GOD ONLINE: Exploring media spirituality

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

Films for the mind

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On our third night looking at religious film review sites, we go intellectual with The Journal of Religion and Film.

JRF&F, as the journal abbreviates itself, goes deeper than other review sites. On this site, sponsored by the University of Nebraska, you’ll learn how to hear in cinema the echoes of beliefs and cultures — now aCinema Camera, 72dpind in the past.

A quick caveat: Get past the “ouch.” The bright red background of the homepage can be painful to look at. But inside, it’s simple black text on white.

You won’t find every film reviewed, just what the writers and editors think will bring out clear issues of belief. There’s a measured analysis of the anti-Islam film Fitna. There’s a troubled look at the different responses of Polish Jews — vengeful and survivalist — in Defiance. And a scalpel-like probe of There Will Be Blood reveals the spiritual innards of this tale of oil wells in the 1890s.

Some of the reviews will challenge you with their intellectual flourishes. In discussing The Dark Knight, for instance, Danny Fisher uses ten-dollar words like “eschewed” and “verisimilitude.” But he also shows how the various characters of the film bring out the beliefs of the Buddha and St. Augustine.

For some reason, the journal really likes the Sundance Film Festival, both in 2008 and 2009. But the JRF&F folks also reviewed some of the offerings at the alternative Slamdance Film Festival.

A lengthy archive helps you circle back to dozens of films you might have had questions about — from Antwone Fisher to Napoleon Dynamite to What the Bleep Do We Know?

Tomorrow night: Film reviews by industry insiders.

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Written by Jim Davis

July 9, 2009 at 4:35 am

Posted in dvds, faith, film, films

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