Tag Archives: Christianity

Film Review: Elmer Gantry (1960)

A mounteback named Elmer Gantry is a traveling salesman who has a magnetic personality and looks for an opportunity to make money by sweet talks, and by permeating the words of the Bible in his passionate speeches. One day, he finds a purpose in life when he spectates an evangelist Sister Sharon Falconer and joins her organization.

Elmer Gantry is an American film produced in 1960 and was adapted from Sinclair Lewis‘s famous novel with the same title. By the time, the novel was published and released, the book received uproar and was widely criticized for writing out some bold details about the religious business and revivalism that happened in the United States a century ago. It was a satirical novel that gave the readers some idea of manipulating the staunch loyalist members of the evangelistic church and raising the money for the business.

The same case is with the film that sparks a lot of attention in the eyebrow-raising dialogues; especially when Elmer and Sister meet the other church leaders. The film takes quite a liberty to expose the concept of Revivalism. The way the organization is depicted functioning and the church leaders are portrayed concerning the religious affairs to cash their personal gains ridicules the traditional beliefs and practices of organized Christianity. Director Richard Brooks dared to touch the subject but the productional aesthetics are so sharp that the portrayal of selling religion in America is on the razor edge for the audience. Gantry and Sister Sharon are the messiahs of this cult for the White Americans. Observe a short church scene at the start where the African-Americans sang a hymn, their method distinguishes and Elmer, despite all the religious dedication to singing along with them, chooses to move on and look for a better market.

Burt Lancaster as Elmer Gantry is a blessing to the eyes of the audience. A role of a lifetime, a performance that occurs rarely in a generation. I felt that Burt and Elmer were to admire each other’s work and someone had a mission to unite them on a platform. From the beginning until the end, Burt mesmerized me and surely most of the viewers with his incredible performance. His pitch, his sermon, his body language, everything was just incredible. A lively and charming characterization of Gantry was made possible by Burt and I hardly believe anyone from that era would have nailed this role. I think of Gregory Peck but he would have looked too rich for Gantry. I think Anthony Quinn or Kirk Douglas would have pulled a performance if Burt was not given this role. Burt’s performance meets variations with time. When Gantry meets criticism after being caught in the scandal, he is shamed in the hall by limited angry spectators. They throw eggs and vegetables on him and he is mute and lost allowing them to throw their rage on him. What a magnificent shot that was when the trumpeter plays on his face and back, as he walks away in shame and people keep throwing the mess on him.

Elmer Gantry was not only enviable due to Burt’s phenomenal performance but also due to the superb assistance of the supporting performances of Jean Simmons as Sister Sharon and Shirley Jones as Lulu Bains.

If this film is remade, I would want Paul Thomas Anderson to direct with any of Joaquin Phoenix or Oscar Isaac being considered to play Elmer Gantry, Rooney Mara as Sister Sharon (plus she resembles Jean Simmons a lot), and Anya Taylor-Joy as Lulu.

The film is the winner of three Academy Awards that includes a deserving Oscar for Burt as the Best Actor. I think Elmer Gantry is one of the earliest pinnacles of portraying the deception of being some false messiah or a prophet. The quality of depicting hypocrisy, the corrupted hearts of showrunners, people being foolish, and some being gold-diggers is very well dramatized. Elmer Gantry is quite a cinematic example of compromising faith by applying materialism in the obscure art of selling religion.

Ratings: 8.4/10

Movie Review: PK (2014)

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Once upon a time, an unknown creature from other gola comes to a great nation with many cultures and religions on a research mission. Why did he choose India?? Probably because it is a Bollywood movie and good Aliens always come to India as compared to US.

Dropped on earth in Rajasthan full naked. Nope that is not T-800, that is an alien with no name, no language, but is going to trace the life of earthlings. He wears green remote stolen by a thief who runs away to Delhi.

His super-strength is that he can see the whole life history of a person whose hands he touch which helps him adapting the local life easy. His research mission turns to remote mission as he crosses different shades of life among humans from Rajasthan to Delhi.

With the passage of time, he is named PK. PK’s quest reaches no boundary as he confronts with different people of different faiths and beliefs and in all this trauma, the alien meets a news reporter Jaggu and details his account. No not Jackie Shroff, Jaggu is nick name from Jagat Janani. Jaggu finds PK very interesting and plans to bring him on media where he opposes local godman, Tapasvi Maharaj who actually has his remote.

PK is a comedy-drama movie produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra (Parinda, 1942: A Love Story) and directed by Rajkumar Hirani (Munnabhai series, 3 Idiots). This is their 4th collaboration as producer-director with all movies achieving huge success with sky-touching box-office collections. With brilliant promos and strong marketing, casting the brand itself Aamir Khan, well-publicized lip-enhancing story of Anushka and cameo of Raju’s ‘Munnabhai’; PK already was a smashing hit before its release and had promised to become India’s all-time highest grossing movie ever to date. By 1st of January, 2015, PK had already crossed Dhoom 3 with ₹264 crore in India and ₹492 crore worldwide in just 13 days. 

There is a tremendous depth of take-a-look over the nature of funny asylum. Filmmaker Raju and screenplay writer Abhijat Joshi once again put a load of questions in viewer’s mind like the duo did in the past. They used Gandhi’s philosophy and thesis in a country of a forgotten leader in ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai‘, then took an individual’s brain and heart to break the silence over richly disturbed educational and employment system in ‘3 Idiots’.

Now the writers plot a more common root of religious beliefs and ritualities. India is globally an economic and financial booster among many great nations with a population exceeding over a billion. With that fact, languages and religions play a prominent part in nation-building. But with all social and moral justifications, PK the alien discovers the richness of deception among the majority. That deception comes from their godmen who multiplies their so-called religious business by deceiving those who follow God but not holy books.

PK is an object by a thinker applied on one sector of earth and called ‘research mission’. The flow of script paces towards his various ideologies over a confused state of ‘Call’. In a confound world; PK is disturbed, confused and frustrated to whom shall he call for help when you need. That is the greatest depression of 21st century when a human is effed by state’s politics and law enforcement, and civil war among people of different faiths (sometimes of same faith but different sect). Sect?? yes sect – where school of thought among same people differs and that is what happened in movie as few seconds of Shiite’s Ashura were picturized.

Even India is just an example, godmen are everywhere and people are tremendously tweeting those nuts. PK/Tapasvi scenes are very thought-provoking, specially their last segment of on-air talk show is worth listening. Not only religions but mental understanding between people of two nations are superb. The Indo-Pak affair among larka-larki in Belgium is short on-screen but of prominence.

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Minuses? Every movie has, so has PK. Background score has no ears to seduce, songs are way flat. In fact script never demanded songs but being a commercial Hindi movie it is a financially must. Two of the songs ‘Love is a waste of Sperm’ and ‘Chaar Kadam’ already develops heard-before feeling.

I might have less knowledge of internet as I fail to understand the continuity of a video call from house of Jaggu’s father to Tapasvi Maharaj’s center. But more massive error was the talk show which schedule to on air 6pm in Delhi but when calling Jaggu’s lover Sarfaraz in Pakistan, it is day over there.

Plusses are many. Screenplay has already been detailed above as the director has superbly executed the script. Director brilliantly manages to shot highly sensitive religious aspects of the movie in satirical way. Thank God bottle of Vines never reached masjid :P Make-up and costume designing was very creative, PK’s weird match of dressings were well-explained and the over-usage of vehicles sketch a sharp contrast of India’s huge concerns over non-stop population or HIV aids (just another small thought over writer’s flow of ink on paper).

I really don’t see Sanjay Dutt’s heavy-duty on cameo of that prominence. Anyone could have played that role. He surely was picked to bring Munnabhai back to some circuit. I am majorly surprised that this time Raju put Boman Irani in such a minor role as compared to other notable roles in previous Raju movies. Anushka gives life to her Jaggu character and Saurabh Shukla‘s Tapasvi role is just another highlight of his superb CV.

Aamir Khan as PK proves yet again why is he called the ‘Perfectionist’. He goes naked, dresses weird, adopts what he breath. Saying in short, he customise and smokes the role in very AK way. He is an absolute showstopper who will entertain you in the whole movie. His facial expressions have no full stop on limits, the Rajasthani dialogue delivery is remarkable.

PK is a must watch movie, not because it is an Amir Khan movie but also it appeals you to understand. The message has social and religious issues but vehement.

Ratings: 8.7/10

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