Thursday, May 12, 2011

a theology for mad b*****ds

I went to see the Australian movie, Mad Bastards, over the weekend.

Set in the Kimberley, in Western Australia, it is a window into the life of indigenous people in Australia today. I went as a film reviewer, to write a 500 word film review for a Christian newspaper. That’s in process, but it sits alongside the ongoing work of the Spirit in my life. Ultimately, this is a personal blog, that marks my journey, so it’s important to note that I’m in a bit of hard patch, with too much work on my to do list, to really enjoy the month of May. Add in a sick child and ongoing homesickness (Yep, the fiddle is playing). And the recent article by Nicholas Rothwell in The Australian, which continues to grieve and astound me.

A crisis of grief is unfolding, a spiritual collapse so deep it cannot be held back. … Those watching struggle for words and fear they may be watching as an entire culture, acting collectively, destroys itself. (for more go here)

That quote just keeps on undoing me. It just goes against every thing I know and profess about God and life and resurrection. Can I call myself Christian in this Aussie land when this sort of thing is happening?

Anyhow, one of the best parts of the movie was the soundtrack – original – by Alex Lloyd and Pigram Brothers. Fabulous folk rock. And all through the week, I’ve been enjoying one song in particular, Hearts and minds.

From within, from without,
There is fear and there is doubt

Nothing’s simple, nothing’s clear
Whats (?) the words we need to hear

If we listen to the times
We can change your hearts and minds
We can change your hearts and minds
If we listen to the times

In your soul, the fire burns
round and round it spits and curls

In the flames, the truth may lie
Fumbling with the wrong and right

If we listen to the times
We can change your hearts and minds
We can change your hearts and minds
If we listen to the times

I was asked to lead a devotional today. The lectionary text for Sunday is John 10:1-10. I think there’s a link; between my sadness, the song, the movie and the Biblical text. For example shared themes of listening to and in change. A sense of the complexity of listening. That it takes time and requires discernment. A requirement of courage, for to listen is to lay aside what we’ve heard in the past, and to listen to today.

Posted by steve at 03:14 PM

Saturday, February 12, 2011

a theology for friend me? a review of social network

The Social Network
A film review by Rev Dr Steve Taylor

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee (in the Gospel of Mark), he saw Simon and his brother Andrew. Come, be my facebook friend, Jesus said, and you can welcome new members into my social network.  Later (in the Gospel of John) Jesus said, Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s facebook friends.  Such is the RFV, the Revised Facebook Version. (more…)

Posted by steve at 10:33 AM

Sunday, November 21, 2010

film review: eat, pray, love

Battling away today on a “theological” film review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, reminded me that I have failed to post my November film review, of the movie Eat, Pray, Love, (for Touchstone New Zealand Methodist magazine.) It has probably my most provocative opening sentence in a while.

“Indulgent, wealthy, tourism porn” would be a more accurate title for this movie. (more…)

Posted by steve at 06:20 PM

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Insatiable moon rising: film review

The Insatiable Moon is launched in New Zealand cinema’s today, while the UK premiere is in London screening at Cineworld, Haymarket on the 11th October at 7:30pm. (Tickets from the cinema.)  Do go and see it, it’s a grand mix of life, humour, spirituality and ethical dilemna.  (A list of New Zealand venues is here). Below is my Touchstone review (an interview with screenwriter Mike Riddell is here)

It has taken many a month for the moon to cast its golden glow on this Kiwi film. Mike Riddell, currently writer, and formerly Ponsonby Baptist church minister, wrote his first work of fiction in 1997.

Titled “The Insatiable Moon,” it introduces John, walking the streets of Ponsonby, with a commitment to bless every passing wall and bench and his friend Arthur, who believes he is the second son of God.  With their boarding house under threat from Ponsonby gentrification, Arthur senses a mission from God, first to save his psychiatric haven and second to shower his love on the Queen of Heaven.

Kiwi movies tend to be bred with a dark underbelly, from the haunted hills of “Vigil” to the secrets buried “In My Fathers Den.”  “The Insatiable Moon,” a film dealing with the clash between mental health and urban gentrification, has a similar potential. Happily, the movie demonstrates a simple commitment to bless contemporary life, infusing human pain and suffering with an earthy humour and gentle mystery.

The movie, directed by Mike’s wife Rosemary, includes a number of well-known Kiwi actors, including Rawiri Paratene (best known as Koro in “Whale Rider”) as Arthur and Sara Wiseman (Danielle in “Outrageous Fortune”) as Margaret the Queen of Heaven. However any Kiwi Oscars surely belong to Arthur’s boarding house companions, including Ian Mune, Lee Tuson and Rob McCully.

Two scenes – one pastoral, the other prophetic – remain etched in one’s memory long after the final credits roll. These scenes showcase Mike Riddell’s remarkable talent, the artist’s ability to sketch life, the mystic’s eye for the spiritual in the ordinary.

The first is the funeral of John (Mike Innes) and the pastoral drama created by the open mic and the pain of colliding narratives. It allows a superbly theological reflection on God and the suffering of being human. The scene is a must see for all those who stake allegiance to a God of love in a world of suffering.

The second is the public meeting, another collision of narratives, this time of developer with Ponsonby locals. Arthur’s entrance is superb, a powerful enactment full of strength, oratory and tenderness.  Another must see scene for all those who yearn for prophetic transformation in our urban communities today.

“The Insatiable Moon” debuted in July at the New Zealand Film Festival and becomes a general release at Rialto cinemas throughout New Zealand from October. Pleasingly, it gained commendation from the Mental Health Foundation. Less commendable is the efforts of the New Zealand Film Commission, who pulled their promised funding. This means that credits can only roll for the persistence of Mike and Rosemary and many other believers in the power of story and the potential of human creativity.

Nevertheless, “The Insatiable Moon”, casts a few shadows. Plot purists will point to a proliferation of characters that make for a slow paced beginning. Theologians will expect more evidence than a cold Kiwi pie as proof of resurrection. Ethicists will remain uneasy about the centrality of adultery for human transformation.

Gladly, such shadows seem to grow strangely dim in the light of the magic cast by “The Insatiable Moon” and it’s celebration of people, Ponsonby and human possibilities.

For another Kiwi take, go here.

Posted by steve at 06:20 AM

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Avatar film review

Each month I publish a film review, for Touchstone, which is the New Zealand Methodist magazine. Here is my review for February, on the movie Avatar. (Many more reviews, back to 2005, are here.)

“Avatar” is a blockbuster, set to sink “Titanic” as one of the highest earnings movies of all time. James Cameron, who directed “Titanic” and multiple editions of “Terminator”, is, well, back! (more…)

Posted by steve at 09:20 PM