I've struck up a friendship with the folks over at Christ and Pop Culture (and recommend you do the same) and have been talking art and film. Here's a quote I bet they would be interested in interacting with and I think it is one that the Christian community ought to consider. This is from Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere (HT - Kottke) who suggests that there are usually 20-25 movies that are somewhere between excellent and good enough to watch and that will make us think later:
Movies are not supposed to be pills that you take to feel better. They're not travelling carnivals with elephants and jugglers. They're supposed to be aesthetic journeys and emotional hikes that get us in touch with things that too many of us tend to push away (or anesthetize ourselves from) in our day to day. They're supposed to be compressions and condensations that create indelible moments, insights and excavations into our collective soul. We're only here for 80 or 90 years, we need to figure some stuff out before we pass on, and good movies are part of the learning-and-realizing process.
That portion of the Christian subculture in which I grew up spiritually would take umbrage at such a thought. For them, the Christian response to movies was suspicion at best, avoidance in most cases, resistance often, and resentment always at how movies were corrupting our morals.
I grew up (spiritually) with a pretty narrow view of film, and I can see some of my own biography in some parts of the Christian subculture today. Movies were mostly about amusement/entertainment and thus to be indulged in rarely as they were basically used for escapism. They were also morally black and white - either good or bad, but mostly bad. Thus, there weren't a lot of movies that were acceptable, and even the acceptable ones should only be indulged in rarely.
Of course that was the party line which few people followed. Pretty much all Christians watched pretty much all of the popular movies and just didn't mention it around the more spiritual people.
I'm happy to have found a broader Christian community that takes a more nuanced view of film, but even in this broader community I can't think of anyone I know who would say we should watch 20-25 of the kinds of movies that Wells suggests. Many would say, yeah they may create indelible moments, but that's the problem - they are indelible in a bad way - nothing good can come out of Nazareth or Hollywood. But I think (considering the discussion on this post) we ought to consider how we might positively engage with film. On that post Ben Bartlett summarizes Leland Ryken who says:
As he tells it, a piece of art (even a movie) is pointing to a particular "snapshot" of truth... not all truth, just a picture of one aspect of it.
So why not use movies as part of our own "learning-and-realizing process?"