Jerry L. Holsopple Archive

BLACKkKLANSMAN

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September 6, 2018 Jerry L. Holsopple

Imagine a black rookie cop in Colorado Springs, infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan, by posing as a white supremacist in the 1970s. If this wasn’t based on a true story, not even Spike Lee could get us to enter fully into this film, BlacKkKlansman. Lee masterfully connects the past and present without missing a beat. The film opens with a scene of tattered Confederate soldiers in “Gone with the Wind.” This nostalgia segues to a white supremacist leader practicing a speech and finally cuts to Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) walking into the Colorado Springs Police Department to apply for […]

The King and Won’t You Be My Neighbor

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August 3, 2018 Jerry L. Holsopple

  Filmmaker Eugene Jarecki takes the front seat in Elvis Presley’s 1963 Rolls Royce to explore America in a new film, The King. The coast to coast drive explores the American Dream, the roots of rock and roll, the 2016 U.S. election and the nature of success using Elvis as the metaphoric story. Ethan Hawke shares, near the end, that Elvis at each juncture in his career chose money, more money rather than what might have made him happy or fulfilled. Jarecki uses this theme to make social commentary on the U.S., suggesting that the dream is dead, or really […]

A Wrinkle in Time

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April 6, 2018 Jerry L. Holsopple

A Wrinkle in Time, based on the novel by Madeline L’Engle, starts in familiar territory: an adolescent girl, who misses her absent father, has become the target of bullies. Absorbed by her pain, she is an easy target for those gathering like moths to the light around someone who appears weaker than they are. Meg Murray (Storm Reid), formerly an outstanding student, is reduced to confiding in her younger brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe). Charles Wallace, embracing his oddness, is fully open to the seemingly absurd. He introduces Meg to Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), who reveals the possibility that Mr. Murray is […]

The Shape of Water

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March 9, 2018 Jerry L. Holsopple

What do you get when you take Beauty and the Beast, take the old artist neighbor from Amelie, bring in a villain worthy of a Bond film, add some Soviet spies, and set it all during the race to space? As the tale unfolds, it begins to question who really is the monster. The Shape of Water. But The Shape of Water, while totally predictable, borrows these cultural references to make a magical fairy tale. What sets apart director Guillermo del Toro’s tale is the way these mutually lonely and misunderstood characters find each other. This is a love story, […]

The Super Bowl 2018 Ads

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February 9, 2018 Jerry L. Holsopple

This past Sunday night brought, once again, the Super Bowl to the screen. This year the game was exciting right up to the last play. I was at a party with a bunch of friends and I asked them for their opinions about the many ads that played throughout the evening. It was funny, it was challenging, it was political, and it made a statement about how religion could be a powerful force rather than being one that separates Not too much has changed over the years, as the series of Tide ads demonstrated with their parodies of many Super […]

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 […]

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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