by John-Brian Paprock
The media of moving pictures has been my baby sitter - when I was a toddler, a means of celebration, a source of late night comfort, a mechanism for socializing, a vehicle for dating conversation, and a vocabulary of symbols and storylines to help me see and understand the psyche, the soul of humanity. I have been inspired and naseated, confounded and surprized, bored and dazzled.
I have watched the worst and have learned the lows of schlockery, sometimes clever schlockery, but schlockery nonetheless. I have watched the best and found myself caught up in the heights of human expression, of human perception and ingenuity.
All of my favorite movies have quality technical and artistic merits. All of them have stories and images that can stir the soul and performances that reach into the heart of humanity, exposing the most vulnerable places in the depths of existence.
My least favorite are arbitors for banal and superficial marketing ploys, designed to hookwink the audience as the lights dim. They are the movies where the chomping of popcorn is an eager diversion from the inane babble scripted (or at least recorded) for the tawdry performances of over-paid actors. They lack most of the qualities of technical expertise and choose product placement over artistic nuance.
I am honored to share interest in media with my wife. My father-in-law was a union projectionist, showing films in many of the great cinema theaters of Milwaukee. He also had a stint with Disney.
When the American Film Institute came out with its 100 best films in 100 years, we discovered there were films we had missed and went out of our way to see them all. Then we expanded to other film lists and have seen and discussed movies from these lists of great movies - both foreign and domestic.
One of our favorite lists, perhaps because of our other interests, has been the list of of the Arts and Faith's 100 Most Spiritual Films (artsandfaith.com/t100/).
It is from the increased interest in these Spiritual Films that brings me to this blog. There are so many very very good films that have spiritual power and story and, perhaps, a bit of God and humanity as a reflection of the constant ebb and flow of the profane and the divine - good for the health of our souls and our minds as we come to greater spiritual awareness.
I hope to make the case to anyone reading this blog which movies are worth the effort and time to experience and which, regardless of how spiritual the marketing, should be avoided.
Questions, comments and suggestions are encouraged.