Evangelist cinematheque

Criticizing Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light™, for churning out glurge is now criminally easy, but Paul Cullum betrays an ignorance of flyover country in writing about Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage (direct to DVD this week). Working from a 16-point memo of Kinkade's filmmaking tips, Cullum first tries to classify Kinkade as "a postmodern Norman Rockwell for the evangelist set."

Oh well. Just as Episcopalians must forever live with being called Episcopals, evangelicals perhaps should now call themselves evangelists and call it quits. And since when is there anything postmodern or even Rockwellian about Kinkade? Compared to Kinkade, Rockwell was a master of brutal realism (consider "The Problem We All Live With").

Before divulging the memo in its stream-of-consciousness glory (Kinkade: "These guidelines are not listed in order of importance, but are dictated off the top of my head"), Cullum finally delivers two worthwhile paragraphs:

To get an expert opinion on Kinkade's manifesto, I showed it to cinematographer Ellen Kuras, best known for her work with director Spike Lee. She points out that he confuses focal length and depth of field, and questions his overall approach.

"I've never seen any of his paintings, but I have to say, he's very cheesy in his descriptions," Kuras says. "The whole gauzy, cozy feeling, darkening the edges to make your vision more myopic, I think is about trying to draw the larger metaphor for the way to heaven. But reading all of this, it's a prescription for a bad ’60s porn movie."

Do read Kinkade's memo, which is truly is cringe-inducing. On a casting note, Cullum mentions two of the leads (Marcia Gay Harden and Peter O'Toole) but doesn't flag two more incongruous appearances: Ed Asner and Chris Elliott.

Yes, Chris Elliott, the droll hipster from The Late Show with David Letterman. This could be just as hathotic as watching Tony Goldwyn in Joshua (2002) as a laid-back Messiah who belongs to a mail-order music club.

We're approaching Thanksgiving, so surely Scrooge-like lawsuits and creche debates will not be far behind. Happy holidays, everybody!

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