Now that I no longer teach a course on movies, my movie-watching has diminished greatly - and often just on planes through sleepy eyes (although I do limit myself to one per flight in order to ensure that I get some reading done!).
But not in the last ten days. There have been three movies to fill my screen.
First up, Of Gods and Men (we were watching this at the cinema when my brother was trying to contact me about my Dad's sudden decline in health). This is one for the ages and just must be seen. A small group of elderly monks keep alive both their own community and their incarnate presence in the wider Muslim society - at a time when the threat of extremism is real. I delighted in the slow pace, the struggle towards consensual decision-making and the joy which flows when this is discovered, and the salt:light tension with which they courageously and winsomely lived. And a true story as well - which I prefer. It took me back to favourites like The Elephant Man and The Lives of Others in terms of impact. A 'must' for a church leaders retreat with space to discuss - or a class on the Church.
Then it was Fire in Babylon. A film about the rise of West Indian cricket with some of my childhood heroes - Anderson Montgomery Everton Roberts, Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards, Michael Holding et al - to the fore, but also all kinds of musicians, historians, and culture-watchers interviewed as well. Terrific socio-historical insight into the reasons which drove West Indies cricket to the top. To think it is just for cricket fans would be a major mistake. One of my offspring (who shall remain nameless) sat glued to it. The editing and sound-track make it compulsive viewing. If anything, there are not enough clips of cricket action - but no one will ever really mind. I have my own copy - but you'll have to come watch it here, coz' it ain't leaving the house!
Last night my son Stephen brought around a 1963 Peter Sellers' movie, Heavens Above. The story of a mistakenly appointed vicar, taking up a country parish run by the rich and powerful, who believes the New Testament more literally and develops a heart for the poor and needy. The economy of the town crashes when the chief benefactor of the town joins the vicar as charity trumps business. The ending is very odd and reflects the era/issues of that time - but there are some great lines in it and plenty of mischief in the Sellers' character. The willingness to be true to the gospel, regardless of the implications, kinda inspires amidst all the humour. With the emphasis on incarnational ministry today, this film could easily develop a bit of a cult following. [NB - the brains behind the movie is one Malcolm Muggeridge, with 1963 being some years before he was converted!].