Category: Film Reviews

Review — Highly Recommended Film: Higher Ground

Higher Ground directed by Vera Farmiga [August 2011]

Higher Ground is about a woman named Corinne Briggs, played by Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Departed) as an adult and Taissa Farmiga (American Horror Story) as a teenager. Corinne is raised in a Christian-in-name-only household where she occasionally attends a mainline Protestant church. As a young child, she answers an altar call and agrees to make Jesus Christ her Lord and Savior. Nothing dramatic happens in this moment, and when she tells her mother afterwards about her monumental decision, Mom does not even care. Even her pastor seems more interested in flirting with her mother than in calling attention to what has just happened. But Corinne’s promise is a sincere one. Naive, perhaps, but sincere.

The years pass. Life happens. Corinne meets a guy, falls in love, and gets pregnant out of wedlock, they get married. Her young husband has his heart set on a crazy dream of making it big in the music industry. Then the couple experiences a near-tragedy wherein they cry out to God, and they seem to witness a miracle. Is it really a miracle? Well, there are other possible explanations. But what matters is that theybelieve it’s a miracle, so Corinne and her husband newly dedicate their lives to God.


Review & Analysis: CleanFlix

CleanFlix directed by Andrew James and Joshua Ligairi [February 2010]

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In the 1980s, Mormon prophet and LDS church president Ezra Taft Benson famously counseled the young men of his church to avoid watching R-rated films:

Consider carefully the words of the prophet Alma to his errant son, Corianton, “Forsake your sins, and go no more after the lusts of your eyes.” [1]

“The lusts of your eyes.” In our day, what does that expression mean?

Movies, television programs, and video recordings that are both suggestive and lewd . . .

We counsel you, young men, not to pollute your minds with such degrading matter, for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterwards. Don’t see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic. [2]

Though his words were directed at young men specifically, in practice, they became applied to church members in general. So began the cultural Mormon phenomenon of shunning R-rated films, in America, at least. Mormons would be far from the only religious conservatives to take issue with the graphic content of modern-day films based on MPAA ratings.