My Wednesday Night Movie experiment at my church continues, although the jury is taking its time. A quick look at attendance shows an interesting trend: the first film, Local Hero, probably the least known of the bunch so far, got about 25 people. Down to 20 for Heaven Can Wait, and about 15 last night for Singing in the Rain. It may be just me next week for Butch Cassidy, which, to be honest, would be OK.
I’m not thinking any of this is ominous, particularly given the experiment part. The goal was clear, the methods all shots in the dark. So to speak.
And mostly, I just wanted to watch movies with a group of people. It was never intended to be a film class, or even a discussion group, although discussion is always fun. I just miss the water cooler aspect of community, the lack of it being an obvious byproduct of the age we live in and the choices available. Most of us have, I suspect, come to recognize the futility when a friend says You HAVE to see ______! We nod and smile, maybe, but we know, nope. Nobody has the time. You’ve got yours and I’ve got mine, partly a matter of taste but mostly time.
But MOVIES. C’mon.
I went through several stages of thinking about this. At first, I opted for the logical connection; this was a church event. We didn’t have to delve into Martin Scorsese or Mel Gibson, but maybe we could find spiritually resonant films to watch and talk about.
But not knowing, and wanting to see who showed up and for what—and just because one of our staff members and I shared a deep affection for the first film—I ended up settling, eventually, with what I was trying to avoid.
Take a look at the picture. You’d have to know me pretty well, but there’s no mystery here. This is obviously a case of Chuck’s Favorite Films.
And as was pointed out, people don’t want to make decisions about this. They just want to come and watch, or not, and have the choices already made. So I’m cool with this, given my history.
What I mean is that I’m not only a fan of feel-good films, but being a fan and also a parent, I developed what I hope is a good sense about sensibilities. I made, I’m sure, plenty of misjudgments with what I allowed my kids to watch and what not, but I was always conscious about themes and images, and that helps when it comes to the people who attend these film nights. It became a fun challenge, finding enjoyable but good movies that won’t make anyone uncomfortable. This isn’t a metric I’m all that interested in, normally, but then this isn’t about me.
But the films are. Grabbing what I knew (and in some cases, what I had around), seeking a pleasant experience, aiming for a social catharsis only, not a spiritual one, I realized I was heading in that direction anyway. In the same fashion that liturgy, if done well, can lead us to transformation during worship, I’m hoping that the cumulative effect of these films might do something of the same thing.
Or else I watch Butch and Sundance by my lonesome next week, which, as I said, is actually fine with me. I know how it ends, and how I’ll feel, and these days I’ll take that.