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The Incredibles: Big fish in a depleted pond

2004-11-05 00:03:42 Let’s face it: So far, it’s been a lousy year for family films. Until now, the fine Two Brothers has been just about the only bright spot. Of course DreamWorks’ phonetically similar CGI twins Shrek 2 and Shark Tale each made far more money than Two Brothers, but neither is quite what I consider fine family viewing. And other choices have been forgettable and quickly forgotten: Home on the Range, Clifford’s Really Big Movie, Good Boy! Read More >

Terence Fisher: Religious Themes in the Hammer Horrors

2004-10-29 12:24:25 The religious themes in the B-movie horror films directed by Terence Fisher for Hammer Films could fill a book. In fact, there is such a book. Read More >

Spin: Jamie Redford Talks About His First Feature Film

2004-10-28 09:37:23 Actually, Spin, adapted by the younger Redford from Donald Everett Axinn’s debut novel of the same name, is an intimate coming-of-age drama set in 1950s small-town Arizona. Starring Ryan Merriman, Stanley Tucci, Dana Delany, and Paula Garcés, it tells the story of an orphan named Eddie (Merriman) whose parents were killed in a flying accident, and who was left by his uncle (Tucci) to be raised by a Mexican employee (Rubén Blades) and his Anglo wife (Delany), a schoolteacher. Read More >

Ratings Creep: Are the MPAA Ratings Really Getting Looser?

2004-10-22 08:52:50 In 2002, according to a July 16 Philadelphia Inquirer story ("Film rating trend raises creepy issues"), Nell Minow, a.k.a. the "Movie Mom" and film critic for, went to see the PG-13 rated About a Boy. At one point in the film, Hugh Grant used an adjectival form of what the MPAA calls "one of the harsher sexually-derived words," but is often referred to as "the f-word." Read More >

What Are the Decent Films?

2004-10-22 04:50:09 Must a decent film deal only with uplifting or wholesome subjects, or may dark or disturbing themes also be dealt with? Can a film include nudity or profanity and still be “decent”? Can “humane culture” include popular films or genres like action films and romantic comedies, or do only highbrow “art films” count as true culture? Read More >

The Question of God: Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis

2004-09-30 05:16:35 The Question of God, airing in two parts on PBS September 15 and 22, is an extension of Dr. Nicholi’s course and of his book The Question of God: C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life, published by the Free Press. Over the course of its four hours, The Question of God blends biographical surveys of Freud’s and Lewis’s intellectual and metaphysical journeys, panel discussions of believers and unbelievers moderated by Dr. Nicholi, expert interviews with authorities like Peter Kreeft and Harold Blum, and dramatic readings from Freud’s and Lewis’s writings with actors portraying the two thinkers. Read More >

The Passion of the Christ: First Impressions

2004-08-31 07:01:15 As I contemplate Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, the sequence I keep coming back to, again and again, is the scourging at the pillar. Read More >

The Passion of the Christ and Antisemitism

2004-08-31 07:01:14 Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League declared recently that Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ is not antisemitic, and that Gibson himself is not an anti-Semite, but a “true believer.” Read More >

The Matrix Trilogy Revisited: Sculpting in Bullet Time

2004-04-17 19:13:25 The Matrix is simultaneously a philosophical model and a popular myth — a postmodern analogue to both Plato’s cave and Homer’s Odyssey, Descartes’ daemon and Pilgrim’s Progress, the brains-in-vats scenario and Star Wars. Read More >

The Matrix: Gnostic or Christian? Part 2 - The Sequels

2004-04-16 10:32:42 Four years after its release, the world of The Matrix has been greatly elaborated by a pair of sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. Given the intense philosophical and religious scrutiny to which the original film has been subjected, doubtless fans will be scrutinizing the new films to see what light they shed on the first film, and how they themselves should be viewed in light of the spiritual questions raised by the first film. Read More >

The Matrix: Gnostic or Christian? Part 1

2004-04-16 10:32:41 This level of interest is not primarily due to The Matrix’s visual innovations, such as its groundbreaking use of bullet-time photography. Nor is it, for example, Keanu Reeves’s acting that cries out for more critical discussion. Rather, it’s the philosophical, spiritual, and moral implications of this phenomenally popular action pic that are responsible for all the attention. Read More >

Disney: Signs of Change?

2004-04-02 02:41:33 Now, encouraging signs of change in recent Disney films suggest that the Mouse may be starting to get the message. The new trend began with surprisingly strong pro-family themes in direct-to-video sequels such as Lady & the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure. This positive depiction of family continued in the theatrically released (though still low-budget) sequels Return to Never Land and Jungle Book 2. Read More >

Home on the Range: The Last Roundup for Disney Animation?

2004-04-02 02:41:32 Is Home on the Range really the final entry in the canon of Disney’s traditional hand-animated feature films — a body of work that goes back to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and includes such landmarks as Fantasia, Pinocchio, and Beauty and the Beast? Read More >

Quo Vadis Disney? Notes on the End of the Disney Renaissance

2004-04-02 02:41:32 The modern era of Disney animated greatness started with a splash in 1989 when the promisingly fresh The Little Mermaid hit theaters. Delighted audiences actually burst into applause at colorful show-stopping musical numbers like the sprightly "Under the Sea" and the enchanting "Kiss the Girl." Coming as it did after a string of uninspired releases (The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron, Oliver & Company), The Little Mermaid set the stage for a creative comeback. Read More >

The Passion: Doug Barry of Radix Relives Jesus’ Final Hours

2004-04-02 02:41:30 Veteran Catholic performer Barry, who calls his apostolate Radix, has been doing his live one-man passion play for a decade, accompanied for most of that time by his musical partner, Eric Genuis. One recorded version has played for a number of years on EWTN around Holy Week. This version, filmed live in 2003 at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, TN, benefits from enhanced production values including multiple cameras. Read More >

Silent Movies: Watching with Children

2004-04-02 02:41:30 The open-mindedness of the young obviously imposes a huge responsibility on parents to watch what their children are exposed to. But it also represents a tremendous opportunity to expose children to valuable and worthwhile experiences that for many of their peers will be lost, possibly forever, by the time they are teenagers. Read More >

Judas: Jesus in the Eyes of His Betrayer

2004-03-05 15:38:05 Read More >

The Lord of the Rings: The Achievement of Peter Jackson’s Films

2004-02-28 18:53:58 As Fritz Lang’s Metropolis was the first great science fiction film and Ford’s Stagecoach was perhaps the first great Western, The Lord of the Rings is the first great cinematic achievement of its kind - a genre that might be described as epic Western mythopoeia, but is often popularly (if imprecisely) called "fantasy" or "swords and sorcery." Read More >

One Man’s Hero is Another Man’s Traitor

2004-01-30 03:07:21 Even movie-savvy Catholics often haven’t heard of One Man’s Hero, Lance Hool’s 1999 film about the San Patricios, a group of Irish Catholic immigrants in the 1840s who joined the U.S. Army but deserted after suffering religious and ethnic persecution, fled to Catholic Mexico, and wound up fighting on the Mexican side in the U.S.-Mexican War. The film, starring Tom Beringer, never got a proper U.S. theatrical release, and hasn’t been promoted on video and DVD, even in Catholic markets and media. Read More >

The Lord of the Rings: Filmmakers contemplate journey, significance of books and films

2003-12-15 12:32:31 “I think that Tolkien says that some generations will be challenged,” said Rhys-Davies, “and if they do not rise to meet that challenge, they will lose their civilization. That does have a real resonance with me.” Read More >

The Lord of the Rings: Faith and Fantasy, Tolkien the Catholic and Peter Jackson’s films

2003-12-12 06:48:10 J. R. R. Tolkien once described his epic masterpiece The Lord of the Rings as "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work." Yet nowhere in its pages is there any mention of religion, let alone of the Catholic Church, Christ, or even God. Tolkien’s hobbits have no religious practices or cult; of prayer, sacrifice, or corporate worship there is no sign. Read More >

The Lord of the Rings: Will Jackson’s Films be True to Tolkien?

2003-12-12 04:27:15 Yet neither Baum nor even Mitchell ever quite generated the level of intensely passionate fan devotion inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic masterpiece The Lord of the Rings. This is a fact not lost on New Zealand director Peter Jackson, whose ambitious, unprecedented back-to-back three-film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings launches this December with The Fellowship of the Ring. Read More >

The Chronicles of Narnia (1988-1990)

2003-11-24 06:32:04 Beautiful, rugged UK landscapes, splendid old castles and other shooting locations, and some fairly impressive sets help create a sense of authenticity. At the same time, with the earlier episodes especially limited by modest production values, rudimentary special effects, and uneven acting, the Chronicles can’t be held even to the standard of such American TV productions as the Merlin and Arabian Nights miniseries. Read More >

The School of Rock vs. The Fighting Temptations

2003-10-10 13:41:15 The hero’s nearly religious reverence for rock’s angry posturing and anti-authoritarianism — reverence culminating in a pre-concert prayer to the "God of rock" — isn’t quite condoned, but isn’t put in any larger context either. Rock culture’s darker side is whitewashed (it’s not about drugs, kids, and groupies are really just band cheerleaders!), and subjects other than music (and even music other than rock) get short shrift. Then there’s the swishing, lisping fifth-grade "band stylist" bringing "Queer Eye" camp to the grade-school setting. Read More >

Luther (2003)

2003-09-25 21:54:05 In one sense, I’d like to see more films like this made. At the same time, Luther is also a seriously flawed film. Relentlessly hagiographical in its depiction of Luther and one-sidedly positive in its view of the Reformation, the film also distorts Catholic theology and significant matters of historical fact, consistently skewing its portrayal to put Luther in the best possible light while making his opponents seem as unreasonable as possible. Read More >

Remembering Bob Hope

2003-08-04 10:43:18 Seven years ago, after nearly six decades of marriage to an active Roman Catholic, Bob Hope was received into the Catholic Church, and became a frequent communicant. His funeral Mass was celebrated on July 30 at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in North Hollywood, and on Sunday, August 3, he was remembered at a memorial Mass celebrated by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C. at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Read More >

The Last Temptation of Christ: An Essay in Film Criticism and Faith

2003-07-19 18:51:49 A Jesus who commits sins — who even thinks he commits sins, who talks a great deal about needing "forgiveness" and paying with his life for his own sins; a Jesus who himself speaks blasphemy and idolatry, calling fear his "god" and talking about being motivated more by fear than by love; who has an ambivalent at best relationship with the Father, even trying to merit divine hatred so that God will leave him alone — all of this is utterly antithetical to Christian belief and sentiment. This is not merely focusing on Jesus’ humanity, this is effectively contradicting his divinity. Read More >

Dogma in Dogma: A Theological Guide

2003-04-20 06:38:16 From a religious point of view, Kevin Smith’s Dogma comes a lot closer to making sense if you just accept one premise: The angels in it — fallen and otherwise — are all really bad at theology. Read More >

Star Wars: Moral and Spiritual Issues

2003-04-20 06:38:15 Moral and spiritual issues raised by the Star Wars phenomenon range from the problem of where to draw the line on Star Wars tie-in products all the way to the theological problems associated with the concept of "the Force." Read More >

Hey Arnold! Series is Good Television

2003-04-20 06:38:15 (Written by Jimmy Akin) "Hey Arnold!" — the television series — is different. It manages to keep its low-key, kid-friendly tone while still turning in episodes that are entertaining and even witty. Read More >

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