Films since last time: Surfing and Jesus: North America in two moves.
(This blog post is in English as a courtesy to mr. John Campea who kindly set his movie free on the internet and allowed me to see it)
Prince of Peace, God of War
My relationship with religion isn´t an uncommon one in Norway, a country where, if you´re born here, being non-christian is an active choice and going to church is a force of habit. I left the church at age 16, because I (unlike many others) felt I had to believe in christianity to remain part of it, and because of its discrimination of homosexuals. I consider myself an agnostic, and feel, like everyone else, that I´ve found the answer to most of life´s bigger questions.
I have, however, always been a fan of Jesus, Christ or not. It might be my predominantly christian culture kicking in, but it´s hard to disagree with much of what he is credited as saying. Although I no longer consider myself a pacifist his words about loving one´s enemy and turning the other cheeck always made sense to me. Violence might in some instances end a problem, but it solves nothing. People like Gandhi and MLK knew this and were more powerful to me than any politician as a result.
I´ve always wondered how the christian fundamentalist movements (in the US in particular) managed to reconcile these ideals with actively going to war (or shouting death threats to Barack Obama for that matter), but no one seemed to be interested in discussing these questions.
Thankfully there´s Prince of Peace, God of War, the first movie by founder and editor of the Movie Blog, John Campea. The Movie Blog should be familiar to long time readers of Fred Ut, Sønn, and his great podcast, the Movie Blog Uncut, is still going strong. Initially it seems hard to reconcile the profanity-laden podcast with a movie that´s probably best suited for church coffee, but besides being a former b-boy and a practising martial artist Campea has a background in theology.
As a movie the tone of PoPGoW is still, pedestrian even. There´s certainly plenty of opportunity to cross-cut to examples of the atrocities of war, but Campea makes this a movie of words rather than pictures. As a result there´s actually a lot of food for thought here, and at times you feel like you´re studying rather than watching a movie. I´m not sure if Campea proves himself as a filmmaker here, but my fascination with the discussion made me forget that I was watching a bunch of old(ish) white men in offices talking to the camera. Your mileage may vary.
When Campea chooses to insert an image here and there it sometimes feels ineffective, random even. His over-reliance on text on the screen also feels heavy-handed at times (although the reveal of the Hitler-quote was very well done). Isn´t there any way of showing instead of telling? I also feel it was a mistake to put himself on the screen, to me it compromises the even-handed tone of the film somewhat.
But it´s so rare to see something this substantial, balanced and thorough. This film made me smarter, and it´s hard to give a higher commendation than that. John Campea is currently working on an R-rated comedy. As far as I know Jesus isn´t in it.
ALSO: The Endless Summer
A movie exactly like PoPGoW in that nothing much happens, but in contrast this is all style; A couple of surfers go around the world and…well…surf. Although it´s from 1966 there´s a charming naïvete to it, the soundtrack is surftastic and it´s slight political incorrectness in handling the trip to Africa («Like good africans the natives decided to throw some rocks…) excusable. It´s also the best hangover movie ever made. You´ll fall asleep but you´ll smile doing so.