In the last couple weeks we got a couple movies from the library; both are set in L.A. I've been to Los Angeles once, just over a decade ago for a wedding of one of Beth's college roommates. L.A. is a distinctive city; it becomes a character in both movies.
Crash came out a few years ago, receiving several acclaims. We checked it out because our church had hosted a racial reconciliation discussion around the movie recently. It's a rough movie. There is much violence as well as language and brief nudity. But it also has a lot to teach us--especially about race relations. It is the story of a myriad of people who's lives are intertwined through the course of a day and a half.
The thing that struck me during the movie was how much anger was in everyone's life--and it often came out through racism. I'm not sure that racism is even the real issue, but it masks all the anger in people's lives. Many addictions also have their root in anger--the addiction being a coping mechanism to "deal" with the anger. I think many of us have anger in our lives that works it's way out in unhealthy ways. We need to learn to deal with it better.
The Soloist came out just last year, also receiving good reviews. It is based on a true story about a journalist who discovers a Juilliard drop-out playing beautiful music on a two-stringed violin on the streets of LA. The man is a musical genius, but schizophrenia has made his life unstable, and he ends up living on the street. It's a beautiful story about the importance of seeing people as people--getting to know them rather than simply feeling pity for them.
On the wall outside the homeless center where much of the movie takes place is this verse: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life." I was struck as all the transients (there are 90,000 homeless in the greater LA metro area alone) milled about in front of the wall about how the wages of sin lead not only to our death, but to the death of others as well. Our lives are interconnected. Jesus tells us that whatever we fail to do to the "least of these" we do to Him as well. And, at the Judgment, He will separate the sheep from the goats. And the goats will be sent to eternal condemnation. We need to get to know others, not just treat them as charity cases.
The Blind Side is a more recent movie (the last one I actually saw in the theater!) that shares similar lessons on racism and getting to know others. I hope that with whatever movie you watch, that you get something more out of it than just a couple hours of sitting and being entertained (even if it's just some good laughs). But I also hope you're finding movies that you can have great discussions around with others. Movies are a great, unassuming way to get into deeper conversations with others about issues that can speak to the greater Truth.