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REVIEW

The Namesake (2007)

At the end of its 122 minutes, perhaps, few if any of the story’s various partial threads have really been resolved. Open-ended and somewhat scattered, The Namesake is generally engaging but feels elusively incomplete. One could say it is about the journey rather than the destination. A more disciplined approach to the screenplay might have distilled Lahiri’s 300-page novel into something more satisfyingly focused. Instead, frequent Nair collaborator Sooni Taraporevala chooses to sketch in and gesture at as much of the book as possible, trusting viewers to supply the rest.

REVIEW

Nanny McPhee (2005)

Mary Poppins meets Lemony Snicket in Nanny McPhee, adapted by star Emma Thompson from Christianna Brands’s Nurse Matilda stories about a magical nanny who knows just the medicine for a family of exceedingly naughty children, and doesn’t bother about the spoonful of sugar to help it go down.

REVIEW

Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)

The second time is the charm with Nanny McPhee Returns, a sequel that improves on the original 2005 Nanny McPhee by more than a nose — even if it’s the bulbous nose of Nanny McPhee herself.

REVIEW

Napoléon (1927)

It is an extraordinary artifact from another culture, a mythology as remarkable and as alien as the Epic of Gilgamesh or the Icelandic Eddas. For students of silent film, this is one of those indispensable landmarks you must see before you die.

REVIEW

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

As deadpan as its affectless protagonist, breakout indie phenomenon Napoleon Dynamite is like a Roschach test of viewer empathy.

REVIEW

Narc (2002)

(Written by Robert Jackson) Narc is trying to be something. Really hard. It’s obvious. The question is: What is it trying to be?

ARTICLE

Narnia Filmmakers Hype the Fantasy, Hedge the Faith

A lot of thought and effort went into getting the feel, the look, the period and the characters of C. S. Lewis’s beloved fairy tale The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe right for the screen… At the same time, judging from the unanimous testimony of the filmmakers, one crucial element of the book was not a consideration one way or the other in adapting the story: its religious significance.

Narnian spirit: C. S. Lewis’ religious themes in the books, the films — and any films to come ARTICLE

Narnian spirit: C. S. Lewis’ religious themes in the books, the films — and any films to come

With a new Blu-ray edition of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader available March 3, here’s a look back at the series so far … and a look ahead.

REVIEW

National Geographic: Inside the Vatican (2002)

Though the documentary plays like a “a day in the life” at the Vatican, National Geographic filmmakers actually spent three months in Rome amassing footage and interviews. The result is a well-rounded portrait, or series of portraits, of Vatican life: Vignettes include the ordination of a bishop, the restoration of a priceless tapestry, the swearing-in of a Swiss Guard soldier, reception of world leaders, and a race to digitally preserve disintegrating documents.

REVIEW

National Security (2003)

Martin Lawrence rants endlessly against the White Man and Steve Zahn tries to endure him in the obnoxious odd-couple action-comedy National Security (Columbia), directed by Dennis Dugan.

REVIEW

National Treasure (2004)

Nicolas Cage stars as heir to a family of treasure hunters seeking the riches of King Solomon’s temple, discovered by the Crusaders and hidden by the Knights Templar and the Freemasons, who planted clues on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

REVIEW

The Nativity Story (2006)

From It’s a Wonderful Life to A Christmas Carol, from Miracle on 34th Street to Tim Allen’s Santa Clause films, there are more Christmas movies than you could watch in all twelve days. Yet even at the height of Hollywood biblical epics, the real meaning of Christmas was essentially ignored (a few brief scenes in Ben-Hur notwithstanding). The Nativity Story goes a long way toward redressing this historic omission.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind REVIEW

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

(Reviewed by Sarah E. Greydanus) Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind may be the quintessential Hayao Miyazaki film — not necessarily his best, but the most comprehensive assortment of his characteristic themes and motifs.

REVIEW

The Navigator (1924)

Buster Keaton’s most popular vehicle in his own day, and said to be Keaton’s favorite of his own films, The Navigator isn’t as sophisticated and satisfying as his best work (e.g., The General), but it’s still brilliant slapstick comedy, with a rousing third act and a slam-bang climax.

REVIEW

Nazarín (1959)

Buñuel makes his case against faith, not by attacking its foolish or corrupt practitioners, but by arguing that the thing itself, even when lived almost to perfection by a near saint, is moot, even harmful. It may be the most breathtaking cinematic cross-examination of faith I have ever seen.

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New Blu-rays from Warner Bros

What does this year’s Best Picture front-runner Argo have in common with Grand Hotel (1932) and Driving Miss Daisy (1989), both recently released on Blu-ray?

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New Ghibli Blu-rays! My Neighbor Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle

This week, one of Hayao Miyazaki’s most beloved and accomplished features, along with one of his less successful efforts, debut on Blu-ray.

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The New NCRegister.com

I’m pleased to note that National Catholic Register, for which I have been writing on film since 2003, has launched a completely revamped website at NCRegister.com.

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New on Blu-ray/DVD: Of Gods and Men!

This week Of Gods and Men debuts on Blu-ray/DVD. See my full review for product notes. You may also want to check out my five-part blog post series “How Catholic is Of Gods and Men?” I’ve seen it three times now, and it’s easily my favorite film of the year, if not the past several years.

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New on DVD: 2/22/11

This week’s DVD releases: Get Low, Megamind and Last Train Home. Also: Waiting For Superman and Unbreakable.