Reflecting on this year’s movie offerings over the summer season Johanna Schneller in the Globe and Mail is struck that, instead of the usual “silly season” of movies she is accustomed to viewing over the warm months of summer, this year “in every cinema, I see meditations on mortality.”

In response to her summer movie viewing experience Schneller asks,

So what’s going on out there? Has the Internet and its 24-hour news cycle brought the world’s pain and chaos so close that we can’t avoid it even in our entertainment?

Would this be such a bad thing? Is the purpose of art simply to distract us from “the world’s pain and chaos”? Is it possible that even Hollywood, faced with so much tragedy in the human condition, might be trying to come to grips with the broken reality that the 24-hour news cycle on the Internet has made virtually unavoidable?

Ultimately in the cinema this summer Schneller has found the inescapable presence of mortality deeply disturbing. She describes her experience of one of the movies on offer saying,

Speaking of our transience, there is no better film, this summer or any, than the beautiful, shattering Boyhood, which captures on film some ordinary moments in the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he ages from six to 18…..

As the 18-year-old faded out, I felt a physical ache for the six-year-old I’d never see again – and isn’t that exactly the point?

At a key moment, Arquette’s character says, “I thought there would be more.” That knocked me so sideways I’m still dizzy. Because ultimately, that’s what all these movies, all these seekers of enlightenment at the bottom of a popcorn bag, are asking. Is there more? There must be more.

This sounds like a profound moment of existential crisis. Schneller appears to be reaching for some deeper meaning in life. But, in the end she cannot quite make the journey and pulls back from the challenge of the movies to retreat into a sophisticated smirk affirming,

No – this is the more. Who needs a shrink or a minister? Go buy a movie ticket.

Is this meant as a joke? Are we supposed to take Schneller seriously when she appears to affirm that there is actually nothing “more” to this life than the passing escapism of flickering scenes on a screen consumed alongside a jumbo-sized bucket of hot buttered popcorn?

Perhaps the questions she has faced in the movies this summer are just too threatening. Possibly Schneller’s up-bringing has failed to equip her with the tools to navigate the terrain of transcendence. Is she really content to live in a world that has no room for incomprehensible mystery and unexplainable wonder.

How tragic to pull back from the pain of the world with no more hope or comfort than “the bottom of a popcorn bag.”

Jesus asked the same question Schneller asked when he confronted his disciples with the challenge,

Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?(Matthew 6:25)

Of course for Jesus the question was entirely rhetorical. His whole life was an affirmative answer to his own probing question. For Jesus there was a depth dimension to life, a mystery and a power to the human condition that could never be confined to the physical material realm. Certainly, had Jesus been asking the question today, he would have been horrified at the suggestion that buying “a movie ticket” could possibly even begin to satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart. He understood we were made for more than any cinematic experience could ever provide.