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The Innocents REVIEW

The Innocents (2016)

The Innocents opens in a Benedictine convent in Poland in 1945, shortly after the event known, not without bitter irony, as the liberation of Poland by the Soviet army.

Finding Dory REVIEW

Finding Dory (2016)

Hank the octopus is a particular standout. Hank’s squash-and-stretch movements push computer animation to yet another high-water mark, and his mad skills are highly entertaining — so entertaining, in fact, that I kind of wish the movie had been about him.

Movies and mercy: The Arts & Faith Top 25 Films on Mercy ARTICLE

Movies and mercy: The Arts & Faith Top 25 Films on Mercy

In the face of the latest crushing evidence of man’s inhumanity to man, the Top 25 Films on Mercy remind us that the way it too often is isn’t the whole story, or the way it has to be.

Why a Mel Gibson sequel to <em>The Passion</em> is probably a bad idea POST

Why a Mel Gibson sequel to The Passion is probably a bad idea

I doubt Gibson is the right filmmaker for the job. First, though, let’s talk about how right Gibson was for The Passion of the Christ.

The Conjuring 2 REVIEW

The Conjuring 2 (2016)

Wan goes bigger and splashier here than in the first Conjuring. Metaphorically splashier, I mean; it’s not very bloody, but it’s bloody scary, thanks to Wan’s skills and some shrewd choices by Chad and Carey Hayes, the screenwriting brothers (both Christians) who wrote both films.

Three ages of Pixar ARTICLE

Three ages of Pixar

For 15 astonishing years, from 1995 to 2009, Pixar created a body of work — 10 films — so revolutionary and beyond mainstream Hollywood animation that it’s hard to quantify … In recent years, alas, Pixar has stumbled more often than not.

Last Days in the Desert REVIEW

Last Days in the Desert (2016)

García takes his time in the early scenes, allowing us to ease into the rhythms of this eremitic phase in its protagonist’s life. A spiritual journey can’t be rushed; the mind and body must submit to long hardship for the spirit to attain its goal.

Hey, DC / Arlington area! POST

Hey, DC / Arlington area!

Local to the Washington metropolitan area? This Friday, May 13th, I’ll be at the FORUM Arlington talking about cinema and Catholic faith — at least, if the title of my talk, “A Ray of God: Movies and Catholic Teaching” is any indication.

Captain America: Civil War REVIEW

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Civil War also demonstrates that the right way to do a “versus” movie pitting heroes against one another is by building relationships — and tensions — over time, then allowing characters to fall out over meaningful practical and personal issues.

Violence and virtue: How Christian is <em>The Revenant</em>? ARTICLE

Violence and virtue: How Christian is The Revenant?

Whether one sees The Revenant as a spiritually rich, profound meditation on good and evil or an overwrought attempt to transmogrify atrocity into transcendence, Christians should recognize that when it comes to media depictions of violence, there are two potential dangers, not just one.

Make Mine Marvel ARTICLE

Make Mine Marvel

The modern era of superhero movies was arguably inaugurated by two films: Bryan Singer’s 2000 X-Men and Jon Favreau’s 2008 Iron Man.

Whit Stillman and the discreet charm of the Urban Haute Bourgeoisie ARTICLE

Whit Stillman and the discreet charm of the Urban Haute Bourgeoisie

He’s been called “the WASP Woody Allen,” but I prefer my friend Ron Reed’s moniker for Whit Stillman: “the Jane Austen of indie film.”

Is <em>The Jungle Book</em> blasphemous? POST

Is The Jungle Book blasphemous?

A reader writes: “‘The elephants created the jungle’ is not ‘semi-religious’ as you say. It is, in fact, blasphemous. You say such ideas are not ‘often found in a Hollywood family film.’ I disagree. Blasphemy is typical in most Hollywood films.”

The Jungle Book REVIEW

The Jungle Book (2016)

Like Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella last year, The Jungle Book offers a lavish new reimagining of a beloved story, blending elements from the original literary source material with the classic animated Disney version.

Bicycle Thieves (The Bicycle Thief) REVIEW

Bicycle Thieves (The Bicycle Thief) (1948)

Relate the plot of Bicycle Thieves in a few sentences, and a person who had never seen the film might be forever haunted by it.

&ldquo;That&rsquo;s a crucifixion!&rdquo; ARTICLE

“That’s a crucifixion!”

But the Crucifixion was not only on Calvary, and if Christ is on the waterfront, he can also be found in a medieval prison cell, a cheap, penny-ante building and loan in a crummy little town, a Russian shtetl (a small Jewish town in Eastern Europe), a Belgian trailer park, or the slaves’ quarters of a 19th-century Louisiana plantation.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice REVIEW

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Batman v Superman is even more charged with theological language and iconography than Avengers: Age of Ultron. Even the Good Friday opening may not be an accident.

Brooklyn REVIEW

Brooklyn (2015)

Brooklyn is what seems like an increasingly rare gift: a film about the drama and discovery of an ordinary human life: about love and loss, sorrow and self-discovery, in a story that for once is not overshadowed by some deep injustice or extraordinary human conflict.

&#8220;A person&#8217;s a person&#8221;: Animation and the cultures of life and death ARTICLE

“A person’s a person”: Animation and the cultures of life and death

Clearly Horton can be called a “pro-life” hero in a broad sense, and even in a sense that resonates in some striking ways with the pro-life cause. And his isn’t the only animated adventure with pro-life resonances.

The Young Messiah REVIEW

The Young Messiah (2016)

The Young Messiah is an impressive achievement of Christian imagination, a work that does one of the noblest things a Bible movie, or any literary adaptation, can do: It brings persuasive emotional and psychological depth to characters and situations that were either hidden or else so familiar we may have trouble seeing them at all.

What did Jesus know and when did he know it? POST

What did Jesus know and when did he know it?

There are many things I love about The Young Messiah, as my review elaborates, but the way it depicts Jesus’ consciousness at the age of seven is one of my favorite things about it.

What&#8217;s Catholic response to <em>Spotlight</em> been like? Mostly positive, actually. ARTICLE

What’s Catholic response to Spotlight been like? Mostly positive, actually.

Why has Catholic response to Spotlight been so positive? One key reason is the film’s shrewd choice of point of view.

Silent rage against the machine: <em>Metropolis</em> and <em>Modern Times</em> ARTICLE

Silent rage against the machine: Metropolis and Modern Times

Metropolis is an operatic, dystopian science-fiction parable with roots in various sources including biblical and medieval Christian imagery, while Modern Times is a satiric comedy at times recalling Dickens and anticipating “Dilbert.” Yet the two films converge around political, economic, social, and technological themes.

Jesus movies and antisemitism: <em>Jesus of Nazareth</em> and <em>The Passion of the Christ</em> ARTICLE

Jesus movies and antisemitism: Jesus of Nazareth and The Passion of the Christ

While concerns around “Jesus of Nazareth” were short-lived, The Passion of the Christ remains controversial, beloved by many and condemned by many others.

Interview: <em>The Young Messiah</em> filmmaker Cyrus Nowrasteh ARTICLE

Interview: The Young Messiah filmmaker Cyrus Nowrasteh

The director of my favorite movie this spring about Jesus and a Roman soldier talks about working with Sean Bean, Jesus’ human consciousness, and bringing the biblical world to life.

Best films of 2015: More lists POST

Best films of 2015: More lists

This year my circle of Christian cinephiles converged on the year’s best films more closely than usual.

Alfred Hitchcock&#8217;s two most Catholic films ARTICLE

Alfred Hitchcock’s two most Catholic films

Intriguingly, although I Confess was made first and The Wrong Man closely follows its true story, there are a number of notable convergences between the two films.

Risen REVIEW

Risen (2016)

Risen might be the only Jesus film in which we first encounter Jesus on the cross, already dead or nearly so.

No Greater Love REVIEW

No Greater Love (2009)

Filmmaker Michael Whyte actually lived across the square from the monastery for years without realizing it was still occupied. One day he heard the monastery bell calling the sisters to prayer.

Mardi Gras and movies: Easy riders, anthropomorphic frogs ARTICLE

Mardi Gras and movies: Easy riders, anthropomorphic frogs

New Orleans’ legendary Mardi Gras celebration has been depicted or used as a backdrop in scores of films, though surprisingly few depictions are of any great or enduring note.