Sarah Barnett, content editor and film reviewer for Anglican Media Sydney, says her experiences as a movie critic have been an effort in overcoming "my prejudice against modernity."
"I have always loved film but until recently I've been fairly myopic about modern movies," says Barnett, who was raised on the classics by her film-devotee father. "When my friends were queuing up to see Top Gun, I was watching Rear Window. In terms of style and charisma, Tom Cruise pales into brash insignificance next to the likes of Cary Grant, James Stewart and Gregory Peck."
Fast-forward 14 years, though, and Cruise earns a measure of redemption for his more mature film work. "There are some films, like Magnolia, that I haven't really enjoyed watching but there is so much richness in them that I think about them for weeks afterwards." Barnett says these thought-provoking films are what make the job worthwhile. "I love being moved and challenged by a film ... You [can] easily dismiss films like Terminator, The Matrix, Magnolia, American Beauty and Dogma based on the morality test. But in doing so you would be dismissing films that have a rare depth."
Modern films have their drawbacks, too, of course. Barnett says, "it's a constant fear that frequent exposure to film will harden my heart. It is a struggle to maintain a faithful Christian perspective when immersed in worldly viewpoints ... I find that I need to talk about what I've seen and deal with it if it's been spiritually unhelpful." So she tries "to encourage my readers and my friends to talk about and analyze what they've seen," both to avoid its pitfalls and the plumb its depths.
"There's a dangerous lack of discussion about meaning and consequence" among moviegoers, Barnett says. "I frequently ...1
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