Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Viewing


I haven't been anything resembling religious for years and I haven't been a direct Christian for even longer, but when I was, I was fairly into it (I was an Acolyte, believe it or not). So it bothered me, even as a kid, that Christmas is widely considered the biggest Christian holiday. I mean, the day Jesus was born is important and all, but don't you think the day he rose from the dead should be bigger?

Anywho, in honor of Easter, here is an edition of Missed Movies for Christianity. I was gonna do one for Judaism and for Pot, in honor of Passover and 4-20 respectively, but I forgot (because I'm not Jewish or that into Pot, so I didn't remember until afterwards. I used to be Christian, so I remembered).

Oh and before I begin I'd like to throw you a leftover name from the Judaism list: A Serious Man. If you haven't seen it, go give it a look, Coen Brothers, brilliant, deep, weird, etc. Just watch it.

NOTE: This list will not include Ben-Hur or Jesus of Nazareth, because everyone's already seen them.

The Last Temptation of Christ

There is a group of people who are already pissed at me for putting this one on the list, so I figured the best thing to do is to put it first because those people are probably not gonna like the rest of the list. You've probably heard of this one, but odds are you've never seen it, and like so many movies, it's exactly what it says on the tin. Most of the movie is devoted to Jesus' life, but near the end, while on the cross, he is tempted to be 'Not God's Son,' get off the Cross and live a mortal life, including marrying Mary Magdalene.

You can imagine why that might be a teeny bit controversial and despite being reverent and respectful in tone and content, people had a rather nasty knee-jerk reaction, which ran the gambit from simply calling for the film to be banned, to protests, to a Paris theater being firebombed (no really). The movie has been rather infamous ever since, but it really is a good piece of cinema and if you don't have any exceedingly uptight relatives, you might want to give it a watch. It certainly always felt more reverent to me than Passion of the Christ.


Saved!

Saved! on the face of it, seems like a movie that cannot possibly have anything other than the utmost contempt for religion. A born-again Christian girl finds out her (chaste) boyfriend is harboring homosexual thoughts and, in an effort to save him from these thoughts, decides to sleep with him. Surprise, surprise, it doesn't work, he gets sent off to 'Pray the gay away' camp and she winds up pregnant and an outcast.

See, you're already seeing a snarky, anti-religion teen comedy, The Breakfast Club as written by Richard Dawkins. But it avoids that route (mostly), by grounding it's moral in the idea that the Born-again communities interpretation of the faith is wrong, not the faith itself. Other than that, it's a clever and enjoyable comedy with some real touching moments.


Prince of Egypt

I don't know why more people haven't seen this one. It amounts to an animated retelling of the story of Moses, Exodus by way of Beauty and the Beast. It's kind of a miracle itself, with music by Stephen Schwartz(!), an incredible voice cast that includes everyone from Val Kilmer to Ralph Fiennes to Jeff Goldblum. It did rather slim down the story to make it work better in a 3 act structure, but overall it's beautiful to look at, while being well written and directed with an out-and-out incredible score. Of course since I don't need to talk about the story this one is a little shorter so I think I'll end it there. See you next time.

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