[MINOR SPOILERS]

The premise is just past the edge of absurd: a man goes to a “spa,” hoping to be rejuvenated in the same way his high-energy coworker has been. But when he wakes up and has to dig himself out of a shallow grave, he soon discovers that it is not really him who’s been rejuvenated. He’s been cloned and his clone is seemingly better in every way.

There’s something about pastors not acting the way people think pastors ought to act that attracts people—if not in real life, then at least on the screen. From Pale Rider to Machine Gun Preacher, people like to watch preachers pulled out of the regular ruts of how we imagine their lives and into some extraordinary action. Maybe pastors like to watch so they can live vicariously through the actions of guys in collars doing things we ourselves would never do!

[SOME SPOILERS]

Watching awards shows is all about having the right expectations going in: you know already that it’s going to be an orgy of self-congratulation. You know that people are going to use their acceptance speeches to highlight or push (depending on your perspective) their favorite causes—although I can’t say I was expecting someone to use the slogan “workers of the world unite.”

[MINOR SPOILERS]

From the first time I saw a trailer for Netflix’ Messiah, I wondered how they were going to bring it to a conclusion. It seemed that there were only two possibilities: either the main protagonist is the Messiah, or he is some kind of charlatan. Is he a fraud? Is he some kind of cult leader, or maybe a terrorist? Or is he actually the second coming of Jesus?

I have a complicated relationship with David Bazan’s music. I’ve probably seen Pedro the Lion/David Bazan in concert more than I’ve seen any other musician and I have nearly all his band and solo albums. I’ve followed his very public trajectory from conflicted “Christian” artist to denial of what he sees as the message of the Bible and of Christianity. In a very real way, I’ve grown up with his music (he’s about three years older than I am).

Happy New Year! Recently, my brother Jay and I recorded our “Favorite Films of 2019” episode for Saints and Cinema. It is not really a best-of (though we thought the films were pretty good), because we have not seen everything put out last year. We are not the Golden Globes or the Academy Awards or paid film critics. We see a lot of movies, but we are limited (it should go without saying) to what we have time to see.