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FIRST-PERSON: I love what a good movie can do

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (BP)–Many people think that the film critic’s job consists of nothing more than watching movies while eating Jujubes. All he really needs is the ability to form simple declarative sentences and a pillowy posterior.

Well, I’ll admit that it is easier commenting on the art of film than it is creating it. But it’s not always that simple to assemble those declarative sentences while avoiding the development of a pillowy posterior.

Confection treats aside, the reason I review films comes down to this: I love what a good movie can do. It can uplift, nurture or just take your mind off the troubles of the day. A good film is a parable that teaches while it entertains. And I love finding the good ones.

In Ecclesiastes 3 we are told that there is a time to laugh and a time to dance. I believe that means entertainment is an elemental part of life. But when I began reviewing films from a Christian perspective 15 years ago, it quickly became apparent that the content of a film was becoming as weighty as its artistic and technical elements.

In Psalm 101, David states, “I will set before my eyes no vile thing.” I would suggest, then, that the key words to keep in mind when movie hunting, as in any aspect of living, is to use discretion and discernment.

By providing parents and concerned moviegoers with the synopsis and content of new films, I’m attempting to furnish a tool that helps them make informed choices. The bottom line of my work is to remind my readers that truth is always found in God’s Word, while seldom in Hollywood’s product.

As the Movie Reporter, I find that no matter who I’m introduced to, or how interesting their occupation may be, the subject of movies quickly becomes the dominant theme of our conversation. “What did you think of [film of your choice]?” they ask. I wish I had the nerve to tell them, “Buy a subscription to my guide and find out.” But I admit, I do the same thing when introduced to a doctor. “Hey, Doc, why does it hurt when I do this?”

And since I suggest video alternatives to the new releases, another question soon crops up, “Where can we find the video alternatives?” These video suggestions contain the same theme or style, but lack the objectionable content of newer films. But although they are generally superior to those now showing in theaters, sometimes these alternatives can be difficult to locate.

Just in case you’re wondering the same thing, let me take this opportunity to recommend a couple of places where you can find quality videos. When looking online for films with moral or religious themes, check out www.crownvideo.com.

Crown Video is a Christian distribution company with a mandate to deliver high-quality video and DVD products that promote a Judeo-Christian worldview. They offer more than 1,200 titles, with access to hundreds more. The company is also one of western Canada’s leading video/DVD/CD-ROM replicators.

Another interesting video outlet is of a more secular nature, but a great place to find classics that may be hard to find elsewhere. Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee is a little hole-in-the-wall treasure trove, with more than 60,000 titles on hand. They have everything, including silent films, foreign films, documentaries and thousands of vintage TV shows. Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee will ship rentals to anywhere in the country. For more information or to order a catalog, call them at (818) 506-4242.

The motion picture industry has an enormous impact on our society. And even those who do not attend the cinema or own a television are finding that the media affects them as well. There is a need for a Christian examination of Hollywood fare, and someone should always point out what the film industry award ceremonies fail to — that content (the reason for the rating) has become as defining a factor in moviemaking as the technical and artistic aspects.

So, okay, I’ll admit, it beats working. But after 15 years of being asked what I think of “A Beautiful Mind” or “Scooby-Doo,” I remain convinced that I do what I’m supposed to do.
Philip Boatwright reviews films from a Christian perspective. For more information about his service, go to www.moviereporter.com.

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  • Philip Boatwright