Friday, September 21, 2018


For several years I worked on a book about films and faith. Soul Food Movies: A Guide to films with a spiritual flavour. After writing well over 100,000 words, I had to set it aside and focus my attention on my theatre company, and that was that.

As I went, I posted the various pieces on this blog.  Here are links to most of those.  I've also added titles of other "soul food" movies I didn't manage to write about then, or that I've discovered since - but because I haven't written about them, they won't have links.  

These aren't necessarily the greatest or most-recommended movies that have some sort of soul food angle. They're just the ones I got to before I had to abandon the project. But there are a lot of my own personal favourites in the mix. I'll boldface those, just so you know.

It only makes sense when you look at it backwards. 
Too bad we got to live it forwards.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, USA, Stanley Kubrick, screenplay with Arthur C. Clarke, from Clarke’s “The Sentinel”)

21 Grams (2003, USA, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)
(also here)

3 Godfathers (1948, USA, John Ford)

49 Up (2005, UK, Michael Apted)

49th Parallel (1941, UK, Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger screenplay, Ralph Vaughan Williams score)

Let's play “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” 
Who wrote the phrase "No man is an island"? 
John Donne? John Milton? John F. Kennedy? Jon Bon Jovi?

Jon Bon Jovi. Too easy. 

And, if I may say so, a complete load of bollocks. 
In my opinion, all men are islands. I like to think I’m Ibiza.

ABOUT A BOY (2002, UK/USA/France/Germany, Chris & Paul Weitz, Peter Hedges screenplay, Nick Hornby novel)

ABOUT SCHMIDT (2002, USA, Alexander Payne, Louis Begley novel)

Acts of the Apostles ("Atti degli apostoli" 1969, Italy/France/Germany/Spain/Tunisia, Roberto Rossellini)

ADAM'S APPLES (“Adams æbler” 2005, Denmark/Germany, Anders Thomas Jensen)

The Addiction (1995, USA, Abel Ferrara, Nicholas St. John screeplay)

AFTER LIFE (“Wandafuru raifu” 1998, Japan, Hirokazu Kore-eda)

Agnes of God (1985, USA, Norman Jewison, John Pielmeier play and screenplay)

Amadeus (1984, USA, Milos Forman, Peter Shaffer play and screenplay)

Amen. (2002, France/Germany, Costa-Gavras)

That's the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid. Ever. Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it... and my heart is going to cave in.

AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999, USA, Sam Mendes)

Amistad (1997, USA, Steven Spielberg)

...And God Spoke (1993, USA, Arthur Borman)

Angel-A (2005, France, Luc Besson)

Amazing Grace (2006, UK/USA, Michael Apted)

Amelie (“Le Fabuleux destin d’Amelie Poulain” 2001, France, Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

Anchoress (1993, Belgium/UK, Chris Newby)

I'll never paint again. Because it's of no use to anyone. That's all. 

ANDREI RUBLEV (“The Passion According To Andrei” 1966, USSR, Andrei Tarkovsky)

Angels With Dirty Faces (1938, USA, Michael Curtiz)

Antkeeper (1966, USA, Rolf Forsberg)

Apocalypto (2006, USA, Mel Gibson)

The Apostle (1997, USA, Robert Duvall)

Around The Bend (2004, USA, Jordan Roberts)

I am very, very sorry 
for the terrible distress that I have caused you.
I am very, very sorry...
Atonement (2007, UK/France, d. Joe Wright)

AU HASARD BALTHAZAR ("Balthazar, By Chance" 1966, France, Robert Bresson)

Auto Focus (2002, USA, Paul Schrader)

Babette's Feast (“Babettes gæstebud” 1987, Denmark, Gabriel Axel, Isak Dinesen story)

BAD LIEUTENANT (1992, USA, Abel Ferrara)

Barabbas (1962, Italy, Richard Fleischer, Christopher Fry screenplay, Par Lagerkvist novel)

BARCELONA (1994, USA, Whit Stillman)

Barabbas (1962, Richard Fleischer, Christopher Fry screenplay from Par Lagerkvist novel)

Becket (1964, UK/USA, Peter Glenville, Jean Anouilh play)

THE BELIEVER (2001, USA, Henry Bean)

Ben-Hur (1959, USA, William Wyler, Karl Tunberg screenplay from Lew Wallace novel)

THE BIG COUNTRY (1958, USA, William Wyler)

The Big Fisherman (1959, USA, Frank Borzage, Lloyd C. Douglas novel)

We talked about Christ.
About Christ! Did you mention what line of industrial lubricant Jesus uses?
THE BIG KAHUNA (1999, USA, John Swanbeck, Roger Rueff screenplay)

BIG NIGHT (1996, USA, Stanley Tucci & Campbell Scott)

The Big Lebowski (1998, USA, Joel and Ethan Coen)
Bill Cunningham New York (2010, USA, Richard Press)

Black Robe (1991, Canada/Australia, Bruce Beresford, Brian Moore screenplay/novel)

Blade Runner (1982, USA, Ridley Scott)

Black Snake Moan (2007, USA, Craig Brewer)

Blood Simple (1984, USA, Joel & Ethan Coen)

I could never get used to that part of the job. The power and the glory. The threat of divine vengeance. 
But I persevered. I was about my Father’s business.
It was the morning of December 31st, 1999 when I returned, at last, 

to judge the living and the dead. 
Though still, and perhaps always, I had my doubts.
Book of Life (1998, France/USA, Hal Hartley)

The Bourne Identity / Supremacy / Ultimatum (2002/2004/2007, USA, Doug Liman / Paul Greengrass)

Breach (2007, USA, Billy Ray)

Breaking The Waves (1996, Denmark, Lars von Trier)
BROADCHURCH: SEASON 1 (2013, UK, Chris Chibnall etc)

Broadway Danny Rose (1984, USA, Woody Allen)

BROOKLYN (2015, UK/etc, John Crowley)

BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON (1972, Italy/England, Franco Zeffirelli, screenplay with Lina Wertmuller)

Bruce Almighty (2003, USA, Tom Shadyac)

Bull Durham (1988, USA, Ron Shelton)

The Camden 28 (2007, USA, Anthony Giacchino)

Cat People (1942, USA, Jacques Tourneur, Val Lewton / DeWitt Bodeen screenplay)
Cat People (1982, USA, Paul Schrader, screenplay w/ Alan Ormsby, DeWitt Bodeen story)

THE CELEBRATION ("Festen" 1998, Denmark, Thomas Vinterberg)

Central Station (“Central do Brasil” 1998, Brazil/France, Walter Salles)

Sometimes God likes to put two guys in a paper bag and just 
let ‘em rip.

CHANGING LANES (2002, USA, Roger Michell)

CHARIOTS OF FIRE (1981, UK, Hugh Hudson)

Children of Men (2006, UK/USA, Alfonso Cuaron, P.D. James novel)

Chocolat (2000, USA/UK, Lasse Hallström)

The Chosen (1981, USA, Jeremy Kagan)

Close-Up ("Nema-ye Nazkid" 1990, Iran, Abbas Kiarostami)

I decided I needed a complete make-over, 
except this time I'd make-over my soul.
CLUELESS (1995, USA, Amy Heckerling)

Cold Heaven (1990, USA, Nicolas Roeg, Brian Moore novel)

Le Confessionnal (1995, Canada, Robert Lepage)

Cool and Crazy ("Heftig Og Begeistret" 2001, Norway/Sweden, Knut Erik Jensen)

Cool Hand Luke (1967, USA, Stuart Rosenberg)

Copying Beethoven (2006, USA/Germany/Hungary, Agnieszka Holland)


Cry, The Beloved Country (1995, South Africa / USA, Darrell Roodt, Alan Paton novel)

A Cry In The Dark (1988, Australia, Fred Schepisi)

You could learn a lot from children.
They believe in things in the dark, although we tell them it's not so.
Maybe we've been fooling them.
Curse of the Demon ("Night of the Demon" 1957, UK, Jacques Tourneur)

Dancer in the Dark (2000, Denmark, Lars von Trier)

Day of Wrath (“Vredens dag” 1943, Denmark, Dreyer)

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951, USA, Robert Wise, screenplay Edmund H. North, story Harry Bates)

DAYS OF HEAVEN (1978, USA, Malick)
DEAD MAN WALKING (1995, USA, Robbins)

Dead Poets Society (1989, USA, Peter Weir)

Dear Wendy (2005, Denmark, Thomas Vinterberg, Lars von Trier screenplay)

The Death of Mr Lazarescu ("Moartea domnului Lazarescu" 2005, Romania, Cristi Puiu)

The Decalogue ("Dekalog" 1989, Poland, Kieslowski)

Le Diable Probablement ("The Devil Probably" 1977, France, Robert Bresson)

Diary of a Country Priest (1950, France, Bresson)

Divided We Fall ("Musime Si Pomohat" 2000, Czech Republic, Jan Hrbejk)

DOGVILLE (2003, Denmark/USA, von Trier)

Doubt (2008, USA, John Patrick Shanley)

THE DREAMLIFE OF ANGELS (France, 1998, Erick Zonka)

The Elephant Man (1980, USA, David Lynch)
The End Of The Affair (1955, UK, Dmytryk)
The End Of The Affair (1999, USA, Jordan)
Europa 51 (1952, Italy, Rossellini)

Everything Is Illuminated (2005, USA, Liev Schreiber, Jonathan Safran Foer novel)

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005, USA, Scott Derrickson)

The Exorcist (1973, USA, William Friedkin)

The Eyes of Tammy Faye (USA, 2000, Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato)

Fearless (1993, USA, Peter Wier)

Fiddler on the Roof (1971, USA, Norman Jewison)

FIELD OF DREAMS (1989, USA, Phil Alden Robinson, W.P. Kinsella novel)

Fight Club (1999, USA, David Fincher, Chuck Palahniuk novel)

Flatliners (1990, USA, Joel Schumacher)

The Flowers of St Francis (“Francesco, guillare di Dio” / “Francis, God’s Jester” 1950, Italy, Roberto Rossellini, screenplay with Federico Fellini)

Forgiveness (2004, South Africa, Gabriel)
Francesco (1989, Italy/Germany, Cavani)
Francis of Assisi (1961, USA, Curtiz)
The Fugitive (1947, USA/Mexico, John Ford)
The Funeral (1996, USA, Abel Ferrara)

Gates of Heaven (1980, USA, Errol Morris)

GEORGE WASHINGTON (2000, USA, David Gordon Green)

God Told Me To (“Demon” 1976, USA, Larry Cohen)

GODSPELL (1973, USA, Greene)

The Gospel According to Vic ("Heavenly Pursuits" 1985, UK, Charles Gormley)

The Green Mile (1999, USA, Frank Darabont, from Stephen King novel)

The Green Ray ("Le Rayon verte" "Summer" 1986, France, Rohmer)

GROUNDHOG DAY (1993, USA, Harold Ramis)

Hail, Caesar! (2016, USA, Joel and Ethan Coen)
Hail Mary ("Je Vous Salue, Marie" 1985, France, Godard)

Hardcore (1979, USA, Schrader)

Do you ever visit the people you save?
Are you crazy?
Go visit her. The woman you almost saved. Never stop saving them.

HAWAII, OSLO (2004, Norway, Erik Poppe)

Heaven (2002, Germany, Tom Tykwer, Kieslowski/Pieskowicz screenplay)

Hell House (2001, USA, Ratliff)
A HIDDEN LIFE (2019, USA, Terrence Malick)
The Hiding Place (1975, USA, Collier)
Higher Ground (2011, USA, Vera Farmiga, Carolyn S. Briggs memoir)
THE HOMESMAN (2014, USA, Tommy Lee Jones)

Homicide (1991, USA, David Mamet)

House of Sand and Fog

THE HUNT ("Jagten" 2012, Denmark/Sweden, Thomas Vinterberg)

I Confess (1953, USA, Alfred Hitchcock)

I Walked With a Zombie (1943, USA, Jacques Tourneur, Lewton/Siodmak/Wray screenplay)

Doesn’t it make you furious when they walk all over you this way?
No. I can’t afford to hate people. I haven’t got that kind of time.
IKIRU (1951, Japan, Akira Kurosawa)

In A Better World (2010, Denmark, Susanne Bier)
IN BRUGES (2008, UK/Belgium, McDonagh)
In Your Hands (2004, Denmark, Olesen)
Into Great Silence (2005, France, Gröning)
INTO THE WILD (2007, USA, Penn)

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946, USA, Frank Capra)

Italian For Beginners (2000, Denmark, Scherfig)
Jacob's Ladder (1990, USA, Lyne)
Jesus Christ, Superstar (1973, USA, Jewison)
JESUS OF MONTREAL (1989, Canada, Denys Arcand)
Jesus Of Nazareth (1977, UK/Italy, Zeffirelli)

Do you believe in God?
I believe in myself.
What does that mean?
I have confidence in myself.
I've been doing some soul searching lately, asking myself some pretty tough questions. You know what I found out? I have no interest in myself. I start thinking about myself, I get bored out of my mind.
JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO (1990, USA, John Patrick Shanley)

The King (2005, USA/UK, James Marsh, w/ Milo Addica)

LADY BIRD (2017, USA, Greta Gerwig)
Lars and the Real Girl (2007, USA, Gillespie)

The Last Days of Disco (1998, USA, Whit Stillman)


Why didn't you tell me there were mysteries?
David, my whole life has been about a mystery.
No! You stood in that church and explained them away! Dad, I've been taken with some sort of otherness, and I don't know what to do. We've lost our dreams. And they come back, and we don't know what they mean.
The Last Wave (1977, Australia, Peter Wier)

Leon Morin, Priest (1961, France, Melville)
Lilies Of The Field (1963, USA, Nelson)
LOVE & MERCY (2014, USA, Bill Pohlad)
THE MATRIX (1999, USA, Wachowski)

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (2005, USA, Andrew Adamason)

LITTLE CHILDREN (2006, USA, Todd Field, Tom Perrotta novel)

If people think that makes me weak... or mad... so be it. That is the path I am committed to. To love the sinner, but hate the sins. To assume the best in people, and not the worst. To believe that anyone, no matter how evil, can be redeemed... eventually.
LONGFORD (2006, UK/USA, Tom Hooper, Peter Morgan screenplay)

The Lord Of The Rings (2001-2003, New Zealand/USA, Jackson)
Magnolia (1999, USA, P.T. Anderson)

A Man Escaped (1956, France, Robert Bresson)

A Man For All Seasons (1966, USA, Zinnemann)
A Man For All Seasons (1988, USA, Heston)

The Man Who Planted Trees ("L'homme qui plantait des arbes," 1987, Canada, Frederic Back

The Man Without A Past (2002, Finland, Kaurismaki)

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE (2004, USA/UK, Michael Radford)

Of course there’s a God! We all basically know there is.
I know no such thing.
Of course you do! When you think to yourself 

— and most of our waking life is taken up thinking to ourself — 
you must have that feeling that your thoughts aren’t entirely wasted, 
that in some sense they are being heard. 
I think it's this sensation of silently being listened to with total comprehension 
that represents our innate belief in a supreme being, an all–comprehending intelligence. 
What it shows is that some kind of belief is innate in all of us. 
At some point most of us lose that, after which it can only be regained by a conscious act of faith.
And you’ve experienced that?
No, I haven’t. I hope to someday.
METROPOLITAN (1990, USA, Whit Stillman)

The Mill And The Cross (2011, Poland, Lech Majewski)
The Miracle Maker (2000, UK/USSR, Hayes/Sokolov)
THE MISSION (1986, UK, Roland Joffé)

LES MISERABLES (1998, UK/Germany/USA, Bille August)

Molokai: The Story Of Father Damien (1999, Belgium/Australia, Paul Cox)
Monsieur Vincent (1947, France, Cloche)
Monsignor Quixote (1987, UK, Bennett)

MOST ("The Bridge" 2003, USA, Bobby Garabedian)

MY NIGHT AT MAUD'S ("Ma Nuit chez Maud" 1969, France, Eric Rohmer)

The Neon Bible (1995, UK, Terence Davies)

NEITHER HEAVEN NOR EARTH (2015, France/Belgium, Clément Cogitore)
The New World (2005, USA, Terrence Malick)
The Night Of The Hunter (1955, USA, Charles Laughton)
The Ninth Day (2004, Germany, Volker Schlondorff)

Not Of This World ("Fuoiri Dal Mondo" 1999, Italy, Giuseppe Piccioni)

O Father, we ask that you deliver this woman from sin. 
Destroy it by the spirit of God.
Heal her through and through, including her heart. 

Make her a new creature in Christ. 

O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? (2000, USA, Joel and Ethan Coen)

Of Gods and Men (2010, France, Xavier Beauvois)
On The Waterfront (1954, USA, Kazan)
Open City ("Roma, città aperta" Rome, Open City" 1946, Italy, Rossellini)

Open Your Eyes (“Abre los ojos” 1997, Spain/France/Italy, Alejandro Amenabar)

Ordet (1955, Denmark, Dreyer)
Ostrov ("The Island" 2006, USSR, Pavel Lungin)

The Painted Veil (2006, USA, John Curran, W. Somerset Maugham novel)

Paisan (1946, Italy, Rossellini)

Pale Rider (1985, USA, Clint Eastwood)

PAN'S LABYRINTH (“El Labertinto del fauno,” 2006, Mexico/Spain/USA, Guillermo del Toro)

Parable (1964, USA, Rolf Forsberg)

The Passion Of Joan of Arc (1928, France, Carl Theodor Dreyer)

I don't know what all of this means, but it's got to mean something. Don't you see that?
It makes sense. It's got to be a sign.
Personal Velocity (2002, USA, Rebecca Miller)

Phone Booth (2002, USA, Joel Schumacher)

The Potting Shed (1961, USA, Paul Bogart, Graham Greene play)
Power and the Glory (1959, USA, Carmen Capalbo Graham Greene novel)
Power and the Glory (1961, USA, Marc Daniels, Graham Greene Novel)

The Princess and the Warrior ("Der Krieger und die Kaiserin" 2000, Germany, Tom Tykwer)

La Promesse ("The Promise" 1996, Belgium, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006, Gabriele Muccino, Steve Conrad screenplay)

The Quiet American (1958, USA, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Graham Greene novel)
The Quiet American (2002, USA/Germany/Australia, Phillip Noyce, Graham Greene novel)

The Rapture (1991, USA, Tolkin)

Requiem (2006, Germany, Hans-Christian Schmid)

Revanche (2008, Austria, Götz Spielmann)

A River Runs Through It (1992, USA, Robert Redford, Norman Maclean novella)

Romero (1989, USA, Duigan)

The Rookie (2002, USA, John Lee Hancock)

Rosetta (1999, Belgium, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)

What can I do? What can I do? 
Come on. Help me. Please. Just this once.
I'll keep on running, okay? 

I'm waiting... I'm waiting... I'm waiting... I'm waiting...
RUN LOLA RUN ("Lola Rennt" 1998, Germany, Tom Tykwer)

The Sacrifice ("Offret" 1986, Sweden, Tarkovsky)

Saving Grace (1985, USA, Robert M. Young, Celia Gittelson novel)

SCHINDLER'S LIST (1993, USA, Steven Spielberg)

The Sea Inside ("Mar Adentro" 2004, Spain/France/Italy, Alejandro Amenabar, wr Amenabar & Mateo Gil)

A Serious Man (2009, USA, Coen)
The Seventh Seal (1956, Sweden, Bergman)

Shadowlands (1985, UK, Norman Stone, William Nicholson screenplay/stage play)
SHADOWLANDS (1993, UK, Richard Attenborough, William Nicholson screenplay/stage play)

Shane (1953, USA, George Stevens)

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994, USA, Frank Darabont, Stephen King story)

Shotgun Stories (2007, USA, Nichols)

Signs (2002, USA, M. Night Shyamalan)

Silence (1971, Japan, Masahiro Shinoda)
SILENCE (2016, USA/Japan/etc, Martin Scorsese)
Silent Light (2007, Mexico, Reygadas)

THE SON ("Le Fils" 2002, Belgium, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)

SON OF MAN (2006, South Africa, Mark Dornford-May)
The Song of Bernadette (1943, USA, King)
Songs From The Second Floor (2000, Sweden, Andersson)
SOPHIE SCHOLL: THE FINAL DAYS (2005, Germany, Rothemund)

Spartacus (1960, USA, Stanley Kubrick)

The Spitfire Grill (1996, USA, Lee David Zlotoff)

Stalked (1968, USA, Rolf Forsberg)

The Stand (1994, USA, Mick Garris, Stephen King teleplay from his own novel)

There's no writing on here. This ain't no will.
Yes it is. It's the will of God.
Stars in My Crown (1950, USA, Jacques Tourneur)

The Station Agent (2003, USA, Thomas McCarthy)

The Straight Story (1999, USA, David Lynch)

Strange Cargo (1940, Frank Borzage)

Stranger Than Fiction (2006, USA, Marc Forster)

Superman (1978, 1980, 2006)

Take Shelter (2011, USA, Jeff Nichols)

Tears of the Sun (2003, USA, Antoine Fuqua)

Before, praying seemed ridiculous.
I used to say, “You pray to force God to give you things.”
Ten (2002, Iran/France/USA, Abbas Kiarostami)

Ten Commandments (1923, USA, DeMille)
Ten Commandments (1953, USA, DeMille)
TENDER MERCIES (1983, USA, Beresford)
Thérèse (1986, France, Cavalier)
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005, USA, Tommy Lee Jones)
The Three Colors Trilogy: Blue, White, Red ("Trois Coleurs: Blue, Blanc, Rouge" 1993-1994, Poland/France, Kieslowski)

THE THIRD MIRACLE (1999, USA, Agnieszka Holland, Richard Vetere novel)

Time of the Wolf ("Le Temps du loup" 2003, France/Austria/Germany, Michael Haneke)

To End All Wars (2001, USA, David L. Cunningham, Brian Godawa screenplay)

Tree of Life (2011, USA, Terrence Malick)
The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962, France, Bresson)
The Trip To Bountiful (1985, USA, Masterson)
TRUE GRIT (2010, USA, Joel and Ethan Coen)
The Up Series (1964-present, UK, Michael Apted)

THE TRUMAN SHOW (1998, USA, Peter Weir)

Unforgiven (1992, USA, Eastwood)

USHPIZIN (2004, Israel, Giddi Dar)

Vanilla Sky (2001, USA, Cameron Crowe)

VANYA ON 42ND STREET (1994, USA, Malle/Gregory)
The Verdict (1982, USA, Lumet)
Voyage to Italy ("Viaggio in Italia" 1953, Italy, Rossellini)

WAKING NED DEVINE (1998, Ireland/UK/France/USA, Kirk Jones)

The Way (2010, Spain/USA, Emilio Estevez)

Whistle Down the Wind (1961, UK, Bryan Forbes)

The Wicker Man (1973, UK, Robin Hardy, Anthony Shaffer screenplay)
The Wicker Man (2006, USA, Neil LaBute)

WILL YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR (2018, USA, Morgan Neville)
WINGS OF DESIRE (1987, Germany, Wenders)

Wise Blood (1979, USA, John Huston, Benedict & Michael Fitzgerald from Flannery O'Connor novel)

Wit (2001, USA, Nichols, Margaret Edson stage play)
Witness (1985, USA, Weir)

THE WRONG MAN (1956, US, Alfred Hitchcock)

What then must we do?

THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY (1982, Australia, Peter Weir)

You Can't Take It With You (1938, USA, Frank Capra & 1984, USA, Kirk Browning & Ellis Rabb)