Last year’s Interstellar and the previous year’s Gravity follow different paths in a long tradition of asking ultimate questions against the biggest canvas available to our senses, the universe itself.
New this week from the Criterion Collection are the Blu-ray debuts of a pair of classic films from the 1940s — each arguably its director’s masterpiece, and one of two films for which the director is best known.
The comic genius Preston Sturges believed that laughter is the best medicine, and that what people in hard times want is to forget their troubles and escape for 90 minutes or so into a world of lighthearted comedy, snappy repartee and slapstick silliness.
It is about self-interest and empathy, practical necessities and moral choices. It’s about the importance of work and the ruthlessness of economics based purely on self-interest and competition. I can think of no film that more persuasively or powerfully illustrates in human terms what popes from Leo XIII to Francis have been talking about for over a century regarding the dangers of pure capitalism unrestrained by moral concerns.
Mirroring its populist tale pitting a devout young undergraduate against Kevin Sorbo’s hostile philosophy professor, the faith-based hit indie God’s Not Dead sharply divided enthusiastic faith audiences and scoffing critics.
Recently I had the opportunity to field 18 questions from Sean Salai, SJ for a profile piece in the Jesuit magazine America. I had a lot of fun answering Mr. Salai’s thoughtful, sometimes surprising questions, ranging from how my faith informs my film writing to what I gave up for Lent.
Like Miyazaki, Tomm Moore isn’t afraid to take the time to breathe deeply, savor moments of silence and beauty, and open the door to wonder and mystery.
There are good reasons for introducing parent-child conflict into family films, depriving child protagonists of a parental safety net, depicting single-parent households, etc. There’s no good reason positive depictions of healthy, intact families in family films should be an endangered species.
Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella is such a gallant anachronism, such a grandly unreconstructed throwback, that it offers, without ever raising its voice, a ringing cross-examination of our whole era of dark, gritty fairy-tale revisionism.
Of the two, Noah was by far the more divisive, with its startling fantasy trappings, alarming family conflict and invented antagonist. Many hated it; I loved it. No film last year inspired me to think or write more than Noah. By contrast, while Exodus: Gods and Kings sticks closer to the broad outlines of the biblical story and includes some provocative ideas, I found it generally less interesting and engaging.
I consider the chronological numbering system a travesty, since I maintain that the only right way to discover the Narnian world is the way Lewis “discovered” it.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.