by Phil Boatwright

Dear Readers,

As a Christian, I have chosen an unusual profession: being a film critic. Nearly every day, I judge the work of others. It doesn’t always sit right with me doing such. For many years, I worked in different capacities in the entertainment industry, and I can tell you that most people involved in the movie and TV-making business are just trying to do the best job they know how. And though we often see bizarre behavior coming from the land of make-believe, there are a great many very good folk living there. There are even some who are attempting to be good Christian witnesses.

As an actor, I was competent and reliable but no George C. Scott. As a singer, I could hold a note as long as the next baritone, but never seemed to be able to generate the same appreciation Old Blue Eyed Sinatra attained. As a writer of fiction, I came up with a few good concepts, but unlike Hemmingway, I was unable to write between the lines. What I could do was spotlight those who did hit the heights with their gifts.

The wonder of movies is that one picture will reach one person, while completely mystifying another. A film critic is merely giving an opinion. But as my purpose is not to promote a movie, neither is it meant to condemn. Having done this work for 22 years, I keep trying to be an interesting, fun read. Occasionally my analyzing may seem a bit terse. That is not the goal, either.

I do attempt to avoid making a joke at a filmmaker’s expense and if I don’t like his or her film, I usually try to point out other fine work they have done. No one has gotten to the Big Screen by accident, and no one is trying to make a bad movie. Therefore, there should be some respect shown for the Hollywood community.

Bottom line of my efforts is to remind readers that the Truth is always found in God’s Word, seldom in the media’s products. That’s just a fact. For even when a positive point is being presented in a film, the message is often being sent without regard for biblical principles. This is either done from ignorance or defiance.

The most endearing films, like many parables, nourish the spirit as well as entertain. For example, the Danish, Best Foreign Oscar winner of 1987, BABETTE’S FEAST: More like viewing a fine old painting or enjoying a sumptuous meal, it is a remarkable story of devotion and sacrifice, urging us not to hide behind our religion, but to put it into action. I delight in bringing such movies to the attention of my readers.

It may be hard to believe, but some people have yet to see WEST SIDE STORY or KEY LARGO. I’ve introduced those films to members of a younger generation and am thrilled when they discover that great films can tell a story and inspire the viewer without containing offensive material. I also get a kick out of finding lesser-known movies such as COTTON PATCH GOSPEL. This 1988 taped stage performance is a musical comedy/drama placing the Gospel of Matthew in modern times, with Jesus being born in Gainesville, Georgia. With its great music by the late Harry Chapin and a very funny script, COTTON PATCH GOSPEL is one of the most inspiring, entertaining treatments of the New Testament I’ve seen. And I bet a lot of readers just said, “I’ve never even heard of it.” Well, now you have.

As we’re getting ready to end this year, my New Year’s resolution will be to improve my writing skills. The main aim will be to write shorter. In other words this note should say the same things next year, with half the paragraphs. Well, that’s the goal. Stick with me. Let’s see if I can do it.

May God bless you all.