Thursday, July 23, 2009

2 Movie Reviews

Spirituality is an important part of my life; I'll discuss religion with you, but if you start to argue, excuse me while I run for the hills. Living here in the Bible Belt, some of my beliefs could get me tarred and feathered, or at the very least some stern sermons and disapproving looks. Raised Methodist, I've studied religions, tried several of them on for size, like Goldilocks trying different beds, including Christian Science (just didn't feel comfortable), Jehova's Witness (Where shall I start? No church windows; I won't go door to door; arranged mariages, etc., etc.,) Catholicism (I think you'd have to be born and raised in it), Full Gospel Pentecostal (truly felt the Spirit of God there), Baptist (Don't get me started; I have issues.), Baha'i (warmed-over Christianity that thinks it's new), Presbyterian (even more frozen than Methodists), and Apostolic (where clean-faced women in their drab dresses and hair up in buns clustered together and stared at me, in my short, pouffy hair, make-up and spaghetti strap heels, with pity and a little fear that I might decide to stay), and so on.........

Last night on NetFlix I watched The Last Temptation of Christ, which came out in 1988, when I was busy being divorced and surviving, so I didn't get around to seeing it, but I remember the controversy and that it was banned in some places, which usually only makes people more curious about what they're not being allowed to see. As I watched it, I was reminded of The Passion of the Christ, which I did see at the theater in 2004 and which was also controversial for other reasons. I'll talk about it first.

I wasn't excited about seeing The Passion of the Christ because I figured it was just another account of the life of Jesus. I grew up with the stories, know them by heart, took Bible courses, have read the Amplified Bible through, Genesis to Revelation. I usually don't watch the Easter movies. But we went to see it when it came to the dollar flick on a Sunday afternoon.

It opens in the Garden of Gethsemane, and I began crying in the first 10 minutes, (gut-wrenching sobs, not just a few random tears) and cried till we walked out of the theater. People have complained that it's not in English and has no sub-titles. That's part of the power of this movie. I knew what they were saying, and hearing it in the original languages transported me. I wasn't prepared for my emotional reaction to it. I felt changed by the movie; it exhausted me, and I never want to see it again. Every Christian should see it at least once. *****

And then there's The Last Temptation of Christ. I almost clicked it off in the first 10 minutes. I was offended. What sort of blasphemous, Hollywood porn were they handing me? But I kept watching, and I'm glad I did. We know relatively little about Christ's daily life, just some random moments in time that made good allegories. He stirred up a lot of social unrest, intentionally; he was human, and may have had many doubts and temptations, other than the ones we know, as he followed what he saw as the will of God. My core belief is that Jesus existed, and then modern churches took possession of his teachings and turned them into a profitable business. (There, I've said it. Get out the rail!) This movie explores "what if", and leads us inward where we question our own beliefs. I shed a few tears in this movie as well, moments when I thought, "Yes! I never thought of that." I recommend this movie, too, if you commit to watching the whole thing before you cast judgment. It even has a surprise ending, which always boosts my movie ratings. ****

Bill Maher's Religulous, which came out last year, is next on my NetFlix queue. Bill Maher is a basically a snarky, mean spirited little man, but I watch Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO because I agree with some of what he and his guests have to say as I'll probably agree with some of the views in this rebellious documentary. We'll see.


  1. Cat, if they come after you, I will be there with my baseball bat in hand as I feel exactly as you do. When The Last Temptation came out I paid $80 for the video as none of the video stores here had the guts to rent it and have never regretted it. In fact, I think it should be a must see as it explores things I had never even thought about. I recently put it over to DVD for easier access to anyone who wanted to watch it.
    I refuse to argue religion also BTW! I am glad you wrote this in your blog. Maybe this Bible belt needs more of you and me.

  2. Thank you, dear heart. I needed that.