This week’s installment comes from the always insightful John Stamper:

Hello everybody. This is my first Mockingbird At The Movies, and since most of you don’t know anything about me, here are a couple quick facts about the Man Behind The Curtain: I’m 44, I work for the CDC in Atlanta, and I came to Mockingbird by way of Paul Zahl (he was my rector when I lived in Alabama). That’s where I first heard the word of Grace pro mea.

I have been obsessively watching movies since I was a kid. As a matter of full disclosure, a lot (but not all) of the movies I love violate the standards that would be appropriate for most Christian web sites: i.e. they’ve often got sex, drugs, or profanity somewhere in them. That may be a nonissue at Mbird, but I’ll still give everybody a heads-up if I think a movie might really grate on somebody’s eyes or ears.

Final note: movie essays are hard for me because I value so much, for others as much as myself, the experience of hearing a story for the first time without knowing what’s gonna happen next. So my own style is going to be to reveal almost none of the plot – and I apologize in advance if that doesn’t give me much to talk about. 🙂

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Tonight’s a double feature, which may be a recurring theme for me. Double-features will always be two movies I love which connect in some (possibly very odd) way.

Tonight: All About Eve (1950) and Disney’s The Jungle Book (1967).

OK, to start with, these are like two of the best movies EVER. The connection is George Sanders, who plays the theater critic Addison DeWitt in “All about Eve” and the tiger Shere Khan in “The Jungle Book.” Watch the two movies in that order. As the jungle grass parts and you hear Shere Khan’s first line (“A man-cub? How delightful!) you will realize that the tiger IS Addison DeWitt – they sound EXACTLY the same. There are other connections too – e.g. one movie is about an urban jungle and the other a tropical jungle — but you will make those on your own.

If you are lucky enough to know nothing about “All About Eve”, keep it that way. Don’t read even the shortest blurb about it. You’ll have a wonderful experience of learning all about her. There’s a moment toward the end of the movie, a scene with George Sanders, which has GOT to be seen by anyone interested in the power of the Law to completely strip away all pretense, all attempts at negotiating an identity and righteousness on one’s own terms, a holy Law that is absolutely and unsparingly and terrifyingly true.

“The Jungle Book” is fabulous – in my view the best full length animated kids movie ever (and I include its Pixar successors). It’s all about identity, love, trust, and sacrifice; and is both funny and fun. The music is incredible and you get an appearance of a British Invasion Mop-Top band of vultures at the end.

Weakest links for the two movies:
– EVE: The writing and acting for the character of Margo’s boyfriend (the theater director). Fortunately he doesn’t get much screen time and it’s only weak compared to the rest.

– JUNGLE: the sequences with the elephants. Again, fun but not nearly as good as the rest of the movie. Have a good time at the movies.