groups?

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Some Media for the New Year
January 3, 2008

In Music – check out Radiohead’s “Scotch mist: a film with Radiohead in it,” made for New Year’s Eve 2007. (HT: Bob)

In Books
– the online magazine Slate has a review of Joel Osteen’s latest book. It’s interesting to read this response from a non-Christian media outlet. Here’s the tagline: “Joel Osteen’s God really wants you to dress well, stand up straight, and get a convenient parking space.” (HT: I forget…shame on me)

In Movies – I can’t wait to see “What Would Jesus Buy?” It’s my most anticipated movie of 2008. Of course I’ll probably have to wait to see it on DVD since the chance of it coming to Waco is pretty slim – ok, actually there’s no chance at all.

Here’s a great video of Rev. Billy (Bill Talen) from Sojourners. Talen discusses consumerism and promotes his movie. Very interesting. Is Talen a modern day prophet? I’m becoming more convinced. (HT: God’s Politics)

Favorite Movies and Music of 2007
December 19, 2007

In 2007 I gained a new appreciation for movies and music. I don’t do a very good job of keeping up with new movies and music, but here’s a list of my favorite movies and music from the past year (only some of these actually came out in 2007).

MUSIC

I did grow to have a greater appreciation of music this past year, but that doesn’t mean I listened to a lot of music. It’s just difficult because I don’t like buying CDs unless I know I will really like the CD. But it’s hard to really get to listen to a CD unless you buy it…it’s quite a conundrum really.

My Very Favorites

Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
Radiohead – In Rainbows

Others

The Khrusty Brothers – The Khrusty Brothers
Waterdeep – Heart Attack Time Machine
Over the Rhine – The Trumpet Child
Derek Webb – The Ringing Bell
The Frames – The Cost

Others Not From 2007

I listened to everything Sufjan Stevens and couldn’t stop. I love it all.
I also loved Arcade Fire’s Funeral, which I didn’t discover until this year (I think I liked Neon Bible even more though).

MOVIES

I mainly watched DVDs this year. With a new baby, it was tough to make it to the theater – so many of these are not 2007 releases. But I did discover quite a few gems from years past. However, I don’t think any of these movies matched my top three from last year (Children of Men, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Little Miss Sunshine. I keep loving those three more with each viewing.)

The Best

Born Into Brothels
Promises
The Motorcycle Diaries
The Bourne Ultimatum
Once

Other Favorites

The Lives of Others
Breach
Amazing Grace
Zodiac
Ocean’s 13
American Gangster
Into Great Silence
Donnie Darko
The Prestige
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
The Illusionist

A few I originally forgot about

Maria Full of Grace
Marie Antoinette
The Constant Gardener
City of God

Ones I missed and look forward to seeing in 2008

A Mighty Heart
300
The King of Kong
For the Bible Tells Me So
Into the Wild
The Assassination of Jessee James by the Coward Robert Ford
Beowulf
Charlie Wilson’s War
I’m Not There
Juno
Lars and the Real Girl
Michael Clayton
My Kid Could Paint That
No Country for Old Men
Sweeny Todd
I Am Legend
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
There Will Be Blood
The Kite Runner
What Would Jesus Buy?

What were your favorites?

What Would Jesus Buy? – Reverend Billy and Guerilla Theater
November 16, 2007

Have you heard of the new movie coming out called What Would Jesus Buy? I’m really looking forward to seeing it. It’s a documentary by Morgan Spurlock, the man behind Super Size Me (which I really liked – more than anything because it was hilarious).

What Would Jesus Buy? deals with American consumerism and in it Spurlock introduces America to Reverend Billy and his “Church of Stop Shopping.” Rev. Billy and his “church” are basically a performance art and activist group dedicated to “defend[ing] communities against supermalls and the Devil’s monoculture” (to put it in words from their own website). Now don’t be fooled, Rev. Billy is no Southern Baptist minister. In fact, he calls himself “post religious” (which of course I find very interesting). However, while there is certainly a lot of humor and spectacle mixed in with Rev. Billy and his “church,” the message comes across very clear – consumerism and Christianity shouldn’t mix.

I’m sure there is much controversy surrounding Rev. Billy. I imagine many Christians are not one bit happy that he has chosen to spread his message in a (faux)Christian manner. However, some Christians are embracing him and his message. In a recent Sojourners column, renowned Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann calls Rev. Billy a modern day prophet engaging in “guerilla theater,” much like Jesus and the prophets of the Old Testament. Brueggemann writes:

Amos Wilder, the wise New Testament scholar of the last generation, observed that the parables of Jesus are a form of “guerilla theater,” action against settled conviction and an invitation to listeners to come “on stage” into the action. Before Jesus, this same guerilla theater was the enterprise of the ancient prophets. That theater continues with Rev. Billy. We are surely apt candidates for the Church of Stop Shopping. With enough new recruits for the action, perhaps we need not be subjected to the Shopocalypse.

I find this all very compelling. What do you all think? Can we/should we consider Rev. Billy a modern day prophet? What do you think of this idea of guerilla theater? Can you think of any other examples? I’m really interested in your thoughts. But before you respond, you might want to learn more about Rev. Billy, What Would Jesus Buy, and the Church of Stop Shopping. Here are some good resources:

Rev. Billy’s official site
the movie’s official site
article from Christianity Today about the documentary
Brueggemann’s article in Sojourners

And of course, you definitely have to check out the trailer.

Just. Plain. Hilarious.

Is a list of movies the cure for boring?
August 29, 2007

Until a couple weeks ago I was a faithful and evangelistic member of Blockbuster Online. But then I got a nice email from them telling me I was going to pay more to get less. I said “no thanks” (I actually did respond to them and told them I was going to have to decline their generous offer to give me less for paying more). As a result, I am currently in the middle of a free month-long trial with Netflix. But when the end of the free month comes around, I may choose neither. The reason is that I am running out of movies on my queue that I really want to see (what a horrible problem, right?). And this is where you come in.

What are some of your favorite movies that I might not have seen yet? What movies do you think I should add to my queue?

Since I’m asking you, I’ll give you a few of my more recent favorites (the past few years) to add to your queue – ones that some of you might not have seen yet.

Best
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Children of Men
Pan’s Labyrinth
Born Into Brothels
Little Miss Sunshine

Very good
Syriana
Motorcycle Diaries
City of God
Good Night, and Good Luck

Not the best, not necessarily very good, but still quite good (and worth adding to your queue)
Maria Full of Grace
Marie Antoinette
The Constant Gardener

Anyone agree/disagree with my recommendations?

I look forward to your recommendations (they don’t have to be recent movies).

Born Into Brothels
July 12, 2007

I’ve been wanting to see Born Into Brothels for awhile now. I must admit that it took me awhile to finally see it because I am sort of afraid of documentaries. For some reason “documentary” makes me think “boring.” I don’t really know why I thought this. I like documentaries on tv – if I had cable, that’s what I would watch all the time.

Anyways, after Born Into Brothels, I can’t wait to watch more documentaries (anyone have any good ones to recommend?).

Born Into Brothels is about a photographer named Zana Briski who chose to live with and get to know some of the women who live and work in the red light district of Calcutta. Briski ended up spending large portions of a number of years in one particular brothel. As she got to know the women of the brothel, she also grew to love the many children who live in the brothel with their mothers and families. The movie documents her relationship with a number of the children who she ends up teaching photography. The result is an amazing, heart-breaking, and miraculously hope-filled portrait of these incredible children. You see their lives through their own eyes, via their own photography. The movie also chronicles Briski’s attempts (with some successes and some failures) to help the children get out of the brothels (she has since begun an organization to continue this work in other areas – check out the site).

This movie is certainly difficult to watch at times. The scores of children who grow up in these brothels have very little hope of leaving. The girls in particular have very little chance of avoiding the same fate of their mothers and eventually joining “the line.” That a place like this exists is disturbing and it is difficult to watch. While it is encouraging and inspiring to watch Briski help these children in amazing ways, it is also easy to despair in realizing that their are so many other children in these brothels, without any real hope.

So here’s what I took away from the film (I actually watched it twice – once with the audio commentary).

Film is an amazing way to bring about awareness of significant issues.

There are people in this world making a difference – doing amazing things. God must be with these people, even if they do not know it. While Briski does not appear to be a Christian, it is hard to miss her incredible love for these children – I think this is God.

My life is easy.

People matter. All of them. And loving people is the work of God, and our only true calling in this world. No matter who the people are or how many people are impacted.

God is working everywhere and will use anyone.

There are plenty other things to think about after watching this movie.

Please rent it. I don’t think you’ll regret it.