Decent Films Blog
Digitally remastered from the original negatives, brilliantly restored, The Wizard of Oz celebrates its 75th anniversary in style. Here’s my “Reel Faith” 60-second tribute to this beloved classic.
The director of District 9 is back … with a bigger budget and name stars. Elysium: my “Reel Faith” 60-second review.
It may be Pixar Ultra-Lite, but Disney’s Planes is a pleasant change of pace from the likes of The Croods and Turbo. Here̵7s my “Reel Faith” 60-second review.
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are two great tastes that taste great together. So why did this film leave a sour taste in my mouth? 2 Guns: my “Reel Faith” 60-second review.
He’s the best there is at what he does, but what he does isn’t very nice. The Wolverine: my “Reel Faith” 60-second review.
Buy at Amazon.com
Oscar Grant just might be the most memorable character I’ve encountered on the big screen this year. Fruitvale Station: my “Reel Faith” 60-second review.
Buy at Amazon.com
Thirty years after The Exorcist, when it comes to fighting the powers of hell, the Catholic Church still has the heavy artillery, as Roger Ebert once wrote. The Conjuring: my “Reel Faith” 60-second review.
He was bad to the bone. Now he’s Dad to the bone. Does his mojo survive the transition? Despicable Me 2: my “Reel Faith” 60-second review.
It’s the end of the world was we know it … again. World War Z: my “Reel Faith” 60-second review.
Buy at Amazon.com
Is it “okay to be okay” if you’re Pixar? Monsters University: : my “Reel Faith” 60-second review.
Buy at Amazon.com
Shakespeare knows how to throw a party … and so does Joss Whedon. Much Ado About Nothing: my “Reel Faith” 60-second review. (Where it’s playing)
A Superman movie for our times — but is that a good thing? Man of Steel: my “Reel Faith” 60-second review.
This evening, I’ll be on Catholic radio from sometime during the last hour of “Kresta in the Afternoon” (5pm EDT) through the first hour of “Catholic Answers Live” (6pm EDT), discussing the latest movies and much more. Listen live
Tune in also to the latest episode of “Reel Faith” tonight at 8pm EDT as David DiCerto and I offer our very different takes on Man of Steel, as well as our less contentious discussion of The Purge and Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing. Watch NET live
The closer you look, the less you see? Now You See Me: my “Reel Faith” 60-second review.
Is After Earth really as bad as people are saying? Here’s my “Reel Faith” 60-second review.
This week, one of Hayao Miyazaki’s most beloved and accomplished features, along with one of his less successful efforts, debut on Blu-ray.
My Neighbor Totoro is among the most extraordinary family films ever made. Roger Ebert included it in his Great Films project, justly so. For years now I’ve been mulling over a personal all-time top 10 list (I’ve settled on about six or seven titles), and I’ve gone back and forth whether to give a slot on the list to Miyazaki’s Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro. In the end I think Spirited Away wins out, but it’s close.
The gentle, nearly plotless events in the lives of two young girls moving into a new house are mesmerizing to even the youngest viewers, and draw receptive adults into a precritical world of exploration, eeriness, worry and wonder. The mundane is infused with magic, and the magical is presented with matter-of-fact ordinariness.
In one iconic scene, the two sisters wait in the rain at a bus stop for their father, for whom they have brought an umbrella. Mei, the younger sister, becomes sleepy, and Satsuke holds her piggy-back, balancing her umbrella on one shoulder. Then they're joined by an unexpected party. This clip offers a taste of the scene (for more, read my full review):
Miyazaki’s compelling gift for world-building hasn’t failed him in Howl’s Moving Castle, loosely based on the fantasy novel by Diana Wynn Jones. I’ve watched the film three times now, and I can’t deny that it has a certain power, even fascination.
But this only makes the film’s weaknesses more frustrating. On our most recent viewing, my daughter Sarah put her finger on the heart of the problem: Howl himself, an enigmatic wizard whose ambiguities aren’t so much a matter of inscrutability — as with Fujimoto in Ponyo, or Yubaba and Haku in Spirited Away — as they are a matter of the character’s own lack of direction.
Chihiro in Spirited Away might not know whether or not Haku could be trusted, but at least Haku’s confidence and powers provided a reference point in an otherwise inscrutable world. His nature might be in doubt, but if he could be trusted, one could trust him utterly. With Howl, the question is not merely what his nature is, but whether he has a center at all. Certainly he doesn’t seem to deserve Sophie’s love, as Haku does Chihiro’s.
Still, Howl’s Moving Castle has its charms. Above all, I’ll always love the first-act moment in the video below. When I first saw it in the theater, my heart leapt at this scene as high as Howl and Sophie, and I thought perhaps I had a new favorite on my hands. The rest of the film didn’t hold up, but this scene remains potent.
Bonus features for My Neighbor Totoro include a series of brief interviews with Hayao Miyazaki talking about the inspirations for the film, the characters and Totoro himself and an extra on dubbing the film into English. Extras for Howl's Moving Castle include an interview with Pete Docter, who oversaw the English adaptation and talks about the impact this experience had on his own (superior) Up. Both Blu-rays include original storyboard art and Japanese trailers.
Fast & Furious 6 in 60 seconds: my “Reel Faith” review.
The Great Gatsby in 60 seconds: my “Reel Faith” review.
Coming to Fox News and The Catholic Channel: Reel Faith!
Well, not permanently or anything. (Not yet, anyway.) But in the next 24 hours or so David DiCerto and I will be appearing on both venues to talk about Reel Faith and movies in theaters.
Tonight (Thursday, 5/23) we’ll be on Busted Halo with Father Dave Dwyer (Catholic Channel) in the 9pm hour EDT. Then tomorrow afternoon (Friday, 5/24) we’ll be on Spirited Debate with Lauren Green (Fox News | watch live) in the 1pm hour EDT.
Reel Faith kicks off its fourth year Friday night with our summer season premiere — and we’re now on Salt and Light TV (Toronto), Telecare TV (Long Island) and CatholicTV (Boston) as well as our own NET (New York Metro area). We’ll also be debuting on Verizon FiOS On Demand shortly after our NET debut.
When and where can you watch? Read more.
Hat tip to Stephanie Zacharek (Village Voice) for the perfect use of that popular critical flourish, the reapplication of a movie quote as auto-criticism of the film, in her review of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby:
“You think it’s too much?” [Gatsby] asks Nick, anxiously. Nick offers a polite answer: “I think it’s what you want.”
The Great Gatsby is both too much and what Luhrmann wants…
The line is so spot-on that I almost suspect Luhrmann meant it as a half-confession, but either way it was Zacherek who made the connection.
Meanwhile, Chris Tookey (Mail Online) offers a devastatingly on-target assessment of Luhrmann’s “too-muchness”:
I was a fan of Luhrmann’s early work — Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge. I was even entertained by Australia, his overblown tribute to Gone With The Wind and his own home nation.
He is never boring, and there’s no doubt about his intelligence and flair. There is, however, a gigantic question mark hanging over his taste.
One is left with the horrible suspicion that Luhrmann’s remake of The King’s Speech would involve fire-breathing jugglers, a thousand screaming drag queens and a million rampaging wildebeest.
Wow. I’m afraid I can almost see it.
The fourth season of Reel Faith premieres this week — and we’re growing!
This Friday’s summer season premeiere at 8pm EDT will be seen not only on NET (New Evangelization Television) in the New York metro area, but also on Boston’s CatholicTV, Toronto’s Salt and Light TV and Long Island’s Telecare TV this summer.
We’ll also be Verizon FiOS On Demand shortly after we premiere on NET. Plus, of course, you can watch NET live online at NetNY.net.
Here are air times on each station beginning with NET’s premiere this Friday, 5/24 at 8pm EDT:
NET, New Evangelization Television (New York Metro area)
Premieres Friday at 8PM (Repeat of previous week at 8:30pm)
Saturdays at 7PM
Sundays at 7PM
Tuesdays at 11:30AM & 7PM
Thursday at 11:30AM & 7PM
Salt and Light TV (Toronto, Canada)
Premieres Tuesdays at 8PM and 12AM
Wednesdays at 1PM
Fridays at 9:30PM and 1:30AM
Saturdays at 2PM
Mondays at 10AM
Telecare TV (Long Island, NY)
Premieres Mondays at 9:30PM
Wednesdays at 11:30AM
Fridays at 4:30PM
CatholicTV (Boston, Mass)
Premieres Tuesdays at 9AM
Wednesdays at 10PM
This evening, Friday, May 17, I'll be appearing on the first hour of “Catholic Answers Live” (6pm–7pm EDT). Next week, tune in for the summer season premiere of Reel Faith!
Tonight, guest host Matt Swaim and I will be discussing current films including Star Trek Into Darkness, The Great Gatsby, Iron Man Three, From Up on Poppy Hill and much more. Listen live!
Next week, David DiCerto and I are back on NET discussing the latest movies every week. On our season premiere we’ll be discussing Star Trek Into Darkness, The Great Gatsby and Iron Man Three, as well as our Movie with a Message, To Kill a Mockingbird. Stay tuned!
Pain & Gain in 60 seconds: my “Reel Faith” review.
Iron Man Three in 60 seconds: my “Reel Faith” review.
Iron Man 2 in 60 seconds: my “Reel Faith” review.
Iron Man in 60 seconds: my “Reel Faith” review.
Studio Ghibli takes a break from high-flying fantasy in this naturalistic, nostalgic coming-of-age story. From Up on Poppy Hill: my “Reel Faith” 60-second review.
42 in 60 seconds: my “Reel Faith” review.
To the Wonder in 60 seconds: my “Reel Faith” review.
Evil Dead in 60 seconds: my “Reel Faith” review.