I have the complete Internet/pay-cable packages. I get HBO and the movie central channels. So my wife and I were playing catch-up with the 24-hour selection, trying to PVR everything that we could see, until we looked at the pay-per-view section, and realized that all the movie central movies, HBO shows, and Oscar films can be ordered for free. That’s pretty cool.
Or is it? To fill a rotating selection of films and TV shows over 5 channels, 24 hours a day, without news or commercials, is not easy. So when I look through the free-order stuff on my box, I see a lot of movies that I’ve never heard of.
I’ve seen a crappy, heavily subsidized comedy-drama written by a guy I lived with in university. I’ve seen three cheapo planetary disaster movies shot over the bridge in North Vancouver; I have no idea how they got made. To those of you who only see big-studio movies: there’s a whole world of trash and treasure, mostly trash, but it’s worth looking into if you get a chance. Unfortunately, The Moment After (Part II) is not a treasures.
Released through (or by) the Christiano Film Group, and directed by Wes Llewellyn, The Moment After (Part II) follows the story of Adam, a renegade FBI agent convicted of terrorism because he helped a rabbi escape from government. The world is dominated by Global Corp, a multinational entity that has converted the world to personal biochips and one currency. It throws religious people in jail. Poor Adam has to make do with taking smuggled communion bread and reading smuggled bible pages.
He escapes into the desert and hooks up with a runaway band of Christians, or as Global calls them, ‘religious extremists.’
The first third of the movie is a typical cheap-movie setup. The last third is a pedestrian showdown with the bad guy, who just might be Satan. It’s the middle third of the movie where things get terribly odd.
The runaways signal to each other by drawing Jesus fishes in the sand. They live in the desert, and in a strange similarity to the Jews and Egyptians, or the Christians and the Romans, the Americans in this movie are persecuted nomads who are at odds with a heathen, techno-savvy enemy. The leader of the religious renegades is a rabbi named Jacob, who carries a bible and preaches Jesus every chance he gets. One woman admits that she was a ‘science major’ but is now so much more happy following the way of the Lord. Everyone hugs, wears baggy mom jeans, and unconsciously throws in bible verses in everyday talk.
And the dialogue! In one scene, one of the principal characters meets a Christian woman after a rousing hymm-sing. What follows is strangely awkward, and combined with the wholesomely meaningful looks exchanged, unexpectedly sexualized.
‘The Lord is gracious, isn’t he?’
‘I suppose he is… um…’
‘Laura. It was good worshipping with you tonight. Good praise, sister.’
‘It just feels like His Spirit moves so much when we worship like that. Don’t you?”
“Yeah. Thank you.’
‘God bless you, brother.’
This is an awful movie. The acting is terrible, the gun violence is sanitized, the fight scenes are ridiculous, one character keeps a cigar in his mouth the entire movie and never smokes it, and every man has tousled mop of bedhead hair. But my fascination with the movie is cultural.
Do Christians feel in their hearts that there will come a time when they have to flee and take to the desert? I can’t see how any American citizen of European descent could claim a cultural memory that is more appropriate to someone of Mid-Eastern or African descent, and yet in these movies (and part 3 is coming) they’re the persecuted minority they were 2,000 years ago. The Moment After (Part II) was very successful with Christian audiences. Do they think this? Do they think that a large and secular government will always threaten a religious society? Interestingly, the Global soldiers wear camouflage and berets similar to UN peacekeepers. Behind the praying, the hugging, the brothering and sistering, The Moment After seems to lust for a time when Christians can fight and, more importantly, suffer for their right to exist, with the back-up knowledge that everything will go according to God’s plan, and in the end good will triumph.
But that’s already happened. Jesus died for our sins over 2000 years ago. Those great and primarily secular civilizations collapsed and these days no one worships false idols. A president cannot be elected in the US without being avowedly religious. Catholicism has replaced Islam as the fastest growing religion on Earth. Mega-churches dot the continent. There’s no longer any reason to feel persecuted, and yet these… religious fetish movies sell like hot-cakes.
But really? I hated the end. They could have gone apocalyptically, old-testament, crazily biblical with the climax, with big scary angels, but instead it was martial arts and machine guns in a barn. If you’re going to go the paranoid religious route, you should go big or not bother.