The Film & Faith Reflection is a time where we gather to view a film and then discuss how the film reflects the human and spiritual experience. Anywhere from ‘Classic Hollywood’ to foreign and independent films, all genres are covered.
St. James parishioner Clint Cullum graduated with a film degree from Biola University in Southern California where he wrote and directed a feature film of his own in addition to several short films. Originally from the Conroe area, Cullum returned home in 2010 and began attending St. James soon thereafter.“For years I have enjoyed exploring the spiritual possibilities of film and how God can speak to us through art,” he says. “At its core, the Church believes in Incarnation––the Word of God made flesh––and filmmaking provides a vehicle for artists to make spiritual realities both dramatic and visible. With the Film and Faith Reflection series at St. James, together we are able to watch and discuss how different individuals have attempted to do this.”
FILMS RECENTLY WATCHED:
The Gleaners & I
This charming and probing documentary from perky director/narrator Agnés Varda explores the lives of the poor and outcast on the margins of French society as they glean, scavenge, pick, collect, and gather their way through life. A film that is at once delightful and thought provoking.
John Wayne gives a towering, career best performance as Ethan Edwards, an embittered Civil War veteran who spends years ruthlessly pursuing the Comanches who murdered his family and kidnapped his niece. The great John Ford directs a tale of obsession, racism, and vengeance in this, one of the finest, most influential American films ever made. A must see!
The Last Temptation of Christ
Martin Scorsese’s gritty yet sincere, street-level Biblical epic is arguably the most controversial movie ever made on the life of Christ, but behind the controversy is a film of enormous spiritual poignancy and emotional depth. Viewer discretion strongly advised.
On the Waterfront
Elia Kazan’s hard-hitting drama almost single-handedly revolutionized movie acting. Marlon Brando headlines a spectacular cast as a boxer turned enforcer for a corrupt union boss who begins to have a crisis of conscience when a young woman comes into his life and he is confronted with the consequences of his actions. An American classic.
Crime and Misdemeanors
Woody Allen crafts one of his best and most probing films in this serious comedy which examines the lengths a respectable, married doctor will go to in order conceal an indiscretion. It then begs the Job-like question, “Where is God in a world which permits callow injustice?”
Charlie Chaplin reprises his much beloved ‘Little Tramp’ character who endures more than his share of comic hijinks as an old fashioned man in a modern world that seems more preoccupied with machinery and efficiency than it does with people.
This subtle and profound film from brother-director’s Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne tells the story of a meticulous woodworking instructor at a Belgian vocational school and the mysterious string of connections which links him to one of his pupils. A movie parable that is second-to-none in modern film history.
Made soon after the end of World War II, this Italian classic tells the story of an old man and his loyal canine companion who together face extreme economic hardship and uncertainty in the wake of a war which has left resources scarce.
This one-of-a-kind film experience takes its title from the Hopi Indian language, meaning “life out of balance.” Through a series of arresting images and a hypnotic score by Philip Glass, this film encourages the viewer to see the modern world in a new and inventive way.
Grapes of Wrath
Director John Ford’s take on the famed Dust Bowl-era novel by John Steinbeck follows the trials and tribulations of Joad clan as they attempt to survive and endure hardship and injustice from the plains of Oklahoma to the not-so-Promised Land of California. A true American classic.
Often cited as the “scariest movie ever made”, William Friedkin’s classic (based on a true story) not only delivers the thrills, but offers a compelling tale of the challenges of faith in extreme and unusual circumstances and in the process becomes as much of a human drama as a horror film.
An Autumn Afternoon
Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu was the poet laureate of family life and the tides of modernization. In this, his final film, he tells the poignant story of an aging widower who encourages his grown daughter to marry and start a life for herself. Simple in premise, though subtle and complex in its observation family relationships.
Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky’s account of a dying man as he looks back on his life strikes with the potency of an often repeated dream, weaving together memories, reminiscences, and images into a reflection of personal growth and a snapshot of mid-century Russian history.
The master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, returns to his favorite theme of the innocent man wrongfully accused of a crime. This time, the victim is a priest who must choose between fulfilling his spiritual vows or saving his own life.
The New World
Director Terrence Malick’s beautiful and poetic account of the founding of Jamestown and the early English colonizing of Virginia represents one of the cinematic high points of the last decade. This unforgettable film contrasts the serenity of nature with the sometimes unbridled excesses of “progress”.
This unique and unusual film from director John Houston and based on the novel by Flannery O’Connor, follows an uneducated but ambitious young Southerner who when faced with the hypocrisies of his community attempts to start a most peculiar church. Wise Blood is a wonderfully offbeat film that manages to uncover grace in the most unexpected ways, like all of O’Connor’s work.
The Seventh Seal
Ingmar Bergman’s masterful film is one of the great cinematic works to dramatize the quest for God in a world that seems to have gone mad. He uses the iconic image of a crusading knight playing chess with Death in order to buy time that he might find the answers to life and the mysteries of faith that he so deeply desires A milestone in film history and popular culture, this film has often been imitated and even parodied, but never matched.
Three Colors: Blue
Krzysztof Kieslowski’s masterpiece about freedom, loss, and reconciliation. It deals with a woman who attempts to withdraw from life after experiencing terrible tragedy, and how intersecting lives and selfless acts can help to renew one’s lease on life. Features beautiful cinematography, a stunning score, and wonderful lead performance by Juliette Binoche. In French with English subtitles. Viewer discretion advised.
Wings of Desire
This haunting film follows two angels wandering a divided, post-war Berlin. Invisible to humans, they offer comfort to those they encounter until one of them decides to experience the everyday joys of life as a mortal. Partially in German with English subtitles.
The Passion of Joan of Arc
A stunning and powerful account of the trial of St. Joan is a silent film produced in France in 1928. It is based on the record of the trial of Joan of Arc. The film was directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer and stars Renée Jeanne Falconetti. It is widely regarded as a landmark of cinema, especially for its production, its direction and Falconetti’s performance, which has been described as being among the finest in cinema history. Not to be missed.
This acclaimed masterpiece from director Akira Kurosawa tells the story of a low level bureaucrat who upon learning that he is sick and has little time left to live, sets out to discover what his life has meant and how he might be remembered. In Japanese with English subtitles.
A Man Escaped
This understated film from French master-filmmaker Robert Bresson details the imprisonment of a French resistance fighter during WWII and his attempts to escape. And while the film contemplates the realities of physical imprisonment we soon begin to contemplate the realities of spiritual imprisonment and freedom as well. French with English subtitles.
This 1941 screwball comedy classic ﬁnds a spoiled, socially conscious ﬁlmmaker take to the road as a hobo in search of what it means to be poor and how art might be used to bring joy to those in need.
A meticulous examination of the complexities of faith as it centers on a family in a small Danish village and how religious differences complicate the budding romance between the youngest son and a local girl. Surprises are in store when clashing views of faith come to heads on a long, dark night.