When Joker Met Scully

July 30, 2008

I caught The X Files: I Want to Believe at the drive-in last night and – after it was over, turned my chair around to watch the last 40 minutes (or so) of The Dark Knight. Mild spoilers follow.

A few impressions:

– I love the way Chris Carter didn’t feel pressure to make the next big summer blockbuster. In an established universe where alien invaders could land at any moment, he chose instead to make movie that was remarkably intimate – almost a character sketch of the two leads.

– X-Files was dripping with spiritual questions. Is God out there? Why does he allow suffering? Are there limits to who he will forgive? If not, how does he act to redeem the worst among us? How is it that the people who claim to be God’s followers can often be the most harsh of all?

– “Lets get away from the darkness.” Scully says. Mulder’s reply: “I don’t think that’s how it works. I think the darkness finds you.” Yet, somehow, they come to this realization without despair. One of the subtleties that makes this franchise work so well for me.

– The montage behind the closing credits of X-Files was just beautiful.

– In the meantime, the moments I caught from The Dark Knight were really good, but it floundered a couple of places for me: two face was completely uninspiring (and predictable), and Batman’s speech about the “goodness” in people was unnecessary cliche – the audience can “get” the point of this scene without the Caped Crusader’s sanctimony. But…

– I think that superhero movies are made or broken by their supporting cast. What makes for good film is not the hero himself/herself, who is already well known – but the way everyone else plays off of the hero. Speaking of which…

– Heath Ledger’s performance was sheer genius. I could see him winning a posthumous Oscar. He manages to make the Joker repulsive and yet funny, insightful and yet insane, all at once. (I almost hate to say this, because Jack Nicholson is a great actor, but he makes Nicholson’s effort at the same character look pretty weak.)

– “We are destined to do this forever” Joker tells Batman (or something to that effect). There is a certain mythological feel to that observation that is weighed down with truth. Its still stuck in my mind.

– I also love the way the last few scenes of Knight were not typical of Summer blockbusters. Instead, the creators went for a tighter, more personal approach – and it really worked for me. I hope filmmakers learn from this: you can make a really good action/drama without blowing lots of stuff up at the end.


Training Camp Has Begun

July 25, 2008

Oh, yeah!


I Haven’t Seen The Dark Knight…

July 23, 2008

…and I have yet to hear a negative comment about it.

Is it really that good?


I Intend to Start Blogging More Frequently Again

July 22, 2008

Really! I do!

But things are a little hectic right now – so the usual array of  nonsense that you generally find around here will have to stay on hold for a little longer.


Matthew 18 Redux

July 14, 2008

I’m currently reading The New Christians. Its my first Tony Jones book.

A few days ago, Jones threw me for a serious loop. Said “loop” involves this often-cited text from Matthew 18:

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

This text is typically used to justify either (a) excommunication or – as its called in some faith traditions – “disfellowshiping” or (b) a procedure for resolving conflicts among Christians – one which can justifiably end with a severing of relationships.

But…

Pay attention to the last phrase: “treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

How did Jesus treat pagans and tax collectors? How should Jesus’ own “treatment” of pagans and tax collectors influence our reading of this text?

I may elaborate more on Jones’ treatment of this text later – it adds a remarkable subtlety to the text that is typical of Jesus’ teachings. But…in the meantime: comments?