GOD ONLINE: Exploring media spirituality

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

Movies, the Beliefnet way

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Beliefnet’s movie site is nicely packaged, with a rather sizable flaw. It has not only the usual film reviews, but also features like top inspirational films and best Jewish movie characters.

The site even shows sSlate, 72dpiome whimsy, like a list of sci-fi’s greatest spiritual figures — not only the obvious like Morpheus from The Matrix and Yoda from Star Wars, but surprises like John Locke from Lost. (Not strictly a movie, but still fun.) One misstep: The article doesn’t mention that Locke’s 17th century namesake — with his belief that basic rights come from God, not government — inspired the Founding Fathers of the American Revolution.

The flaw? The movie reviews themselves. They’re done by self-titled “Movie Mom” Nell Minow, who grades each film on its suitability for families. And “grades” isn’t a metaphor: She marks each review teacher style, with a big red letter drawn in a circle. One nice touch, though: the movie trailer with each review.

Minow is also generous in her writing. In her two-dimensional review of Knowing, the doomsday thriller starring Nicholas Cage, she has the grace to link to Roger Ebert’s deeper, more philosophical review.

Beliefnet might seem a little conceited for giving out its own awards for spiritually themed films, but the list of judges is pretty eclectic. And the choices are interesting: Wall-E for best picture, Queen Latifah in The Secret Life of Bees for best performance.

Want yet more variety? Cast your vote on the most controversial movie ever. Your choices include Submission, The Exorcist, Birth of a Nation, The Last Temptation of Christ and The Passion of the Christ. My choice? Here’s a hint: Which film got its producer shot to death in public?

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Written by Jim Davis

July 8, 2009 at 2:38 am

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