Articles

‘Conquerors of the moon’: Documentaries commemorating the Apollo project ARTICLE

‘Conquerors of the moon’: Documentaries commemorating the Apollo project

“Honor, greetings and blessings to you, conquerors of the moon, pale lamp of our nights and our dreams!” Paul VI exclaimed in his July 21 message to the astronauts on the day after the lunar landing. “Bring to it, with your living presence, the voice of the spirit, the hymn to God, our Creator and our Father.”

Franco Zeffirelli’s complicated, Catholic life: What does it mean for his art? ARTICLE

Franco Zeffirelli’s complicated, Catholic life: What does it mean for his art?

For Catholics and other Christians, the contradiction between Zeffirelli’s faith and the themes of his religious films on the one hand and his openly homosexual lifestyle on the other raise perennial questions about the mysterious relationship of art and the artist.

<em>Emanuel</em>: Racial violence and Christian forgiveness ARTICLE

Emanuel: Racial violence and Christian forgiveness

Forgiveness in the face of murderous violence is a radical act that remains as shocking and controversial today as it was when a Second Temple–era Palestinian prophet commanded his disciples to love and to pray for those who persecuted them and ended his mortal life praying for divine forgiveness for his own executioners.

The secular apocalypse: Irreligion, pop culture, and the end of the world ARTICLE

The secular apocalypse: Irreligion, pop culture, and the end of the world

All art — even pop art, even bad or offensive art — is in some way a mirror to the soul of the culture that created it. Whether we embrace them, condemn them, or are indifferent to them, these secular apocalypses reveal something about who we are as a culture.

‘The Redemption Project’: Convicts, Victims, Confrontation and Forgiveness ARTICLE

‘The Redemption Project’: Convicts, Victims, Confrontation and Forgiveness

The prison setting and the word “redemption” in the Ludlumesque title are vaguely evocative of the most popular prison movie of all time, The Shawshank Redemption. A prison sentence, though, is seldom a redemptive experience for anyone.

Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and <em>The Divine Plan</em>: Filmmaker Robert Orlando (Interview) ARTICLE

Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and The Divine Plan: Filmmaker Robert Orlando (Interview)

Anyone who directs a movie about the converging efforts of Pope St. John Paul II and Ronald Reagan to take on the Soviet Union is someone I’m interested in talking to. But Robert Orlando isn’t just anyone to me.

Fathers Know Best? Phil Lord and Chris Miller&rsquo;s Surprising Animated Dads ARTICLE

Fathers Know Best? Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s Surprising Animated Dads

Particularly striking to me, and even moving, is a theme connecting Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (though not The Lego Movie): how themes of father–son conflict ubiquitous in other cartoons play out with unexpectedly insightful, consequential fathers.

2018: The year in reviews ARTICLE

2018: The year in reviews

2018 was a remarkable movie year — for family films, films with religious themes, and documentaries — but it was also a year of family men who weren’t there for their families.

The <em>Dark Knight</em> trilogy: The inconclusive battle for Gotham&#8217;s soul ARTICLE

The Dark Knight trilogy: The inconclusive battle for Gotham’s soul

I’m struck by the extent to which Christopher Nolan’s celebrated Dark Knight trilogy (of which the monumental second chapter, The Dark Knight, was released 10 years ago this week), watched back-to-back, can be fruitfully considered as an extended comic-book riff on the story of Abraham and God’s judgment on Sodom in the Book of Genesis.

&#8220;God saved my life&#8221;: <em>The Rider</em> star Brady Jandreau ARTICLE

“God saved my life”: The Rider star Brady Jandreau

Brady Jandreau is a young Lakota Sioux rodeo star who met filmmaker Chloé Zhao while she was filming at a South Dakota ranch.… Zhao wanted her next film to be about Jandreau’s world and way of life. While she was searching for a way into the story, Jandreau’s career came to an abrupt end when a bronco threw him and then stomped on his head, shattering his skull.

Interview: Interview: <em>Paul, Apostle of Christ</em> Writer&#8211;Director Andrew Hyatt ARTICLE

Interview: Interview: Paul, Apostle of Christ Writer–Director Andrew Hyatt

The Full of Grace filmmaker talks about the challenges of bringing Scripture to life and the problems with many faith-based films.

The seductive distortions of <em>Call Me By Your Name</em> ARTICLE

The seductive distortions of Call Me By Your Name (2017)

If you didn’t know that the Best Picture–nominated Call Me By Your Name is an uncritically rapturous celebration of a same-sex relationship between an inexperienced youth played by Timothée Chalamet and an experienced man played by Armie Hammer, you might almost guess it from the opening titles, an arty overture for the film that follows.

2017: The year in reviews ARTICLE

2017: The year in reviews

American moviegoers aren’t necessarily the most demanding viewers in the world, but it seems we have our limits, if dire movie-ticket sales for 2017 are any indication.

Interview: Catholic filmmaker Timothy Reckart, director of <em>The Star</em> ARTICLE

Interview: Catholic filmmaker Timothy Reckart, director of The Star

Timothy Reckart is the talented creator of one of the most original and memorable animated shorts in recent years, the 2012 Oscar-nominated stop-motion gem “Head Over Heels.” He is also a devout Catholic working in Hollywood.

What does a starship need with God? ARTICLE

What does a starship need with God?

“What does God need with a starship?” That line, uttered by William Shatner’s Capt. James T. Kirk in the much-derided Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) — co-written and directed by Shatner himself — is probably that film’s most famous (or infamous) moment.

An inherited nightmare: Watching the Puritan horror of <em>The Witch</em> with Catholic eyes ARTICLE

An inherited nightmare: Watching the Puritan horror of The Witch with Catholic eyes

What is most unsettling about The Witch is not the manifest presence of the Devil and the malevolence of his minions, but the seeming absence of God and the impotence of the family’s faith and prayers.

Reinventing the Vault: Disney&#8217;s classy new remakes ARTICLE

Reinventing the Vault: Disney’s classy new remakes

Linking these three terrific family films is a defiantly old-fashioned, almost countercultural lack of ironic revisionism and gritty edginess. Each of them feels in some way like a kind of movie they don’t make any more — if they ever did.

Apostasy, ambiguity and <em>Silence</em> ARTICLE

Apostasy, ambiguity and Silence

Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel Silence honors 17th-century Japanese martyrs who sang hymns as they succumbed slowly to grueling deaths. But it also empathizes with, perhaps even exonerates, many who capitulated to official demands for ritual renunciations of Christian faith — typically trampling on images of Jesus or Mary, called fumie, designated for this purpose.

2016: The year in reviews ARTICLE

2016: The year in reviews

In a sense every year is a good film year, but some years you have to go further afield than others.

Religion and rootlessness in 2016 movies ARTICLE

Religion and rootlessness in 2016 movies

The many faces of Jesus at the movies in 2016 were perhaps the most notable trend in a larger pattern of notable religious themes in the year’s films. There were, though, other trends last year worth noting.