Friday, February 5, 2016

Lenten Film Series

The Deacons are again planning a 5-week Lenten film series which begins on Feb. 19. The committee selecting the films consists of Geraldine Bryan, Jo Perry, and Betsy Towler from the Deacons Ministry along with Karen Withem and Lavon Page. All films will begin at 7 PM in the Vaughan Fellowship Hall. Popcorn will generally be available, and admission is free. Following the viewing of each film, a discussion period will be hosted by one of the selection committee members.

Feb. 19 - Nebraska

Recommended by: Geraldine Bryan
Year: 2013
Length: 115 minutes
Language: English
Cast:  Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb

One of our Lenten programs this year is a study of the Gospel of Mark. As the blog post announcing that series says, Mark's Gospel is a journey narrative.

The film Nebraska is a journey narrative of a strange sort. An old man is going on a journey to claim his "prize." There is much to be learned by this pursuit, and the film entertains as well as providing many lessons along the way.

Feb. 26 - The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Recommended by: Betsy Towler
Year: 2008
Length: 94 minutes
Language: English
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Vera Farmiga, David Thewlis

"... in a sense Bruno’s final act of identification with Shmuel is inherently redemptive. In a deep sense, it changes everything – certainly for Shmuel, for Bruno himself, and for Bruno’s family, but also in some sense for the whole world. Nothing can be the same again. Love has done what love must do, and what only love can do, and in the process evil is inherently diminished and in a sense defeated, overcome. This for me is the story of Good Friday, presented as powerfully as I’ve ever seen it." -- Anonymous

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is not presented as historical realism or historical fiction. It’s a fable with a moral. -- Betsy

You can't get to the resurrection without visiting the crucifixion. That's why this film is #2 in this Lenten series. And I agree with the anonymous blogger above in saying that this movie is an extraordinary "Good Friday" parable.  -- Lavon

MPAA RatingPG-13 for some mature thematic material involving the Holocaust.
Primary Audience: Adults, Teens, Family

March 4 - Ballast

Recommended by: Karen Withem
Year: 2008
Length: 96 minutes
Language: English (but English subtitles will be used)
Cast: unknown cast

"Ballast" is a 2008 film set in the poverty of the Mississippi Delta. The story is a subtly textured look into the lives of three people, including a 12-year-old youth, as they struggle to find their footing in the aftermath of a suicide. The 2008 film was directed by Lance Hammer; it has some adult language.

March 11 - Marvin's Room

Recommended by: Lavon Page
Year: 1996
Length: 98 minutes
Language: English
Cast: Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Leonard DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Hume Cronyn, Gwyn Verdon

This film deals with a topic that the film industry has a difficult time with, i.e. spiritual healing in the absence of physical healing. Most folks go to the movies for entertainment, and terminal illness isn't generally a very entertaining subject. I think that's why this movie isn't better known. You can't get a more star-studded cast than the cast in this film. It's no accident that I've positioned this film as #4 in the film series. Films #3 and #5 are films that don't use any known actors at all. Positioning Marvin's Room between those films gives us some familiar faces to look at between those two. And Marvin's Room is a great film. You'll be moved at the spiritual healing that takes place in the family that is depicted in this film.

March 18 - Silent Light

Recommended by: Jo Perry
Year: 2007
Length: 136 minutes
Language: Plattgerman
Cast: members of Mennonite communities, mostly Mexican

This movie was filmed within a Mennonite community in Mexico. None of the cast are really professional actors. The cast comes from Mennonite communities in Mexico, Canada, and Europe. The script is based on writings by one of the cast who is a Mennonite from Ontario. And the language of the movie is "Plattgerman", a form of low-German that is spoken within the Mennonite Community in Mexico (who are descended from German immigrants).

When this movie began I didn't know what to think. It opens with a 7-minute time lapse scene at dawn. As the movie unfolds, you quickly realize that you're not watching a "normal" movie. It's a movie that isn't going to be about things "happening", but rather about "being" in a sense that's foreign to Hollywood and the film industry in general. By the time the film ended I was feeling that this film represents a form of depiction that I had never conceived of in a movie, where instead of "acting" the cast simply allows you to absorb them.

There's a strong reason I selected this film to close the Lenten film series, but I can't give it away without including a spoiler for the film. Count on it that we'll have a lot to talk about during the discussion that follows this film. This one will run a bit late. The film is 137 minutes, so the viewing will last until 9:30 or so even if we get started at 7 PM. And the conversation afterward is likely to be one that we will not want to end. This film will provide good fodder for thought as we all move from the film series into Holy Week.