Friday, May 21, 2010

Why Catholics Need Good Movies

Steven D. Greydanus does good work reviewing movies. I haven't agreed with 100% of his reviews, but his style is very close to my tastes. He has a good take on why Catholics need good movies and should support them.
I would like to think that the time and energy I’ve devoted over the last ten years to Catholic film criticism—work I’ve always seen as an apostolate to families and individual moviegoers, especially Catholics but also non-Catholics and non-Christians—has contributed in a small way to the kingdom of God. I’m still a little taken aback at how some Catholics seem to feel in effect that the whole endeavor is basically pointless, since movies are such a complete wasteland that there is little or no value in trying to discern good from bad and it would be better simply to wash our hands of the whole business.

Here’s a comment from a combox awhile back on a post mentioning, among other films, Pixar’s Up, WALL-E and Ratatouille:
None of it is worth my or my children’s time. It has been a long, long time since I have found an acceptable movie for my children’s viewing, one that doesn’t make me wince and wish my kids hadn’t seen that … Actually, I’m glad for the demise of family TV and movie entertainment because it has led us to allow very little TV and movie watching in our home. We never go to the movie theater.
Suffice to say, reports of “the demise of family TV and movie entertainment” are greatly exaggerated. But if it were true, would it be a matter of celebration?

The Vatican II decree Inter Mirifica states that “young people” especially need “entertainment that offer them decent amusement and cultural uplift.” While “entertainment” doesn’t necessarily mean movies, the decree specifically says that “films that have value as decent entertainment, humane culture or art, especially when they are designed for young people, ought to be encouraged and assured by every effective means”—including “critical approval and awards.”

Does that sound like encouragement to celebrate the demise of family movies? Some, though, wonder whether it’s possible to find decent entertainment in movies today.

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