26th October 2006
I have been getting behind in my coverage of Bible films. I have watched quite a few recently, but just haven’t found the time to blog about them. Such is life.
There are a number of intriguing Bible films that have just been released or are coming out in the next little while — unfortunately, in most cases no Canadian release dates have been set, so I am not sure when I will have a chance to actually view them.
In the “just released” category falls Michael O. Sajbel’s One Night With the King (2006; IMDb; Official website). This movie about the biblical Esther has opened to favourable (not amazing) reviews. Make sure to check out the thorough review by Matt Page over at Bible Films Blog, as well as his scene analysis. While no Canadian release date has yet been set, it will be released on DVD on 23 January 2007. You can pre-order it from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com.
Sticking to the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, I should note the DVD release of the made-for-TV film The Ten Commandments (Robert Dornhelm; 2006; IMDb; Official website). This two-part film was released in April 2006 on ABC to less than spectacular results (see this review). The movie is OK. I was glad to see that it departed from previous films covering the same topic by including a bunch of stuff after the Hebrews cross the red/reed sea — and it even finds space for Aaron as Moses’ sidekick! If I have time I will post a more thorough review in the future. It is available for purchase from Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.
On the New Testament side of things (you know, that other testament, the small one ), there are two noteworthy films being released this fall.
I am thoroughly intrigued by The Color of the Cross (Jean-Claude La Marre; 2006; IMDb; Official website), which is being released in the United States today. This film is the first historical Jesus film to cast a black actor to play Jesus — which has provided some free publicity for the film (see the Associated Press report). I personally think it will be refreshing considering how many blond, blue-eyed Saviours have been filmed. There is an article on the film in the Chicago Tribune that is worthy of a read and includes interviews with the director as well as Canadian biblical studies scholar Adele Reinhartz (HT Mark Goodacre).
Finally, the birth of Jesus will be the subject of the film The Nativity Story (Catherine Hardwicke; 2006; IMDb; Official website), which is slated for a December 1st release. Matt Page has a convenient summary page for this film here.
For a complete listing of films based on the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible see my Old Testament on Film pages. An excellent place to visit for news and reviews of Bible films is Matt Page’s Bible Films Blog.
Posted in Bible & Film, Faith & Film, Film, Jesus Films, News, OT Film Epics | 1 Comment »
3rd September 2006
The Arts and Faith Forum has released their annual Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films list. The list contains a whole bevy of interesting films including classics and more popular fare. The films are chosen by members of the Arts and Faith forum through a somewhat convoluted process of voting and as such some films rank higher than they should while other great films get passed over altogether (at least in my opinion).
That being said, here are the top twenty:
- Ordet (The Word)
- Le Fils (The Son)
- The Miracle Maker (The Miracle Maker: The Story of Jesus)
- The Gospel According to Matthew (Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo)
- The Diary of a Country Priest (Le Journal D’un CurÃ© De Campagne)
- The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion De Jeanne D’arc)
- The Decalogue (Dekalog)
- Babette’s Feast (Babettes GÃ¦stebud)
- A Man Escaped (Un condamnÃ© Ã mort s’est Ã©chappÃ© ou Le vent souffle oÃ¹ il veut)
- Andrei Rublev (Andrey Rublyov)
- Balthazar (Au Hasard Balthazar)
- The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde Inseglet)
- Ikiru (To Live)
- Winter Light (NattvardsgÃ¤sterna)
- The Mission
- The Apostle
- Three Colors Trilogy
- Jesus of Nazareth
- Jesus of Montreal (JÃ©sus De MontrÃ©al)
- The Flowers of St. Francis (Francesco, giullare di Dio)
There are not too many surprises in the top twenty, though I can’t believe The Miracle Maker made the top twenty, let alone number three!Â I was glad to see Magnolia, one of my personal favourites, make number 23.
I was also happy to see that three of the films in Taylor’s fledgling Faith & Film club made the list (Millions #42; Babetteâ€™s Feast #8; and Hotel Rwanda #65).
There is much more I would like to comment on, but I do not have time right now. So you’re just going to have to go view the entire list for yourself: Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films. For my brief comments on last year’s list, see here. In addition you may be interested in looking at my â€œEssential Films for Theologians: The â€˜Directorâ€™s Cutâ€™â€? or my “Essential Films of 2005 for Theologians – Extended Edition.”
Posted in Faith & Film, Film, News | 1 Comment »
3rd September 2006
Another thing I will be involved in this academic year is a campus film club. One of my colleagues came up with the idea was soliciting help. I volunteered immediately to help organize it and we came up with four films to watch for the fall semester. We decided to only go once a month so we only had to choose four films — talk about a difficult task! This is what we came up with for the fall semester:
We wanted to choose films from a broad cross-section of classics, foreign films, documentaries, and more popular fare. We decided to make sure the first film is critically acclaimed but accessible for students — and Millions (2004, Directed by Danny Boyle, Rated PG) fits the bill. Babetteâ€™s Feast (Babettes gÃ¦stebud; 1987, Directed by Gabriel Axel, Rated G) fills the category of a classic foreign film, while Born into Brothels (2004, Directed by Zana Briski & Ross Kauffman, Rated 14A) fills the category of a documentary. Hotel Rwanda (2004, Directed by Terry George, Rated 14A) is our pick for a social justice film (of course Born into Brothels also fits this category).
We haven’t decided on films for the winter semester, though I would like to view a film that touches on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in some way — whether Death in Gaza (2004), Wall (Mur, 2004), Paradise Now (2005), or the like. I would also like to show a Jesus film for around Easter — whether The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Il Vangelo secondo Matteo, 1964) or Jesus of Montreal (JÃ©sus de MontrÃ©al, 1989).
All in all I think it will be a great time to get together with students and view and discuss great films.
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2nd September 2006
So, a leak from an insider suggests that New Line Cinema is working on a prequel to The Lord of the Rings: The Hobbit. That would be awesome in my books! Read the speculation here.
Next week (8 September 2006) will be the 40th anniversary of Star Trek. Live long and prosper!
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31st July 2006
Gelf Magazine has an interesting article on the truth behind movie review blurbs — you know, when a critic is quoted as saying that “this film is the best family movie of this summer — a must see” when in reality they said “this film is really bad, it ranks nowhere close to X, which is the best family movie of this summer; if you must see it, make sure to buy lots of popcorn!”
Anyhow… the article is called “The Funniest Movie You’ll See This Fiscal Quarter” and it is worth a gander. My favourites were from the reviews of My Super Ex-Girlfriend.
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30th July 2006
The Sunday Mail from the UK has published a list of “50 Films to See Before You Die.” The list was compiled by David Puttnam (producer of Chariots of Fire and Midnight Express) and others to mark digital channel Film4 going free-to-air.
The list has many of the films that you typically find on such lists, but it also has quite a few that typically don’t. There are some huge gaps as well. There is no overlap with my â€œEssential Films for Theologians: The â€˜Directorâ€™s Cutâ€™â€? so the list is clearly flawed! (see also my Essential Films of 2005 for Theologians – Extended Edition)
I have seen over half of the films, so I guess I have a bit of work to do before I die. (I have marked the films I have seen with an “x”)
- Apocalypse Now (x)
- The Apartment
- City of God (x)
- Chinatown (x)
- Sexy Beast (x)
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (x)
- North by Northwest
- A Bout de Souffle (Breathless)
- Donnie Darko (x)
- Alien (x)
- Lost in Translation (x)
- The Shawshank Redemption (x)
- Lagaan: Once Upon A Time in India
- Pulp Fiction (x)
- Touch of Evil
- Black Narcissus
- Boyz’n the Hood (x)
- The Player (x)
- Come and See
- Heavenly Creatures (x)
- A Night at the Opera
- Erin Brockovich (x)
- Trainspotting (x)
- The Breakfast Club (x)
- Hero (x)
- Fanny and Alexander
- Pink Flamingos
- All About Eve
- Scarface (x)
- Terminator 2 (x)
- Three Colours: Blue (x)
- The Royal Tenen-baums (x)
- The Ladykillers (x)
- Fight Club (x)
- The Searchers
- Mulholland Drive (x)
- The Ipcress File
- The King of Comedy
- Manhunter (x)
- Dawn of the Dead (x)
- Princess Mononoke
- Raising Arizona (x)
- This Sporting Life
- Brazil (x)
- Aguirre: The Wrath of God
- Secrets and Lies (x)
- Badlands (x)
(HT Arts and Faith)
Posted in Film, Popular Culture | 4 Comments »
24th July 2006
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21st July 2006
For your Friday enjoyment, now I bring you something completely different (than textual criticism!):
Peter Chattaway has highlighted a couple hilarious video clips. The first is a collection of Darth Vader clips with audio dubbed in from James Earl Jones’s other movies, and the second is a collection of Star Trek clips edited to fit a famous Monty Python song.
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21st June 2006
The other day I watched the straight to DVD documentary by Brian Flemming, The God Who Wasn’t There (Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com). The promotional blurb promised that what Bowling for Columbine did to the gun culture and Super Size Me did to the fast food industry, this film will do to religion. This is what the official website says about the film:
In this provocative, critically acclaimed documentary, you will discover:
- The early founders of Christianity seem wholly unaware of the idea of a human Jesus
- The Jesus of the Gospels bears a striking resemblance to other ancient heroes and the figureheads of pagan savior cults
- Contemporary Christians are largely ignorant of the origins of their religion
- Fundamentalism is as strong today as it ever has been, with an alarming 44% of Americans believing Jesus will return to earth in their lifetimes
- And God simply isn’t there
Dazzling motion graphics and a sweeping soundtrack propel this uncompromising and taboo-shattering documentary that Newsweek says “irreverently lays out the case that Jesus Christ never existed.”
While I am not going to bother to provide a thorough review, I figured I’d offer up a couple impressions. First, I was underwhelmed. My faith remained intact after viewing. In fact, I thought that I could do a better job raising questions about the Christian faith and the biblical accounts of Jesus contained in the gospels. It is clear that Brian Flemming was a very, very, very conservative Christian (I daresay a fundamentalist) who really seemed to react to his upbringing rather than seriously consider some of the historical problems scholars throughout the centuries have had with the biblical witness. Second, despite its facile and sometimes silly interpretation of the gospel accounts, the documentary was pretty well done. It looked professional and had its entertaining moments. I enjoyed the use of clips from Jesus films throughout, especially the characterization of Jesus Christ Superstar, The Last Temptation of Christ, and The Passion of the Christ as “the singing Jesus, the horny Jesus, and the bloody Jesus.”
If you see it at your local video store you may want to rent it, otherwise I wouldn’t bother with it.
Posted in Faith & Film, Film, Popular Culture | 1 Comment »
2nd June 2006
In my web waderings, I came across a film called The Real Old Testament produced and directed by Curtis and Paul Hannum. From the trailer available on the website, this film looks like a somewhat/very irreverant (so be warned) — yet funny — retelling of select stories from the book of Genesis in a way that reminds me of the sitcom The Office (it is based on the style of MTV’s “Real World” series, which I haven’t seen). It was only shown at a few film festivals, has no rating from what I can tell, but has an IMDb entry. Cool.
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