I was hoping to come home from work and start playing some Red Dead Redemption before playing soccer in Bainbridge tonight. Looks like that's not gonna happen.
Before I start my post, I'd just like to say that I respect the hell out of you, John (even though we've never met) and I think you make a lot of great points.
Having said that...
I'd like to copy and paste Jeff's post and insert it here. And that includes the last two paragraphs because I definitely realize now (in fact, I realized it yesterday) that making the argument of "if another director had made it, you wouldn't like it as much" is one I never want to use again. It is a stupid argument because you could say that about any movie - Woody Allen's Annie Hall is a great example, Johh, because I love that movie just as much as Jeff does. So I will concede that point. I think the reason why I said it again comes down to the fact that Gibson doesn't impress me as he does you. As I've pointed out before, he isn't the talentless hack that Kirk Cameron is. I think I used Kirk Cameron as an example because it was a joke and he amuses the hell out of me - Jeff and I rip on him and The Left Behind series every now and then. But yes, Gibson has been in the business longer than I've been alive and he clearly knows what he's doing and is an auteur - sure. Saying that there is "no other appeal" DOES sound like a straight attack now that I think about, so I can understand where you're coming from. Obviously there is an appeal for you and for others. The appeal was just never there for me, and I tried to project that feeling onto others. I can't really do that and I don't have an argument to stand on when I do it.
This conversation is getting off-track, quick, though, because you've never stated that Gibson is as good a director as Terrence Malick and you never said that The Passion is the greatest film of the aughts. My attack on the film and the director is mostly directed at those who would say those things about it. Sure that's no one in film club and no one I've met, but it's still the way I feel. Gibson is a good director, not great - in my opinion (which maybe isn't worth much because I clearly don't know as much about film history as you do or his career). The Passion is a bad movie - in my opinion - not due to the technical aspects of it...but MAINLY due the story and the message. This has a lot to do with my religious beliefs but like I told Brandon, I don't think it's the sole reason. Look at the story without the religious context - what do you have? It might not sound like a terrible story to some, but it doesn't sound like an interesting one to me.
I told Brandon that I feel that it's stupid for critics to just focus on the violence in the film and Mel's overall craziness rather than the rest of the movie. I was initially guilty of this, but I want to try and become a better critic/viewer of film. I do want to get away from doing that, so I do appreciate you and Brandon for steering me in a better direction.
I think we still differ mainly on the propaganda aspect. Is it Birth of a Nation? No. Is it a Goebbel's film? Hell no. So maybe propaganda is definitely too strong a word. Again, I maintain that Mel was preaching to the choir and NOT looking for conversions. I think we do agree on that point, John. But I do agree with Jeff's latest post as well. We differ again in the argument that Midnight In Paris is "nostalgia" propaganda. I get it - Woody Allen has a theme/message in the film. The past is better than the future (though, really, that's not the message at all) and antique shops are the greatest places in the world (again, I don't feel that this was the message and you don't either, you're just making your point). There is a world of difference between saying that nostalgia is great and saying that Jesus is great. Yes, Jeff is right - every director who is competent is trying to sell the audience on something but when your sell has to with spirituality and religion - I believe you are moving closer to propaganda (again, this film isn't propaganda...but I do see it as closer to that line that a movie promoting an antique shop). Sure everything is political. Sure there can be hidden spiritual contexts in films that appear to be secular. But this is a Catholic film, as you pointed out, John. I don't know - I really hope that I'm making my point clearly here because I really don't know how you can compare the two movies in terms of "propaganda" or audience indoctrination or whatever you want to call it...or selling the audience something as Jeff said.
Off to soccer for now, the saga continues...Wu-tang, Wu-tang