Sunday, May 31, 2020

Some Film Recommendations

It goes without saying that people have been doing a lot of screen watching in days. A friend on Facebook recently asked for suggestions of things to watch, so I did some digging around for some options.

Since we don't review the movies here at Movie Churches (instead, we review clergy and churches in movies -- as you know), many, many of the films here aren't good. Some are almost painful to watch, but I do it for the good of you, dear readers. These, on the other hand, are films I enjoyed. Some of them I love dearly. They're divided into categories, and if you'd like to know more, click the title to go to the original post. Most are available on Amazon Prime.

Robert Duvall Trilogy
Duvall has made (IMHO) made three of the best films about the Christian faith. (And a couple of pretty awful ones as well, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.)
Get Low
Tender Mercies
The Apostle (language and violence)

Two of these films won the Oscar for Best Picture, and the other should have. (And all of the clergy did pretty well in their steeple ratings too.)
On the Waterfront (Adult themes)
A Man for All Seasons
The Quiet Man

Frankly, there have been funnier films reviewed here, but the original request stressed that the films should be family-friendly. Still, these films did make me laugh.
Heaven’s Above
Millions (language)
O Brother Where Art Thou (language and sensuality)

I know, I know, reading is hard. Subtitles. But worth it.
Au Revoir, Les Enfants
Joyeux Noel (violence)
We Are Brothers (strong language)

The theology is rarely great in musicals, and these films aren’t exceptions. But they’re fun.
Cabin in the Sky
Guys and Dolls
The Sound of Music

Science Fiction/Horror
For some reason, people often think these genres are not Christian. But horror acknowledges the supernatural and science fiction often stresses that some things are beyond human understanding.
The Hunchback of Norte Dame
Signs (language, violence)
War of the Worlds (1953)

Worthy Christian Films
Christian films are, as a group, pretty bad. Too often they're nothing more than sappy propaganda. I’ve watched some really bad Christian films for this blog, but I enjoyed these.
The Case for Christ
Soul Surfer
Grace Unplugged

What about you? Looking for any movie recommendations? Let me know.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Comedy Month -- The Pastor and the Pro

The Pastor and the Pro (2018)

This film boldly resurrects one of the worst trends in motion picture history, the sex farces of the late 1950s and early 1960s (from the Doris Day/Rock Hudson flicks to the Bob Hope/Elke Summers atrocities). The trend started with Pillow Talk and continued on with things like Where the Boys Are and The Honeymoon Machine through things like Sex and the Single Girl and I’ll Take Sweden.

What made these films awful are some of the same things that made them popular at the time. They were blatantly about sex -- but they couldn’t REALLY be about sex. The films were usually about people who ALMOST have sex. These films (made in the USA; Europe was up to other things) could not use certain words or show certain body parts  -- especially certain body parts interacting with other body parts.

These films were oh so coy, implying and insinuating sexuality but never explicitly portraying it. But men and women were somehow able to comfortably watch these films together in a movie theater and even laugh together. This all changed when the Hays Code, which censored films, began to fall apart in the Sixties. The naughty words started to be said. Body parts, previously hidden at theaters where families attended together, began to be seen on screen and those body parts began to interact.

So the genre of sex farces with no sex became sex comedies like Animal House and Porky’s that actually include sex. Sex farces migrated to television on shows like Three’s Company until television started to swear and show naughty bits on cable and streaming.

In 2014, writer/director Matthew Wilson brought back the sex farce with The Virgins. It is about sexuality: a bride and groom who face one obstacle after another in consummating their marriage after waiting in purity. Though the film is about sex, there are some of the same limits on language and content that Hollywood filmmakers dealt with under the Hayes Code, because the film was made by Christians for a Christian audience.

Matthew Wilson returns to the long moribund genre with 2018’s The Pastor and the Pro. Amazon summarized the film like this: “A young, single pastor needs a quick date for a big, church dinner so he hires an escort.” Like the sex farces of old, that tag line sounds like an unlikely, nay, impossible situation. It is actually impressive that Wilson manages to make that highly unlikely plot a bit believable.

Jacob (Travis Lincoln Cox) is the junior pastor on a multi-church staff. Jacob was a missionary in Uganda and came home for this unclear position in a church of an unknown denomination (the senior pastor is Scottish, so we can’t rule out some variety of Presbyterian, though the ordination process seems to be different from any I'm aware of) We learn Jacob isn’t allowed yet to preach in “big church.” His sole assignment, as far as we see, is to teach the “new members” class which consists of three people that already are members of the church. (This led me to puzzle about the church finances. Is there any church in the world, even among the megachurches, that can afford to keep a full-time staff member who does virtually nothing? Especially if he isn’t a televangelist's son-in-law or something?)

A woman named Leah (Monika Holm) is one of the attendees in this sparsely attended membership class, and she just attends because she's infatuated with the teacher. (Leah is the niece of the senior pastor, and it's possible the only reason Jacob was hired was to be Leah’s suitor.) Leah breaks into Jacob’s office and waits for him. She greets him with these words, “You rocked my world, as usual.” (Sad to say, no one has ever said that after one of my Bible studies.)

Jacob tells Leah they shouldn’t be in his office alone, because “a pastor can’t be in any situation where there might be temptation.” She argues it’s fine for a single pastor to be alone for a woman “pushing thirty,” especially if they’re interested in one another. Jacob is quite obviously not interested in Leah.

Jacob seems more interested in his neighbor, Rachel (Kelly Cunningham). Rachel is a prostitute, and Jacob likes to talk with her when he comes home from work. She leaves her door open, even when she's out, and Jacob often goes into her apartment to wait for her to return. (Leaving the door open is a rather peculiar quirk for a prostitute. One wouldn’t think that would be a profession that would lead one to be a trusting person.)

In Jacob’s chats with Rachel, he complains about his job; she makes sly double entendres about her job. She flirts with him, but he makes it clear that he won’t compromise principles. In fact, Jacob is always going on about his principles, especially his integrity. He seems particularly proud of his integrity.

Rachel really is the most attractive character in the film. She seems to be the most honest person (sorry, Jacob) and the only person someone would like to have a drink with. (Well, sort of. In a scene set in a bar, Rachel orders a boilermaker and seems quite awkward drinking it. She also seems pretty awkward with the sex talk.)

Jacob's dinner invitation to a pastoral staff dinner is the big plot mechanism. Dr. Callahan, the world-famous author of best-selling books about marriage is to be the guest of honor at Pastor Campbell's home. (A little baffled by Biblically focused marriage books hitting the Best Sellers List, but...) Jacob adores Doc Cal, did his thesis on his work, and desperately wants to go to the dinner. But Campbell tells Jacob that no one comes to the dinner stag. He has to have a date. (This is just flat-out bizarre, a pastor setting a couples-only rule for a staff dinner with a theologian. Why did the church ever hire a pastor with such a handicap as being single?)

Pastor Campbell seems to assume that Jacob will take Leah to dinner, but instead, Jacob hires Rachel to be his date. And the zaniness begins.

Oh, I should mention what Rachel charges Jacob, besides just money. She asks him to sleep with her. Not have sex (because that couldn’t happen in a Christian film, any more than it could happen in a Doris Day film in the ’50s), just sleep. Of course, as in the sex farces of old, there are more deceptions and misunderstandings but at the end (spoiler!), unlike the sex farces of old, there’s no wedding at the end of the movie.

But as you know, we are never here to talk about the film. We're here to talk about the clergy and the church in the film. And the church and clergy of the film are really weird. 

Dr. Callahan believes the staff of the church are prideful and deceitful (with the possible exception of Jacob), but Jacob discovers he's just been deceiving himself about his own integrity. And I could never figure out what ministry the church does.

So I’m giving the church and clergy of The Pastor and the Pro a Two Steeple rating out of four.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Comedy Month: Death(s) at a Funeral

Death at a Funeral (2010)
This remake of 2007’s Death at a Funeral is a little baffling. It's common for hit European or Asian films to be remade into American films (The Birdcage was originally the French comedy La Cage aux Folles, The Departed was a remake of Hong Kong’s Infernal Affairs, Scent of a Woman was Italy’s Profumo di Donna, etc.) But usually, these are foreign-language films remade into English because many American audiences don’t care for dubbing or subtitles. The first Death at a Funeral is an English language film, made in England. I guess it was remade for those who find English accents too challenging.

As one might guess from the title, both films are black comedies. (Some might be tempted to go for the crude joke that the American version is even blacker with the African American cast, but we at Movie Churches are above such things.) Both tell the story of a family coming together for the funeral of a beloved patriarch. Both films’ screenplays are by the same writer, Dean Craig, with little change in the plot, some in the dialogue. Each has a different director (Frank Oz for the British version, Neil LaBute for the American.)

In this version, Chris Rock plays the elder son, Aaron, who is responsible for arranging the funeral and giving the eulogy (this was Matthew Macfadyen’s role in the original). Aaron's wife, Michelle (Regina Hall) seems more concerned about procreation than death. In addition to this distraction, everyone's attention is focused on Aaron’s younger brother, Ryan (Martin Lawrence), a best-selling novelist who's flying (first-class) into town for the service.

A host of problems evolve on the day of the funeral. The mortician (Kevin Hart) initially brings the wrong body in the correct coffin (Aaron complains, “This isn’t Burger King! You can’t mess up my order!”). A guest accidentally takes a hallucinogen and knocks over the casket during the service and strips naked. The worst complication is an uninvited, unknown guest who blackmails the sons to pay him a large sum, or he will reveal he is their father's gay lover (Peter Dinklage, in the same role he played in the earlier film).

But, of course, none of these things are of our concern here at Movie Churches. We just want to know about the pastor who conducts the service, the Reverend Davis (played by Keith Davis. You might know Davis from his role in one of the greatest, longest fistfights ever, in the film They Live.)

The Rev. Davis seems to meet Aaron on the day of the funeral. He doesn’t seem very familiar with Aaron’s father. He doesn’t seem very interested in learning about Aaron’s father. I’ve done a number of memorial services, and learning as much as I can about the person being remembered is a very early priority for me. My motivation in leading a memorial service is first to bring to hurting people the comfort God can bring, and second is to honor a human life that is no more.

But the Reverend has a very different primary motivation. He wants to meet Aaron’s famed brother, Ryan, “The writer! I squeezed this job in today because I really wanted to meet you. Listen, I just finished reading Momma’s Secret. That will be our little secret, because I’m not supposed to be reading this kind of stuff.” He fit this service in between two christenings and another funeral. Which makes me wonder how much care he is giving to each family.

And what’s the deal about him talking about reading things he isn’t “supposed” to be reading? Is it smut? Or is it literature with adult elements? He has an uncomfortable “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” attitude about the whole thing.

When it's time for the service, he begins by saying, “We are here to mourn the passing of a fine man,” though, again, he seems to know nothing about the man he calls “fine.” He goes on to read from Ecclesiastes and then tells the story of David and Jonathan ( “Then Jonathan and David made a covenant because he loved him as his own soul. Then Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him and gave it to David and his garments, even to his sword, and his bow and his girdle.”) This seems to be a rather obscure Scripture to cite, especially, again, since he knows next to nothing about the deceased. I really think he would be better off going with the traditional route of Psalm 23 or John 11.

Reverend Davis invites Aaron to deliver the eulogy. During the eulogy, Aaron's cousin's fiance' has a hallucinogenic episode and knocks over the casket. The body falls out, and (naturally) chaos ensues. In the midst of the furor, the pastor stands to one side, forcing Aaron to restore order. Surely, this should have been the Reverend Davis’ job. A decision is made to have a “break” in the service, and everyone is expected to hang around until the service starts again. (This is a lot to expect of people.)
During the funeral intermission, the father’s former lover goes about blackmailing the sons and through some wacky escapades, appears to be dead. To help conceal the apparent death, another cousin, Norman (Tracy Morgan), must distract Reverend Davis.

Norman asks the Reverend, “I’ve been meaning to ask you, at what age did you decide to get your church on?” 

Reverend Davis responds, “I need to make a phone call.” (This is an emergency phone call -- there's a naked man on the roof -- but wouldn’t someone have a cell phone back then? I believe they were rather common a decade ago and I would expect a busy clergyman to have one.)

So Norman tries again with, “But I need to make a confession!”

“I’m not a priest,” the Reverend answers.

“That’s okay,” Norman says, “Because I’m not a Catholic. It’s just that, I know I’ve been touched in some religious fashion… I’m addicted to strip clubs. The smell, the pole, the stretch marks, the C-section scars. I didn’t know nothing about whip cream. Nothing, ‘cause I’m diabetic, so if I eat whip cream in the wrong place, I’m gonna break out.”

Throughout this confession (in which Morgan seems to be channeling his 30 Rock character, Tracy Morgan), the Reverend very visibly appears revolted. Granted, Catholic priests generally have the advantage of a divider in a confessional booth. They might not have to monitor their facial expressions. But someone in the clergy really should get used to people sharing intimate aspects of their lives and -- pro tip! It's best to master the habit of not looking disgusted when they do so.

Eventually, after Norman goes on about angels appearing him in a vision as strippers, the Reverend agrees to pray with him, then goes outside to observe the naked man on the roof with the rest of the funeral crowd. He doesn’t offer his counseling expertise in this situation.

Once the man is safely brought back inside, the Reverend wants to get the service going again, saying, “We’ve got to get this damn thing started. Look, we’ve got to zip through this thing now, son. I mean, I’ve already missed another funeral and two christenings.”

He again starts the service saying, “I would like to apologize on the behalf of the family for all the distractions.” But the distractions continue and the Reverend proves completely inept in controlling the service.

So the Reverend Davis receives a mournful Movie Churches rating of Two Steeples out of Four.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Comedy Month: The Wedding Chapel

The Wedding Chapel (2013)

We really don’t need to spend time on the central plot of The Wedding Chapel. If you’ve seen any Hallmark Movie, you know the plot beats. A beautiful single career woman from the big city, Sarah Robertson (Emmanuelle Vaugier), must (because of reasons) go to a small town, where she meets (cute!) a handsome bachelor, Roger Waters (played by Mark Deklin, not the frontman for Pink Floyd).

Sarah has a wacky, widowed mother, Jeannie (Shelley Long) who has flashbacks about her first love who went to Vietnam. Jeannie thought he was dead, but actually, he was a prisoner of war. Jeannie got married but found out her first love was alive -- but it was too late. You will be shocked to learn there are two romances in the film.

And we at Movie Churches -- we don’t care about these things in the least. (Though if Ted Danson had been cast as the ex-boyfriend and used Cheers clips for Jeannie's memories, I might have been interested). So we just don’t care about the romances. We care about the title character, the Wedding Chapel.

Sarah returns to the small town because she hears that her dead grandmother’s house is going to be torn down by contractors who are going to build a new mall. Since Sarah moved a lot during her childhood, her grandmother’s house was her one stable place. When she and her mother visit, they find that the house is still fully furnished with family photos on the wall. Nothing has been done to clean it out even though the demolition crews are just weeks away.

As the women walk through the neighborhood, they see a church. “Oh, look at that chapel,” Sarah says. 

Jeannie says, “They’ll probably bulldoze that too. I hope they find a way to save it. The whole neighborhood grew up in there.”

Sarah begins to think she can save her grandmother’s house by saving the chapel. With her mother, she go to see Mark, the city planner who also is a lawyer.

They ask him about the destruction of the church to build a shopping mall. He tells them the process is too far along and can’t be stopped. When Jeannie asks if Pastor Reed did anything to stop the sale, Mark tells them, “He did, but the congregation wanted a better, more modern facility elsewhere.”

Jeannie is outraged, “This is criminal. The chapel has been here for centuries. It’s unbelievable. The wood was cut right from the local trees. The foundation was built by the same Scottish mason who built the first church in Savannah.” 

“How do you know all this?” Sarah asks. 

“Osmosis,” Jeannie answers.

Jeannie tells how it used to be. “So on Sundays, just about everyone gathered here. And it didn’t matter if you went to the service. Anything that was anything, started here.” We get a flashback of a picnic in front of the church with people barbequing burgers, kids blowing bubbles, teens hula hooping, and young Jeannie falling in love. Which is all swell, but I do wonder, what happened in those Sunday services? We never learn throughout the film.

We soon meet the church’s current pastor. Sarah is sketching the church when a man comes along. He calls out, “Sarah, don’t you recognize me?” He reminds her that she sketched him long ago. 

Sarah says, “Pastor Reed’s son?” 

She’s right. He says, “Or as the congregation refers to me, Pastor Reed, the sequel in 3-D.” 

“Following in your father’s footsteps?” she asks. 

“Yes, and the Lord’s,” he answers.

He looks at her sketches and says, “You’re a great talent.”

“I wish the critics thought so,” she pouts.

“Well, we must listen to our hearts,” he tells her. Not very theologically sound, but probably the deepest thing the Reverend says in the entire film.

Sarah asks Pastor Reed whether he tried to save the chapel. “Nobody loves the chapel more than I do,” he responds, “Except Dad and maybe (the Reverend points upward). Everyone else grew up around the chapel, but I grew up in it.”

“So you were the only one who stood up to them?”
“The building's in bad shape and the Board thought it made more sense to take the money and build another facility elsewhere. Everyone got what they wanted.”

Pastor Reed agrees to take Sarah to the church. The front door is bound in chains, which the Pastor unlocks. “Nobody’s been here for a couple of months. Excuse the mess,” he says. Because the church isn’t messy at all inside. 

Sarah exclaims, “I forgot how beautiful this is.” 

The pastor says, “I especially loved the afternoon weddings.”

Now this all greatly confused me. Why, if the church was going to shortly be demolished, hadn’t anyone cleared out the inside? And where has the congregation been meeting for the last two months with the chapel locked up? Why wouldn’t they be meeting there while it was still there and they didn’t have a new building?

Anyway, Sarah asks to see the chapel archives. When the pastor asks why, she responds, “History!” Sarah thinks if she can find significant history in the church archive, the church might be saved. (Again, why were these records left in the church that is shortly scheduled to be destroyed?) She does find records that indicate the church is the site of an Indian burial ground, but that isn’t enough.

Eventually, the people who love the place are called to a meeting in the church where they're asked to help dig through the archives. Pastor Reed and Sarah stand in the front of the crowd in the pews. The pastor turns the meeting over to Sarah. 

Why isn’t Pastor Reed conducting the meeting to save the church? Why does he let a stranger lead the meeting?

Maybe because the pastor knows that his congregation doesn't want to stay in this old building. The church board wanted to sell, and the pastor is going against the wishes of the church leadership. That is why he is trying to palm the responsibility of sabotaging the sale off on someone else.

Anyway, Sarah tells the people, “I came to this town to save my grandmother’s house. But I started to realize the center of town for my mother and all in this town is the chapel. We are a community. Like a tree with the chapel as our roots. I wasn’t just trying to save the tree, but the roots. The memories in those photos, that’s what we’d really be losing… Some things are worth fighting for.” It does seem like they are fighting for the memories of the church -- it isn’t’ doing anything much in the present.

She gets through to them, though, and many people get to work looking through the archives for something of historical relevance. As people dig through cardboard boxes, Pastor Reed shouts, “We are offering a free wedding ceremony to anyone who finds something useful. Of course, every ceremony here is free.”
Sarah is (naturally) the one who finds something important (so did she really need the help?) She finds a copy of the treaty ending the French and Indian War -- signed on the site of the chapel. (No historian had ever figured this out.)

So the chapel building is saved. And the congregation must take on the ongoing financial burden of keeping up a dilapidated old building, against the wishes of the church leadership. And untold numbers of construction workers won’t get to work on the new construction project, plus all the people who will lose out on the jobs the new mall would have offered.

We do get to see a wedding in the chapel. Jeannie and Larry get married there. Long ago at the chapel, they had recited vows together when they were all alone. So as the pastor begins the traditional service with “Dearly beloved,” they just start kissing. So the pastor says, “You may kiss the bride.” And everyone laughs. It's probably fine, because I doubt Pastor Reed really had anything worth hearing anyway.

That’s why we are giving the Reverend Reed and his wedding chapel a meager 2 out of 4 Steeples.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Comedy Month: We are Brothers

We Are Brothers (2014)

Countless times in this blog (okay, I probably could count it with the search functions but I prefer not to) I’ve written (in fact, you can see it above), “We’re not reviewing movies, not reviewing churches, but reviewing the churches and clergy in movies.” But it’s my blog, and I can break these rules whenever I want.

So I’m going to recommend this film, We Are Brothers, talk about it some, but leave out a lot of things about the featured clergy in the film because I want people to enjoy the film’s twists and turns. Usually, we put clerical criticism before the enjoyment of a film’s plot, but not this week. But I will give you the basics of the beginning of the story.

Two young Korean boys lived with their parents in a small fishing town. After their father dies, the responsibility of raising the boys by herself is too much for their mother, so she abandons them in an orphanage. At the orphanage, one of the brothers, Park Sang-yeon (Cho Jin-woong), is adopted by an American family. Officials at the orphanage tell Sang his brother will be coming to America as well.

It's a lie. His brother, Park Ha-yeon (Kim Sung-kyun), remains in Korea. Decades later, Ha finds his mother, a victim of Alzheimer’s, and cares for her. That's when the producer of a Korean reality TV show comes up with the idea of bringing the brothers together -- the brothers who haven’t been in contact since that fateful day at the orphanage when they parted.

When they meet, they discover they’ve taken divergent paths in life. Ha became a Shaman. Sang became a pastor. Both are rather disgusted by their sibling’s lifestyle choices. They seem anxious to part until their mother disappears, and they must search for her together.

That’s enough. Dear readers, you would make me very happy if you find this film on Amazon Prime and watch it. Sure, it’s in Korean, so most of you will need to use the English language subtitles, but it is very funny and very touching. If this post gets even a couple of you to seek out this film, breaking the blog rules is totally worthwhile.

I’m still going to give brother Pastor Sang our highest Movie Churches rating of Four Steeples for how he treats criminals and orphans. (I questioned his abilities and ministry for a time, but it all made sense at the end.) So check it out.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Comedy Month: The Twelve Chairs

The Twelve Chairs (1970)

The Twelve Chairs was Mel Brooks’s second film (The Producers was his first) and his last film to be based somewhat in the real world. Don’t get me wrong, I love his next film, Blazing Saddles, but it's a very meta film about Western films, just as Young Frankenstein is a film about horror films. Both depart far from reality. Though a farce, The Twelve Chairs is set in a real time and a real place: the Soviet Union in 1927. And the film, based on the novel by the writing duo of Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov, captures some of the pain and challenges of that moment in history.

The film opens with Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov (Russian names make me thankful for control C-V) at the death bed of his mother-in-law. Sensing the end is near, Ippolit (Ron Moody) calls for a priest to administer the last rites. The Russian Orthodox Priest, Father Fyodor (Dom DeLuise with a very long beard), arrives in time to provide the rites but also hears a family secret.

“It’s in the hands of God now, all we can do is pray,” says the priest. Before dying, the old woman tells of the family jewels that were hidden by the Bolsheviks, sewn into a single chair from a set of twelve that the socialist government took away. Not surprisingly, Ippolit goes in search of the treasure in the chair. Father Fyodor decides to join the hunt as well, leaving the ministry. 

In the past, we’ve looked at films where priests abused the sanctity of the confessional to use the information they heard (as well as films where the priest kept quiet at a personal cost). A priest using information gained at a deathbed manages to be lower still.

Fyodor scours the country looking for the chairs, even dressing as a woman in his efforts to find the treasure. He often encounters Ippolit along the way, who is less than pleased with the (former) priest, “You disgusting creature, you used the sacred sacrament of confession to take advantage of an old woman,” he cries at one point. So, that doesn’t seem like much of an endorsement for Father Fyodor.

Along the way, Ippolit joins forces with a con man, Ostap Bender (Frank Langella), who disguises himself as a Socialist Official: the chair of the Department of Chairs. He tricks Father Fyodor into following a false trail for the chairs, and Fyodor heads to Siberia. He finds a duplicate set of chairs, and he pretends to be an aristocrat. While trying to bribe a local official to obtain the chairs, he grovels before the owner of the wrong chairs, who tells him, “This is a Soviet house, there is no groveling.” 

Fyodor grovels none the less, “I need those chairs!” The priest becomes violent and is thrown out. Finding himself alone in the wilderness, he calls to God, “I must count my blessings… I don’t want to live.”

But he soon encounters Ippolit and Ostap and steals a potential chair from them. They chase him up the side of a mountain. “God sees,” says the priest, “God sees all, there must be some reason He gave me the strength to climb this rock wall.”

Fyodor tears open the chair’s upholstery only to find it did doesn’t contain the jewels. And he finds he can’t get down from the sheer rock wall. He asks his rival for aid, “Get me down. We come from the same village. For 25 years I’ve been your priest.” Ippolit and Ostap are not convinced and leave Fyodor to his fate.

Fyodor looks heavenward and complains, “Oh Lord, You are so strict.” Ippolit and Ostap continue on, but that is the last we see of Fyodor. And really, the clergy are the people we're concerned about here at Movie Churches, right? Sadly, though we don’t often get to see Eastern Orthodox clergy, we must give Fyodor our lowest rating of One Steeple.