Lewis in LaLaLand: Joy and Longing in Film


City of stars
Are you shining just for me?
City of stars
There’s so much that I can’t see
Who knows?
Is this the start of something wonderful and new?
Or one more dream that I cannot make true?

Young, hopeful, maybe even star-crossed, lovers, Sebastian and Mia, dance, sing and act their way through the recent blockbuster film, La La Land, but this question haunts them throughout.  It haunts them as they seek their place in the world; or, in a word, as they seek significance.  It is the world of Hollywood, where life seems to be, well, at least slightly larger than life.  The vivacious, “vervy”, but alas, sadly melancholic, musical score pulls us into their drama; but their drama is no different than that which any of us face.  To bring us all “up to speed” – to see how La La Land reflects the deep truths with which we all wrestle – we will relate the musings on life, love and the music of it all from Oxford and Cambridge Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature, as well as famous Christian writer, C.S. Lewis.

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Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged as Manifesto for Individualism


        jg1               $_35

                           Ayn Rand’s 1957 Novel          Caspar David Friedrich’s 1817                                                                                        Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog

Russian-born social theorist, philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand’s final and most well known novel Atlas Shrugged, perhaps the sole occupant of the genre ‘capitalist fiction,’ articulates the case for individualism as perhaps no other modern novel or film dares.  Made into a three-part sequel, the finale was released in late 2014, and like earlier releases, earned disappointing reviews as well as box office receipts.  The film’s box office performance echoed that of the original 1957 novel, disliked by critics but popular and of enduring interest among a smaller group of fans.  Ayn Rand, and Atlas Shrugged in particular, presents an apologetic case of sorts for the primacy of the individual over the collective, which is controversially received in an era in which the common wisdom is that “it takes a village” to accomplish anything that is of note. Examination of the case made by, and poor reception of, Atlas Shrugged, offer an opportunity to peer into the modern Western psyche.

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The Very Moral Mr. Monk and the Disturbed Nihilist-Mentalist, Patrick Jane

While the long-running television series has long been a staple of American life, stories with underlying themes of evil and revenge have had great popularity in recent years, driven by colorful (or colorfully uncolorful) characters such as Tony Shalhoub’s Adrian Monk (Monk, 2002-2009) and Simon Baker’s Patrick Jane (The Mentalist, 2008-2015) . Both characters seek solutions to long-standing, unsolved murders of their spouses (and for Jane, his daughter is a victim as well), and the quest forms a significant portion of the ‘sub-plotting’ over several seasons.  Both quests, and their resolutions, provide interesting cases for the question of nihilism in film, similar in many senses to discussions by apologetics & film luminaries Thomas Hibbs and Phil Tallon on Batman and Harry Potter.
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We see through a film darkly …

film darkly     shows nothing  reel spir

so these were the texts for the course Art, FIlm and Apologetics – I have not looked through the Overstreet Through a Screen Darkly yet, but did enjoy both Johnston’s Reel Spirituality and Hibbs’ Seinfeldesque romp through time and space, being and non-being Shows About Nothing. At some point, I hope to reconstruct some of the insights and historical argument here – esp. how Shows about Nothing draws on Tocqueville’s insights about New Worlds and Old. But I pretty much entirely forget how this worked right now …