016: More Spiritual Cinema from Our Readers

    Readers enjoyed last week’s story on spiritual movies, nominated by students and faculty at Wayne County Community College, and they offered their own tips.
    Reader Elaine Greenberg, an older reader, said she was miffed to find “It’s a Wonderful Life” missing from the list. “My very favorite movie is that great Christmas Classic, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ I suspect the young college students, if they have seen it on TV, would find it ‘corny,’ but I love it!
    “The message is that everyone born on earth gives of themselves to the rest of humanity, but may not realize it until they look back on their life. Everyone makes a difference in some way as they go through this journey.”
    While that is a perfect summary of the movie’s theme, Elaine was wrong about one thing. The movie actually was nominated by a few of the people attending the conference on “Religions in America” at the college. In last week’s list, however, I narrowed the dozens of nominated films down to a manageable handful, so it’s my fault as editor that the students’ respect for Frank Capra’s 1946 classic was missing in last week’s article.

    Elaine and a number of other readers also complained that “The Wizard of Oz” was left off the list.
    “Have you got something against, ‘There’s no place like home?’” asked reader Marie Samms.
    No, honestly, I don’t. I’ve seen the film dozens of times and it’s the favorite film of my wife, Amy.

    Several readers nominated “Babette’s Feast” for “the sheer joy of watching it again and again,” said one reader. The story involves members of a dour Danish congregation discovering joys they never expected, when an unlikely member of their community prepares a gourmet meal the likes of which they’ve never seen or tasted. “We can’t imagine a lot of the joys that are a part of our faith. Watching these people at the feast makes me smile and imagine,” the reader said.

    Tom Francassi, who describes himself as “a fallen away Catholic and sometimes Zen auto mechanic and runner when I’m not teaching English,” complained that our list was “too predictable.” Tom is from Illinois and said, “I drive into Chicago an hour with friends to see films we can’t see at the local multi-screen. You set up your Web site to be something unusual, something you don’t get at the corner church. Don’t be predictable.”

    One of the films Tom suggests is Luis Bunuel’s surreal tale of a pilgrimage through Europe, called “The Milky Way,” which recently was remastered and released on DVD by the Criterion Collection. “I wouldn’t show it in a class, but get some friends together and see it … you won’t have any trouble getting people talking.”

   And a reader named Bennie said she went to see “Jindabyne” in a theater while visiting friends on the East Coast. “And, like you say about some of them, this one is hard to watch, but it’ll touch off some spiritual talk afterward. It’s about men and women and how they see the values in life a whole lot differently from each other. Go see that one and you won’t have any trouble talking about spiritual values afterward … maybe arguing about spiritual values.”
    Well, as we also say, we’re not encouraging knock-down, drag-out arguments, but it is an intriguing movie to suggest for a spiritual discussion.

    The other big complaint we got this week is that our list was “too heavy on the fiction and ignored some of the great documentaries out there,” said reader George Waters. He strongly recommended, “God Grew Tired of Us,” a documentary about the “Lost Boys” of Sudan.
    “If you want spiritual, then see something that you can translate back into what you need to do once you step outside that door,” he said. “This documentary is like that.”

   Here are some of the other films nominated for their spiritual value by readers this week. Click on any of the titles to learn more about the films:

    “The Pursuit of Happyness
    “Chariots of Fire
    “Pay It Forward
    “Breakfast Club
    “Angels in America

Clearly, spiritual cinema is very popular these days. Keep sharing your nominations and thoughs with us, please. Click Here to email me, David Crumm, or leave a Comment for all of our readers on our site.

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