March 1, 2005

CLOSER LOOK:

Critical Choices: Jeffrey Overstreet uses movies to close the spiritual-secular gap (Seattle Times, 2/27/05)

[Jeffrey] Overstreet writes reviews for Christianity Today and other publications. He also maintains his own Web site, called "Looking Closer," and co-hosts an online arts-and-faith blog and message board. [...]

When he was introduced at a recent media question-and-answer junket in Los Angeles, a few of his "mainstream" peers snickered when he said he was representing Christianity Today. He says he was once told by a publicist that his scheduled interview with a director of a major film was canceled after the director decided she didn't want to talk to a Christian publication.

He gets letters and e-mails chastising him for essentially not being Christian enough because he appreciates certain movies even though they contain sex, violence, cussing. He has been criticized for enjoying Harry Potter movies by some who believe they celebrate witchcraft and devil worship. He got hate mail, as did other critics, from some Christians because he did not find "The Passion" flawless.

Good art, he says, should provoke. But the tragedy of choosing sides is that art, especially film, has unique power to teach, minister and bind.

"The divide we have created between the sacred and secular is crap," he says. "To say there is that divide is to say God can't be there, he can only be here. God likes to work everywhere." [...]

[O]verstreet relishes movies like "The Apostle," in which the character is troubled and often at odds with God and faith. It challenges viewers, especially Christians, by making them uncomfortable.

"Scriptures say, 'Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil,' " Overstreet says. "Film can often communicate meaning in ways far more effectively than a didactic sermon. And for crying out loud, Jesus was a storyteller. Pretty controversial stories, too!"


Basically, if he and James Bowman both recommend a flick it's probably worth seeing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 1, 2005 8:26 AM
Comments

Speaking of religious films, don't go to see "Constantine", it is a disaster. Hell used to be scary, but in the hands of CGI effects artists, it looks like a cheezy video-game. I don't see why Keanu Reeves bothers to act in person anymore, a CGI Reeves would show more expression.

He gets letters and e-mails chastising him for essentially not being Christian enough because he appreciates certain movies even though they contain sex, violence, cussing. He has been criticized for enjoying Harry Potter movies by some who believe they celebrate witchcraft and devil worship. He got hate mail, as did other critics, from some Christians because he did not find "The Passion" flawless.

That's what you get for trying to please "red" America.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at March 1, 2005 10:27 AM

I agree with Robert about Constantine.

On a better note, I somewhere read that Mel Gibson is going to produce a movie about the miracles at Fatima.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at March 1, 2005 8:10 PM

I always visit Overstreet's page before filling up my Netflix qeue. 95% of what I watch is something he recommended. (I also get an OJ movie every now and then, although he's not as prolific a reviewer...)

Posted by: Judd at March 2, 2005 9:47 AM
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