The film’s subjects are familiar: Hobby Lobby, the Oregon bakers and Washington florist who refused to serve same-sex weddings (“The government shouldn’t force you to bake the cake!” audience members later argued), the Mt. Soledad Veteran’s Memorial with its tall cross on government property, the counseling student who refused to affirm a client’s same-sex relationships, military chaplains who want to evangelize, and the Texas cheerleaders who insist upon using Bible verses on the football team’s banners. The film plods through them one after another, peppering in anecdotes about what the Founding Fathers intended and how there really is no separation of church and state in the Constitution.
The Mad Max series shows society and culture devolve with each installment. It is about the worship of the machine and the mechanized destruction it can visit upon humanity. As the series evolves we see the bleakness change, becoming a strange reverence for the machine as savior. While the machine age led to the destruction of humanity, in the wasteland it has been mythologized, taking an inanimate object that can be roused to life with tribute and sacrifice.
Big news from the box office: some people released some Christian-themed movies that weren’t completely terrible. The terribleness of Christian movies is, of course, an article of faith among film critics, who reserve for them their most damning barbs (“doesn’t even meet the standards of decent propaganda”; “doesn’t belong in a theatre”). On Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, they garner basement-level scores rivalled only by torture porn and holocaust-exploitation flicks. But not this year, which has seen box-office success for studio-backed movies such as Son of God ($67m since its debut in late February), Darren Aronofsky’s Noah ($359m), God’s Not Dead ($60m), Heaven is for Real ($91m), and, soon Ridley Scott’s retelling of the story of Moses, Exodus.
- Pema Tseden’s Transnational Cinema: Screening a Buddhist Landscape of Tibet by Dan Smyer Yu
- Space Buddhism: The Adoption of Buddhist Motifs in Star Wars by Christian Feichtinger
- Staging Zen Buddhism: Image Creation in Contemporary Films by Elisabetta Porcu
- Buddhism and Film—Inter-Relation and Interpenetration: Reflections on an Emerging Research Field by Almut-Barbara Renger
- What is a ‘Buddhist Film?’ by John Whalen-Bridge
- ‘When You Wash the Rice, Wash the Rice.’ About the Cinematic Representation of Cooking and Zen in Doris Dörrie’s How to Cook Your Life (2007) by Andreas Becker
- The Transnational Buddhism of Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring by Francisca Cho
- Ethics of Inscrutability: Ontologies of Emptiness in Buddhist Film by Lina Verchery
- Trading a Notebook for a Camera: Toward a Theory of Collaborative, Ethnopoetic Filmmaking by Mark Patrick McGuire
These four essays and this thesis was added to this site today:
Ken Morefield’s 1More Film blog at Patheos this week covered 1 book, 1 TV show, 2 movies and offered 1 giveaway:
Book: Erich Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales
“Why film a story when one can write it? Why write it when one is going to film it?”
That’s the beginning of Erich Rohmer’s introduction to his Six Moral Tales–the slim book that contains the stories he made as films which cemented his reputation as a master of world cinema. Read full post
TV show: Masters of Sex Episode 2.1 Recap: Kyrie Eleison
Showing how repression, fear, and ignorance ruin lives is not that hard, as the hysterectomy patient shows. What is harder is to acknowledge that while knowledge/science is morally neutral, its application is not. Do we know more about sex than we did before the Masters and Johnson studies? Yes, of course. Are we sexually healthier, as a society, than we were then? Read full post
Film: Wet Behind the Ears (Copeland, 2013)
Like its protagonist, Wet Behind the Ears is unpolished but still willing to work for our approval. The characters do acknowledge how difficult it is to be (young and) unemployed, but the film doesn’t wrap those acknowledgements in a most-put-upon-generation entitlement blanket. Read full post
Film: Vera Drake (Leigh, 2004) — 10 Years Later
One thing hasn’t changed in ten years: abortion is still a polarizing and politically charged subject. One wishes that one could review films on such subjects without one’s own views being called into question, though my experience reviewing Lake of Fire makes me realize such hopes are naive. Read full post
Giveaway: The Purge: Anarchy Prize Pack Giveaway
Leave a comment saying what you would do to try to survive Purge Night if you were a character in the movie. If your strategy includes one of the items from your survival kit, I’ll count your entry twice! I’ll pick a winner at random from the entrants on August 1. Enter the giveaway
It has always been clear from Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew that he got New Testament theology in a pretty profound, even prescient way. It took a while for Historical Jesus studies interfacing with Jesus cinema to catch up with articulating the vibe Pasolini achieves in that film.
Check out the new cover photo for this site’s social media channels created from the covers of recent books on religion and film. Click the image below to view the full size and check our channels: Facebook, Twitter, Google+.
Katrin Gebbe’s first feature, Nothing Bad Can Happen, quite impressively made it all the way to Cannes in 2013. It is a hard enough film to watch that it met with mixed reception. From reviews I have scanned (so, consider this unscientific), most are repelled by the film because it does all kinds of awful things to its lead character….Throughout the course of the film it is clear that Gebbe understands the process of Christian conversation and the initial internalization of Christian ideas well enough to bend them in the right places. Q.E.D.: His constant repetition of half-memorized scripture (such as the title of the film, which is a broad paraphrase of Ephesians 6:16). His constant awkward prayers.
Cannibal (★) is a love story–at least it purports to be–between a mild-mannered tailor and the woman he can’t quite bring himself to murder. Before it comes to its inevitable (and overdue) conclusion, he kills his love interest’s sister, negotiates with the local church to sew a particularly valuable piece of fabric for a forthcoming religious parade, and, of course, takes communion with a priest solemnly intoning “this is my body…” Just once I’d like to see a movie cannibal go to church and have the sermon text end up being Ephesians 5:25. Or Matthew 5:15. Or…well, pretty much any other verse in the New Testament.