Posts Tagged ‘Movies’

John Piper on Movies & TV

There is much to commend in this brief article by John Piper:   Why I Don’t Have A Television and Rarely Go to Movies.  Even if we should disagree or have different practices.

There are, perhaps, a few extraordinary men who can watch action-packed, suspenseful, sexually explicit films and come away more godly. But there are not many. And I am certainly not one of them.

I have a high tolerance for violence, high tolerance for bad language, and zero tolerance for nudity. There is a reason for these differences. The violence is make-believe. They don’t really mean those bad words. But that lady is really naked, and I am really watching. And somewhere she has a brokenhearted father.

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Movie Showtimes Map

This is a cool mashup using google maps (I think) and movie showtimes (from somewhere?).  Zip code is the easiest way to seach.  Seems much quicker and easier to use than other movie showtime sites.  I have not cross-checked the accuracy of the showtimes against anothes site like fandango.

Reflections on The Dark Knight

I had an opportunity to see the most popular film of the summer movie season last night with a few friends, The Dark Knight.  Here are a few of my reflections, none earth-shattering.  There aren’t any real spoilers here, but feel free to come back after you’ve seen the movie.  Also, a reminder:  I do not make movie recommendations, only reflections (use your own discernment in consumption of media).

  • The movie is long and intense, though not long-feeling.  Without looking at the time, at one point I thought we were at the end, when in reality there was another hour or so.
  • The special effects and action sequences were very good and served the story-telling, rather than being the whole of the story (like so many movies this day).  We often marvel at special effects, when really we are being short-changed on so many other cinematic fronts.  Less is more (this applies to gore and suspense, as well).
  • The movie was not very comic-book esque, though based on comic books.  In some ways, this makes the movie feel more real and thus effective in drawing us into the movie.
  • The Dark Knight is, well, dark.  Yet, the feel of darkness is not artificially achieved by cinematic techniques.  I think about Batman (1989) and how everything takes place at night and the city is always dark and dingy.  In this version, I appreciated that there was a lot of daylight and many scenes that took place during the day.  This made the real darkness, that which resides in the heart of man, more real and more effective.  Another comparison here might be No Country for Old Men with its almost sepia tone.
  • Though the movie was dark, I did not walk away feeling hollow like I did after watching No Country for Old Me or There Will Be Blood.  There are similarities here for sure, but there was something else at work (heroism? – even if it is conflicted)
  • The dialogue was extremely tight and well written/performed.  I can’t think of any seriously cheesy lines!
  • There were a few places where the dialogue was hard to hear over the score.  I don’t know if this is an individual theater issue or a sound editing issue (No Oscar for you!).
  • I can understand why much has been made about Heath Ledger and his performance – it is hard not seeing him win the Oscar posthumously.  All of the acting performances were well done, but his stands out.
  • More specifically on the Joker, I thought there was something interesting that happened with his character.  Spoiler Alert:  In two different scenes he tells how he got his scars, but the story was different each time.  After hearing the first, it is possible to have some sympathy for the Joker, but after the second, any sympathy is removed and it is hard to know the truth (it may be neither, I don’t know if this is explained in the comic books or not).  The point is:  that is incredibly effective movie-making.  I felt something and then had that yanked away.  Also, it possibly points us to the debate between nature & nurture.
  • A few reflections from a Christian worldview:
    • The movie is accurate: darkness and evil are real and it resides in the hearts of men.
    • A hero is needed in this world, but one that incorruptible (Dent/Two-Face illustrates this).  In this way, we can see Jesus as the ultimate hero.  Jesus also stands in contrast because he is “the light of the world”.
    • Character, integrity, honor all matter and we celebrate these things when we see them.
    • I appreciated the current of hope, even in bleak times, that runs through the movie.  This theme is even the ending point of the movie.  This is a biblical current.
    • Negatively, there possibly a worldview of humanism present – that man is good and can do the right thing (e.g. the ferry dilemna).  While man can do good and the right thing, the God of all grace and good can easily be removed from the picture.  This may be unfair criticism – I will have to think some more on this.

What did you think of this movie?

You might also read this review of the movie from Christianity Today.

Just what we need…

…another movie about Jesus.

Paul Verhoeven, the director of such movie classics as Basic Instinct and Starship Troopers is interested in making a movie about Jesus. I read about it here and saw mention of it on wikipedia, as well. Here is an excerpt from the article:

From a recent interview conducted by Richard von Busack before an appearance by Verhoeven in Santa Rosa, Calif.: “The message of Jesus is the way he lived. That he ultimately was killed was something that just happened. By seeing it as a sacrifice we diminish the importance of what he’s thinking. Putting the cross and the resurrection at the heart of the story has diminished the importance of Jesus’ message.”

In Verhoeven’s version of Jesus’ life, Jesus is the product of a Roman Centurion’s rape of Mary. Whether this creative fiction on his part or he actually believes this to be the truth, I do not know. It should not surprise us that Verhoeven is a member of the Jesus Seminar. Either way, this is one movie that I hope never sees the light of day. If it does, it will stand in a long line of media that denies the divinity of Christ in favor of his humanity. This has always been heresy and it still is.

The Cross of Christ (and the vindication of the Resurrection) is central to any other “message” of Christ. The Cross both validates the place of those messages and gives power for their fulfillment. They cannot be separated so easily and maintain their importance. Furthermore, the notion, that the crucifixion is something that just happened requires a radical re-reading and reduction of Scripture (which the Jesus Seminar is very much in favor of).  I am attaching a Good Friday homily preached in 2007 that addresses this topic – click on continue reading to see that.

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No Country for Old Men

Disclaimer: I do not recommend popular books or films to people – we all must exercise discernment. I only comment on what I have seen or read.

I watched this movie last week. I had a free evening when the wife and children were away and I knew that this was a film that Lydia would probably not want to watch or enjoy if she did. I was right.

I was curious to see what all the buzz was about, as the film won the oscar for best picture, Javier Bardem won the best supporting actor oscar, and the Cohen brothers won for best director(s). While I have not seen any of the other pictures nominated in the best picture category, I can see why this movie won these awards.
So here are a few of my thoughts on the movie:

1) It is incredibly well done in all aspects: acting, directing, the overall feel of the movie. It all works.

2) This is not a typical “hollywood” movie, with accompanying ending. All does not end well.

3) The movie is very violent.  Not in a Saving Private Ryan kind of way where the violence is expected and anticipated, but in a context more familiar to most of us.  Of course, violence is always lurking in the darkness of our society – we would just prefer to ignore that fact and shut our eyes/ears to it.

4) There are some incredible scenes, especially when Chighur (Bardem) is in the gas station with the attendant.

5) I felt empty inside after watching the film.  I also made sure my doors were locked (someone reminded me that wouldn’t have mattered, but I wasn’t thinking logically).  In that way, the movie works. You do feel something that is not typical of most box-office movies, even if it’s emptiness.

6) I’m not sure if I am better for having seen this film or not. I did seek out some takes on the movie and appreciated this one from Christianity Today.

If you saw the movie, what did you think? How did you feel after watching it?