"We are always on the lookout for movies that "speak to our condition" (a Quaker phrase) and reveal new possibilities for our lives. We love dramas that touch on universal experiences, knock down barriers between people, and evoke our compassion. We are enriched by stories that touch our hearts and send us out of the theater rejoicing. A truly good film is not only thought-provoking and entertaining, it also leaves the viewer with a sense of what it means to live deeply and fully every day."
- Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Movie Critics-
What do you do for "an evening out" when you don't want to spend a lot of money?
- Make dinner at home.
- Rent a movie.
- Invite some friends over to share the dinner & the movie.
I "discovered" Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat many years ago when I subscribed to a quarterly magazine called, "Spirituality & Health". Once a year the Brussat's would compile at Top 10 List of the Most Spiritually Literate Films of the Past Year. I knew I could trust their recommendations because I loved the ones on their list that I had already seen. When I took their recommendations for ones I hadn't seen, I was almost always rewarded with a winner. See what you think!
Don't get put-off by their use of the words "Spiritually Literate". These movies aren't religious or sappy. If you like movies that are intelligent--shake you up--stretch your mind--and make you look at yourself or the world a little differently, they just may become your Go-To-Movie-Critics, too.
Here's their list of the Ten Most Spiritually Literate Films of 2007. If you like what you see, scroll down to see some of their favorite picks for 2008.
*I've added an asterisk to movies I have personally seen & recommend. If you'd like to print this list off on one page click here.
- Justice: Amazing Grace. An inspiring drama about a zealous abolitionist in 18th century England.
- Love: *Away from Her. Subtle, poignant, superbly acted drama about a long marriage tested by Alzheimer's.
- Love: Feast of Love. Positively enchanting romantic drama that speaks volumes about love and challenges us all to grow a bigger heart.
- Love: *Juno. Bright and funny comedy with a delicious performance of Ellen Page as a precocious and big-hearted teenager on a mission of love.
- Love: *The Kite Runner. Memorable & moving drama about the pain of lost friendship, the yearning for forgiveness, and the freedom that comes from making amends.
- Love: *Lars and the Real Girl. About love, kindness, and hospitality extended to a lonely young man from his church and then from his whole community.
- Shadow: In the Valley of Elah. Riveting film that evokes compassion for the soldiers who have served & are serving in Iraq at great danger to their minds, bodies, and souls.
- Shadow: *Michael Clayton. Poignant & powerful thriller about corporate malfeasance that reveals what it is like to face life-shattering moments.
- Teachers: *Freedom Writers. Inspiring drama about an idealistic teacher who breaks down the walls separating her students from each other.
- You: *Once. Charming and endearing Irish film about two-down-and-out individuals who collaborate on a musical project that deeply enriches them both in surprising ways.
The Ten Most Spiritually Literate Foreign Films of 2007.
- Compassion: *After the Wedding. Denmark. A substantive film about an idealistic Danish aid worker who is forced to direct his love and compassion in new channels that both surprise & challenge him.
- Hospitality: *The Band's Visit. Israel. A deeply spiritual comedy about the bridge-making effects of hospitality and the ways music serves as a universal language drawing people together.
- Imagination: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. France. Based on a classic in the literature of illness, salutes the firepower of imagination as a life-giver and a life-sustainer.
- Justice: Persepolis. Iran. An animated autobiographical masterpiece about one Iranian woman's intense quest for the holy grail of freedom.
- Transformation: Blame It on Fidel. France. An extraordinary French drama about the reactions of a conservative nine-year-old girl to changes brought into her life by her parents' radical politics.
- Transformation: *The Lives of Others. Germany. A riveting German film about spying and the fear, distrust, and betrayal that come with it.
- Transformation: The Willow Tree. Iran. A spiritual masterpiece on gratitude, transformation and surrender to God by the gifted Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi.
- Yearning: Avenue Montaigne. France. A charming French film about the yearnings of an ordinary young woman and the rich and famous celebrities she encounters waitressing at a famous Paris bistro.
- You: La Vie en Rose. France. An astonishing performance by Marion Cotillard as the legendary French chanteuse Edith Piaf whose life was a roller-coaster ride of exhilarating highs and incredibly depressing lows.
- You: Vitus. Switzerland. An enchanting Swiss movie about a musical prodigy and his loving grandfather who nurtures his dream and gives him the space to be himself.
The Ten Most Spiritually Literate Documentaries of 2007. (Remember-you don't have to agree with the message or politics of a documentary to see it--or learn something from it.)
- Justice: Darfur Now. Inspiring documentary about six courageous and creative activists who are doing what they can to help the suffering people of Darfur.
- Justice: The Price of Sugar. Portrait of a modern-day saint, courageous Spanish Catholic priest in the Dominican Republic with a ministry of compassion to poor, enslaved Haitian immigrants.
- Justice: *Sicko. Blistering documentary designed to spur reform for a new system of universal health care in the United States.
- Openness: For the Bible Tells Me So. Important and edifying documentary designed to convince people to open their hearts and minds to support gay and lesbian equality.
- Peace: Jimmy Carter Man from Plains. Follows former President Jimmy Carter on his book tour as he displays his political wisdom, Christian-faith-based service, and emotional literacy.
- Reverence: Arctic Tale. Extraordinary documentary that heightens our connection with the lives and destinies of the Arctic polar bear and a walrus.
- Shadow: The Devil Came on Horseback. One of the most searing and emotionally shattering documentaries ever make about the indifference of the world to genocide.
- Silence: Into Great Silence. An exquisite meditative journal inside a Carthusian monastery where silence is practiced as a way on honoring the mystery and the majesty of God.
- Transformation: *God Grew Tired of Us. Inspiring documentary about three immigrants from the Sudan and their strong connection to their African roots and values.
- Transformation: The 11th Hour. Offers a map to a sustainable future, challenging us to change our consciousness and transform our lives by living lightly on the Earth in harmony with nature.
The Thirteen Most Spiritually Literate Movies for 2008--Movies with a Rating of 5 out of 5
- *The Visitor. Depicts the way a professor's closed-off heart is opened by music, friendship, and love; one of the most touching and impressive films of the year!
- Tokyo Sonata. A startling and creative contemporary fable about some of the drastic changes that are rocking the traditional understanding of work and family life in Japan.
- Happy-Go-Lucky. One of the best portraits of an enthusiastic person ever put on the screen.
- The Class. A rounded and revealing portrait of a French teacher in a multiracial Parisian school and the challenges he faces in the classroom.
- August Evening. A shooting star of a movie with awesome beauty in its characters, in the natural world, and in the cycles of creation and destruction depicted in the emotionally affecting drama.
- Henry Poole Is Here. A deeply spiritual movie about miracles, hope, love, and living in the present--one of the best films of the year.
- A Man Named Pearl. An extraordinary documentary about a talented African-American, a garden of exquisite beauty and love, and a community that has been brought to life by his artistry, enthusiasm, and generosity.
- When Did You Last See Your Father? A sensitive and compelling exploration of a troubled father-son relationship whose universal themes will connect with many adults.
- The Dhamma Brothers. A remarkable documentary about inmates at an Alabama prison who do a 10-day silent meditation retreat which opens them to the experience of inner peace and compassion.
- Young@Heart. An extraordinary documentary about a senior citizen chorus that reveals singing as a spiritual practice that opens our hearts, provides fresh energy, and connects us with others.
- Megane. A thoroughly enchanting drama about an up-tight and driven woman who is softened and opened up by the slow sensuous rhythms of island time and living in the present moment.
- Bab'Aziz - The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul. An enchanting and parabolic film by Tunisian director Nacer Khemir about the beauty, grace, humility, and love of the Sufi path of the heart.
- Praying with Lior. An emotionally rich documentary about the extraordinary Bar Mitzvah of a spiritually vibrant 13 year-old boy with Down Syndrome.
If you want to keep up with Frederic and Mary Ann Bussart's movie recommendations, visit their web site by clicking here.