Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thoughtful Movies

Some movies you watch because you want to. Other movies you watch because you feel compelled to. Well, maybe that's not how you choose your Friday night entertainment, but Aaron and I tend to rotate through a list of fun, challenging, entertaining, and enlightening movies. It depends on the mood.

Lately it seems we've watched more than our share of thought-provoking films. The sort of movie that sticks with you for hours, days, even weeks after watching it. In the mood to think? To be pushed out of your comfort zone? Wanna spark a heated conversation? The following movies might be hard to watch, but they are beautiful in their own way. And I promise they'll get you pondering the complexities of life.

The Constant Gardener is both gorgeous and haunting. Filmed on location in Kenya, it's really a love story that goes horribly awry. Justin is a British diplomat whose activist wife, Tessa, is murdered in a remote region of Africa. As he tries to uncover the mystery behind her death, we relive their romance in the years leading up to the tragedy. Their love is bittersweet and unexpected, and seemingly doomed from the beginning. But there's more to the story than romance: underlying Justin and Tessa's relationship is her passion for social justice. I won't give anything away, but suffice it to say the movie uncovers yet another way the world uses and abuses Africa. Whether or not the allusions are true (some critics say that the film is a walk in the park compared to what really happens in Africa, while others say the claims are unfounded) The Constant Gardener definitely gets you thinking about justice issues in Africa and whether or not we are apathetic enough to yet again turn a blind eye.

Gone Baby Gone was our most recent movie venture and it's still very fresh in my mind. I do NOT recommend this film for everyone--there was a ten-minute scene in the middle that I couldn't watch at all (the word "pedophile" conjures up all manner of hatred and malice in me), but horrible rabbit trail aside, this movie had Aaron and me talking for hours. In a nutshell, Gone Baby Gone is about a little girl who has gone missing. Patrick Kenzie and his girlfriend Angie are private detectives who are hired to help find her. What ensues is a journey to hell and back as they try to figure out what happened. The problem is, once they solve the mystery, they can't help wishing they didn't. After watching the conclusion, Aaron and I argued and talked and wrestled... Is the right thing to do always the moral thing to do? The Bible says that justice is God's... But does the Lord ever use his people to mete out that justice? Are we ever allowed to "take matters into our own hands?" The movie's very appropriate tagline is "Everyone wants the truth... Until they find it." Is that true? Are there ever times when we are better off not knowing the truth?

We may not have come to any consensus after watching and discussing these films, but at least they got us talking... Have you seen them? Or do you have any others to add to the list? I have a feeling our next movie selection will be a few seasons of The Office (just to take a little break from all the heaviness), but I'm always on the lookout for something that will engage me...


  1. I generally stay on the lighter side of movies, and I prefer musicals, romantic comedies and flat-out romance movies, but there are some movies that are just moving and have such depth that I can only watch them occasionally. I have been laughed at, given appalled looks, and even called an existentialist because I really love the movie "rent". Rent (as you probably know) is a Broadway play that was made into a movie a couple years ago, and it touches on some very taboo topics in the Christian mindset (homosexuality, AIDS, drug addiction) so it is generally shunned by Christians as a whole. But I think the movie expressed something that Christians are supposed to be known for - loving others in spite of their flaws, sins, and differences of opinion. Rent is a year in the life of these eight young men and women who are struggling with living a bohemian life in NYC in 1989. Four of characters have AIDS, four are homosexuals, and two are drug addicts. Because of their struggles, they live their life to the full every day and love each other even in their differences. I really saw the film as a picture of life as a whole and how Christians are supposed to love. It also is a great portrayal of the need within each of us that only Christ can fulfill, and where the world is spiritually.
    Now, there is some vulgar language (not really cursing) in one of the songs, but no sex scenes. There is one scene in a strip club but you don't see anything more than you would see on a beach, and you see two gay couples kiss once. It may be more than where you are willing to venture, but I recommend it if you are looking for movies for discussion. When you watch it from a spiritual standpoint, things just jump out at you! Plus, it really is just a great story and fun film - great music! You'll have to let me know if you decide to watch it and what you think! The movies you recommended sound very intriguing!

  2. Nicole,
    I read your blog for thought provoking material!
    Good posts all along here, ESPECIALLY your "political" ones.
    P.S. Forty days would be awesome. The Bible uses forty days a lot as a timeline for very important decision making or impacts.
    3 days? Is that stretching this as an option for an election race?

  3. I've only seen the Constant Gardner. It was pretty good. It's been a while, but I remember it having some twists that were unexpected.

    Gone Baby Gone is one I'll pass on, I think.

    Thanks for the post!

  4. "Rent" sounds interesting, Stacey. I'm familiar with the premise, but I've avoided the film because I made the enormous mistake of watching "Brokeback Mountain." I thought that movie would help me begin to understand homosexual people... Uh, no. It only confirmed stereotypes for me--I didn't buy their "love" for a second. It wasn't about love, it was about (almost violent) sex. Ohhh, I hated it. Wish I could erase it from my brain. Anyway, it sounds like "Rent" does what I had hoped "Brokeback" would do--continue to rend my heart for hurting people. Thanks for the suggestion!