Context definitely helps illuminate where Chris and I are coming from with The Passion. We spent a majority of our lives being taught the Christian faith and even believing in it ourselves. We both have gotten away from this and feel like we have seen the light in doing so. I know that I am happy to have moved away from religion. I consider it personally stifling and hollow. And when I think about believing in God or that Christ is my savior, I think its like a childhood fancy like believing in monsters or something. You know, I'm over it, and believing in it again would feel like moving backwards when I wanna go forward with my life. So, I think that Chris and I feel relieved to have moved away from the ideas we were taught as kids. Atheism is still very appealing to us. It may be hip within intellectual cultures, but it isn't hip in general. Religion still dominates a majority of this country and the world. And certainly, it is all around our family. Plus, I think that religious hypocrisy and religious violence has kinda destroyed the whole game for us. With the predominance of Christian hypocrites in this country, especially those in power like say, I don't know, Sarah Palin, we feel like Christianity has become mostly deleterious. In some ways, we are like less psychotic versions of Daniel Plainview. Religious hypocrisy gets under our skin and kinda spoils the whole thing for us. However, I know there are some great Christians out there (John and Jason) and I respect them supremely. Christ taught some beautiful messages that are actually in accordance with my own moral ideas. I like a Christian who believes in humility, forgiveness, and love because I believe in them too (aww yeah, bring on that hippy shit).
Anyway, what I wanna say is that Christianity isn't a bad thing. It's all the rotten apples who pretend to be Christian that give it a bad name. And I wanna say that I am personally an atheist, but not a militant atheist. I feel certain that there isn't a God, at least not the anthropomorphic dude in the clouds, and that Jesus was just a man (though a liberal and very wise man). However, I'm always willing to admit that I know nothing, just like people who do believe know nothing. We are all in the same ignorant boat.
The philosopher Georges Bataille in his book Inner Experience has a great passage that reads:
"Mockery! that one should call me pantheist, atheist, theist...But I cry out to the sky: 'I know nothing.' And I repeat in a comical voice: 'absolutely nothing'".
haha Brandon, I wasn't getting too serious was I? I didn't mean to be so, at least. I know no one's feelings are hurt on here. Mine certainly never are.
Brandon, you make all great points and you certainly come at everything with a level head and an even hand. It's nice.
When I saw The Passion in theaters I had to have been 14 at the time, so I watched it as a kid would. I think the rest of you all had to have seen it at an age that is closer to my own now, so you probably had more adult perspectives on it. At 14, I think I was in a confused stage about God and Christianity. I was starting to doubt, and that scared me. I thought that if God could hear my thoughts then I could be punished for questioning him. It's a frightening thing when you first start non-believing. The Passion did make me feel guilty when I saw it. Guilty for questioning the divinity of this man who suffered for me. And I didn't like it for that reason. It hit me on a visceral level that I felt was trying to evoke guilt from me. Also, I felt kinda sad watching it. Torture, no matter who the person is, makes me feel crestfallen about humanity and reminds me of all the suffering that people have dealt with in history and experience in the modern day. I think if I saw it now, I would feel a little sad. Jesus wasn't the son of God in my mind, but he was a man and its sad to see anyone tortured. But, I wouldn't feel guilty seeing it now. I would think it was trying to evoke guilt from me and I would dislike it for that reason, but I don't think it would have the same impact on me. It's important to remember the age I saw this at. You may have been 20, Brandon, but I was still a middle schooler.
I'm not a fan of gore dude. I can handle stylish gore (a la Kill Bill) or certain types of gore that aren't too nasty and just kinda cool. But, mostly I think gore is icky and I don't like it. I think that's why most of my favorite horror films are haunted house or ghost movies–they are bloodless. I think gore just unnerves me a little too much. It sticks in my head and makes me not want to eat for a while and I'm skinny enough as it is. But, I'll admit, gore is damn effective. It's meant to unnerve and it does.
Speaking of gore/non-gore, I watched Hawks' The Thing From Another World sunday night on TCM's Essentials Jr. (Bill Hader is the host–a cool and funny dude who knows his stuff). I loved it. It has all the Hawks signatures to it and is a pretty great Horror film to boot. It's a definite precursor to slasher films and of course the Alien series. The tension in the film is just terrific, and it packs some nice scares as well. It's just such a wonderfully scary premise and it's carried out by a true master of storytelling and a master of all genres.
Now, I've seen Carpenter's The Thing and I think that film is absolutely disgusting, which means it is doing something right. It's a nasty movie, in a good way. But, give me Hawks' The Thing any day over Carpenter's strictly on a gore/non-gore level. I don't like being grossed out. I like watching movies.
Also, Brando, I feel bad for going after Eastwood recently. I seriously love him and love his westerns. I don't know why I was trying to say that he didn't have a style or wasn't that great. I just was noticing that I had zero Eastwood films in any of my 2000s lists, and realized that I hadn't seen a film I liked by him since Unforgiven. I think I was trying to say that his recent fare doesn't seem to have that much distinctive style to me; they seem like someone else's films. And his recent fare has made me question whether he is a true master like a Scorsese or a Spielberg. He just hasn't been that consistent. Still, you're right, he is a born storyteller and there's nothing postmodern about him. He's an old-fashioned filmmaker. I will try to see the films you suggested and really give his non-western material another look. I don't think his non-western stuff is bad, I've just never brought myself to care about it. I'll try to do something about this.
Ben, I'll squeeze Black Death in amongst the parade of 30s films I gotta watch. It will certainly be a change of pace. I'm down to discuss.