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#61 SDG

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Posted 18 February 2005 - 08:00 PM

QUOTE(Jeffrey Overstreet @ Feb 18 2005, 06:01 PM)
Keanu gets more specific about his beliefs about heaven and hell.  Sorta.  Now, why couldn't he say those things when WE asked him?

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Keanu: But I've got to say, really, I have no kind of, can I say "secular religiosity"?

O-kay, that's once too often he's trotted out that fifty-cent phrase, and it doesn't fit here. At all. dry.gif

#62 ThePersistanceOfWaffles

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Posted 19 February 2005 - 03:37 AM

Just got back from watching this. More thoughts may follow, but for now I just have to quote my favorite line from the movie:

Keanu is explaining the latest plot turn and begins to exposit about "the spear that killed Jesus-" Weisz cuts in "-The Spear of Destiny. I know the crucifixion story. I'm Catholic, remember?"

#63 opus

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 01:51 AM

Caught this over the weekend, and thought it was pretty decent. However, it suffers from one of the same issues I had with Hellboy, namely that evil looks so dang cool in the movie. Admittedly, that might be due in part to the fact that evil is attractive and seductive and all that. But these big budget renditions of hell and its minions leave me rather troubled. I don't want to be awe-inspired by hell, I want to be terrified of it. However, there's something attractive and eye candy-ish about all of these CGI-rendered brimstone spectacles. It looks more like a really cool theme park ride than a place of "suffering" and "damnation".

The other troubling notion was that salvation and all of that is merely a con game (something that SDG addresses much more eloquently in his review). Sure, it's big and scary and there are supernatural forces at work all around us (on a positive note, I did like that aspect of the film), but it's also possible to figure out the odds and outwit the devil, and even God. I know some might read the ending a bit more ambiguously, but given Constantine's history as a bit of a conman (which is hinted at somewhat in the film), I'm a bit more skeptical.

I was also surprised at how un-scary the film was. I suppose I was expecting a bit too much I was expecting something more horror-based, and while there were some "jump in your seat" moments, the most terrifying thing I saw all night was the trailer for House Of Wax starring - *gasp* - Paris Hilton.

#64 BBBCanada

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 03:40 AM

Just wonder'n. Jeffrey wrote about Keanu saying that religion is very private. So, he didn't want to speak about it. Personal? Yes. Private? No. Thoughts? Was sure I would have heard something from you guys.



#65 The Baptist Death Ray

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 09:40 AM

He should have said "Religion? Whoa..." and left it at that.

#66 Overstreet

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 01:58 PM

Andrew Sarris on Constantine...

#67 Overstreet

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 11:35 AM

At Film Forum, Christian press reviews debate whether it's a waste of time, or a worthwhile discussion-starter ... or both.

(This comes close to setting the record for most critics quoted on a single film in Film Forum.)

#68 SDG

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 11:43 AM

Nice job as always, Jeff. It's easy to see that you put a lot of labor into these columns and struggle with culling a sentence or two from each critic, and clearly it's a labor of love, even when there's no love lost on the movie itself... wink.gif

#69 Overstreet

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 12:17 PM

Thanks, Steven.

In March, I'll be celebrating my FOURTH anniversary at Film Forum. Hard to believe. But if I really think about it, I'm amazed at how much has happened in the world of Christian film criticism in those four years! Early on, I was checking Movieguide (until they declared that they are not film reviewers), Focus on the Family, Catholic News Service, Michael Elliott, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Decent Films. My how the community has grown!

#70 SDG

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 12:24 PM

Was I really among the first? smile.gif How about that!

#71 utzworld

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 12:49 PM

And now, for a considerably less "playa-hating" perspective on Constantine, look no further than The HJ Squad! A big shout-out to my man Maurice Broaddus (our resident horror movie analyst) for his review. It really challenged me.

#72 The Baptist Death Ray

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 01:08 PM

The more I hear about this film the more depressed I get. (Still haven't seen it, still plan to though).

The thing that really bothers me is that the people who make this film are trying to "woo" Christian audiences in the first place. The Hellblazer comic books are not particularly pro Christian at all, in fact they use the Christian concepts of God and the Devil and the rest to critique Christianity as seen through the filter of self-proclaimed Christians revelling in hypocrisy. It's has some of the more intelligent criticisms of *Christians* I've read... and the "hero", John Constantine, is one of the most flawed characters I've read in a comic. In the comic, he didn't try to commit suicide... he
Spoiler
. He very rarely manages to solve a "problem" without seeing a little bit more of his own world fall to pieces, because while he's smart and charismatic and knows what's going on he's still very mortal and fallible, and he wrecks friendships and relationships because of it.

It's not the kind of story you'd use to spark discussions about Christianity with nonbelievers. In my opinion. It *is* thekind of story you'd use to spark discussions about Christianity with other Christians, however, not to mention that the stories are excellently written and, for all its hostility toward Christianity in general, a lot more care is taken to get the specifics of the theology right.

Honestly, what was it about the comic books that interested them in the first place? It sounds like this movie could have been made without referring to Constantine at all -- the character bears no resemblance to John Constantine, aging punk, dabbler in the occult, "Rake at the Gates of Hell" who alternates between saving the world at large and making his own personal world increasingly more miserable as time goes on.

I guess that kind of stuff doesn't really translate well into a two hour film. In which case, I ask again, why did they even bother? Just write a script about
Spoiler
and cast Keanu Reeves as that guy, let's call him Elijah because that's a cool name, and hey -- I'd be interested in seeing it. But when you option a creative work that is popular for a specific reason and then ignore the reason entirely what you're saying is "we really have trouble coming up with movie names, and we're willing to spend way too much money to get around that by using someone else's."

OK, I'm done ranting. For the moment...

#73 opus

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 01:29 PM

QUOTE(The Baptist Death Ray @ Feb 24 2005, 12:08 PM)
He very rarely manages to solve a "problem" without seeing a little bit more of his own world fall to pieces, because while he's smart and charismatic and knows what's going on he's still very mortal and fallible, and he wrecks friendships and relationships because of it.

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I was really reminded of this while reading Twilight Of The Superheroes, a concept Alan Moore had for a huge series involving all of the DC superheroes with Constantine as the "hero". The series never got made, but the initial proposal and plot outline is floating around (I got my copy via Google Cache), but it's a fascinating read, and yes, Constantine does end up "winning" but coming out even worse off. You can find more info in this MetaFilter post.

(BTW, apologies if I've posted about this before. I thought I had, but I did a search and didn't find anything.)

#74 The Baptist Death Ray

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 01:46 PM

Oooh, I'm famliar with that. I've read that outline... and yeah, that's a perfect Constantine-esque thing...

#75 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 08:14 PM

Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:
: (This comes close to setting the record for most critics quoted on a single film in Film
: Forum.)

It probably helps that you quoted at least one critic twice. smile.gif (Admittedly, he had written for two different online publications...)

The wife and I caught this on our honeymoon -- since the first movie we saw after we "officially" started dating (i.e. after we started holding hands and whatever other things two people do when they are more than friends) was The Matrix Reloaded, and since the wife has a special interest in comic-booky and apolacyptic movies, and since I was so bummed about being left out of the junket for this one and I really didn't want to fall behind in my pop-religion film-watching, it just seemed like The Thing To Do.

And while I don't have the time to say much just yet -- I've been catching up on these threads all day, and I have to start paying attention to my wife again at SOME point soon -- I do have to say that my first reaction to this film was that it was sooooo Catholic, even if it got its Catholicism wrong. There is something about the idea that you can exploit all sorts of legal loopholes to gain a supernatural advantage that seems peculiarly western or Latin to me -- I can't imagine a film like this coming out of an Orthodox culture. (In this respect, Constantine is a lot like Dogma.)

It also occurs to me that the notion that Hell and Heaven are two distinct places in the afterlife is also a western / Latin / Catholic idea (which Protestants have inherited), whereas whenever I hear the Orthodox talk about the afterlife, it is often more along the lines that the key difference between Heaven and Hell will be whether a person responds positively or negatively to the love of God; i.e., the love of God, revealed in all its fullness and without the obstructions of this world, will be sheer torture to those who have made a point of setting their hearts AGAINST God's love. I have heard that one of the points of contention between Catholics and Orthodox, roughly a thousand years ago or so, was precisely over these differing understandings of Hell, with the Catholics insisting on material punishment etc. -- and even the notion of "punishment" implies something of a legal framework, versus the approach of the Orthodox, which seems more organic and natural to me.

I'm not trying to bait SDG or any of the other Catholics here with these comments, but these WERE my first thoughts upon seeing the film.

BTW, why have I not yet seen ANYone compare the character who finds the Spear of Destiny with Gollum? Heck, he even has a Deagol-like partner ...

#76 SDG

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 03:41 AM

QUOTE(Peter T Chattaway @ Feb 24 2005, 09:14 PM)
And while I don't have the time to say much just yet -- I've been catching up on these threads all day, and I have to start paying attention to my wife again at SOME point soon -- I do have to say that my first reaction to this film was that it was sooooo Catholic, even if it got its Catholicism wrong.  There is something about the idea that you can exploit all sorts of legal loopholes to gain a supernatural advantage that seems peculiarly western or Latin to me -- I can't imagine a film like this coming out of an Orthodox culture.

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I got no truck with this. My only caveats are [a] comic books and comic-book movies per se are culturally Western, and what little I know about the cinema of historically eastern Orthodox countries doesn't allow me to imagine what ANY movie in that genre from such a culture could possibly look like, except to say that it would obviously be strongly influenced by Western culture; and [b] what little I know about the culture in the broader sense of historically eastern Orthodox societies doesn't allow me to identify with precision their own characteristic degenerate forms of belief and practice and would inform the work of a writer or filmmaker whose grounding in the religion of his culture was as shaky as that of Kevin Smith or the makers of Constantine.
QUOTE(Peter T Chattaway @ Feb 24 2005, 09:14 PM)
It also occurs to me that the notion that Hell and Heaven are two distinct places in the afterlife is also a western / Latin / Catholic idea (which Protestants have inherited)

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Now I think you're reaching, especially since the film doesn't portray Hell and Heaven as spatially distinct from one another, or even spatially distinct from Earth. Earth, Heaven and Hell all occupy the same space in the film; "Heaven and hell are right here, behind every wall, every window, the world behind the world." Of course, like Bruce Almighty and every other degenerate film about religion, Constantine has no idea that loving or hating God is what makes reality ultimately Heaven or Hell.
QUOTE(Peter T Chattaway @ Feb 24 2005, 09:14 PM)
whereas whenever I hear the Orthodox talk about the afterlife, it is often more along the lines that the key difference between Heaven and Hell will be whether a person responds positively or negatively to the love of God

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Of course, you've never lived in a culturally eastern country either.
QUOTE(Peter T Chattaway @ Feb 24 2005, 09:14 PM)
I have heard that one of the points of contention between Catholics and Orthodox, roughly a thousand years ago or so, was precisely over these differing understandings of Hell, with the Catholics insisting on material punishment etc. -- and even the notion of "punishment" implies something of a legal framework, versus the approach of the Orthodox, which seems more organic and natural to me.

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Feh. Catholic tradition certainly does not insist on any understanding of the nature (or location) of hell. St. Augustine: "It is my opinion that the nature of hell-fire and the location of hell are known to no man unless the Holy Ghost made it known to him by a special revelation", (City of God, XX, xvi). Pope St. Gregory the Great: "I do not dare to decide this question. Some thought hell is somewhere on earth; others believe it is under the earth" (Dialogues, IV, xlii).

In the words of John Paul II: "The images of hell that Sacred Scripture presents to us must be correctly interpreted. They show the complete frustration and emptiness of life without God. Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy. This is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes the truths of faith on this subject: 'To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell"'" (Wednesday Audience, August 4, 1999).
QUOTE(Peter T Chattaway @ Feb 24 2005, 09:14 PM)
BTW, why have I not yet seen ANYone compare the character who finds the Spear of Destiny with Gollum? Heck, he even has a Deagol-like partner ...

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Clearly you haven't yet read Mr. Overstreet on the subject.

#77 Cunningham

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 05:28 AM

QUOTE(The Baptist Death Ray @ Feb 24 2005, 12:08 PM)
The more I hear about this film the more depressed I get. (Still haven't seen it, still plan to though).

The thing that really bothers me is that the people who make this film are trying to "woo" Christian audiences in the first place.  The Hellblazer comic books are not particularly pro Christian at all, in fact they use the Christian concepts of God and the Devil and the rest to critique Christianity as seen through the filter of self-proclaimed Christians revelling in hypocrisy. It's has some of the more intelligent criticisms of *Christians* I've read... and the "hero", John Constantine, is one of the most flawed characters I've read in a comic.  In the comic, he didn't try to commit suicide... he
Spoiler
.  He very rarely manages to solve a "problem" without seeing a little bit more of his own world fall to pieces, because while he's smart and charismatic and knows what's going on he's still very mortal and fallible, and he wrecks friendships and relationships because of it.

It's not the kind of story you'd use to spark discussions about Christianity with nonbelievers. In my opinion. It *is* thekind of story you'd use to spark discussions about Christianity with other Christians, however, not to mention that the stories are excellently written and, for all its hostility toward Christianity in general, a lot more care is taken to get the specifics of the theology right.

Honestly, what was it about the comic books that interested them in the first place? It sounds like this movie could have been made without referring to Constantine at all -- the character bears no resemblance to John Constantine, aging punk, dabbler in the occult, "Rake at the Gates of Hell" who alternates between saving the world at large and making his own personal world increasingly more miserable as time goes on.

I guess that kind of stuff doesn't really translate well into a two hour film. In which case, I ask again, why did they even bother? Just write a script about
Spoiler
and cast Keanu Reeves as that guy, let's call him Elijah because that's a cool name, and hey -- I'd be interested in seeing it.  But when you option a creative work that is popular for a specific reason and then ignore the reason entirely what you're saying is "we really have trouble coming up with movie names, and we're willing to spend way too much money to get around that by using someone else's."

OK, I'm done ranting. For the moment...

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Warren Ellis commented on this on his Bad Signal mailing list a week or so ago. I believe his line was, "I'm constantly fascinated at how Hollywood can always find the hook of an Alan Moore work and then toss only that hook away." It was in reference to the upcoming adaptation of V For Vendetta but it seems to appy here.

#78 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 10:35 AM

SDG wrote:

: : It also occurs to me that the notion that Hell and Heaven are two distinct places in the
: : afterlife is also a western / Latin / Catholic idea (which Protestants have inherited) . . .
:
: Now I think you're reaching, especially since the film doesn't portray Hell and Heaven
: as spatially distinct from one another, or even spatially distinct from Earth. Earth,
: Heaven and Hell all occupy the same space in the film; "Heaven and hell are right
: here, behind every wall, every window, the world behind the world."

Good point, as far as it goes, though Heaven and Hell ARE portrayed as at least DIMENSIONALLY distinct -- they each have an OBJECTIVE reality that can be beheld by people who do not share that SUBJECTIVE reality (e.g., Satan can apparently actually SEE Heaven).

Thanks for the quotes. FWIW, I wish I had the text of a speech that Fr. Thomas Hopko delivered at Trinity Western University (an evangelical institution) during his visit here a few months back -- it was not the first place where I heard the Orthodox position articulated, but it was perhaps the clearest articulation of it that I have heard so far.

#79 Jason Bortz

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Posted 26 February 2005 - 03:05 AM

Chris, you might not hate this movie.

But man, you're gonna hate Keanu in that role...oh yes indeed.



#80 Overstreet

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 01:29 PM

David Denby starts throwing punches after seeing Constantine.

Read it right away before the New Yorker updates the page.

You have to scroll through his Be Cool review. The Constantine review is at the bottom of the page. I'm with him on some points, and definitely not on others ... well, one in particular...