Just the other night I had to stay up late in order to go and collect my daughter when she returned from a school trip to London. As I was waiting I watched the movie Fast Girls on LoveFilm. It’s a film about a fictional sprint relay team, and their journey to the 2011 World Championships. After I’d seen it I thought I’d see what Mark Kermode thought of it…
I couldn’t agree more with Mr Kermode. I didn’t exactly go down the road skipping afterwards – but I did really like it, and like Mr Kermode I felt better for having watched it. I went to pick up Amy at midnight feeling a whole lot more alive. I find that good stories can do that. Bring me alive. In the same way that I find bad stories can suck the life from me. What makes you feel more alive? More hopeful? More energised? Any movies?
I guess I live vicariously, as they say, through the stories I read and watch. I remember coming out of a midnight showing of The Commitments feeling exhilarated, and continuing to feel that way over the next few days. I came out of Gladiator, Goldeneye, Pulp Fiction and The Great Gatsby feeling more alive. But it works the other way too. Movies have the power to suck the life out of me – to seriously confound, depress and frustrate me. I came out of Four Weddings and a Funeral wondering what all the fuss was about, and seriously wondering if I should continue paying good money to go and stare at the silver screen.
And whilst really loving The Bourne Identity I have to confess that I was left cold and slightly nauseous by the camera work on The Bourne Ultimatum, camera work that was applauded by most other people. I’m afraid I experienced the same sequel disappointment after seeing and being captivated by The Fellowship of the Ring. (Lord of the Rings 1). I found the following two films less and less interesting, whilst being aware that most other people were rating them as masterpieces. I’m afraid I have never got into Star Wars – any of them. Sorry. Nor the Toy Story trilogy. Sad isn’t it? Because these are great movies. To say I don’t like a film does not of course rate it as good or bad. But I do feel a terrible pressure to like these films, and that just adds to the frustration.
I remember having an epiphany moment when working in a cinema and watching Gone in Sixty Seconds, an action movie about stealing cars. I realised I had not read any reviews of the film and was suddenly not sure whether I was allowed to like it or not. As it happened I loved it and still do. And from that time on I have tried to avoid being too persuaded by critics hailing a movie as a masterpiece that I should love. So now I tell folks – decide for yourself. If you like a movie – like it. And don’t worry whether you are supposed to or not.
The Bible is jammed with stories that would make great films – comedies, dramas, action adventures, romances, even sci fi epics. Some we might like and connect with, some not. And that’s the nature of it – the Bible is a difficult read at times. Not always an easy ‘watch’. When a disciple called John was asked to eat the scroll of God’s word in the book of Revelation it tasted really good – but then gave him stomach ache. Author Eugene Peterson describes the Bible as a garden or a fairground that we cannot control – we are instead invited to enter it. You could also say the Bible is like a multiplex, crammed full of cinematic stories. We are offered tickets. Which movies will we watch?