Deja View

Hollywood has trained us to anticipate summers full of  action movies, goofy (raunchy?) comedies, and a few predictable romantic comedies.  I’ll no doubt cooperate by seeing several movies over the summer.  I’ve probably seen some of them before.

2 Much?

Film“There’s a lot of No. 2 coming to local movie screens this summer…The annual avalanche of sequels, remakes, reboots and franchise fodder proves once again that Hollywood plays it safe in the summer by counting on the tried and true.” (Dann Gire, “2 Much” in the Daily Herald, ” May 3, 2012)

Despicable Me 2, Grown-ups 2, RED 2, Smurfs 2. Star Trek 2, The Hangover 3 (I will ignore this just like I did the first two), Fast and Furious 6 (really?), Man of Steel (a.k.a. Superman) are just a handful of summer sequels.

It seems that there are more sequels, prequels, and re-makes than ever before.

I wonder…

…if our profit driven culture is crushing creativity.  In my opinion, movies featuring thoughtful and engaging stories are rare exceptions to special effects, lazy adolescent humor, and predictable plots.   I heartily support the former and studiously avoid the latter.  Hollywood seems to do exactly the reverse.

I wonder…

…if passively watching other people’s stories has dulled our ability or desire or imagine a new story.  Years ago, during a basketball practice carpool, my son and his friends spent the entire trip repeating and laughing over dialogue from The Simpsons.  I remember bouncing a challenge off of the rear view mirror: Why don’t you guys talk about your own lives instead of Bart Simpson’s?  They gave me the puzzled looks typical of 10-year-olds and returned to their hilarious recitations.  D’oh!

Of course, many talented artists continue to write and produce excellent stories in literature and film.  (I’m happy to report that my Simpsons quoting son now lives and writes quite some good stories of his own.)

There will always be compelling stories to tell.  I pray that we will not lose the eyes to see them or the skill and passion to tell them.

After all, we are created in the image of the One who wrote marvelous stories in the medium of human history.  Unlikely and complex heroes prevailed over trials and villains, but only when they relinquished their own strength and trusted in God.  The faith stories of Joseph, Moses, Ruth, Esther, and David are some of the greatest literature ever written.

God’s masterpiece is the overarching biblical story of God coming to earth as an unlikely hero, a carpenter from Nazareth, who saved the world by surrendering all of his power on a cross.  That was a masterful plot twist that no one, not even those to whom it had been prophesied, saw coming.

It is a story worth re-telling, and thankfully it is still being played out like personal sequels in the lives of those who follow Jesus. 

Do you think that cultural influences are dulling our ability to tell a good story?  What are some of your favorite movies?  What kind of story does your life tell?

16 thoughts on “Deja View

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  1. One of my favorite movies is “Facing the Giants.” It is about an ordinary Christian couple who go through struggles and yet their faith grows.stronger. The best part for me in the movie is when the couple tells God that they will love him even if things don’t go as they had hoped.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

    1. I think I’ve had a few of those “ok God, I’m sticking with you no matter what” moments myself:. And, as I think about it, they are the best parts:) Thanks Wendy!

  2. Great post! I often wonder the same thing, about the dulling of creativity in film-making. Perhaps our culture simply dictates it? I’m into films that make me think/ challenge me, but these aren’t always the ones which make money.
    I certainly agree with you about the life of Jesus being the most fascinating and gripping story of all!

  3. Thank you, Judy, for writing just the greatest things to help us think and explore our thoughts and hearts. I’ve heard that in order to create and write, that we need to read and perhaps watch movies or take in something visually as well. Maybe finding that balance between watching and reading and then creating something ourselves is what helps us.
    I watch a lot of older Disney movies, animated ones, because that’s what my daughter watches! I do like movies, if I get a chance to watch one and find that I also have to be careful, because they influence me / affect me.
    God bless you, Judy, and the beautiful story your life is telling!

    1. You make a very good point, Debbie. We do learn from reading and viewing others’ creative works. And I enjoy both, hopefully with discernment. I guess as one who likes to think, read, and write, I challenge myself to make sure I’m experiencing my own life in such a way as to have a story of my own to tell. Sometimes I’d rather read someone else’s:). I still enjoy Disney movies too. My kids are beyond them, so for me they are very nostalgic. Still love ‘me though. Have a great weekend, Debbie!

  4. Good choices Larry:). I loved North by Northwest too, but only vaguely remember the crop dusting plane scene. I always have a hard time identifying favorites – I like so many. Some that have really stuck in my mind over the years are “Amadeus”, “Crash”, “Toy Story”, well, that’s enough for now. And there are some just very satisfying movies like “An Affair to Remember”, “Sleepless in Seattle”, and “Return to Me”. And I always laugh at “Singin’ in the Rain”. Thanks Larry – have a great weekend!

  5. It appears Mr. Larry Who is a “Cary Grant” kind of guy! LOL! I admit I have a strange attraction to….James Bond; especially Pierce Brosnan. He had a great sense of humor; that rather dry English-Scotsman brogue’. My immediate family thinks it’s funny I watch them but the gadgets and short quips are hilarious…I will leave you with a trivia question…and no googling!

    According to Ian Fleming who wrote the Bond books, which one of the actors who have played James Bond did Fleming feel portrayed his idea of the real “James Bond” better than the others?

    Sean Connery
    George Lazenby
    Roger Moore
    Timothy Dalton
    Pierce Brosnan
    Daniel Craig

    1. Movie trivia – fun! My husband (a far more reliable James Bond guesser than I am) thinks it’s Timothy Dalton. We eagerly await the answer!

      1. Yes! you are correct! Most people automatically believe it was Sean Connery. Timothy Dalton turned it down a number of times considering replacing Connery was too hard of an act to follow. Once he played the role he brought it into more of a serious role; he is also very well trained in theatrics.

  6. Hi Judy! I just sat down for a break, after being in the kitchen all day–and your post is just what I wanted; I dare say this is my new favorite of yours. You’ve written so well, as always–with wonderful points. Personally, I’ve pretty much given up on the movie industry–it’s so rare that they come up with something that makes me think, feel deeply, or at least have me glued to the suspenseful story! I do think that Hollywood/TV/movies has inspired and challenged my writing to some extent–not that I care about commercial success, I don’t–but I would die of happiness if my yet-to-be-finished novel ended up as good as both the book and mini-series, “Lonesome Dove”. I love McMurtry’s full-bodied characters and the fact that the story is allowed to meander along–on screen as well as in the book. And I love your final point about God’s stories being Fabulous–and that we are His sequels!! Wowee-zowee! So, my dream and goal for my book, is that all the drama will serve to bring my main character, especially, to a revelation about Who God is (and as I write this, I’m seeing a pivotal scene where this could happen). Our lives are surely movies/books–and God offers each of us the opportunity for Jesus to redeem the earthly author, and all the major and minor “stars”. I’m envisioning a sell-out crowd, Judy!! God bless you BIG–have a terrific Memorial Day weekend–love, your sis Caddo

    1. Hi Caddo! I’m so glad to have served up something to read during your kitchen break:). Lonesome Dove is an excellent story – I agree. It’s been a while since I read it, but I remember that I really enjoyed it. Write your novel Caddo! Big blessings back to you, and have a wonderful weekend! Judy

  7. My favorite movies would include “North by Northwest,” “It Happened One Night,” “Shane,” “Hondo,” “Lilies of the Field,” “The Natural,” “Hoosiers,” “Casablanca,” “The African Queen,” “Big,” “My Cousin Vinnie,” and all W.C. Fields movies.

    My favorite movie scene is Cary Grant waiting along the road to meet someone in “North by Northwest.” Then a crop dusting plane appears in the sky and shoots a machine gun at him. It’s a scene I’ve watched over and over. Good storytelling.

    My life story would be boring because writers write and read, not much excitement there, except for the helicopter that just crash landed on the roof of our home. But then again, that requires me to tell a story.

      1. Well, Debbie, it really wasn’t a helicopter, it was a DeLorean from one of those “Back to the Future” movies. Here’s a bit of trivia, okay? The man who founded DeLorean cars, John DeLorean, was once a GM exec, a noted playboy, and then when his company went bankrupt, he ended up meeting Jesus and becoming a hung-ho Christian.

          1. Actually, the DeLorean was chasing a pterodactyl and would have caught it, if its carburetor belt would not have broken, but then again, that’s another story.

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