April 2002

THE MISSION (1986, 126 min.)

Director Roland Joffe, with assistance from none other than Daniel Berrigan, as historical consultant and actor/priest, takes us deep into the rainforests of colonial Ecuador to immerse our minds in the heady waters of political and religious collaboration. Seems that a certain enterprising mission among the indigenous people of this region, established by the prodigious priestly efforts of Jeremy Irons and Robert DeNiro, is interfering with the slave trade and must, therefore, be terminated.  It is an intense, believable story, as well as a very challenging look at the conflicting validity of armed struggle and nonviolent witness. 

 

HEAVEN (1987, 90 min.)

Diane Keaton’s film proceeds through high camp humor into a realm that truly touches the heart.  It never bogs down in the swampy sentimentality that afflicts so many of our angel-oriented entertainment programs.  Nor is there any attempt at serious speculation about what lies in “the great beyond.”

 

“I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument while the song I came to sing remains unsung.” RABINDRANATH TAGORE

 

“Transcending locality requires a realization of universal simultaneity, as when a wave on the sea occurs all across the water…”   EDGAR MITCHELL one-time moon walker for NASA

 

MARJOE (1972, 88 min.)

A surreptitious documentary of former evangelist Marjoe Gortner’s obscenely spectacular matriculation in the con games of religious rip-off artists, including having his head stuffed into a pillow by his parents until he memorized his spiel as a boy preacher. As a young adult, Marjoe really saw the light and decided to expose the sordid underpinnings of such a life. With a film crew, in on the scam to uncover the larger scam, he launches into a completely convincing, Pentecostal hell-fire and healing tour, explaining intermittently to the   filmmakers (and to us) exactly how the whole diabolical scheme works. Surprisingly, it’s not a mean-spirited condemnation, rather, a high-spirited send-up of evangelistic manipulation. “God can even save you from being a religion addict,” Marjoe says with a laugh at the ending.

 

 

ZORBA THE GREEK (1964, 142 min.)

The pure, realistic simplicity of this film is an enduring treasure! I fixate often upon certain quintessential scenes therein, like the moment when the local yokels, drunk on their own frustrated jealousy and pride, round up the young woman (Irene Pappas), who has dared reject one of them, and block her from entering the church.  Then, just outside the sanctuary, they cross themselves and slit her throat, as if she were no more than a sacrificial goat! By all means, don’t miss the grand finale log roll disaster and the poignancy of young Alan Bates’ request at the very end, when he says, “Zorba, teach me to dance!”

 

“When man recognizes that God is not interested in religion but in life, then life will become the subject matter of religion.” STANFORD SUMMERS

 

 

“To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of the arts.”  – HENRY DAVID THOREAU

 

RELIGIOUS THEMES

Hollywood movies on traditional religious themes generally turn me off.  Nevertheless, I am passionately interested in the creative visualization of spiritual experience (if that is even possible) in films like BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON; Luis Bunuel’s ironic gem, SIMON OF THE DESERT; JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and Monty Pythons irreverent but telling satire, THE LIFE OF BRIAN.  –BJ

 

QUO VADIS?

When I was briefly a born-again religious fanatic, back in the mid-fifties, our evangelical prophets decreed that we should see only “religious motion pictures.”  About the only Hollywood movie I saw then was the Rome versus Christianity movie QUO VADIS, which was sufficiently pious to pass the test of up-righteous censors.  When she was “Sister Corita,” Corita Kent, with a friend, used to slip into movies that were forbidden by the church, after the lights went down.  She often said to her students at The Immaculate Heart College (in Hollywood!), “Any film about life is a religious motion picture.” – Bill Joyner

 

P. O. Box 3411 / Sarasota, Florida 34230

joynerbill28@gmail.com

 

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                                   2002  APRIL    AVRIL    ABRIL 2002