Pure vanilla post for now: embarrassingly flimsy. But if I wait until it's all fancy and everything, it'll never get posted. I'll flesh it out over the next week or two. For now, just a list of 2011 Soul Food films, accompanied by their Movie City News and Jeffry Overstreet's rankings. Not the top films of the year, not my favourite films of the year: but the films I'd cover in my Soul Food book if I started writing it again - each has some particular spiritual angle. I haven't seen them all: thanks to Ebenezer Scrooge, I saw fewer films last year than I had in more than a dozen prior years. But for now I'll say, the boldfaced ones are Soul Food classics: a bumper crop in any year!
SOUL FOOD MOVIES 2011
BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK
Unassuming documentary about an unassuming man may end up my favourite film of 2011. I don't expect it to be anyone else's, but... It got to me.
Reportedly balanced study of mid-century conservative Christian culture.
MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE
MCN 10, JO 6
Cult story has appeal for some Christian cinephiles.
DOGVILLE's one of my three favourite films, but I honestly don't know if I can see another new film from Lars Von Trier after MANDERLAY and ANTICHRIST. But this one's getting praise that eluded those: study of clinical depression and the end of the world.
THE MILL AND THE CROSS
MCN 77, JO 3
Wow. Takes us inside Breughel's painting. VANCOUVERITES: DON'T MISS ITS JAN 6-12 RUN AT VANCITY!
MYSTERIES OF LISBON
Multi-hour story spans a life, draws comparisons with Les Miserables, features a priest. (Oooh, now THAT'S a write-up!...)
OF GODS AND MEN
MCN 42, JO 4
Masterpiece about Algerian monks. (Look, I told you this was gonna be cursory for now...)
People say, better than expected.
TREE OF LIFE
MCN 1, JO 2
Cannes winner. Best Terrence Mallick since DAYS OF HEAVEN.
Seeing this tomorrow. Not showing up on any lists, but everyone who sees it tells me it's swell, and definitely Soul Food.
WRESTLING FOR JESUS
Overstreet: "Getting to know men who stage wrestling matches in Jesus’ name, Nathan Clarke has made the most thoughtful documentary about evangelical Christianity in America I’ve ever seen. He’s respectful, even-handed, and fearless in provoking questions. It’ll spark discussions about masculinity, marriage, family, and the definition of 'calling.' Moreover, he shows us how dramatic conversions and theatrical Christianity can often distort the Gospel or leave it behind entirely."
SON OF MAN
An all-time favourite of mine, a South African take on the life of Jesus that played VIFF a few years back. Waited forever for it to become available on DVD: 2011's the year it became viewable for Canadians, streaming, on Netflix. Watch it!