Monday, July 6, 2015

We need more "good" movies that are good

The Good Looking One and I went to see the latest Christian movie, Faith of Our Fathers. It contains the usual "good" movies elements: sincerity, positive messages about faith and family, upbeat and hope-filled ending.

But ...

Esthetically, artistically, it's not a good movie. Too many plot holes and plausibility gaps. Continuity issues. Uneven acting. Set problems. Flawed dialogue.

I could go on - I'm probably one of those intellectual snobs the makers of these films eschew, and often turn into the foils and villains in these films.

Because I'm not focusing on the good message.

Now, let me say that the movie is not outrageously bad. It's not down in Ed Wood territory. It's not even as bad as some of the SyFy and Hallmark made-for-television movies.

But it's just not that good.

Take, for example, the letters that are central to the plot. We see soldiers in 1969 Vietnam scribbling the notes on small pieces of paper using pencils as torrential rain pours down (forget for a moment that in some of the rain scenes the sun is clearly shining and it's obvious the "rain" is being provided by machine!). Now, we see the letters in 1997 - on larger paper, in envelopes, clearly legible with no signs of having been written in a rain storm or no obvious signs of the passage of years.

That's the kind of thing I'm talking about. Such elements undermine the credibility of the film, and interfere with the fine message. The message is still there, and enough of it comes through that that alone helps to raise it above the poorer SyFy and Hallmark efforts.

I've seen too many flawed Christian films. They rely on sincerity and message rather than good filmmaking. Admittedly, they are often handicapped; The big money folks of the film industry tend not to put up the money needed to hire name actors and writers, to invest in quality props and special effects for these kinds of movies. Name actors often don't want to be involved with such projects, and the low-budget filmmakers have to rely on believers, lesser actors and even amateurs.

Oh, sometimes there are films that do get the support and succeed - Babette's Feast, The Mission, A Man for All Seasons come to mind. They each had a message, but they let good film  making tell the story. Even a lesser effort like The Way still keeps filmmaking in mind.

I am glad there are movies like Faith of Our Fathers. I salute the effort. But if the folks behind these films want to reach a wider audience, to really catechize and proselytize, they need to make better movies.

Being well-meaning is not enough.

Pax et bonum

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