Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Macon movies: "Of Gods and Men" with the Film Guild, and Magnetic Fields too

Though we're smack in the middle of the movie summer, and in the world of wide releases we've now got the seriously satisfying "X-Men: First Class" and, this week, J.J. Abrams' "Super 8," here in Macon there are also great movies coming up outside of our multiplexes.

And that starts this Sunday with the French drama "Of Gods and Men," being presented Sunday at the Douglass Theatre by the Macon Film Guild. The movie, a quiet thriller of sorts by director Xavier Beauvois, center on the lives and sacrifices of a group of Trappist monks living in harmony with Muslims in Algeria in 1996, until they find their very existence threatened by extremist forces in the Algerian Civil War.

In giving his very moving movie the slow but absorbing rhythm of the monks' daily lives, Beauvois draws viewers deeply into their world and gives the movie a sense of peace, even as that peace itself is besieged on all sides by the modern life around it. And it's in this constant conflict, best captured in a scene in which the monks gather to share in a Gregorian chant as the terrorists' helicopters swarm around their compound, that Beauvois manages to give his movie at least as much urgency as a good Hollywood action flick.

He's certainly helped in this endeavor by the actors who play the monks at the story's core. Led by the French actors Lambert Wilson as the head of the monastery and Michael Lonsdale as a doctor who reaches out to the Muslim community, they all imbue their performances with a quiet grace, and in their faces show the humanity that give this movie its compelling drive.

In the end, without ever directly preaching, "Of Gods and Men" is ultimately about what it means to be a Christian in extremely trying circumstances. And the mix of hope and sadness with which it examines both the simultaneous power and futility of faith make it well worth checking out with the Macon Film Guild at 2, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Douglass Theatre.

A magnetic movie offering

The folks behind Macon's Second Tuesday Rock 'n' Roll Picture Show have been doing a great job of bringing us movies that move to all kinds of beats, from the pounding metal of "Lemmy" to the delightfully insane world of the Wu Tang Clan with "Rock the Bells."

June 14 at the Cox Capitol Theatre, they'll slow things down for the documentary "Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields." Merritt, who's been called "the Cole Porter of his generation," specializes in beautiful little ditties about all kinds of love, and this portrait by directors Kerthy Fix and Gail O'Hara should be an enlightening and entertaining glimpse into his creative process.

The fun begins with happy hour at 6:30 p.m., complete with dinner catered by Saralynn Harvey and her cooks from Good to Go, and then the movie at 7:30 p.m. Admission is just $5, or $3 if you wear a rock 'n' roll T-shirt, meaning that if I manage to make it I'll be wearing my T-shirt featuring an armadillo emblazoned with the logo of the Heartless Bastards. Hope to see you there. Peace out.

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