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Religious filmmakers explore — and cross-examine — faith

2014-10-24 11:44:17 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 >

Do atheists and agnostics make the best religious films?

2014-10-17 10:29:16 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 >

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

2014-10-10 10:53:57 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 >

Two Very Different Responses to Parenthood: Chef and Obvious Child

2014-10-03 14:45:01 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 >

Jewish/Catholic: Religious Identity, Fluidity and the Holocaust

2014-09-26 13:05:21 “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 >

Stop-Motion Macabre

2014-09-26 09:27:20 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 >

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

2014-09-19 10:47:28 “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 >

Superhero Movies and Catholic Faith

2014-09-12 18:31:32 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 >

Hollywood After September 11, 2001

2014-09-11 11:56:20 The shadow of September 11, 2001 over Hollywood still lingers. Read More >

A haunting film about the “martyr of Auschwitz”

2014-09-05 09:19:27 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 >

Auf Wiedersehen! Stay tuned!

2014-09-02 14:44:27 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 >

Life for Life: Maximilian Kolbe

2014-08-27 17:43:33 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 >

Robin Williams RIP

2014-08-13 18:59:11 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 >

Interview: Filmmaker Scott Derrickson on Horror, Faith, Chesterton and Deliver Us From Evil

2014-07-03 00:53:44 Scott Derrickson is a very nice guy who makes movies about things that aren’t very nice. Read More >

The Trouble With Angels: Heavenly Messengers According to Hollywood

2014-06-19 17:29:19 The popular eschatological confusion that we “become angels” when we die may be a headache for catechists, but only a curmudgeon would object to a Hollywood fable taking this sort of creative license. Still, there’s no reason for all movie angels to be as angelically incorrect as Clarence. Read More >

Maleficent, Rape and Sympathy for the Devil

2014-06-19 13:26:39 A story like this demands to be seen through the lens of what biblical scholars call “redaction criticism,” which basically means “What was changed, added or deleted in this retelling of the story, and what do those changes tell us about the storyteller’s intentions and outlook?” Read More >

So, How Gay is How to Train Your Dragon?

2014-06-19 11:29:08How to Train Your Dragon’s Gobber the Belch Comes Out As Gay,” headlines screamed in the weeks prior to the release of DreamWorks’ animated sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2. Read More >

Our Lady of Fatima at the Movies

2014-05-09 12:29:08 I have never seen a bad movie about Fátima. Three stand out to me: The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952) is the best known; Apparitions at Fátima (1992) is the most authentic; and The 13th Day (2009) is the most artful — and my favorite of the three. Read More >

Top 10 Superhero Movies

2014-04-04 17:30:49 Why do we love costumed crusaders? Larger-than-life heroes fill a cultural niche occupied in the 1950s by gunslingers, in earlier centuries by Robin Hood and King Arthur, and in antiquity by the likes of Hercules, Perseus, and Odysseus. Read More >

Noah: A Theological Reflection

2014-03-28 20:44:25 “Let me tell you a story,” Russell Crowe’s Noah says to his family in a moment of great crisis and emotion. “The first story my father told me, and the first story I told each of you.” What he recounts are the events of Genesis 1, the creation of the world; and Aronofsky relates them both verbally and visually in a way that bespeaks a confidence in the power of this story to speak to us today: a story still worth telling and retelling. Read More >

The Noah Movie Controversies: Questions and Answers

2014-03-28 20:34:03 The punning headlines write themselves: “Noah Awash in Flood of Controversy.” “Deluge of Criticism Inundates Filmmakers.” In the weeks preceding the release of Noah, controversy has swirled around the film — and will no doubt continue to do so in the weeks ahead. Read More >

Interview: Noah Writer-Director Darren Aronofsky and Co-writer Ari Handel

2014-03-21 05:00:01 In a way, the figure of Noah stands over filmmaker Darren Aronofsky’s whole career. Read More >

Everybody chill out about the ‘Noah’ movie

2014-02-28 13:18:50 So what’s the deal with the Noah movie? Does it replace the message of the Bible story with a message created by Hollywood? Is Russell Crowe’s Noah an environmentalist wacko? Is God a monster out to eradicate humanity entirely? Get a grip, people. Read More >

How Christian is Disney's Frozen? (Not very.) Part 1

2014-02-28 13:03:02 I’ve been surprised at the popularity of efforts to interpret major story elements in Frozen as a Christian parable. I’m not talking about merely commenting on the climactic act of self-sacrifice as reflecting Christlike love, etc. That, I don’t object to. I mean interpreting the film’s structure and themes as, in effect, an allegory of the Gospel — one rivaling or even surpassing C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Read More >

2013: The Year in Reviews

2014-01-17 12:17:59 2013 was a year of cinematic trauma and stress, full of harrowing, at times also exhilarating, survival stories, many on the abyss of the sea or even the void of space. Read More >

Exorcism in the Movies

2013-12-20 23:48:52 In a way, The Exorcist is a pivotal film — the indispensable link between the Catholic-inflected piety of Golden Age Hollywood and the demonic world of latter-day horror. Read More >

The Virgin Mary at the Movies

2013-12-09 15:35:47 Mary of Nazareth, now touring North America in isolated screenings hosted by Ignatius Press, is the latest in a number of Gospel films over the last couple of decades focusing in a special way on the role of the Blessed Virgin in the Gospel story. Read More >

The Untold Story of Slavery? Why 12 Years a Slave is Essential

2013-10-17 17:10:33 The award-winning film 12 Years a Slave, now in theaters, isn’t just an astonishing film about an important subject. It’s also a rare and valuable film of a kind I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before. Read More >

Over the Rainbow: The Wizard of Oz Turns 75

2013-09-20 13:29:35 So many songs about rainbows and what’s on the other side? What was Kermit talking about? There’s only one song like that … and one movie that embodies the childhood magic Jim Henson wanted to evoke. Read More >

The Summer’s Best-Kept Secret: From Up on Poppy Hill

2013-08-30 13:16:45 Co-written by Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyzaki and directed by his son Goro Miyazaki (Tales From Earthsea), From Up on Poppy Hill is a gently naturalistic departure from the high-flying fantasy for which the studio is best known. Read More >

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