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Courageous (2011)

Sherwood Pictures Alex Kendrick Christian film

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#41 Attica

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 08:37 PM

Here are some more thoughts thoughts. If fully realize that some of them might be contradictory. ::blush::



kenmorefield said: It is an entertainment/inspiration vehicle for those who already professing. (In my opinion).

If I approach a film from the standpoint of how persuasive it will be at inciting the action that it wants, then the way it alienates its target audience (those it is trying to convince) is a problem.
BUT If I look at it as a sort of soft indoctrination of the already converted--here is an expression of what you already think to let you know you are not alone and all those people
who are mocking you or disagreeing with you are wrong--as a sort of ego-massaging, socio-political.


I think you have a point, these film are partially inspirational, and also partially with the very good intention of building up fatherhood, and encouraging people in their sub-culture. My
concern is that some Christians don't seems to have much care over whether or not it alienates those outside. Sure sometimes alienating people just happens, or is unavoidable, but
it seems to me that, to some at least, the idea is to take a stand for the family, or in the culture wars, and be damned if it alienates people, or even the idea that if people find these things
odd then it's really their problem because they should just get to know God. ect. ect.

I think this is a big problem with the Christian ghetto that has risen. In this subculture I've seen that so many Christians are going from one Christian event to the next, to their homegroup,
church events, mens meetings.... and never truly stepping out of their ghetto to connect with and interact with the other. In fact they are driving by the other to get to these things.

There just seems to be so much of the Christian ghetto that's geared towards us, and not towards connecting with the other, to the point that this actually has become big business,
I read somewhere that only 4% of christian based websites are geared towards outreach (or maybe even better, conversation with those outside the church.) This seems to me to be lopsided, and yet is very prevalent in Christian subculture..... I think to the point that Christians have no idea as to how lopsided it is.

My wife and I held a homegroup for several years as part of the Evangelical church we were involved in, one season during the homegroup we were given a video series that Bill Hybels made
called "crossing the street", what it was teaching was very admirable which was basically the idea of Christians "crossing the street" to help their neighbor. Maybe join a secular golf tournament, baseball team, art group ect., and then possibly connect with people and invite them into their lives. I said to my wife after we had finished the series "Why did they need to teach on this in the first place, shouldn't it be common sense to be connected with the people in our communities and loving them". The thing is..... if a video series from a big name pastor needs to be made to educate Christians on this subject, then that means that there are an awful lot of Christians that are not crossing the street, which of course, at least in part, comes from living inside the ghetto we've created.

I would think that we're supposed to leaven amongst the loaf, and we've gone and created our own sub-loaf so I just wonder if these type of films and this particular view of "art and culture" is to accepting of, and even encourages, this "sub-loaf".



Peter T Chattaway said:

:Right, and there's nothing wrong with that. Whenever someone criticizes the film (or tries to) by saying "It's preaching to the choir," I can't help thinking that the critic is basically saying "They didn't make it for
ME." And I'm not sure how valid or relevant a critique that is, really.



Just to be clear. In in what I am (and have been) saying I don't want to come across as more negative on these filmmakers (and this type of filmmaking) than I really am.

After all it's quite possible that God is leading them to do this, and if so, who am I to judge. They also got the thing made.... which is in itself quite an accomplishment, I also
have no doubt that there were many positive experiences during the making of the film and that the film has had a positive influence on lives, and as well have heard that the filmmakers
are pretty good guys.

I agree that there is nothing wrong with making film for Christians but even in that I'm wondering if many wouldn't benefit more from stuff that is of a bit different nature. For example
during the above mentioned Bible study we also had a series of short films based on the ten commandments. The films were of course complete with obvious lessons written into the
story, and a discussion booklet. People were finding it to be alright, but not overly engaging, so after awhile I put in several of the films from "the Decalogue", and people were
enthralled with them. Of course more often than not the stories in these films were ambiguous as to their connection to the actual commandments, but this caused the homegroup members
to dig in more, to talk about the concepts, and provoked them to go home and later on ponder over how the ten commandments were relevant to their own lives, and it sunk in deeper

Of course I realize that people are different, and possibly others may be more impacted by more obvious storytelling and I also realize that there is a business aspect to filmmaking where filmmakers have to take their target audience in mind when making the film, but here - again - I wonder whether this target audience shouldn't be more concerned as to how the films are perceived outside of their sub-culture.

I guess I'm coming from the angle that I'm not really interested in these films being made for me as much as for others, and am more interested in seeing film (and the "Christian" arts in general)
being more able to connect with those outside of the "church system", and I know in as sense, this would mean I kind of do want them to make a film for me. At least according to my
interests.

I recently had a short film that was accepted into a prominent Christian film festival, where the promotional material that was connected with the film festival (and therefore in a certain
sense my film) was full of slogans such as saying that the films, and filmmakers, were part of "God's media army". I'm not comfortable with that kind of language, I mean, if someone like myself wants to have their works go out there and connect with people, then slogans like that when they are attached to the film in any particular manner, are things that can get in the way. It's not a saying that people outside the church are comfortable with, at all, and I would argue that this kind of language surrounding film is not really all that necessary or beneficial for those within the church system, so then.... why do Christians want to use that kind of language surrounding their art.

I think some of these views come, at least in part, from the tendency to overemphasize a separation between the spiritual and the secular (at least in some Christian circles), which, I expect,
is part of the reason for an overseparation of certain Christian groups from the culture at large. I would think that God can work just fine, and maybe more so, through a film that is not part of
"God's media army".

My concern is that Christianity, or at least some portions of it, is going in the same direction with film that it did with CCM (possibly even more so), where there is to much of an unbalance towards
catering to those within the subculture than towards connecting with those outside of it, and where there is even an unbalance of music that caters just to "Christiany" stuff instead of everyday life, which God is, and should be a part of. It seems to me that this unbalanced expression of the arts can lead towards a certain mindset where God is only in the big activities, or victories, instead of also being in reading a great book, or relaxing during a good cup of Herbal tea, or the beauty of nature. Or even, dare I say, in a "secular" film where there are swear words.

If there is a Christian film-culture that is being created which is similar to the CCM culture then we are creating something that could be putting Christian filmmakers in the same constricted place as
the CCM has placed many Christian musicians. For example, when Chris Rice wrote his song about cartoon characters being saved, he had intended it for the purpose of being a satire of how CCM culture can sometimes force musicians to sing goofy or trite songs, but then it went on to become a number one hit on Christian radio..... which more or less proved what he was getting at in the first place.


I wasn't really wanting to be to negative on the folks at Sherwood pictures, but just feel that they are another spoke in the wheel of a Christian cultural juggernaught that I'm concerned is going in
the wrong direction. Purity balls included.




There.... I'm done. Sorry if that was to long winded. :)

Edited by Attica, 15 October 2011 - 04:33 PM.


#42 SDG

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 09:06 PM

There.... I'm done. Sorry if that was to long winded. :)

Too long-winded, no. Too choppy due to hard line breaks, yes. You need a new text editing solution.

Edited by SDG, 13 October 2011 - 09:06 PM.


#43 Attica

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 12:21 AM

There.... I'm done. Sorry if that was to long winded. :)

Too long-winded, no. Too choppy due to hard line breaks, yes. You need a new text editing solution.



I need to learn how to be a writer. ;)


When I wrote that I was more attempting to try and get my thoughts out than anything else and was needing to head out soon, but anyhow, I just went back and touched it up a bit.

Edited by Attica, 14 October 2011 - 01:04 AM.


#44 David Smedberg

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 09:14 AM

Attica, it's a technological problem. Your post has line breaks in the middle of sentences. Did you write it in Notepad?

#45 Attica

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 11:29 AM

Attica, it's a technological problem. Your post has line breaks in the middle of sentences. Did you write it in Notepad?




Oh. Just in the reply box.

Edited by Attica, 14 October 2011 - 11:42 AM.


#46 SDG

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 11:42 AM

Are you hitting Return/Enter at the end of lines? Any idea why your lines break where they do? Sorry to go off topic, I'll delete these comments in a bit.

#47 Attica

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 11:44 AM

Are you hitting Return/Enter at the end of lines? Any idea why your lines break where they do? Sorry to go off topic, I'll delete these comments in a bit.




Yeah. I think I might have in a few places. Have some of my other posts had this problem?

#48 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 01:35 PM

SDG wrote:
: FWIW, I think this definition is too general. A shibboleth is not merely a distinguishing characteristic. A shibboleth is such a characteristic that is used by those who share it to establish their bona fides and/or to exclude outsiders.

Yes, exactly. The first time I heard the word "shibboleth" outside of the Bible (where it is clearly used to separate "us", who get to live, from "them", who get killed), it was when the Wittenburg Door asked T-Bone Burnett a question about abortion, and Burnett replied that abortion was a "shibboleth", meaning (as his subsequent remarks made clear) that as far as he was concerned, nobody was really thinking about the issue, but using a person's stance on the issue to establish whether that person was one of "us" or one of "them".

Attica wrote:
: Yeah. I think I might have in a few places. Have some of my other posts had this problem?

Pretty much all of them, yeah. And it's not just the stuff you write that has the extra line breaks; the parts you quote from other people's posts have the extra line breaks, too.

: . . . it seems to me that, to some at least, the idea is to take a stand for the family, or in the culture wars . . .

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!)

: If there is a Christian film-culture that is being created which is similar to the CCM culture then we are creating something that could be putting Christian filmmakers in the same constricted place as the CCM has placed many Christian musicians.

Right. But at the same time, would great bands or singer-songwriters like Daniel Amos / Terry Scott Taylor even have CAREERS if CCM didn't exist? I mean, you can have faith and great art at the same time, and even dark clouds like the CCM industry have their silver linings.

#49 Attica

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 02:08 PM

Peter T Chattaway said:


:Pretty much all of them, yeah. And it's not just the stuff you write that has the extra line breaks; the parts you quote from other people's posts have the extra line breaks, too.





Strange, especially when it comes to the quotes.


I'll see what I can do.




: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.


Yeah. That could be.

There is also the aspect of what Christians choose to do with the films. Which of course has little to do with Sherwood films.


:Right. But at the same time, would great bands or singer-songwriters like Daniel Amos / Terry Scott Taylor even have CAREERS if CCM didn't exist? I mean, you can have faith and great art at the same time, and even dark clouds like the CCM industry have their silver linings.



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. What I'm getting at is that we've created a system that all to often doesn't encourage or support that flow, which I suppose to a certain extent is unavoidable, being that it is often bound to economy, distribution, and the like. For example, I'm sure that the film festival which I had mentioned used those quotes in order to stir up Christian's to support their cause, which isn't all that bad of a thing. But it speaks of a culture that seems to often need language like that in order to get behind something, instead of seeing that this language can sometimes be offputting to the very people that we are trying to touch. Which of course brings me back to our sub-cultures that often consume stuff just for our needs (or what we think are our needs) and isn't as interested in art that impacts and connects with others. Not, of course, that we shouldn't also consider our own needs.

Edited by Attica, 14 October 2011 - 04:14 PM.


#50 kenmorefield

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 04:10 PM

Yes, it does. And I agree with the assessment. That is one reason why I prefer the label Shibboleth Films to Evangelism Films. I think these films (like much of Fox News, Christian Broadcasting, or a Michael Moore film) are not intended to draw in those outside so much as reinforce those already in.

[....]

Perhaps two of the closest analogies to the process you describe (re: light at end of tunnel) are the critique that COOL IT made of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH or critiques of certain Michael Moore films. If I approach a film from the standpoint of how persuasive it will be at inciting the action that it wants, then the way it alienates its target audience (those it is trying to convince) is a problem. BUT If I look at it as a sort of soft indoctrination of the already converted--here is an expression of what you already think to let you know you are not alone and all those people who are mocking you or disagreeing with you are wrong--as a sort of ego-massaging, socio-political, ain't we all great porn (sorry Jeff wherever you are, I know you hate that as a generic adjective) then the fact that it pushes others away is less important than that it makes its target audience feel good (better? superior?) about where they are.


Been stumbling around for a few weeks trying to come up with an example of a liberal//secular equivalent to these sorts of [Sherwood] films--that is films that do the same sort of cultural work but just in service of a different (sub) culture.

I think the analogous film I am looking for is The Help.

Edited by kenmorefield, 15 October 2011 - 04:14 PM.


#51 Rachel Anne

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 04:36 PM

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.

#52 Attica

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 06:51 PM


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, 15 October 2011 - 11:32 PM.


#53 Thom Wade

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 08:07 AM

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.

#54 Overstreet

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 11:23 AM

Victor Morton is tweeting about the film. (Maybe he'll elaborate here.)

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

#55 vjmorton

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 01:23 PM

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, 19 October 2011 - 01:24 PM.


#56 David Smedberg

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 02:02 PM

... 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, 19 October 2011 - 02:02 PM.


#57 Anders

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 02:30 PM


... 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. ;)

#58 mrmando

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 02:41 PM

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.

#59 vjmorton

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 02:50 PM



... 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.

#60 vjmorton

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 02:56 PM


... 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]





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