New to our church 10 years ago, my husband and I wanted to get to know more people. We loved movies, so we happily signed up for a movie group. Members have come and gone, but we still belong to that group. While some of the movies have been great, it’s been even more rewarding to get to know people beyond quick chats after church.
Why form a movie group? Some are looking for a social outing or a chance to discuss the art of filmmaking. Others see it as a way to evangelize, inviting their non-Christian friends and finding discussion points that lead to spiritual questions.
For our group, a gathering of film lovers, the best movies are not always the “fun” movies. We look for films that provoke thought about difficult issues or characters who make unusual choices. These movies prompt us to consider our own beliefs and culture from a new perspective.
Open-ended storylines, in which questions go unanswered, are easier to discuss than those that are neatly wrapped up when the closing credits run. Strong characterization is vital in helping us identify with characters, and as we discuss them we learn more about each others’ lives and experiences.
When forming a movie group, first consider your purpose. If you want a fun social gathering rather than an intense discussion, find others who seek the same.
On the flip side, if you prefer movies that are artistically strong but may include controversial or offensive aspects, be sure that other members are on board. The first movie our group saw was The Ice Storm, which, though beautifully rendered, includes many disturbing or offensive scenes. It ultimately, and effectively, reveals the destructive emptiness of the drug use and sexual “freedom” of the ’70s. This film inspired a long and deep discussion. It could also have offended and alienated members of our group.
Movies have enormous influence over our culture, and they represent an important art form for this generation. Christians should be aware of the influence of film, taking opportunities to encourage excellence and using discernment as we examine different representations of our world.2007 DVD Suggestions for Movie GroupsTHE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
Will Smith portrays a homeless father who does whatever he can to make a life for his young son, highlighting the predicament of men with families who find themselves without a place to live. (Sony)AWAY FROM HER
A seemingly perfect couple face Alzheimer’s as the wife moves into a care facility. His loneliness and her confusion create a melancholy story with themes of guilt and grace. Rated R for language and sexual situations. (Lionsgate)LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
This violent World War II movie recounts the American capture of Iwo Jima from the perspective of the outnumbered, outgunned Japanese defenders. (Warner)
Will Ferrell stars as an isolated IRS auditor who finds that his life is being narrated, in a worrying direction, by an unknown, unseen author. This humorous, offbeat film muses on free will and the meaning of life. (Sony)