library movie round-up

Peter and Paul and the Christian Revolution (PBS, 2002) — Did a better job than most Bible documentaries &emdash; or Bible teachers, for that matter &emdash; at establishing the social and political setting into which the Christian story was cast. I was convicted once again at just how counter-cultural the gospel was then &emdash; as it is now. Jesus-followers could not serve both the Roman state and Jesus Christ, and their declaration that “Jesus is Lord” was in effect declaring that “Caesar is not.” This was the most dangerous thing a person could say at the time. Seems like we might have a lesson or two to learn from such an example.

Spellbound (2002) — Great documentary that follows 8 “youngstahs” (Boston speak) on their journey to the 1999 Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee. I was amazed at just now single-minded these kids and their families are throughout the months leading up to the competition; many of them study up to 8 hours every day, and the parents are just as wrapped up in it as the kids are.

Lady in the Water (2006) — M. Night’s latest thriller / drama is probably not on par with The Village or The Sixth Sense, but it is magical and meaningful in its own right. As he acknowledges in the extras, Shyamalan tells you the story slowly and deliberately, almost so that you need to lean in to make sure you “get it all.” He does exactly that in LITW, a character-driven movie that follows an embattled apartment complex maintenance man on a personal and supernatural journey. (yes, this journey does involve a lady and some water, but I don’t want to give too much more away here…) Just see it, and put on your spiritual movie-watching lens for this one.

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices (2005) — Snooze. The documentary tells the stories of small-town mom-n-pop shops that are threatened and ultimately deep-sixed by Wal-Mart’s arrival. The filmmakers try to appeal strongly to the viewers’ emotions, but this tactic will fail against hard-core Capitalists, who will still say, “That’s too bad. But that’s America. That’s the free market!” I think Wal-Mart is bad for America, but I’m not sure this documentary successfully makes that point well.

Thicker than Water (1999) — There’s something wildly attractive about the lifestyle portrayed in this documentary, produced by singer-songwriter Jack Johnson: traveling with your best friends to exotic destinations like India and Ireland just to surf. The combination is almost impossible to mess up: close-up video of the world’s best surfers, great music, and stunning backdrops of beautiful locations. Makes me want to give my two (weeks) and hang ten.

On deck for this week: “Born into Brothels”; “Guns, Germs and Steel”; “Life is Beautiful”; “What the Bleep do we Know”; “Dogma”; “Luther”; “Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism”; and “When the Levees Broke.” Definitely won’t have time for all those this week, but those are the ones we either have or need to pick up.

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