Saturday, April 26, 2008

Movie watching with a point

Or without a point, as in last night.

I stayed up late to watch Die Hard 4 last night. I really enjoyed it, but it made me ask some questions as to why many people 'buy into' the idea that violence can offer some form of redemption or hope. But maybe more of that later...

I have to say that my movie preferences are often the butt of my friend's humour - as I like lots of stuff that people consider rubbish mainly because I like the premise of it. I love big concepts, and good landscapes and cinematography - as well as outlandish stories, so sci-fi movies tend to be favourites of mine. I also love films which have things i like in them, so movies with motorbikes ( Torque [2004],)Biker Boyz [2003] tend to get my attention whilst leaving friends cold. Even if they are terrible, i think that some movies are so bad they're good!

I used to struggle with whether there was stuff that I should and shouldn't watch, and whether as someone who claimed to be a follower of Jesus there was stuff that was out of bounds...

Well, there's plenty of stuff that is obviously not good to watch, anything in which people are degraded for a start, pornography, slasher flicks (mainly because I don't like them), but I think that movies can challenge and disturb, even as they entertain, and not be a bad thing in themselves. For instance, having watched stuff like 'The Omen' when I was younger, I realised that it was just not my thing - but its interesting and perhaps helpful to see how people's understandings are formed by such movies, the exorcist is similar. Likewise, though I don't really like American Pie, or movies within the 'coming of age, desperate for sex' genre, it both reflects and informs the opinions of many, so it's worth having some grasp of what it says.

Some movies I love because they involve very little thought and I can just be swept away by the action or the artifice of it all. Some are worth watching because they are so dreadful, some inspire, some amuse, some are good, some not so much. But I devour movies in the same way I devour books, and it keeps me informed, makes me think, and often makes me wonder at just how people view the world.

To a certain extent I've come to the point where, along with St Paul, I would say 'all is lawful, but not all is helpful'. There aren't hard and fast rules to tell us what we should and shouldn't watch, or read, or listen to, or look at as Christians - if only there were, things would be much easier - but there is a balance to be struck between that which might indeed challenge and disturb and that which is just not good for us.

At the Greenbelt Arts Festival a few years ago I interviewed a writer/academic/good bloke called Gareth Higgins (he's back in the talks lineup this year) and we talked about this issue, he said that there are styles of movies that he doesn't enjoy or appreciate, there are ideas and concepts which movie makers put across that need challenging, but that it is often simply a product of narrow-mindedness for a Christian to say 'don't watch this' or 'avoid that'. His book 'How Movies Helped Save My Soul' is excellent and considers lots of these issues in a very helpful, informative and often entertaining way. He knows his stuff! There's some information about Gareth on the Between the Lines website. Gareth also has his own blog, here. Very well worth a cyber-visit. Or an ether trip, or whatever.

There are many movies that really do get the thought processes going, and as I've been thinking about how to get people thinking and talking about faith and life I'm going to embark on a new venture - Faith and Film. Using a nearby coffee shop I'm going to invite people to come and watch a movie, drink coffee, and talk about it. I like this idea, and I'm off now to talk about it with the coffee shop manager. I will let you know how it goes!

1 comment:

Sank said...

Did you like Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle?