I am sometimes reminded by the comments of Christians that tastes in movies vary wildly. This isn’t too surprising- though one might wonder how it could be that some actually enjoy what they do in fact enjoy. Here one need only peruse the myriad of Christian productions of the past decade or two. Most seem to think that the term “art” is best preceded by the letter “f.”
Call me a snob, but I think deep down in you know it’s true.
But what is especially bewildering to me is when Christians view the entire film making enterprise with deep suspicion, even disdain. A recent conversation reminded me of this reality. Someone close to me made the bold assertion that movies (categorically speaking) are essentially bad and can be blamed for many of the ills of society.
Now in all fairness, there are a lot of stupid movies out there. Some real howlers. And yes, The Last Jedi would be one such movie.
It is also true that there is some serious filth out there. Fifty shades of pornography is an easy example. But leaving aside the raunchy-raunchers, there are plenty of token sex scenes, topless women, and scantily clad bodies portrayed in, say, 75% of films today.
So yeah, movies can be quite “iffy.” But here’s the thing. So is life. And life is full of “iffy” things.
Now this doesn’t excuse our inviting it into our living rooms, but it does mean that when life is mirrored realistically, it is going to be full of sin. This is where we should welcome apps like VidAngel. It’s a great service, and I hope it can survive the court cases.
But let’s get back to the main point. Movies are not categorically bad. Nor are they to be blamed for the ills of society. Sin the is culprit there.
The truth is that film is a powerful medium (like literature and music). It can capture aspects of human nature and human experience in an unparalleled way. Well, maybe not unparalleled. Great literature can do it. But there is something undoubtedly unique about the visual experience. There is something glorious about a well-crafted movie. Something grand and insightful. Stirring and terrifying. It’s special.
Needless to say, I disagree profoundly with the sentiment that movies are an ill or blight upon society. They are no more a blight than literature and music. The point is that good things can go wrong. And movies are just such a thing.
So after exhibiting the requisite amount of shock and horror, I challenged my friend who made the movie comment. I told him that I could come up with a list of (largely) unfamiliar movies (at least for him) that make a profound point or capture something important about human nature, society, or life. The goal is to dig deeper than Marvel and to go beyond the obvious greats like Forest Gump, Shawshank Redemption, Saving Private Ryan, and Band of Brothers.
Now before I share the list, a caveat is in order. There is language, nudity, and violence in this list. So VidAngel (or some equivalent) is in order. Christians should be careful, and so I leave it for you to sort out your convictions.
The List (in random order):
[Edit 8/18/18: Here are a few more I would like to toss onto the list]
Lean on Pete
Florence Foster Jenkins
While We’re Young
Beasts of No Nation
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Florida Project
[Edit: 4/21/19: And yet a few more]
Florence Foster Jenkins
A Quiet Place
Leave No Trace
Three Identical Strangers
Inside Llewelyn Davis
Testament of Youth
The Ballad of Buster Scrugs