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Sunday, March 30, 2014

These movies will change your life (or not)

Until five days ago, it had been several months since I'd seen a movie in a theater. But last week I saw two new films. The first one, "God's Not Dead," came highly recommended.

I knew it was in the theaters for a short time. So I picked the kids up from school one day last week and headed to a matinee. I'm not sure what I expected. Annie was convinced I was trying to orchestrate a conversion experience of some sorts. About 10 minutes into the movie, Charlie leaned over and whispered, "Mom, this is going to be one LONG movie." 

Why do Christian films have to be so bad? The acting was ok. The script was mostly heavy-handed and predictable. The bad guys were almost unbelievably jerkish. One thing that really bothered me about "God's Not Dead" was the negatively stereotypical portrayal of Muslims (controlling and violent) and Asians (defiant of God and singularly focused on success).

Annie said "That movie needed a comic relief." And she was right. Maybe that's what "God's Not Dead" needed -- to not take itself so seriously.  "Mom's Night Out," another Christian film I've had the chance to preview, got its point across without smacking the viewer upside the head with the Bible. 

Would I see "God's Not Dead" again? Probably not. Am I glad we went to see it? Yes. There was one particularly moving scene when a woman with dementia had a haunting moment of clarity. That scene was one of the things we talked about in the car on the way home. After I acknowledged the film's drawbacks, I asked the kids what they thought about the messages in the film. We talked about the old woman's assertion that sometimes the devil lulls us with an easy life so that we don't feel a need to turn toward God. Even the next morning on the way to school, Robbie brought up the movie and we had another discussion about things we had see on the screen. 

Did "God's Not Dead" change my life? No. But it might change yours. I've talked to several people who felt very moved by it. Maybe you will be one of them. 

The second movie I saw this week was "Farmland." This is a documentary, set to make an appearance in a limited number of theaters in May. The movie profiled six young farmers and spoke of their commitment to their family farms, their industry and to bringing food to America. It answered questions about corporation farming, pesticide use, organic farming and animal cruelty and raised questions about public policy and the future of agriculture in America.

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Watching "Farmland" made me want to hug a farmer. Honestly. It also made me think about where our food comes from and where it will come from in the future. The average age of today's farmer is mid-60s. So who is going to run these farms and grow our food when those farmers retire or pass away?

"Farmland" also gave me an appreciation for the amount of work and faith that goes into farming. The planting, the watering, the tending, the praying for good weather, the harvesting. It negates the image of farmers as country bumpkins and showcases how intelligent -- book smart and field smart -- these people are.

I have to admit to having a long-held crush on farmers and the lives they lead, so maybe it was easy for me to find myself enamored of this film. That's a possibility. Did "Farmland" change my life? Hmmm...I'm not sure exactly, although it did make me think differently about where our food comes from and how that might (or might not) change in the future. Will it change yours? Maybe. Visit the Farmland website to watch the trailer (not shareable here) to see for yourself.


CWMartin said...

I haven't seen the movie (As Charlie Brown once said, "Another unmarried marriage counselor")but if you ever get into a theological debate with an atheist (meaning, to me, a hard-core "evangelical" atheist), they ARE unbelieveably jerkish, so that was probably a pretty good take. Asians (especially Vietnamese) have a definite sense of cultural superiority (as told me by those who have dealt with them) so that may not be far off either.