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Oh..... absolutely. I guess I was speaking more generally. I would think that faith can make the best art, I mean after all we do have a helper.

Without trying to rile up any denominational bad blood, I have always thought that the Protestant tradition, from the reformers on down, has had a discomfort with religious art, born out of twin anxieties about idolatry and sensuality. At the same time, the Protestant tradition has a strong commitment to Biblical text. Thus, even while engaged in an art form, like movie-making, there is a discomfort with it and a tendency to lapse back into the more comfortable ground of Biblical sermonizing, rather than trusting in the art's ability to work without it.

It is hard to make religious art if you are at some level unsure that such a thing isn't a contradiction in terms.

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Oh..... absolutely. I guess I was speaking more generally. I would think that faith can make the best art, I mean after all we do have a helper.

Without trying to rile up any denominational bad blood, I have always thought that the Protestant tradition, from the reformers on down, has had a discomfort with religious art, born out of twin anxieties about idolatry and sensuality. At the same time, the Protestant tradition has a strong commitment to Biblical text. Thus, even while engaged in an art form, like movie-making, there is a discomfort with it and a tendency to lapse back into the more comfortable ground of Biblical sermonizing, rather than trusting in the art's ability to work without it.

It is hard to make religious art if you are at some level unsure that such a thing isn't a contradiction in terms.

Yeah. I think your on to something. It might also come from a certain understanding of Biblical text, like possibly seeing the Old Testament as primarily being full of Biblical lessons, while a Jewish person might see it as primarly being the historical story of his/her people. Or prooftexting from the Old Testament instead of seeing that lessons are subtly written into the telling of the story as a whole. But really the Bible at large is a lesson in good storytelling, as were Christ's parables. I would make an educated hunch that Jesus' parables have had more impact than any "parable" ever told, and here we are still studying and questioning their meanings two thousand years later.

Somehow many can't seem to see that if the parables were intentionally not "sermons" then there was a reason for it, and therefore Jesus had wisdom about storytelling that we can draw on, learn to understand, and emulate. I do, however, believe that some of the Protestant folk tales of times gone by, show a certain understanding of storytelling which has to varying degrees been lost amongst some folks of our time. The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson (being protestants) are a good example. Here Christianity and Christian thought is gently woven into Folk Tales that are compelling enough to flourish for generations. Oh... and from my understanding Shakespeare was a Protestant, whose work was misunderstood and mistrusted by the Protestant group at large, of his time.

Edited by Attica
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FWIW, I don't get a "culture wars" vibe off of these films. I mean, as far as I can recall, they have never dealt with abortion or homosexuality, which are the two Big Issues in the "culture wars". Nor have they ever dealt with evolution or creationism, which is another Big Issue that comes up in the "culture wars". I just don't get a "wars" vibe off of Sherwood's films, period. That's not what they're about.

Now, I will admit that I INITIALLY got a vibe of that sort when I first heard about them, because of the enormous kerfuffle around the PG rating that Facing the Giants got. But the guys at Sherwood said it was the media (including the Christian media) that made an issue of that, not them, and I see no reason to disbelieve them. (And I still find it interesting that I haven't seen ANYBODY comment on their newest film's PG-13 rating yet!)

I always got more the impression that they were trying to make safe "family" films that had the feel of "edgy and timely", where they touched on areal struggles, but resolved them in a rather easy way with safe happy endings. "If you just do this, and this, and this-then everything in life will fall into place.

"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

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Here's what I wrote (with some hiccoughs and 140-character compromises smoothed out)

COURAGEOUS (Kendrick, USA, 2011, 3) When it comes to films like this ... I won't! I won't! I won't! #jokeonlypeoplewhoveseenthemoviewillget. I would like to see the Kendricks adapt someone else's script, maybe a Christian literary-canon author like O'Connor or Percy or Greene, because they have no script judgement whatsoever, something this film lays bare naked because their technical and directorial chops HAVE gotten better. Their comedic work is amusing and I've seen far worse-made films at major festivals. Brother Alex (lead man here) now also legitimate A-grade actor. The first half of COURAGEOUS needs no affirmative-action scale, in fact. But the back half is even weaker than FIREPROOF in terms of sudden story arcs and skimped-on resolutions. One whole subplot of a man with daughter he's never met is nothing a voiceover and a couple of scored montages. And the homiletics really get heavier and heavier (substitutionary atonement dialog FTL) until a final scene of Alex Kendrick himself (supposedly in character, but hardly) delivering a fiery Author's Message sermon from his church's real-life pulpit. I wanted to flee.

As was elaborated in a subsequent back-and-forth with Steve Greydanus, upon whom I threatened to perform grievous bodily harm per my extensive (and illicit) boxing/MMA training AND questioned his commitment to Sparkle Motion, I was really more than anything else disappointed by the raised expectations from both Steve and the film's first half. The Kendricks are now legitimately good film-makers. They can direct actors to give natural, believable performances (other than the pastor to whom Alex turns shortly after the midway point). They have a dry if sit-commy sense of humor ("I love you"). They can stage chases and fights and gunbattles at least as well (actually far better in classical or "old school" terms) than some Hollywoof schlockbusters. Here, they also don't shy away from darker subject matter. So why can't they SEE how awful the third act is? You either don't raise the "anonymous kid" story at all, or you do it some justice. Do they actually believe that jailhouse conversation? Do they have to slather pedestrian music with EXACTLY ON THE NOSE lyrics on montages of resolution? Do they not giggle at the closing scene? They don't have the "novices making church films" defense any more.

Stanley Kaufman once wrote of Ingmar Bergman, "we must resign ourselves to his virtues because he is plainly too fond of his vices to overcome them, or even see them as such."

Edited by vjmorton

Yeah ... well ... I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there on that one.

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... hiccoughs ...

[tangent]

Ooooooh, I love this spelling. Although it makes me wonder why we don't pronounce cough "cup".

Or we could say, "I have the hic-coffs". :lol:

[/tangent]

Edited by David Smedberg

That's just how eye roll.

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... hiccoughs ...

[tangent]

Ooooooh, I love this spelling. Although it makes me wonder why we don't pronounce cough "cup".

Or we could say, "I have the hic-coffs". :lol:

[/tangent]

Don't forget, he may seem like an all-American right-wing film geek, but Victor is actually...a Brit. ;)

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Oh... and from my understanding Shakespeare was a Protestant, whose work was misunderstood and mistrusted by the Protestant group at large, of his time.

The theatre in general was mistrusted by the Puritans ... but apart from that I don't know of any evidence of particular mistrust of Shakespeare on the part of either Catholics or Protestants of his day.

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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... hiccoughs ...

[tangent]

Ooooooh, I love this spelling. Although it makes me wonder why we don't pronounce cough "cup".

Or we could say, "I have the hic-coffs". :lol:

[/tangent]

Don't forget, he may seem like an all-American right-wing film geek, but Victor is actually...a Brit. ;)

My understanding ... Paging Matt Page, Paging Matt Page ... is the "hiccup" and "hiccough" are both about equally prevalent in British English, though only the former is at all common in the US. It's not like "spectre" or "paedophilia" or "labour" or "defence," where there are standard British spellings at variation with a standard US spelling.

Yeah ... well ... I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there on that one.

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... hiccoughs ...

[tangent]

Ooooooh, I love this spelling. Although it makes me wonder why we don't pronounce cough "cup".

[/tangent]

... cause then we wouldn't have that classic "I Love Lucy" bit where she corrects Ricky's pronunciation of "-ough" words about six times in a row.

[/tangent to a /tangent]

Yeah ... well ... I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there on that one.

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... hiccoughs ...

[tangent]

Ooooooh, I love this spelling. Although it makes me wonder why we don't pronounce cough "cup".

Or we could say, "I have the hic-coffs". :lol:

[/tangent]

Don't forget, he may seem like an all-American right-wing film geek, but Victor is actually...a Brit. ;)

My understanding ... Paging Matt Page, Paging Matt Page ... is the "hiccup" and "hiccough" are both about equally prevalent in British English, though only the former is at all common in the US. It's not like "spectre" or "paedophilia" or "labour" or "defence," where there are standard British spellings at variation with a standard US spelling.

I'm a Canadian. While we follow British spelling in many cases, in this case, apparently "hiccup" is the "preferred" Canadian spelling according to Public Works and Government Services

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

Twitter.
Letterboxd.

Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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Oh... and from my understanding Shakespeare was a Protestant, whose work was misunderstood and mistrusted by the Protestant group at large, of his time.

The theatre in general was mistrusted by the Puritans ... but apart from that I don't know of any evidence of particular mistrust of Shakespeare on the part of either Catholics or Protestants of his day.

I've read that Christian's had a problem with his plays partially because the plays had the actors using what they considered bawdy humour, and had males dressed as females (they didn't really have women actors at the time,) and that going to plays in general was not considered proper amongst church people. I've also read that while this was happening English society had a very low view of actors and they were sometimes unfairly treated.

What I read very well could have been talking about English society at a later time than Shakespeare, and so far as the Catholic response......I've never really read or heard much about this.

Edited by Attica
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I've read that Christian's had a problem with his plays partially because the plays had the actors using what they considered bawdy humour, and had males dressed as females (they didn't really have women actors at the time,) and that going to plays in general was not considered proper amongst church people.

Again, this would certainly be true of Puritans (and perhaps other factions as well) at the time, but these objections apply to Elizabethan theatre as a whole, not just Shakespeare. I don't know of such objections being expressed by the established Church of England. Queen Elizabeth was known to be fond of theatre, and as the English monarch, she was de facto head of the Church. Hence I doubt Anglican clergy devoted much energy to opposing the theatre.

I've also read that while this was happening English society had a very low view of actors and they were sometimes unfairly treated.

What else is new?

and so far as the Catholic response......I've never really read or heard much about this.

You could say in general that the Catholic Church has historically been more understanding of the arts than Protestant churches have. But Catholics in Shakespeare's England were being persecuted, tortured and put to death for treason, so you can forgive them for not taking the time to express their opinions on theatre.

Edited by mrmando

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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I've read that Christian's had a problem with his plays partially because the plays had the actors using what they considered bawdy humour, and had males dressed as females (they didn't really have women actors at the time,) and that going to plays in general was not considered proper amongst church people.

Again, this would certainly be true of Puritans (and perhaps other factions as well) at the time, but these objections apply to Elizabethan theatre as a whole, not just Shakespeare. I don't know of such objections being expressed by the established Church of England. Queen Elizabeth was known to be fond of theatre, and as the English monarch, she was de facto head of the Church. Hence I doubt Anglican clergy devoted much energy to opposing the theatre.

I've also read that while this was happening English society had a very low view of actors and they were sometimes unfairly treated.

What else is new?

and so far as the Catholic response......I've never really read or heard much about this.

You could say in general that the Catholic Church has historically been more understanding of the arts than Protestant churches have. But Catholics in Shakespeare's England were being persecuted, tortured and put to death for treason, so you can forgive them for not taking the time to express their opinions on theatre.

You might be right about the Anglicans. The Anglicans always felt an affinity and connection with the old Celtic Church, where the arts flourished, including poetry and storytelling. As well there was a time when the Anglican church in general wasn't doing so well spiritually being more the state church than anything else, which of course is one of the reasons why the other factions rose up or broke away from Anglicanism. So it's possible that many of the Anglicans during a certain period didn't have problems with the arts, or even just didn't give a rip about how "bawdy" a play was. I have a friend who is an Anglican priest and I'll ask him to see what he knows on the subject.

It would seem that Catholics have been more receptive to the arts than Protestants. Protestants are becoming increasingly more interested and active in this area though and I've talked to people where the word "renaissance" has been floated around. Or sometimes in Protestant language, a "revival in the arts". Some would say that films like Courageous are part of the move in this direction.

Edited by Attica
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I've rounded up some reactions in a Filmwell post, including Movieguide's rave:

COURAGEOUS has extremely poignant, heart-wrenching moments, mixed with some of the funniest scenes ever made.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I've rounded up some reactions in a Filmwell post, including Movieguide's rave:

COURAGEOUS has extremely poignant, heart-wrenching moments, mixed with some of the funniest scenes ever made.

To repost what I put at Filmwell:

"Funniest scenes ever made"

There are moments when matters of taste become matters of fact. COURAGEOUS does not have any scene that remotely qualifies as one of the funniest "ever made."

I say that as someone who, though disappointed in the film overall, thinks the Kendricks have a good sense of humor and comic timing when they choose to display it -- "I love you"; the fireman in the mirror in FIREPROOF. But SOME LIKE IT HOT, Gracie Allen, STRANGELOVE, Buster Keaton, Mel Brooks, SPINAL TAP, Woody Allen, BRINGING UP BABY, the Marx Brothers, WC Fields -- these guys ain't remotely in that league (not that they're trying to be or have to try) and such hyperbole really is unfair to the achievements they HAVE made.

Yeah ... well ... I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there on that one.

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CYPHER: "And I want to be rich. Someone important. Like an actor."

Well, we were talking about stage actors.

And yet ... in the world outside A&F, how many people can even name the actor who speaks the line you quoted?

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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CYPHER: "And I want to be rich. Someone important. Like an actor."

Well, we were talking about stage actors.

And yet ... in the world outside A&F, how many people can even name the actor who speaks the line you quoted?

I think the original line, and certainly my quotation of it, was intended as a bit of a joke. The line is, after all, being delivered by an actor who isn't important. Rather in the inverse vein as giving the following line to millionaire/movie god Brad Pitt in Fight Club: "We were raised by television to believe that we'd be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars -- but we won't."

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