Hi, I’m Jake. I’m a 28 year-old Catholic and I love my faith. I also love movies. Do you mind if I recommend some movies for you to watch? Oh yeah, this may affect my recommendations: I’m a filmmaker. I’m guessing right now you probably would like some exposition, or rather an origin story.
One day, I was out playing hide and seek with my neighborhood friend around my parents’ huge estate and I suddenly fell down a well. It took me a second, but I realized I was surrounded by a plethora of bats. I was scared at first… Wait… Whoops, wrong origin story.
While in High School, I was doing martial arts and a friend of mine, a fellow martial arts student, wanted to film a monthly show instructing people in our community on martial arts. At that time, I just liked movies. I thought they were cool and just a lot of fun. But this was a turning point for me: this time in my life, turning on a camera to tell a story became something interesting and cool.
I ended up spending three of my years in high school working in the TV Production department producing shows and working with cameras. It was so much fun that I decided to go to college for it. I first went to the University of Memphis to do this, but after two years I decided that I wanted a more thorough education and planned to transfer to another college. On my 20th birthday, a few months before I decided to become Catholic, I was given a book about the top 21 Catholic Colleges in the U.S. That’s when I first learned about John Paul the Great Catholic University in California, the first Catholic film school. Long story short, I decided to get my degree at JP Catholic. I was able to grow greatly in my Catholic faith as well as my experience and knowledge in filmmaking.
Over the past twelve years, from high school until now, I’ve learned a ton about media, film, and storytelling. I’ve worked with telling stories in different mediums: commercials, documentaries, short stories, TV pilots, etc. I’ve seen the work that goes into film projects. I know how much my fellow artists labor over their stories and their themes and their camera angles. And a whole lot more.
My perspective on movies has changed quite a bit after studying them over the years. In this blog post, I want to recommend some movies to you as a Catholic filmmaker. First, I need to underline the fact that this list of movies is for adults. Most of the films are either PG-13 or R, meaning that most have adult content. Unlike some other lists, I don’t plan on talking about the top ten films that are highly Catholic (or Christian) as well as beautifully made, like The Passion of the Christ, The Ten Commandments, I Confess, etc. I actually believe that these are great films in and of themselves. And I believe that all movies made by Christians should be. They need to have great stories with great production quality and ask great questions about life. Yet, in this post, I just want to talk about some of my favorite films, ten to be exact, and why I think you may need to put them in your Netflix queue, order them on Amazon, or rent them at your local library.
“Every genuine art form in its own way is a path to the inmost reality of man and of the world,” said St. John Paul II in his letter to artists all over the world in 1999. “It is therefore a wholly valid approach to the realm of faith, which gives human experience its ultimate meaning.” As a Catholic, I can and do love movies. Other than just enjoying great stories, watching beautiful moving pictures, being captivated by enchanting music, or being amazed by insane visual effects, movies have the ability to give us so much more. They are stories that give us insight into our human experience. They can motivate us and shape us. They can cause us to question our lives and our actions, however monotonous they can seem at times. They can even allow us to contemplate our faith, “things that are not seen but hoped for” (HEB 11:1). I hope to persuade you that the movies listed below can help you get there. They are not impeccable films but they do deliver something great for us. Ultimately, I believe they have a lot to give us in the areas of truth, beauty, and goodness.
This is a four-part series. With this introduction, I will talk about two movies. Next post, I will talk about three more. Then, three more after that. I will conclude, the fourth week, by listing the final two of the ten films and give a wrap-up for the series.
Just a quick note: IMDb.com has content information on most films. If you are worried about certain content, check for the movie on their webpage. Under the “Storyline” category, there is a “Parents Guide”. Click on “view content advisory”.
FADE TO BLACK.
1. The Shawshank Redemption
“Remember Red: hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
“I know what he’s going to do to her. She’ll be cavorting, and twinkling, careening towards a happy ending like a kamikaze.”