As I've written before, I love the films of Rich Christiano. Like Christian metal, they're remarkable for the particular way they blend the trappings of popular cinema with out-and-out religious didacticism to create a not quite completely incohesive whole. They're talkily boring as Mormons-only heaven, but Christiano's commitment to talky boredom fascinates me. He dips his toes into genre the same way his characters dip theirs into sin or doubt: briefly, and with an emphatic retraction. His career has been longish and presumably fruitfulish, which must make him a Rich Christiano indeed. I keep promising to write a full-length piece on his magnum opus, time travel and ecclesiastical politics epic Time Changer, and that may yet happen.
But first! The maestro's newest project, A Matter of Faith, will tackle the creation-vs-evolution "debate" head-on, liberally dramatising it into the form of: a debate. This time the sermon is barely swaddled in Nineties business and legal thriller clothing, even though the battleground is just a university. (It's a university on the physical plane, anyway. Spiritually, they're fighting for the souls of all mankind.)
Christiano's tendency to give visual storytelling lip service before gripping the pulpit and lecturing for ninety minutes is in full force. Garth Marenghi once said "subtext is for cowards," and Christiano has taken Marenghi to heart: all his themes here are elevated to the level of actual text. I can't wait to see the big debate between Night Court's Harry Anderson and General Hospital's Jay Pickett. The non-drama looks very promising.
Everything you could possibly want from a cross-on-its-sleeve movie about creationism in schools is in here. The token nods to a gross misunderstanding of science; the questioning of faith and subsequent parental disapproval; the Blando Calrissian three-point lighting and wholesome pastel colours; the dead eyes. This is a movie that chooses as its evolution straw man a chicken evolving from an egg. Best of all are the attempts to turn this essay into a movie. I could watch Biblical literalists proclaim "I'm out of the game!" set to pounding dramatic music until they got Raptured away, leaving me here with only A Matter of Faith to prove they ever existed.
A Matter Of Faith hits theatres September 26th. It's currently only scheduled to play in Grove, Oklahoma and corncob pipe capital of the world Washington, Missouri, which will be a long, hungover drive the morning after Fantastic Fest.