Category Archives: Movies

Movie Reviews


I was fortunate to see an early screening of the movie Courageous which the rest of you will have to wait until September to watch:

This is from the Kendrick brothers of Albany, GA (Sherwood films)  that also produced Flywheel, Facing the Giants and Fireproof.  As some of you may know, the films produced by the group fill a niche market of hard-core radical traditional Christian values. Perhaps some of you may also know that the actors and actresses are ordinary parishioners of the Sherwood church, that the films are done on a shoestring budget and gross about 20x what they cost to make.  The acting can range from pretty-amazing-good-for-free (Kurt Cameron in Fireproof) to you-get-what-you-pay-for meh. In any case the films always rest on a solid and soul-plumbing story that evokes a deep spiritual emotion Hollywood films can only dream about.

Courageous is no exception and the issue the Kendricks take on this time is fatherhood. The story centers around a group of men, most of them policemen, evaluating their role as father in many of it’s modern forms: divorced, dead beat, so-so, to great. A life changing event in the main character has him re-evaluating his performance and what it means for his family, community, nation and world.

Critics will likely blast the movie not only because of the implementation but because they generally do not share the neo-traditional values represented in the work.  Such low marks might be merited if there were similar movies to compare it to but that’s just the problem. There aren’t any!  And that’s the other problem–the major studios don’t make these kinds of films. If Hollywood had their act together, they could make a financial killing featuring similar themed movies because there is such a hunger for them.  Don’t believe me? The Passion of the Christ was a major hit, grossing in excess of $600 million despite the fact that no one would finance it. Fireproof was the highest-grossing independent film of 2008, making $33M but only costing $500k to make.  But no, Hollywood would rather squander their money on uninspired plots and re-makes of old ones because they are totally out of ideas.





The film  “Namesake” is a powerful illustration of neotraditionalism. As a foreign film, “Namesake” will not follow the usual Hollywood formula of hero, nemesis and romantic interest—refreshingly. The movie follows the entire life of a Bengali couple who make their home in and around New York City.

In America, the couple starts a family with a son, who they name Nikolai Gogol (the namesake of the famous Russian writer of Dead Souls, The Overcoat) and, later, a daughter. As usual, the children become the vapid and culturally void automatons of selfishness and pleasure that is the hallmark of modern American society.  Forsaking his roots, Nikolai lives with his cosmopolitan rich white liberal girlfriend who flits from one shallow moment to the next, each filled with romance, entertainment, parties and retreats to her parents New England estate. Nikolai has been distancing himself more and more from his own parents and their old fashioned (progressive?) ideas—that is, until his father dies and Nikolai wakes up.  The event is transformational. His grief is manifested according to custom, with public mourning, traditional garb and shaved head. Nikolai, along with the Bengali community, descend upon his mothers home where the community’s grief is corporately and publicly expressed.

Then the girlfriend appears who looks upon the event as quaint. Her lack of sympathy and her inability to understand the value of tradition is remarkable. A pivotal point in the movie is where she suggests getting away from the house of no-fun-at-all to which he responds sharply and  negatively. Nikolai begins to see that even with the moments of tears and unsophistication, the traditions of his family and culture are exceedingly more valuable than the carefree life of upscale New York society. Nikolai ends up marrying a Bengali girl but that too is plagued by the contagion of backward American culture. Ironically, the great marriage in the movie is the arranged (gasp) one shared by his parents.

I obviously recommend this movie for the thinking members of my audience, particularly, the friends of tradition.