Articles

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The Ninth Day: Interview with Director Volker Schlondorff

2005-06-01 04:50:01 For German filmmaker Volker Schlöndorff, the appeal of making The Ninth Day, a fact-inspired film about a priest in a Nazi concentration camp who is briefly released, goes back over five decades to Schlöndorff’s film-club days at a Jesuit boarding school, where he first encountered Carl Dreyer’s silent masterpiece, The Passion of Joan of Arc. Read More >

Star Wars: An American Mythology

2005-05-23 03:28:48 Star Wars is pop mythology — a "McMyth," as a recent critical article put it — but in our McCulture even a McMyth can be vastly preferable to no myth at all, and certainly to other, less wholesome mythologies (e.g., the Matrix trilogy). Even for those who generally prefer more traditional fare, there is still much to enjoy and appreciate in these half-baked, stunningly mounted fantasies of good and evil in a galaxy far, far away. Read More >

The Vatican Film List

2005-04-22 01:44:29 The pope’s remarks were both forward looking, speaking to the potential of cinema to become “a more and more positive factor in the development of individuals and a stimulus for the conscience of society as a whole,” and also historically minded, speaking positively of the praiseworthy contributions of “many worthwhile productions during the first hundred years of [the cinema’s] existence.” Read More >

2004: The Year in Reviews

2005-04-15 04:25:40 Did anything worth caring about come to cineplex screens? Anything anyone will be talking about or revisiting five or ten years from now? Read More >

Fox Family Films

2005-03-11 02:41:25 Typically, the spring movie season has at most one decent film for family audiences. Last year it was Two Brothers; offerings from previous years included Holes (2003), Ice Age (2002), Spy Kids (2001), and The Emperor’s New Groove (2000). Read More >

2003: The Year in Reviews

2005-02-21 04:14:11 It was a rough year at the movies for the Catholic Church. Read More >

Constantine and Because of Winn-Dixie: Faith and Film in the Post-Passion Era

2005-02-18 05:10:52 Constantine might sound like the latest entry in Hollywood’s string of violent costume dramas (Alexander, Troy, King Arthur), but it’s not actually about the Roman emperor who was the subject of such religious films as Constantine and the Cross. In this film, instead of a sign in the sky, the cross is a weapon in the ero’s hands. Starring Keanu Reeves, Constantine is a sort of a cross between Hellboy and The Exorcist with some Matrix attitude thrown in, a violent R-rated action-thriller of the supernatural based on the DC/Vertigo comic book Hellblazer, about a cynical demon-hunter antihero who’s literally been to hell and back. Though he knows that what God expects is belief, self-sacrifice, and repentance, he is futilely trying to earn his way into God’s good graces. Read More >

Coach Carter and Million Dollar Baby: Sports and Coaching, Life and Death

2005-01-28 11:44:24 Coach Carter is based on the real-life story of Ken Carter, an uncompromising high-school basketball coach at a tough urban school who requires more from his players than great basketball. He insists that they sign contracts requiring them to attend classes, sit in the front row, and maintain a C-plus grade point average or better — and is willing to lock the gym and forfeits games if they fall behind in their classes. Read More >

Kinsey: The Controversy

2005-01-22 08:47:13 The life and work of Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey, the Indiana University entomologist turned pioneering sexologist, has provoked accounts and interpretations as divergent, and as bitterly contested, as John Kerry’s Vietnam service in the last election. And, while it’s true that Kinsey’s work warrants such scrutiny, it’s also true that this only makes the task of weeding through the arguments more daunting. Read More >

In Good Company: Paul Weitz and Topher Grace

2005-01-14 00:53:43 It’s not just a buzzword, either. There’s a special hand gesture that goes along with it. First you hold your hands up, palms outward, fingers spread apart. This where we are: no synergy. Then you clasp your hands into fists with the tips of the fingers of each hand inside the fist of the other hand, so that your hands make a sort of "S" shape. This is where we need to get to: synergy. Get it? (If you think this kind of thing doesn’t really pass for deep thought in corporate convention halls and conference rooms, you don’t know corporate America.) Read More >

A Christmas Carol: The Attack on — and Defense of — of Christmas

2004-12-24 09:13:25 Scrooge’s conversion, like many conversions, is just such a dramatic revelation out of crisis, "as sudden as the conversion of a man at a Salvation Army meeting," says Chesterton, adding slyly, "It is true that the man at the Salvation Army meeting would probably be converted from the punch bowl; whereas Scrooge was converted to it. That only means that Scrooge and Dickens represented a higher and more historic Christianity" ("Christmas Books"). Read More >

I Am David: Interview with Paul Feig

2004-12-11 14:43:40 It isn’t only Jim Caviezel, the Christ of The Passion, here another nobly self-sacrificial prisoner who freely allows himself to be wrongly condemned in order to save another. It’s also the actor who plays the complex, conflicted official who suspects his prisoner is innocent but must pass judgment anyway — Pontius Pilate in The Passion, "The Man" in I Am David. In both films, the role went to Bulgarian actor Hristo Shopov. Read More >

Jackie Chan: An Appreciation

2004-12-06 07:52:11 The fact is, Jackie’s appeal is hard to sum up in a single sentence. Ask five different Jackie Chan fans what they like about him, and you may get five different answers. Read More >

The Passion of the Christ - Understanding the Catholic Meaning

2004-11-15 04:44:34 In its most extreme form, the charge of morbidity has been laid at the feet of the Christian faith itself. Christianity’s harshest critics denounce it as "a religion of death." Clearly, at some point objections of this sort must be regarded as a case in point of what the scriptures call the "scandal" of the cross. It is the cross itself, the very suffering and dying of God made man, and the way Christians respond to this event in their faith and devotion, that is behind much (though again not all) of the religious and anti-religious controversy over the brutality of this particular film. Read More >

The Incredibles: Big fish in a depleted pond

2004-11-05 00:03:42 Let’s face it: So far, it’s been a lousy year for family films. Until now, the fine Two Brothers has been just about the only bright spot. Of course DreamWorks’ phonetically similar CGI twins Shrek 2 and Shark Tale each made far more money than Two Brothers, but neither is quite what I consider fine family viewing. And other choices have been forgettable and quickly forgotten: Home on the Range, Clifford’s Really Big Movie, Good Boy! Read More >

Terence Fisher: Religious Themes in the Hammer Horrors

2004-10-29 12:24:25 The religious themes in the B-movie horror films directed by Terence Fisher for Hammer Films could fill a book. In fact, there is such a book. Read More >

Spin: Jamie Redford Talks About His First Feature Film

2004-10-28 09:37:23 Actually, Spin, adapted by the younger Redford from Donald Everett Axinn’s debut novel of the same name, is an intimate coming-of-age drama set in 1950s small-town Arizona. Starring Ryan Merriman, Stanley Tucci, Dana Delany, and Paula Garcés, it tells the story of an orphan named Eddie (Merriman) whose parents were killed in a flying accident, and who was left by his uncle (Tucci) to be raised by a Mexican employee (Rubén Blades) and his Anglo wife (Delany), a schoolteacher. Read More >

Ratings Creep: Are the MPAA Ratings Really Getting Looser?

2004-10-22 08:52:50 In 2002, according to a July 16 Philadelphia Inquirer story ("Film rating trend raises creepy issues"), Nell Minow, a.k.a. the "Movie Mom" and film critic for movies.yahoo.com, went to see the PG-13 rated About a Boy. At one point in the film, Hugh Grant used an adjectival form of what the MPAA calls "one of the harsher sexually-derived words," but is often referred to as "the f-word." Read More >

What Are the Decent Films?

2004-10-22 04:50:09 Must a decent film deal only with uplifting or wholesome subjects, or may dark or disturbing themes also be dealt with? Can a film include nudity or profanity and still be “decent”? Can “humane culture” include popular films or genres like action films and romantic comedies, or do only highbrow “art films” count as true culture? Read More >

The Question of God: Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis

2004-09-30 05:16:35 The Question of God, airing in two parts on PBS September 15 and 22, is an extension of Dr. Nicholi’s course and of his book The Question of God: C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life, published by the Free Press. Over the course of its four hours, The Question of God blends biographical surveys of Freud’s and Lewis’s intellectual and metaphysical journeys, panel discussions of believers and unbelievers moderated by Dr. Nicholi, expert interviews with authorities like Peter Kreeft and Harold Blum, and dramatic readings from Freud’s and Lewis’s writings with actors portraying the two thinkers. Read More >

The Passion of the Christ: First Impressions

2004-08-31 07:01:15 As I contemplate Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, the sequence I keep coming back to, again and again, is the scourging at the pillar. Read More >

The Passion of the Christ and Antisemitism

2004-08-31 07:01:14 Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League declared recently that Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ is not antisemitic, and that Gibson himself is not an anti-Semite, but a “true believer.” Read More >

The Matrix Trilogy Revisited: Sculpting in Bullet Time

2004-04-17 19:13:25 The Matrix is simultaneously a philosophical model and a popular myth — a postmodern analogue to both Plato’s cave and Homer’s Odyssey, Descartes’ daemon and Pilgrim’s Progress, the brains-in-vats scenario and Star Wars. Read More >

The Matrix: Gnostic or Christian? Part 2 - The Sequels

2004-04-16 10:32:42 Four years after its release, the world of The Matrix has been greatly elaborated by a pair of sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. Given the intense philosophical and religious scrutiny to which the original film has been subjected, doubtless fans will be scrutinizing the new films to see what light they shed on the first film, and how they themselves should be viewed in light of the spiritual questions raised by the first film. Read More >

The Matrix: Gnostic or Christian? Part 1

2004-04-16 10:32:41 This level of interest is not primarily due to The Matrix’s visual innovations, such as its groundbreaking use of bullet-time photography. Nor is it, for example, Keanu Reeves’s acting that cries out for more critical discussion. Rather, it’s the philosophical, spiritual, and moral implications of this phenomenally popular action pic that are responsible for all the attention. Read More >

Disney: Signs of Change?

2004-04-02 02:41:33 Now, encouraging signs of change in recent Disney films suggest that the Mouse may be starting to get the message. The new trend began with surprisingly strong pro-family themes in direct-to-video sequels such as Lady & the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure. This positive depiction of family continued in the theatrically released (though still low-budget) sequels Return to Never Land and Jungle Book 2. Read More >

Home on the Range: The Last Roundup for Disney Animation?

2004-04-02 02:41:32 Is Home on the Range really the final entry in the canon of Disney’s traditional hand-animated feature films — a body of work that goes back to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and includes such landmarks as Fantasia, Pinocchio, and Beauty and the Beast? Read More >

Quo Vadis Disney? Notes on the End of the Disney Renaissance

2004-04-02 02:41:32 The modern era of Disney animated greatness started with a splash in 1989 when the promisingly fresh The Little Mermaid hit theaters. Delighted audiences actually burst into applause at colorful show-stopping musical numbers like the sprightly "Under the Sea" and the enchanting "Kiss the Girl." Coming as it did after a string of uninspired releases (The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron, Oliver & Company), The Little Mermaid set the stage for a creative comeback. Read More >

The Passion: Doug Barry of Radix Relives Jesus’ Final Hours

2004-04-02 02:41:30 Veteran Catholic performer Barry, who calls his apostolate Radix, has been doing his live one-man passion play for a decade, accompanied for most of that time by his musical partner, Eric Genuis. One recorded version has played for a number of years on EWTN around Holy Week. This version, filmed live in 2003 at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, TN, benefits from enhanced production values including multiple cameras. Read More >

Silent Movies: Watching with Children

2004-04-02 02:41:30 The open-mindedness of the young obviously imposes a huge responsibility on parents to watch what their children are exposed to. But it also represents a tremendous opportunity to expose children to valuable and worthwhile experiences that for many of their peers will be lost, possibly forever, by the time they are teenagers. Read More >

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