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A Cinematic Journey Of Faith

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I'm glad to see some appreciation for Life of Brian. Normally you talk a bit about the spirituality of the film (or lack of it). Did you have any thoughts in that regard?
Not much with this. It is sharp satire and for me when comedies deal with religion, or more specifically Jesus, it can cross the line for me at times. I don't think this ever did. I think what this film does amazingly is takes old biblical writings and themes and inserts our western sensibilities into the characters. I thought it was hilarious. I just realized I didn't answer your question at all. So, no.
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Not much with this. It is sharp satire and for me when comedies deal with religion, or more specifically Jesus, it can cross the line for me at times. I don't think this ever did. I think what this film does amazingly is takes old biblical writings and themes and inserts our western sensibilities into the characters. I thought it was hilarious. I just realized I didn't answer your question at all. So, no.
You answered my question in the first part I had the same reaction too, to the film. Most everyone in the ill fated comedy Hof had the same reaction as well. No one found the film offensive to Christians or Jesus. BTW that was the first R rated film I ever seen in the movie theater.



You answered my question in the first part I had the same reaction too, to the film. Most everyone in the ill fated comedy Hof had the same reaction as well. No one found the film offensive to Christians or Jesus. BTW that was the first R rated film I ever seen in the movie theater.
Made me want to watch more Python. Was it your nom?



Nope, I think it was SilentVamps nom. I had it at #2 on my voting list. Monty Python is an acquired taste, when I was a kid I watched them all the time on PBS. Most of the other Python films are much sillier, which might be a good thing if you like really silly!



When Life of Brian came out it caused quite a stir and a series of debates. It was banned in several places. You can search YouTube and find the debates between the Pythoners and various church representatives. Interesting stuff (for 1979)!



When Life of Brian came out it caused quite a stir and a series of debates. It was banned in several places. You can search YouTube and find the debates between the Pythoners and various church representatives. Interesting stuff (for 1979)!
I may check those out.






This is an April bonus watch since I cruised through this month so quickly with my viewings. Cricket suggested this one, and for very good reason. It fits in with my theme perfectly. I really enjoyed it. There is so much that could be gleaned from this film. All the metaphor and allegory that you could mine from this is beyond me. What I enjoyed about the writing and narrative is that it is hard to pinpoint what exactly the writer is trying to tell you, so you are free to draw your own conclusions. I like this approach because whether you are a believer or an unbeliever, I think you can find something to speak to you.

For me I like the straight forward approach of the man carrying this cross and staying steadfast in what he feels compelled to do. Many will probably find his stubbornness silly as his purpose is not something that will resonate with most. I love watching someone stand on a wall despite all the obstacles being thrown at him. He believes in what he set out to do, and nothing is going to sway him.

There is so much going on with the peripheral characters that I also enjoyed. I do wish that I had gotten as good of a grasp on their motivations as I did the protagonist. That didn't make their stories not compelling to watch though.

Overall, a really good viewing experience that I think would get even better if I can find some people to talk to about what they got from the film. Maybe some mofos will watch it and chime in. Thanks for the rec Cricket.






Very good way to roll into my second third of this journey of faith I am taking this year. This is a very interesting look into Scientology. This film made me very introspective. Challenging ourselves about what we believe and why we believe it is an important aspect of anyone who aligns themselves with a religion. The people in this film are all former members of the church. It was very interesting to hear what drew them in and ultimately why they left. I really find the processing aspect of Scientology infinitely fascinating. To the point where I would be very interested to watch some actual processing sessions. I can appreciate how this could be a very cleansing process. I believe it is probably the thing that draws so many people to Scientology.

It is also interesting how you don't learn all the tenants of the faith until you have climbed high enough up the ladder. Scientology is very money oriented and to get further up the ladder you must pay for more sessions to reach the appropriate levels. What you learn when you get to that level is literally unbelievable. All this comes from the Hubbard, who is a very fascinating man to learn about. I had never heard him talk before and was very interested in the part of the film that revolved around him.

The man who took over for him is almost as fascinating. He appears to be even more money oriented and really caters to the famous members of his church, especially Cruise who is talked about pretty extensively in the second half of the film. As we get further into the film we learn more and more about the nefarious nature of Scientology. Hearing about things like The Hole and the some of the stalking that goes on with former members was extremely disturbing.

I feel like there is so much to unpack in this film. I hope maybe some conversation will get started and give us some things to talk about. This film also made me want to rewatch The Master, which I did this afternoon. I am going to add that to my schedule as a bonus and will try and write something about it later in the week.



Sean, sorry but I couldn't help posting this song again - it's so catchy (and you can try to see how many times you can spot Tom Cruise!)
They should update the documentary and include this song at the end!




I did listen to that song last time too. Wacky, song and maybe not far off base?


I have only a few minutes left but I wanted to ask Sean a question.

Your review of Going Clear (which I haven't seen) sounded like the film was mainly biased against Scientology (no, I'm not a member). Did it provide a balance look for both sides of the issue? I know your complaint about the Unbelievers movie was that it was one sided and only showed a negative view of Christianity. How are the movies similar in that perspective...and how did they differ in covering the 'other side'.



I did listen to that song last time too. Wacky, song and maybe not far off base?


I have only a few minutes left but I wanted to ask Sean a question.

Your review of Going Clear (which I haven't seen) sounded like the film was mainly biased against Scientology (no, I'm not a member). Did it provide a balance look for both sides of the issue? I know your complaint about the Unbelievers movie was that it was one sided and only showed a negative view of Christianity. How are the movies similar in that perspective...and how did they differ in covering the 'other side'.
Very good question actually, because Going Clear is very one sided. My main issue with Unbelievers was that they presented themselves as if they were proving the unprovable. Going Clear is not proving anything. Going Clear is presenting the point of view of former members who were deep inside the church. When they make a couple claims that the church denies, we are told so through text. Scientology leaders were asked to be involved and denied the requests. I don't think it would be an unfair criticism to say the other side is not presented, but I also don't think there is a whole lot to fight against.



Very good question actually, because Going Clear is very one sided. My main issue with Unbelievers was that they presented themselves as if they were proving the unprovable. Going Clear is not proving anything. Going Clear is presenting the point of view of former members who were deep inside the church. When they make a couple claims that the church denies, we are told so through text. Scientology leaders were asked to be involved and denied the requests. I don't think it would be an unfair criticism to say the other side is not presented, but I also don't think there is a whole lot to fight against.
Well said, Sean!

And the damning thing, as you pointed out, is the indictment against the organization (within this documentary) all comes from former members, several of whom had been high ranking officers within the "church." I think one guy had been treasurer and one may have been the 2nd guy from the top - and they knew all the corrupt goings on.

Also, I learned a lot more about L. Ron Hubbard from this documentary than I knew before (and I've studied this cult a bit). L. Ron was a major whack job and it's so very obvious that he made this entire thing up as a way to make money (most telling was the man's private admissions to others that he made it up to make money).

This all makes me want to see the movie The Master (which I hear is supposed to be based on L. Ron Hubbard... or someone much like him).



The Master is amazing. Just don't go in thinking it will be biographical, it is very far from it. PTA created two amazing characters and does a really good job weaving a story with themes of belief and control.



You know what movie is amazing?

The Unbelievers.

I really enjoyed watching Unbelievers. I just don't think it is a good doc.



The Master is amazing. Just don't go in thinking it will be biographical, it is very far from it. PTA created two amazing characters and does a really good job weaving a story with themes of belief and control.
I hope someone makes a biography of L. Ron Hubbard someday. Not to glorify him but because he was an incredibly fascinating crazy person. And what's so fascinating is how someone so obviously nuts was somehow simultaneously brilliant enough (or just really good at capitalizing on the stupidity of the masses) to fool millions of people out of their life-savings.

What's really bizarre is here's this rather failed science fiction writer who then takes one of his poorly written stories that appeared in the back of a pulp magazine and turns it into a religion. It's not like people didn't know he was a sci-fi writer or that he used the same details from one of his fantasy stories (which weren't even deemed good enough to be considered decent entertainment) as the basis for his religious cult!



Whenever this kind of thing comes up, I usually post this and so I will again.



It's NSFW, but I think it's really funny. Needless to say that when they tried to sell this Stateside no one would touch it.
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Such a tough film to unpack, but boy is it worth the effort. I can completely understand why PTA seems to be a director that cinephiles either love or don't care for. He really doesn't cut the audience any slack. Rather he grabs them by the neck and makes them decide one way or the other how they feel. His characters are written in a very challenging way, and The Master may just be the greatest example of that. It is not easy to get a hold of either the intentions or motivations of Freddie Quell and Lancaster Dodd. Quell is such an interesting character. Certainly one that is searching, but one that would on the surface seem unlikely to fall prey to the religion being crafted by Dodd. He is a free spirit whose personality would seem to be unwilling to allow itself to be penned up by such a rigid lifestyle. He does allow himself to be penned up though, even if it is only for a time. Does he see Dodd as a father figure? Does he love the feeling of belonging that can come from organized religion? Is he just biding his time until he sees a train that he would rather jump on? Probably a little of all of those at different times. I do think he grows to love Dodd. Much of that probably has to do with the way Dodd feels about him. It usually becomes very easy for us to fall in love with people who are showing us love.

So why does Dodd become so infatuated with Quell? It certainly can't be as simple as his love for his swill. Putting turpentine in your water can't be so addicting. I feel he is enamored with Quell's freedom. Dodd is the master of the cause, but he is also a prisoner to it. We see him become frustrated whenever his thoughts are challenged. We see his wife dictating their next move as if they were involved in chess rather than changing lives. Although he sets the pace, he is a man whose life has been dictated by his own motivations. I believe he wishes to have the freedom that Quell has many times, but he can't go back. Perhaps because he does believe in the cause. It is also a question that is raised of Hubbard. Did he really believe the religion he was putting forth, or was it all for money? We have the same question of Dodd, that largely goes unanswered.

That's The Master. These two characters walking through this part of their life. Searching and trying to reconcile who they are and who they desire to be. Every step forward is followed by two back. Sometimes connecting and sometimes needing to separate. It is a stunning character study. One with all the answers and no answers at all. This is my third time viewing it and it grows with me each time. I love it more and more. In addition to these two amazing characters The Master also has a dynamite score. One of the things PTA does extremely well is allow the score to speak to us when there is no dialogue. In The Master I especially enjoy this aspect through the first part of the film when we are getting to know Quell. The cinematography is also beautiful in this film, as it is in all PTA's films.

The Master is certainly one of the great cinematic achievements of the last ten years, and possibly ever.