What Kind of Films Are Reviewed Here?

FilmFisher aims to serve the diverse interests and convictions of classical minded Christian high school students, college students and beyond. We recognize that Christian students come from a host of religious, political and aesthetic backgrounds; what one Christian allows insofar as films are concerned will not be synonymous with those of his neighbor.

A film which receives high praise and a positive rating by a FilmFisher reviewer is not necessarily being commended to all readers of all ages and of all backgrounds. A high school freshman should not take the fact that, say, 12 Years a Slave was rated highly on FilmFisher as an encouragement to personally see that film. Such decisions ought to be based on the consent of parents, as well as the spiritual and intellectual maturity of the student.

FilmFisher reviews aim to critique films based on their intellectual, theological and aesthetic achievements; our reviews, and our ratings, do not summarize the overall quantity of objectionable material found in a film. 12 Years a Slave might contain a higher quantity of objectionable content than Restless Heart or The Lego Movie, and yet the latter films receive far lower grades because they have accomplished far less.

FilmFisher reviews are written according to classical prejudices, and classical art and literature has not obtained a high reputation for being clean, positive and encouraging. Unfortunately, many Christians assume that old art is “clean” and new art is “dirty,” as though the last forty years have seen an unexplainable, precipitous drop in the propriety and friendliness of art. Even a cursory view of Ovid, Suetonius, Gustave Courbet or Billy Wilder will be sufficient to disabuse anyone of such opinions.

At the same time, Christians must be on guard and not view the high intellectual capacity of a student as warrant for purchasing a ticket to an R-rated film. The true intellectual pores over a book or a film for days, and thus the more sophisticated the thinker, the more apt they are to run the images and dialog of a film over and over again in their imagination. A strong intellect is not necessarily a strainer which pulls out the bad things and maintains the good; a strong intellect is more apt to hold on to everything, good and bad, long after walking out of the theater. A strong intellect will stew, ruminate, contemplate for weeks. If a film contains a disturbing image or a vivaciously defended anti-Christian theme, parents should expect a classically-minded student to be more affected, and not less affected, by such a thing. “My child is old enough to handle this film,” is a claim often made hastily, and based on assumptions which liken the mind and heart to a filter rather than a deep bowl or a house. To put it a bit more daringly, the smarter your son is, the more likely a Harry Potter film will be to inspire an interest in magic. Precious little of the film will really register with a disengaged or dull student. A gifted student will be intrigued, will see the logic and the poetry in magic, and will be able to tie the mysticism at work in the Potter films to its sublime roots. I say all this while remaining a devotee of the Potter films and someone entirely opposed to witchcraft.

We ask for your generous spirit in viewing our own viewing list; while we aim to serve a broad audience, FilmFisher reviewers may decide to see films you find questionable or suspect. We ask you remember that these films are not necessarily meant for young teenagers, nor are they meant for just any reader. FilmFisher is an ecumenical community of writers, pulling from Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic traditions. It is my firm conviction, as the editor of this site, that some ecumenical communities ought to appeal to what all members hold in common and that other ecumenical communities ought to exist as a kind of free markets for ideas. FilmFisher is definitely the latter, which means that FilmFisher is a place where writers are, to a great degree, free to be themselves. I would expect a Catholic to sound like a Catholic, a postmillennialist to sound like a postmillennialist, an iconoclast to sound like iconoclast. No review is edited according to a statement of faith. In this, we encourage open conversation, and you’ll note that our comments boxes are open.

I hope you find FilmFisher a refreshing, invigorating place in which to parley with other Christians on a whole host of matters. Take our reviews with a grain of salt, but as a grain of salt, too, because we all aim to preserve what is good and true and beautiful in the world.