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Notes on The Last Jedi, Godless, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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Though not in that order, because spoilers.



Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

–I did not like this film. I admired its craftsmanship, not least the acting, the unwieldy plot, the attempted control at something like permanent tonal dissonance (which is, I suppose, a backhanded way of saying I thought the tone was out of control), the thematic complex animating the film's every turn. I generally admire and enjoy the work of both the writer-director Martin McDonagh and his brother. But not this one.

–Eve Tushnet captures a great deal of what's wrong with the film here. These two paragraphs sum it up:
Or take the reason for Mildred Hayes’s furious grief. She feels guilty about her daughter’s horrifying death–of course she does, that’s how anyone would feel. But the film doesn’t trust us to accept that anybody would feel that way. The movie has her feel guilty because she literally, exactly in these words told her daughter to go walk in that field and get raped and murd…

Jenson on being stuck with the Bible's language

"[In my work] I have used Luther's insights [about the hiddenness of God] therapeutically, to ward off a bowdlerized apophaticism which has recently been popular. That God is unknowable must not be construed to mean that he is but vaguely glimpsed through clouds of metaphysical distance, so that we are compelled—and at liberty—to devise namings and metaphors guided by our religious needs. It means on the contrary that we are stuck with the names and descriptions the biblical narrative contingently enforces, which seem designed always to offend somebody; it means that their syntax is hidden from us, so that we cannot identify synonyms or make translations. It means that we have no standpoint from which to relativize them and project more soothing visions."

—Robert Jenson, "The Hidden and Triune God," in Theology as Revisionary Metaphysics: Essays on God and Creation, 69-77, at 70-71