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Article: Religious filmmakers explore — and cross-examine — faith

Strikingly, where the religious films of nonbelievers often feature idealized religious characters more or less certain in their faith, films by believers often put their religious characters’ faith to a more existential test.   Read more >

Review: St. Vincent (2014)

B | **½ | +2-2| Teens & Up*

When a Hollywood comedy pairs a dissolute, misanthropic curmudgeon with a cute young kid, you expect a story of redemption — particularly when the movie is called St. Vincent, and the curmudgeon’s name is Vincent. When the curmudgeon played by Bill Murray, it’s a done deal.   Read more >

Article: Do atheists and agnostics make the best religious films?

One of the noblest functions of art is the invitation to empathy: an invitation extended not only to the audience, but also to the artist.   Read more >

Article: From the Crusades to Columbus: Religion in Ridley Scott’s Historical Epics

A self-described atheist, Sir Ridley Scott has developed a generally bleak vision of religion, particularly the Judeo-Christian tradition, throughout his work, above all in historical sagas like Robin Hood (2010) and 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992).   Read more >

Article: Two Very Different Responses to Parenthood: Chef and Obvious Child

Among this summer’s successful indies were a pair of R-rated comedies — each from a filmmaker serving as writer, director and star — depicting two very different responses to the formidable responsibilities of parenthood.   Read more >

Review: The Song (2014)

C | ** | +2| Teens & Up

A faith-based romantic drama with a country music milieu, The Song is couched as a contemporary reimagining of the life of King Solomon, son of David.   Read more >

Article: Jewish/Catholic: Religious Identity, Fluidity and the Holocaust

“One is Christian or Jewish, not both.” So says the chief rabbi of Paris in The Jewish Cardinal (2013), Israeli-born filmmaker Ilan Duran Cohen’s biopic about Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger (Laurent Lucas) — a Jewish convert to Catholicism who insisted on religious dual citizenship, embracing Catholicism without rejecting Judaism.   Read more >

Article: Stop-Motion Macabre

Stop-motion animation — which, unlike computer animation and traditional hand-drawn cel animation, utilizes real objects shot frame by frame, with tiny adjustments made between shots — is a defiantly old-fashioned, niche medium, often used to creepy effect: Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline; Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie; Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit.   Read more >

Review: The Boxtrolls (2014)

D+ | ** | -2| Kids & Up*

The Boxtrolls is so defiantly weird and bleak, so committed to the bitter end to its grotesque aesthetic and chilly story, that even as the film crashes and burns you can’t help being moved by the hardworking stop-motion animators’ devotion to their craft.   Read more >

Article: BBC’s amiable, nostalgic ‘Father Brown’ doesn’t keep faith with Chesterton

“I like detective stories,” G. K. Chesterton once wrote; “I read them, I write them; but I do not believe them.” Chesterton put into his beloved Father Brown stories a great deal that he did not believe — exotic crimes, improbable methods, wiredrawn detective work — but also a great deal that he did believe, much of it on the lips of his moon-faced clerical sleuth.   Read more >

Article: Superhero Movies and Catholic Faith

Less than two months ago, the British Catholic writer Stratford Caldecott died after a lengthy battle with cancer. In the weeks prior to his death, his name became improbably entangled in a viral Twitter storm that made international news in connection with the superhero movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier, now available on home video.   Read more >

Article: Hollywood After September 11, 2001

The shadow of September 11, 2001 over Hollywood still lingers.   Read more >

Review: Calvary (2014)

B+ | ***½ | +3-2| Adults*

Sometimes misleadingly described as a dark comedy, Calvary is certainly dark, and there are sporadic bits of absurdist humor. In keeping with its title, though, it really is a passion play, with Father James as an innocent victim to be sacrificed for the sins of the Church.   Read more >

Article: A haunting film about the “martyr of Auschwitz”

Nearly two decades before his Oscar-winning role as a Jew-hunting Nazi in Quentin Tarantino’s lurid WWII fantasy Inglourious Basterds, Christoph Waltz played an Auschwitz survivor whose escape is linked to the death of one of Auschwitz’s most celebrated victims, St. Maximilian Kolbe.   Read more >

Article: Auf Wiedersehen! Stay tuned!

It was a busy summer season; it wasn’t a terribly good summer season — above all for family audiences, who were left almost completely out in the cold. Still, it was generally an improvement on last summer, particularly for popcorn spectacle and action.   Read more >

Article: Life for Life: Maximilian Kolbe (1991)

A | Teens & Up

Two great mysteries hover over the cardinal moment in St. Maximilian Kolbe’s life, a quiet exchange of words with the deputy camp commander at Auschwitz-Birkenau heard by few and lasting probably less than a minute.   Read more >

Review: When the Game Stands Tall

C+ | ** | +2| Teens & Up

Sports movies love underdogs scrapping their way to the top. When the Game Stands Tall is about what happens when a ridiculously successful team finally stumbles.   Read more >

Post: What’s Up, Michael Bay?

What if Pixar’s Up had been directed by Michael Bay instead of Pete Docter? This seems pretty accurate, actually.   Read more >

Post: Magic in the Moonlight [video] (2014)

D | Teens & Up

Watching Woody Allen’s latest, starring Colin Firth and Emma Stone, is like watching your uncle doing a card trick you’ve seen him do a hundred times.   Read more >

Post: Get On Up [video] (2014)

B+ | Teens & Up

From the star of 42 and the director of The Help comes a film I enjoyed more than either of those.   Read more >

Post: The Hundred-Foot Journey [video] (2014)

C | Teens & Up

While I didn’t care for this movie as much as I hoped I would, I will say I went right from the theater to an Indian restaurant, where I got something I enjoyed more.   Read more >

Post: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [video] (2014)

D+ | Teens & Up

Thanks to this film, I’ll be adding “Shrinking World Syndrome” to SDG’s Very, Very Little Movie Glossary.   Read more >

Post: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

A- | Teens & Up

If you’re not into turtles, and you have half a brain, this may be the movie for you.   Read more >

Article: Robin Williams RIP

In the flood of commentary and sorrow surrounding the death of Robin Williams, apparently by suicide, so many are struggling over what to say about a man who seemed never to be at a loss for words.   Read more >

Post: The Christ of Muscle Beach!

“Christ in Majesty” is the official name of the striking, somewhat controversial mosaic on the apse wall of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, but someone Suz and I once knew jokingly nicknamed it “the Christ of Muscle Beach,” in reference to its half-bared chest and arm, muscular build and intimidating gaze.   Read more >

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

A- | ***½ | +1-1| Teens & Up

Guardians is a romp, a lark — rare descriptors for a popcorn summer movie, alas, in these days of dark, grim tentpoles from Maleficent to Hercules, Edge of Tomorrow to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.   Read more >

Post: Hercules [video] (2014)

D+ | Teens & Up

A question I couldn’t get to in 60 seconds: What’s the real story with the creepy, green spaced-out tribal warriors? Can anyone explain that?   Read more >

Post: Snowpiercer [video] (2014)

B- | Adults

This is the summer’s most thought-provoking action movie.   Read more >

Post: Planes: Fire & Rescue [video] (2014)

C | Kids & Up

Looking at those Cars eyes is worse than having no remnant of Pixar at all this year.   Read more >

Post: Deliver Us From Evil [video] (2014)

B | Teens & Up*

Édgar Ramírez might be my favorite horror-movie priest.   Read more >

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