Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Great Films--Part One

My wife and I have been raiding the classics vault of Netflix lately. I've always been a film buff and even made a run at becoming a filmmaker when I worked in Hollywood 16 years ago. I managed to direct a music video for a Latino act before I realized that I loved watching movies more than I would like making them.
I traded my director's chair for the campaign trail and then for seminary and then for law school but I still love classic movies.
This week I re-watched Grand Hotel which nabbed the Oscar for Best Picture in 1932. My wife hated it but I still really like it. John Berrymore is great as the Barron and while his love for the once great ballerina played by Greta Garbo is a forced plot device, you still end up rooting for them both.
The film is the archetype for the "all star cast" and stories that interweave ala Pulp Fiction, Magnolia, etc.
I haven't seen Grand Hotel in probably 17 years and through the eyes of a minister it is quite different. The most interesting character theologically is the hotel doctor (played with brilliant distance by Lewis Stone) who mutters at the beginning and closing of the film, "Grand Hotel. People come and go. Nothing ever happens." The doctor, like many ministers, seem oblivious to the lives around him that are teetering on the verge of disaster.
The church my family calls home is not perfect, in fact it can be as poor as the worst congregation at times, but at least the staff pro-actively seeks to help people instead of just wandering around obvlious to the pain and despair inflicted by sin.