Jerry L. Holsopple Archive

Godless

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January 5, 2018 Jerry L. Holsopple

The cowboy western is the quintessential American movie form. These films can function as a mythic telling of American history, how to solve problems, and what the nature of evil is. I paid attention when Netflix released a new western miniseries, to see if they disrupted this myth in the same way that they and several of the premium cable networks have disrupted the delivery of entertainment. These binge-inducing shows often have the aesthetic properties of cinema while enjoying the more serial nature of television. Godless breaks less ground then I would hope, since in the end violence is presented […]

House of Harassment

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December 8, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

The question came a few minutes after I finished my presentation. “Should we watch the films of the actresses who revealed what Harvey Weinstein did to them?” That was a thoughtful question, since I had ended my talk by suggesting that we stop reading John Howard Yoder and spend the time seeing where his sexually abusive behavior influenced his theology. The convocation happened in conjunction with my exhibit Laments for an Age of Sexualized Power at Bethel College in Kansas. I will approach with skepticism and caution the denials made by those in power. We should expect a denial since […]

Fifteen

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November 3, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

The low drone of a viola broken by a single voice leads us into the stone-filled churchyard. In our mind we see the names of those who have passed before us. As a Jennys fan I thought I might be disappointed by an album of covers, but they push them in such fascinating directions that they seem like new songs. Come, come with me out to the old churchyard I so well know those paths ’neath the soft green sward Friends slumber in there that we want to regard; We will trace out their names in the old churchyard Soon […]

Blade Runner 2049

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October 13, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

The original Blade Runner is a hard act to follow. It has been studied and written about and re-edited so many times that I always have to check which version is being referred to. Blade Runner 2049 partially answers the questions we have argued over for years, while leaving more unanswered. Is Deckard (Harrison Ford) a replicant, as is hinted several times in the original? 2049 continues the questions from Blade Runner and raises the stakes by asking what it means to reproduce. Can’t tell you. We do discover at least a sketch of what happened after he and Rachael […]

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

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September 8, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

I couldn’t escape the irony as I sat in the theater, just minutes into the film, and watched Al Gore speaking in Houston about what could happen. Months later the rain and catastrophic flooding is happening in Houston and we barely have time to notice that a third of Bangladesh is under water. Yet some of those in power in our nation refuse to believe that climate change is happening. To believe requires taking responsibility, and that might impinge on policy. The film doesn’t leave us with doom and gloom. We are urged to take action. We want to believe […]

Dunkirk

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August 4, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

Cinematic takes on World War II seem more popular than ever. Recent films have traced events from the Holocaust (Ida, Denial, The Zookeepers Wife), demonstrated the devastating results of the cruelty of Soviet soldiers (The Innocents), portrayed heroes (Hacksaw Ridge, the upcoming Darkest Night about Churchill), or focused on events (Pegasus Bridge). Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk takes us into one extended moment where the will of the English (and French) is pitted against the formidable power of the German military. Surrender or annihilation of the 400,000 British and French troops surrounded by German forces seem like the only possible outcomes. They […]

Megan Leavey

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July 10, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

Megan Leavey, based on a true story, spins a tale in mostly predictable ways while regularly grabbing your emotions and spiking your adrenaline. Megan, whose best friend died of an overdose, is stuck in the guilt of having survived, and the trauma of loss. She fights constantly with her mother, who never seems to understand. Seemingly bereft of options, Megan enlists in the Marines. She makes this multiyear commitment just to get away from her life as it is. If we were to consider the dogs in this film as a metaphor for our expectation and treatment of human soldiers, […]

Anne with an E

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June 9, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

Anne of Green Gables is my mother’s favorite movie. She watches the 1980’s version several times every year. I will not mention this new version to her, for Anne with an E opens a window to the trauma that fills Anne’s memories. I encourage fans of the books and previous incarnations to give this version a chance. While many of the situations that the 1980s version uses for great humor remain in this new take, they often have a more painful subtext. You will not laugh away your tough day watching the antics of this Anne. The 1980s version is […]

Technology is making the world too small

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May 5, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

I considered reviewing The Circle this week, but the early reviews have been so scathing that I couldn’t bring myself to go to the theater. If a movie can’t convince 20 percent of the reviewers on a review site to approve of the film, you know it is not worth your hard-earned money. (Wait a minute—doesn’t this contradict what I will say later?) The film’s paranoid take on the Net cowers under the multiple screens and the surveilling cameras. We pay much less attention to the people we are with, as the device requires at least peripheral attention at all times. […]

Roll Columbia: Woody Guthrie’s 26 Northwest Songs

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April 7, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

Woody Guthrie wrote 26 tunes during one month of 1941, working for a Depression-era government project in the Columbia River Valley. The tunes reflect the struggle of those who work hard and still struggle to survive. The tales rewind the pain of those wandering the country looking for a job, a better place to live, and a way to raise their families. These new versions, recorded mostly by artists based in the Pacific Northwest, start the two-disc set with “Pastures of Plenty,” featuring the wonderful guitar work of Jon Neufeld and Michael Hurley. The tunes seem to be from another […]

About The Author

Jerry L. Holsopple

Jerry L. Holsopple is Professor of Visual and Communication Arts at Eastern Mennonite University with a PhD from European Graduate School. This fall semester 2015, Jerry is Artist in Residence at the Luce Center for Art and Religion, part of Wesley Theological Seminary. He spent a year as a Fullbright scholar in Lithuania. In 1998, he was instrumental in launching Third Way website.

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