Monthly Archives: May 2018

Rear Window

I’m blogging through the AFI top 100. You can read more here.

Rear window isn’t a perfect movie, but it is darn close. This is another one that I was embarrassed to say that I’d never watched before. I was very familiar with it and I’d probably seen about half the movie watching various documentaries and youtube videos talking about the greatest films, and there is no doubt that this one deserves to part of any list of the greatest American movies.

I don’t want to oversell it, but it is so unique, so unmarred by its age, so beautifully shot, it’s hard to ignore the brilliance of the film. If you’re not familiar with it the film takes place entirely in one room, but the story is happening in the surrounding apartments. Jimmy Stewart plays Jeff, a photographer who is laid up in his apartment after breaking his leg. In an era before air conditioning and netflix he has no choice but to entertain himself by watching his neighbors in the surrounding buildings who all leave their windows open. He has nicknamed several of the characters and becomes increasingly involved in their daily activities. Eventually he becomes concerned at the suspicious activities of one of his neighbors whose wife is suddenly no longer present.

The brilliance of the film is the fact that while the story is taking place around the neighborhood and beyond, the entire film takes place from the perspective of the main character who never leaves his living room. Despite this we have a compelling a-plot, coupled with a love story, and several sub plots – all told visually as he looks in on various neighbors and gets snippets of their life. There is almost no score throughout the film – instead you’re allowed to feel the eerie calm that comes with being unsure about one of your neighbors being a vicious murderer. There is only natural sound – which often includes the sounds of one of the neighbors playing piano – a happy sound that is often dissonant with the feeling that the lead character is experiencing.

This is such a different film that everything that is similar would be considered derivative, which is why any aspiring filmmaker both loves it and hates it. It represents a spent idea that can be rehashed only as a tribute, and it has many times. It’s one of the standard episodes of a long-running show. It is fun to see Castle‘s take on it. I recently stumbled across Family Guy‘s tribute to the classic film. Once you’ve become a plot that people mimic repeatedly, you know you’re a classic film.

The Birth of a Nation

I’m blogging through the AFI top 100. You can read more here.

The Birth of a Nation is a awful reminder of the world that was, and perhaps the world that still is to some degree. It’s a ficticious account of the Civil War and life following. It’s the oldest film on this list, having been produced in 1915. At over 100 years old the piece is remarkable for a number of reasons: its racism, its length (the first 12-reel/3 hour film), and its unique position as the first film to be screened at the white house.

I’m aware that there was a remake that was intended as a sort of correction to the numerous faults of the original. I haven’t had a chance to view it yet, however.

I don’t have much good to say about this film. Any three hour long silent film is going to strain to keep the attention of any human born after 1910. It is dreadfully boring and would be difficult to watch even with a less objectionable subject manner. But seeing as this film was used as a recruitment tool for the revitalized KKK in the earlier part of the last century, I don’t have to explain why I’m shocked that it was chosen for the AFI top 100. There is no doubt that it was the most historically important film of 1915, but any number of films over the 100 years were a higher quality and more truthful.

Much of the first half of the film could be seen as a relatively acceptable fictional account of the Civil War. The main objectionable part of this is the large number of roles played by white men in black face. The second half of the film really goes off the rails when it begins to depict a fabricated version of the antebellum south that is besieged by an uncivilized and tyrannical black political majority. The film then shows the creation of the Ku Klux Klan who rides in and saves the day. The film has quite rightly been the subject of a great deal of criticism for its inaccuracies and general racist tone. The one thing I’ll say about it is that the fact that this film is still in the modern vernacular at all is an indication that censorship has not won out. The film was an early victory against film censorship. While I’m very much for free speech, and I’m glad it wasn’t censored (for the president censorship sets, mind you, not because I do not find the matter abhorrent.) I wish censorship could’ve been tested on something that was less objectionable.

Firm Foundation week 5: The Global Mission of the Church

Introduction:

1) What’s been your experience with Global mission work?

The Global Mission of the church

2) Read Matthew 28:16-20. This bit of scripture is called the Great Commission, where Jesus tells us to go and make disciples of all nations. As we talked about last week the word for “make disciples” is a Greek word that takes the noun “disciple” and makes it a verb. It is different than the word for preach or teach. Why do you think Jesus commands specifically to make disciples instead of simply preaching or teaching?

3) Read Proverbs 25:25, 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, Today the global church is growing faster than ever before and soon there will be far more Christians in China and Africa than the US and Europe. Are we still called to go to these regions even if they already know Jesus? How else might we be called to support them?

4) Short term mission trips are sometimes criticized as less beneficial to the people overseas. What are some of the pitfalls of short-term missions? When do you think they are beneficial?

If you want to read more, here’s a good article on this discussion: https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2006/march-online-only/commonpitfallsstm.html

5) Read Luke 10:29-37. There is actually much more in scripture about simply loving foreigners and travelers in our presence than there is about going to far off lands, how does that inform the way we can help accomplish the mission of Christ here as well as overseas?

6) Read Exodus 23:9, Malachi 3:5, 1 Kings 8:41-44, how might these passages challenge our view of refugees and immigrants?

7) How are you actively helping accomplish God’s global mission now?

Wrap up:

8) We’ve covered several topics over the last few weeks; Discipleship, Evangelism, Holiness, Scripture, the person of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Global missions. Of these topics what is the area that you need to learn more about or what is your chief growth area?

9) What can you do to, or continue – to improve in this area? Do you need to read more scripture? Do you need to study a specific topic? Do you need to take a mission trip? Do you need to start to serve in an area of the church? Do you need to commit to attending worship more often? Do you need to commit to spend more time with God? What next step can you take and how can this group help you?