A self-reflective video essay can’t be rare these days, not with the Internet. Jesus Was a Commie is a little different though. It’s not an amateur recording on a cellphone, it’s Matthew Modine walking around New York City while his essay plays in voice over.
Having the narrator walk around without any incidental noises is an easy (read cheap) short film technique. But here it’s Matthew Modine; regardless if one is familiar with him, he acts quite well, especially when he’s got nothing to do but to pensively stand around.
The photography, from co-director Ziegler and Michael Grantland, is outstanding. Never ostentatious, every shot is perfectly lighted.
Modine’s essay, ruminating on Jesus, God and modern America, is engaging enough through the religious stuff. When he gets cosmic, however, it feels like he’s trying to channel Carl Sagan and the short slips.
Jesus is professional and competent, but disposable.
Directed by Terence Ziegler and Matthew Modine; screenplay by Modine, based on his essay; directors of photography, Ziegler and Michael Grantland; edited by Ziegler; music by Niabi Caldwell and Lucas Van Lenten; produced by Modine.