Audience of One

2007 documentary that my brother will be pissed I watched without him so I'd better hurry up and type a bunch of entries with the hope that he won't see this

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Because Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat wasn't quite amazing enough, God speaks to Richard, a Pentecostal preacher from California, and tells him he needs to make a science fiction movie based on Joseph's story. His congregation helps fund the project while Richard works hard to find other investors to help raise the fifty million dollars the first-time director wants to work with. Unfortunately, God doesn't seem to like what happens in pre-production and decides not to support the project any more. But Richard and his congregation, still convinced that they've been called to make the film, keep trying to do everything they can to make Gravity: The Shadow of Joseph a reality.

On the one hand, you almost want to commend Richard for his faith and for his creative spirit. He's a man, for better or for worse, who is bursting with ideas. But that one hand is so far away from the other hand, a much larger and more conspicuous and screaming hand. And on that hand, you want this guy to be punished for biting off far more than he can chew, ripping off a flock that really doesn't look like it can afford to be ripped off, and for being about as delusional as an individual can be. Don't get me wrong--I have nothing against delusions. But Richard's delusions are potentially harmful, the best example in this film probably being where one of his crew asks if it's safe for kids to be around some horses and getting the answer "Don't worry about that." There's a wonderful moment in the movie when, after spending a nice wad of movie to film in a neat spot in Italy, they encounter problem after problem. One of the problems is that their camera stops working. Oh, snap, right? Not if you're Richard who announced, "God called us here to shoot this movie, and we're going to shoot this movie--camera or no camera." It's not a leap of faith as much as it's a triple-jump of faith or a pole vault of faith. Later, after the church rents a San Francisco movie studio that they eventually can't afford the rent on after shooting what seemed to be zero hours of footage, Richard starts to get really paranoid, even setting up security so that nobody will bust in and steal their ideas. "It's either God or I'm crazy," he claims at one point, and you'll come away from this believing it's definitely one of those. By the end of the movie, Richard's completely lost his mind, promising his congregation that God has sent him a vision in which they'll be making forty-seven films a year, own eight TV networks, have their own airport, and (believe it or not) colonize another planet. Got news for you, Richard. It ain't God. Since this is a documentary about Pentecostals, you know you're going to be treated or creeped out by some scenes showcasing their religious practices, and there's a nifty scene where they're sanctifying the studio, a process that involves a great deal of shouting and these really strange horns. A lot of the cast is entertaining. The guy who plays the "horned captain" (I went to a Bible college, but I don't remember a "horned captain" in the Joseph story.), actor Daniel who plays Spirf, and a tubby and high-maintenance trippin' stunt man could all be in any movie that God tells me to make.

Don't tell Anonymous that I watched this.


mark said...

oohhh snap that plan of posting like a billion reviews almost worked. Bitch!

Shane said...

Damn it!

Josh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josh said...

One thing that I feel kept me as grounded as I could be in church was the fact that the pastors in my early life never had what we would think of as "outrageous" goals. They never wanted "a big church" or aspire to being heard by the masses. Their work was more local and community-based. I could see how their number one goal was simply to win souls.

Those pastors (my grandma and my great-aunt among the few) came and went, and I grew up looking for a church. But recently in my adult years, I've been apart of several ministries who sound just like this guy. I get it, the Proverbs say "Where there is no vision, the people perish." But why have such an outlandish vision? Would Jesus really want his own airport? It really gets under my skin whenever I see people focusing on worldly materials, popularity, and/or distinction, and say it's for the glory of the Lord. It gives churches in general a notoriety, in my eyes, and is such a turn off.

I know this is nothing new, and I'm not the first to articulate this hypocrisy, but I feel like I'm somewhat an authority on the subject having been exposed to and effected by this greedy, self-intrested, manipulative, deceptive, delusional, idolatry. It's so many sins in one.

Shane said...

I know what you mean. The mega-churches are a turn off for me because they all feel like castles. It just doesn't feel like spirituality anymore to me, more like a BM look-at-me version of church. Look at our coffee shop! Look at our balcony! Look at our elaborate stage set design which we'll tear down to replace with something else in a few weeks. It's really gross. It's sure difficult to get the stink of people and the world out of church, isn't it?

And yeah, this guy takes it to new extremes.

But seriously, Jesus wouldn't be impressed with an airport built in his name?