Faith Meets World

Reflections on faith in a messed-up but beautiful world

Category: Film (Page 1 of 2)

The Godfather, or…

GodfatherThe other day I listened to a podcast in which one of the participants suggested that some Christians’ idea of God is more akin to the Godfather than God the Father. I thought this was too good an idea to pass up the opportunity for a short blog post.

Before you dismiss the idea of any believer seeing God as a divine mafioso, think about it for a moment.

What does the Godfather do? Well, he promises to bless and protect you, as long as you abide by his code and pay your dues. And he’s true to his word: if anyone picks on you, the Godfather will deploy whatever threat, force and/or violence is necessary to protect you. And once people know that you’re protected by the Godfather, they may even show you grudging respect.

But there’s a flip side to all this blessing and protection. If you step out of line, if you transgress even slightly, if you break one little rule of the mafiosi code, all that power that was previously being brought to bear against your enemies will come raining down on you in an instant. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve faithfully toed the line; it doesn’t matter how loyally you’ve served him and how sincerely you thought you were genuinely part of the family; it doesn’t matter that you previously had a one hundred percent track record and now all you’ve done is make an innocent mistake. Know this: if you cross the Godfather, he’ll shoot you in the back without a moment’s hesitation. (Don’t believe me? Ask Fredo.)

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Repost – Noah on the big screen: a call to thinking Christians

I first published the following post back in November when the trailer to the new Noah movie came out. With the film now out in the US and slated to hit UK screens on 4 April, I thought it was worth a repost.

If I were writing this post now, I think I would approach it rather differently. (Funny how much our thinking can change in a relatively short time.) I still have some concerns, but I think I was somewhat more uptight and dogmatic when I wrote this than I needed to be. What do you think?

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In the past couple of days, a new trailer has been released for the forthcoming movie Noah, slated for release in March 2014. With a budget of $125 million, special effects galore and an all-star cast that includes Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson, it’s sure to receive plenty of media attention over the coming months.

Here’s the trailer:

The only reason I know of this movie is that a number of friends have shared the trailer on social media, accompanied by comments to the effect that it looks great and they can’t wait to see it. At the risk of being dismissed as a killjoy, I don’t share their enthusiasm.

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Breaking the chains: some musings on 12 Years A Slave

twelve_years_a_slave_xlgYesterday evening, I finally got around to seeing the Oscar-winning film 12 Years A Slave. It’s a great film, well deserving of probably more Oscars than it won. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should.

I was going to write a review of the film, but I figured I’m a little late to the party and would have nothing to add that plenty of others haven’t said already. That said, I can’t go and see a film that powerful and not write anything about it. So I thought I’d take a slightly different tack.

12 Years A Slave is not a “nice” film. It does not make for a pleasant, entertaining evening’s viewing. It is, in many respects, brutal and shattering. But here’s the thing: it’s real. In fact, it’s as real as it gets.

I don’t just mean it’s real in the sense that these events really did happen, that Solomon Northup and many others like him really did get kidnapped and enslaved on southern plantations not two hundred years ago. Nor do I simply mean it’s real in its unflinching portrayal of the brutality meted out by landowners to slaves in the name of God. It’s real in a much more visceral way than that: it’s real because this is what the world is like.

Here are just a few of the themes that are addressed in this film: corruption, betrayal, violence, exploitation, loneliness and despair. Think about it: are these not the very themes you see played out day after day in the world around you? We all know what it is to have been betrayed and taken advantage of; we have all, at one time or another, felt the terrible pangs of loneliness and abandonment; we have all teetered on the edge of despair. This is what makes 12 Years A Slave so powerful: it is, in many ways, describing the human condition.

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Tuesday Review – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Hobbit-Desolation-Of-Smaug-Poster-e1383590782488

Caution: here be spoilers! Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Yesterday I went to see The Desolation of Smaug, the second instalment of Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson’s epic retelling of Tolkien’s classic children’s tale.

My overall verdict is that it was slightly better than I was expecting. To explain that assessment, I need to back up a bit.

I am unashamedly a huge fan of all of Tolkien’s work, and The Hobbit is where my love for it began: it’s the first book I remember my parents reading to my sister and I when we were little. In many ways it’s the ideal book for reading aloud to children: it combines a colourful cast of characters on a dizzying journey of adventure with underlying values of courage, integrity and basic decency, all set against a backdrop of good versus evil. For these reasons, The Hobbit will always hold a special place in my heart.

Like many Tolkien fans, I was a little nervous ahead of the release of the first instalment of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy: would it do the books justice? The answer, for me, was a resounding “yes”. Sure, there were some deviations and omissions from Tolkien’s narrative, but they were relatively trivial and could be forgiven, especially in light of the huge challenge of compressing such a monumental work of literature into three films.

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Noah on the big screen: a call to thinking Christians

In the past couple of days, a new trailer has been released for the forthcoming movie Noah, slated for release in March 2014. With a budget of $125 million, special effects galore and an all-star cast that includes Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson, it’s sure to receive plenty of media attention over the coming months.

Here’s the trailer:

The only reason I know of this movie is that a number of friends have shared the trailer on social media, accompanied by comments to the effect that it looks great and they can’t wait to see it. At the risk of being dismissed as a killjoy, I don’t share their enthusiasm.

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Tuesday Review: Captain Phillips

captain-phillips-poster-sliceCurrently in cinemas, Captain Phillips is a dramatisation of the first hijacking of a US cargo ship in nearly two hundred years. The events recounted in the film took place off the coast of Somalia in 2009, and are based on the autobiographical account A Captain’s Duty by Richard Phillips.

As the film opens, we see the titular Captain Phillips (played by Tom Hanks) being driven to the airport by his wife, ready to fly out to Somalia to pilot a cargo ship down the East African coast. The sole purpose of these opening scenes is to show us that Phillips is an ordinary guy with an ordinary family, and to remind us that he lives in a white, Western, middle class world (thus providing a sharp contrast with the world of his Somali captors). I had a moment of doubt at this point, because the dialogue between Phillips and his wife to my mind seemed forced and unnatural. Thankfully, it was the only such moment in the film.

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Tuesday Review: Lincoln

lincoln-movie-1The other evening my wife and I were browsing iTunes for something to watch, and we happened upon Lincoln, released in 2012, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis. I have to confess to not knowing a great deal about American history – at least, not in any detail – so I thought it would be interesting to watch from that perspective. And Daniel-Day Lewis can usually be relied upon to deliver a fine performance, so I thought it was a safe choice. Overall, I wasn’t disappointed.

I’ll give you three things I really liked about the film, followed by three things I didn’t like so much.

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