I first met Matthew Modine at the Apple Store in 2008 to discuss his work as a burgeoning filmmaker–not as the actor most known for his role in “Full Metal Jacket” and as one of the villains in the much anticipated “The Dark Knight Rises.” He was showing a film called “I Think I Thought,” which played at some festivals that year, and now he’s back with another film, the provocatively titled 16-min short “Jesus Was a Commie,” which is starting to get some major press, after winning best short film at the Traverse City Film Fest, and getting picked up by conservative media as evidence of the Hollywood Left (I heard Glenn Beck talking about it this morning on talk radio).
Modine, who has worked with some great filmmakers, including Kubrick, Jonathan Demme and Alan Rudolph, turned to making short films in the mid-1990s, has developed his own personal, idiosyncratic style, using his famous persona to inquire about the philosophical questions that he holds dear. It’s probably true that the films would not get much attention if Modine had not been a star, but I give him credit for pursuing his art and pushing people’s buttons. The film’s trailer is available through Modine’s facebook page.
The Vancouver Fest catalog described the film this way: “An affecting piece adapted from his article “Oh Commie All Ye Faithful,” Matthew Modine muses on the human condition, organized religion and whether we’ve lost the real revolution Jesus’ progressive thinking inspired.”
In an interview about the film, Modine has said, “Jesus, depending on how you personally feel about him, is another word, or idea, belief, or ism that has been hijacked for political purpose. If you take the stories of Jesus and look at them without evangelical glasses, you see a man that questioned and challenged the conditions of life in his time. And it can be argued, and has been by a lot of incredible people, that Jesus was a Utopian Communist.”