GOD ONLINE: Exploring media spirituality

Web sites, TV, films, books and the search for meaning.

Hollywood Jesus: Film reviews with a difference

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This week, God Online goes to the movies. Each night, we’ll look at a Web site or two that reviews movies from a religious-spiritual point of view.

Let’s start with Hollywood Jesus. This site is flamboyant, sharply written and forthright in its Christian orientation.

Run since 1998 by minister and media guy David BrAEN054uce, Hollywood Jesus keeps up with just about every title you could think up, and probably some you couldn’t. You’ll see popular titles like Ice Age and Dillinger. You’ll also see more obscure movies like Gigantic and Tokyo Sonata.

The reviews are literate and seasoned. They examine the movies in classical terms of style and content, without lacing the writers’ spiritual biases throughout the text. It’s mainly at the end that the writer adds the spiritual dimension.

And some of the reviews can be heartfelt and nuanced, as with of My Sister’s Keeper. There’s also a taut, gripping review of The Stoning of Soraya M., about an Iranian woman falsely accused of adultery.

Other reviews, though, seem to take the movies too seriously. The moronic Jack Black/Michael Cera comedy Year One is scrutinized with all the gravity of a scholarly text, both for its spoof on biblical stories and its absurdist humor.

Then there’s the wordiness. Each review took up to two Web pages, maybe to double the number of clicks. And there’s no print or single-page option.

Hollywood Jesus seems especially interested in sci-fi and fantasy, with lots of attention for Marvel Comics heroes, The Chronicles of Narnia and everything to do with The Lord of the Rings. The site has done much inside reporting on the upcoming LOTR prequel The Hobbit — and the 40-minute fan-produced film The Hunt for Gollum, released free on the Internet on May 3.

The site also has reviews of DVDs, TV shows, books, even comix and videogames. And no, it’s not all for some spiritual moral. As in all pop culture, sometimes it’s meaningful; sometimes it’s just for fun.

Tomorrow night: A look at an interfaith movie site.

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Written by Jim Davis

July 7, 2009 at 4:01 am

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