Dave's Rating:


… freaky and gorgeous …

Who's in It: Carthusian monks

The Basics: Filmmaker Philip Gröning wrote to the Grande Chartreuse monastery (one of the most minimalist, ascetic places on the planet) back in 1984 and asked for permission to make a documentary about them. They were like, "OK, we'll get back to you on that." Sixteen years later, they got back to him and let him live there, in the monks' quarters, for six months, filming everything they do. The results are freaky and gorgeous to look at for every minute of its almost three-hour running time.

What's the Deal? The thing is, are you ever going to get a chance in your real life to go to a snowed-in monastery in the French Alps and check out what goes on there? This is your chance to be allowed inside one of the most fascinatingly odd, hermetically sealed environments on Earth.

Shut It! These guys are voluntarily silent. So the movie goes for long stretches where no one speaks — it's just light and shuffling feet and long, long, long takes of tasks and rituals and prayers. And weirdly enough, none of that is boring. It'll put you in a kind of trance, but it won't put you to sleep.

Why This Movie Is Good PR for the Catholic Church: Because it lets you stop thinking about all the corrupt hierarchy and the hateful Pope and documentaries about child-raping priests like Deliver Us From Evil for three hours. They should turn this place into a weekly reality series.

Want to Know More? Sure You Do: They have a pretty extensive website you can check out at www.chartreux.org. It's no YouTube, but it's still pretty interesting.


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