By Tim Winterstein

How do minds change? We tend to assume that if only we can present our opinions in the right way, and if the other person would simply be reasonable, then our rational opinions would surely change their rational minds. Those assumptions lead us to the conclusion that if I present my opinion and the other person doesn’t change his or her mind, then that person must be unreasonable or something worse. Who wouldn’t be willing to change his or her mind when confronted with the excellent and reasonable arguments I present, about which I am already convinced? So, disagreement has become not a sign of a rational, contingent opinion held in good faith, but a sign of a disease or poison that must be eradicated in order for reason and justice to prevail. That’s not a good recipe for civil discussion.

By Tim Winterstein

Warning: Spoilers! If you haven’t seen the film and plan to, you may want to postpone reading this until afterward.

In light of last week’s post, I hesitate to make too much out of my movie of the week, War for the Planet of the Apes. That is to say, you need find nothing particularly meaningful in the movie to enjoy it. Not only is it a great conclusion to Rise and Dawn, War is certainly the best of the three films. The story is complex and well-paced. In the few scenes where the story slows and feels like it might get bogged down, it is saved by raw emotion or humor (such as Steve Zahn’s Bad Ape). The CGI on the apes is astoundingly good, particularly with Caesar and Maurice. There’s nothing mechanical or unrealistic about them.

By Tim Winterstein

It is endlessly tiresome to consider all the Christian think-pieces that come out after any significant secular film, trying to find a metaphor or an allegory under every narrative. There are certainly films outside of “Christian movies” that contain Christian themes and tell stories that intersect or are parallel to the Story. But we can try too hard. Consider all the nonsense straining to connect the Force to a possible conception of the Christian God. Or as The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions proved, whatever intimations of Christianity the first film might have had, it was really just a gumbo of spiritual eclecticism. Sometimes a film is just a film.

By Tim Winterstein

Here’s one for a long and ongoing conversation. Ordet is a 1955 Danish film (and 1956 Golden Globe Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film) about a family living in a small town in Jutland, where the division between the organized state church and a conversionist sect becomes the catalyst for everyone’s crisis of faith. This is a hard film to watch for people (like me) who have been inoculated to older (purer?) cinema by technological advances, high production values, fast pacing, and color.

By Tim Winterstein

On my last post, John Joseph Flanagan (who must have been a 19th-century Irish priest in a former life—no, I do not really believe in reincarnation) commented,

“I think you should consider filling your mind and exposing your eyes to more uplifting entertainment than horror movies and stories about zombies. After awhile in the cesspool of life, one can become really quite soiled you know. And if you just happen to be a Christian or at least profess to follow Jesus, you might consider the choices you make as indicative of your character and the virtues you embrace. ‘Guard your heart,’ the Bible tells us. Even Christian liberty can be abused, and to open yourself to the garbage you write about will surely lead to a dark path indeed, and away from the faith and far away from your Lord.”

By Tim Winterstein

I want documentaries to document. I want tension between viewpoints, in the progression of the story, and between the filmmakers and subjects. Propaganda may be interesting for any number of reasons, but not because of its tension. It has a single-minded purpose and a tunnel-vision perspective. It consciously excludes anything that argues against the obvious purpose. But human beings and the events they observe are complicated. So, if there’s no tension, I’m not interested. And I appreciate it when documentaries can document that tension without turning into propaganda.