Category: Theology At The Movies

Selma movie poster

Thoughts on Selma

Selma movie posterI know I’m way behind on this one, but we finally went to see Selma. Best movie of the year for me, although I’ll reserve any comments on how big of an Oscar snub it was since the only of the Best Picture nominees I saw was Birdman (hated it) and part of Grand Budapest Hotel (I think I was way too tired that night to understand it).

No Whitewashed MLK

The overall aspect that I loved is how MLK was not whitewashed. He was not tamely petitioning for change the way most white people tell the story. He did not play well with the rules of respectability politics. He was firm in believing nonviolent resistance was the Jesus way and the most effective way, but he definitely stirred up a lot of trouble and was pretty unashamedly abrasive in getting his point across.

Amy Elliot Dunne

The Women of Gone Girl

I was generally quite happy with the movie Gone Girl when we went to see it in theatre, which is now quite a while ago and I just haven’t gotten around to the final edits on this post. It’s that dark grittiness characteristic of David Fincher, very well acted and cut together, which is always interesting to me. You don’t really know where the story is going, unlike most movies when you know the ending 10 minutes into the movie.

Some have critiqued its portrayal of women, however, and that is probably worth discussing a little bit more.

(spoilers will follow)

If We Burn, You Burn With Us

If We Burn, You Burn With Us

In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Katniss delivers a powerful line:

If We Burn, You Burn With Us

We could take this at a simple level of a threat, like “We aren’t going down without a fight.” In the context of the greater themes of the series, though, I don’t think we should read it that simply.

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Frozen: Love Casts Out Fear

We finally watched the much-acclaimed movie Frozen last weekend. A very good movie, for sure, although maybe a little over-hyped. To the point, though, there were some very good themes. As with Tangled and more often recently in Disney movies, there is the theme of strong women who are not defined by waiting passively for their prince to come in and rescue them. I particularly appreciated how Anna dreams the traditional Disney dream and it seems like she is going to get it, meeting and falling in love with a prince, agreeing to marry him within a day… eventually followed by discovering he just wanted her throne.

That ties in to the main theme, which is glaringly obvious so doesn’t really need much commentary here. When they were young, the two sisters Elsa and Anna were incredibly close and had a lot of fun together, particularly in using Elsa’s power to create snow/ice. Young Anna gets carried away, Elsa can’t keep up and accidentally hits in the face with her cold instead.

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Why I Love Once Upon A Time

Once Upon A Time is one of my favourite shows. Make fun of me all you want, but with both Community and The Crazy Ones not being renewed for next season, there’s just this and SHIELD that will carry over to next year (I don’t watch that much TV, at least not live). Anyway, after this week’s season 3 finale, I was thinking about why I like this show. Here are some major themes (spoilers will ensue):

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Everything is Awesome: The LEGO Movie

Note: spoilers will follow, mainly in the final section.

That’s right. We went to watch LEGO Movie. I am not ashamed of this. It was quite possibly my favourite movie in a few years. But to get past defending myself, here are some thoughts on the movie’s message:

Conformity and Diversity

The primary critique of the movie early on is against blind conformity. We meet the main character, Emmet, who is completely ordinary. He follows the rules that are passed down by Lord Business, the ruler of the land, down to the letter. He is a construction worker where there is no creativity allowed as they only follow the design. Actually, we discover that he is so normal that nobody really knows who he is and those who do don’t really like him. He just blends in as part of the system. That’s a powerful message to so many – especially kids and teenagers – who just want to be “normal.” There is no and never should be such a thing as normal.

Critiquing conformity is not the same thing as critiquing structure, though. By the end of the movie we actually see that there is plenty of room for those who want to play in a more structured way, which is good because that was and still is me.

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Raising the Dead in Warm Bodies

Note: Spoilers will follow in this review.

Warm Bodies is honestly one of the most interesting – if not necessarily the best – movies I’ve seen in recent years. The acting is good, directing is good, they did some great use of lighting and colours, but ultimately it is because of an atypical storyline that is actually compelling: It is a zombie love story, I knew that much going in. But it is more than that, too.

The General Plot

The movie begins with the main zombie R – he can’t remember what his name was but he remembers it started with an R – giving an internal monologue about how much he hates his new “life” as a zombie. He just shuffles around all day. There is no meaning to anything. He introduces us to his friend M, and then clarifies that by “friend” he means that they look at each other a few minutes a day, occasionally grunting and sometimes managing a single actual word. Zombie fans know that’s already giving zombies a bit more humanity than most zombie movies – any others that I know of – but it isn’t really a stretch either.

Ethics and Justice - Holding Hands Across the World

X-Men: Peace with the Other

Throughout the X-Men movies as well as the preceding comic books, the primary theme is one of how we treat “the other.” While the mutants have incredible powers, they are still clearly human, even those who also have physical appearance differences. Yet those differences are more than enough to get many in each category uncomfortable with the other. For the sake of this post, I’ll focus my discussion primarily on the film First Class, where we see each character line up with one or the other of the opposing views.

On the side of mutants, Professor Charles Xavier clearly has a vision for the future in which humans (meaning: of the non-mutant variety) and mutants can get along peacefully. He happily teams up with the CIA. He constantly is trying to rein in Erik’s violence, whether against mutant or non-mutant. He even helps a Russian soldier – an enemy, as the film takes place during the Cold War – who probably would have died after Erik wrapped him up in barb wire.

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God’s Out of My League

Yes, the title makes it look like this post is going to be one of those really bad dating Jesus posts, but please bear with me.

In a first and quite possibly a last, I’m going to review a romantic comedy for its theological themes. A lot of elements of She’s Out of My League are fairly cliche: boy (Kirk) meets beautiful girl (Molly), they date and fall for each other, boy says or does something stupid causing breakup, and both boy and girl realize that they can’t live without each other and have an epic airport reunion. I want to narrow in on the “boy says or does something stupid” part, though, because that is something we can all really relate to. Both saying stupid things in general and this particular tendency, I mean. On this point, the movie has a great concept applied to romance which I think really applies to all of our interactions and most importantly with our interactions (or lack thereof) with God.

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The Trotsky: Boredom or Apathy?

You may not have even heard of the movie The Trotsky. It is about a teenager in Montreal who believes he is the reincarnation of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. After trying to start a union at his father’s factory, he is sent to public school instead of boarding school as punishment. Not too surprisingly, he sees the crack-down style of the principal and vice-principal and decides that they need a union of students who can contribute to their own education. Humour and conflict ensues as those in power resist the idea as being ridiculous.

The defining question of the movie is this: boredom or apathy? Leon first sees this question written by another student passing notes in class and it comes out throughout the movie. The difference is explained this way:

Apathy is the state of not caring, boredom is merely a slumber from which they can be aroused.