The Ladykillers

Recommended. I believe the Coen brothers are the modern day Woody Allen with a moral twist. Unlike the Nietzschean nihilistic lack of moral clarity that informed all of Allen’s stories, these guys sometimes place their quirky bizarre parables within a moral context. And a Judeo-Christian one at that. At least the latest stories, O Brother, Where Art Thou? And The Ladykillers express this profound spirituality. In my book, Hollywood Worldviews, I write about the moral superiority of uneducated spirituality over the educated humanistic arrogance that they addressed in O Brother and it appears they are capitalizing on that theme again in this story. They’re even exploiting the old time scratchy record, country, bluegrass, folk, and gospel music that they did so well in O Brother, that it became a bestselling soundtrack. Hey, these guys are getting what Hollywood does not. Give the people what they want and you’ll make tons of money. And the people like positive religious themes. That’s fine by me. Michael Crichton’s stories are all about the arrogance of humanistic science without morality. These guys seem to tell stories about the arrogance of humanistic education without morality. The story is about a group of criminal misfits led by a verbosely obscure professor G.H. Dorr, played by Tom Hanks, who rent a room in an old black woman’s house in order to tunnel their way into a casino cash vault nearby. The humor lies in the fact that the house is owned by an uneducated Gospel singing, church going black matron, Marva Munson. She is intellectually clueless, but morally full of heart and soul with her small town country church mentality. Sure, the writers have fun with this lack of smarts, but it’s not mockery, it’s loving affection, like that for a grandmother, on the level of The Apostle. When she hears a black dude swearing, she slaps him over and over again, cause she won’t have any of that “hippity hop music” language in her house, a Christian house. We laugh, but we ALL know she’s really right underneath the humor. Her naivete is like Forrest Gump, funny, but really the truth that we have all discarded out of our modernist arrogant disdain for the past. Are we really educated? Have we really progressed? Or is our pride in man’s wisdom led to a stupidity far more foolish than the simplicity of the primitive? I think these guys are clearly proving it’s the latter. The Ladykillers is a morality tale about how your sin will find you out (Numbers 32:33), how you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7-9), and if you sow to the whirlwind you will reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). The fear of the Lord is the beginning of true knowledge. Fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7)When Marva’s spiritual sensitivity kicks in and she suspects the men of criminal activity, she gives them a chance to repent and come to church. So they decide to kill her. Unfortunately for them, God is protecting her and each one faces his own demise as they try to take her out one by one, until they are all gone, including Dorr. They employ an interesting thematic image that I found very satisfying. The story begins with this shot of a garbage dump island in the middle of a river. And the men dump their bags of tunneled dirt onto the garbage barge every night. Then, when each man dies trying to expire the old lady, their bodies are dumped on the barge as well. I think this is a powerful metaphor that illustrates that we try to get rid of our “garbage” (read, “sin”) but we really can’t. It all piles up somewhere, stinking and infested, but it never goes away. We can’t hide it. Our garbage will find us out. We cannot divorce morality from knowledge. At the end, by way of a funny twist of events, the money falls into Marva’s hands. Because the local sheriff thinks she is making up the story, he tells her to keep the money and do whatever she wants with it. SO, she, following her perceived authority, takes it and gives it all to her favorite charity, Bob Jones University (an ironically racist school in its dating policy up until lately). So, even the money, “ill-gotten” from vice, ends up given to God’s school of choice. Very strong theme that God uses evil for His good, and His will can’t be thwarted (Job 42:2). Ya gotta love it. Of course, Bob Jones U is not a paragon of theological accuracy in my eyes, but compared to the godless idiocy of man’s best, like Harvard and Yale, etc. BJU is a beacon of light and truth. And that’s the point of this film anyway. GO SEE IT. SUPPORT TRUTH IN CINEMA WITH YOUR DOLLARS.

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