catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 10, Num 1 :: 2011.01.14 — 2011.01.27


Ten films that prompt theological reflection

1.  The Apostle (Robert Duval, 1997)  Any time I get a chance to talk to preachers about preaching, I tell them that it’s all about helping your people get into character. Well, The Apostle is the best example I know of characterization. Sonny (Duvall) is a powerful and compassionate preacher with a bit of a violent streak. He’s like a real person: I still don’t know what to think of him.

2.  Changeling (Clint Eastwood, 2008)  Gripping! A commentary on the corrupt manipulation of the powers, and the mission of the Church.

3.  The Education of Charlie Banks (Fred Durst, 2007)  H. G. Wells remarked that “human history is a race between education and catastrophe.” The Education of Charlie Banks is the riveting story of two lives on the edge of catastrophe that will keep you firmly planted on the edge of your seat. But it’s also a thoughtful piece on the indirectly proportionate relationship between education and violence.

4.  Half Nelson (Ryan Fleck, 2006)  “Simul justus et peccator,” writes Martin Luther.  “We are at the same time both righteous and sinners.” Each of us is a mixed bag, capable of both great love and unspeakable evil. This film gives voice to the tension inside each of us.

5.  Humboldt County (Darren Grodsky & Danny Jacobs, 2008)  This film follows the lives of several people who pass one another at different places along the route out of the lives they’ve been handed and towards paths they are forging. It’s vaguely reminiscent of Jesus’ story of the prodigal son. The setting, however, is an off-the-grid pot farm in Northern California — so, not for the kiddies.

6.  Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie, 2007)  The beautiful and hilarious story of a community that surrounds someone gripped by the poverty of loneliness.

7.  Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme, 2008)  “To live,” writes Gerald May, “is to be addicted and to stand in the need of grace.”  This is a poignant and redemptive story of one family’s struggle with addiction and the road to recovery. It also has great music!

8.  Sunshine Cleaning (Christine Jeffs, 2008)  A whimsical story of redemption.

9.  The Virgin Suicides (Sophia Coppola, 1999)  A reflection on the interconnectivity of human experience.

10.  Wristcutters: A Love Story (Goran Dukic, 2006)  The story of an afterlife populated by suicides, Wristcutters unwittingly is also a caricature of the kind of radical anti-eschatology that views the world as it is — depending on how one experiences it — as both heaven and hell.

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