Articles

Interview: Catholic filmmaker Timothy Reckart, director of <em>The Star</em> ARTICLE

Interview: Catholic filmmaker Timothy Reckart, director of The Star

Timothy Reckart is the talented creator of one of the most original and memorable animated shorts in recent years, the 2012 Oscar-nominated stop-motion gem “Head Over Heels.” He is also a devout Catholic working in Hollywood.

What does a starship need with God? ARTICLE

What does a starship need with God?

“What does God need with a starship?” That line, uttered by William Shatner’s Capt. James T. Kirk in the much-derided Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) — co-written and directed by Shatner himself — is probably that film’s most famous (or infamous) moment.

An inherited nightmare: Watching the Puritan horror of <em>The Witch</em> with Catholic eyes ARTICLE

An inherited nightmare: Watching the Puritan horror of The Witch with Catholic eyes

What is most unsettling about The Witch is not the manifest presence of the Devil and the malevolence of his minions, but the seeming absence of God and the impotence of the family’s faith and prayers.

Reinventing the Vault: Disney&#8217;s classy new remakes ARTICLE

Reinventing the Vault: Disney’s classy new remakes

Linking these three terrific family films is a defiantly old-fashioned, almost countercultural lack of ironic revisionism and gritty edginess. Each of them feels in some way like a kind of movie they don’t make any more — if they ever did.

Apostasy, ambiguity and <em>Silence</em> ARTICLE

Apostasy, ambiguity and Silence

Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel Silence honors 17th-century Japanese martyrs who sang hymns as they succumbed slowly to grueling deaths. But it also empathizes with, perhaps even exonerates, many who capitulated to official demands for ritual renunciations of Christian faith — typically trampling on images of Jesus or Mary, called fumie, designated for this purpose.

2016: The year in reviews ARTICLE

2016: The year in reviews

In a sense every year is a good film year, but some years you have to go further afield than others.

Religion and rootlessness in 2016 movies ARTICLE

Religion and rootlessness in 2016 movies

The many faces of Jesus at the movies in 2016 were perhaps the most notable trend in a larger pattern of notable religious themes in the year’s films. There were, though, other trends last year worth noting.

The many faces of Jesus at the movies in 2016 ARTICLE

The many faces of Jesus at the movies in 2016

I can’t think of another year quite like 2016. To begin with, Jesus himself was on the big screen in an extraordinary number of screen incarnations.

What we lose when <em>Star Wars</em> goes to the Dark Side ARTICLE

What we lose when Star Wars goes to the Dark Side

Even features come with trade-offs, and the Marvelization of Star Wars is no exception. This might not be as clear in The Force Awakens — about as pure a work of nostalgia and homage as can possibly be contrived short of a shot-for-shot remake — as it is in Rogue One, where the Marvel-style engineering is more obvious.

We need to talk about cartoon parents ARTICLE

We need to talk about cartoon parents

I don’t expect animated heroes to have uniformly ideal, harmonious family lives. It’s not realistic — and it doesn’t make for good drama, which needs conflict. The ubiquity of the pattern, though, is striking.

<em>Doctor Strange</em> and <em>Hacksaw Ridge</em>: Breaking rules and the greater good ARTICLE

Doctor Strange and Hacksaw Ridge: Breaking rules and the greater good

In each of their latest films, the battle against a threatening power raises questions about which principles the protagonist should or shouldn’t compromise in order to protect his world — questions that aren’t necessarily clearly answered by the end of the film.

<em>Hacksaw Ridge</em>: Mel Gibson and Robert Schenkkan at the Sheen Center ARTICLE

Hacksaw Ridge: Mel Gibson and Robert Schenkkan at the Sheen Center

The director and screenwriter spoke at a screening of the film at the New York Archdiocese’s cultural center, and I chatted with Gibson about the film.

The Greater Freedom: Karol Wojtyla and <em>Our God&rsquo;s Brother</em> ARTICLE

The Greater Freedom: Karol Wojtyla and Our God’s Brother

As a seminarian in the 1940s, the future Pope St. John Paul II wrote a play about a Polish artist turned religious who helped inspire his vocation. In 1997, a film adaptation featuring Christoph Waltz was directed by Krzysztof Zanussi (Life for Life).

&ldquo;You do it for Christ, and forget the rest&rdquo; ARTICLE

“You do it for Christ, and forget the rest”

Krzysztof Zanussi on Our God’s Brother, Adam Chmielowski, Pope John Paul II, and how he discovered Christoph Waltz.

The culture of wrath: How not to poison your soul on social media ARTICLE

The culture of wrath: How not to poison your soul on social media

The pitfalls of human nature being what they are, to dwell excessively on negative thoughts and preoccupations — to give free rein to outrage, anger, fear, antipathy, and, all too easily, hatred — is a constant temptation. (It’s a special hazard during election seasons, but the problem is perennial.) That which is dishonorable, unjust, impure, and worthy of condemnation drowns out what is honorable, just, pure, and worthy of praise.

<em>Inside Out</em> and upside down: Does&nbsp;Pixar&rsquo;s most recent masterpiece distort human nature? ARTICLE

Inside Out and upside down: Does Pixar’s most recent masterpiece distort human nature?

None of this is to say that Inside Out doesn’t present a lopsided view of the place of emotions in human nature. It does. Most if not all stories, even great ones, are lopsided in some respect or other.

Where are Hollywood&#8217;s good Catholic characters? ARTICLE

Where are Hollywood’s good Catholic characters?

Here is a sobering question: Has there been a single substantial, positive depiction of Catholic faith or identity in a major Hollywood non-horror film in the last 10 or 15 years?

Let&rsquo;s face it: Hollywood&rsquo;s got a &ldquo;religion problem&rdquo; ARTICLE

Let’s face it: Hollywood’s got a “religion problem”

One area of representation is disproportionately ignored: how Hollywood deals with religious belief and identity.

Warcraft [video] ARTICLE

Warcraft [video]

This may be the first movie I’ve ever seen where I got more out of reading the Wikipedia entry afterwards.

Movies and mercy: The Arts &amp; Faith Top&nbsp;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.