Articles

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.

The truth behind one of Netflix’s most popular shows ARTICLE

The truth behind one of Netflix’s most popular shows

Want to know the truth behind the “Devil’s Bible”? Or the Dead Sea Scrolls? How about one of the Old Testament’s two famous arks? Curious about UFOs, Bigfoot or the Bermuda Triangle?

Guardian Devils? Daredevil and Catholic guilt, superhero style ARTICLE

Guardian Devils? Daredevil and Catholic guilt, superhero style

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” says Matt Murdock, the blind lawyer turned masked hero in the first line of the new trailer for Netflix’s upcoming Marvel Comics superhero series “Daredevil.”

My Top 10 Favorite Movie Love Stories That Don’t Show Up on Romantic Movie Lists ARTICLE

My Top 10 Favorite Movie Love Stories That Don’t Show Up on Romantic Movie Lists

No Jane Austen or Shakespeare. No Hepburn or Cary Grant, Meg Ryan or Tom Hanks. No Say Anything or Jerry Maguire, no City Lights or Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. Nothing against any of the above, but you don’t need me to tout them. Instead, here are ten films you might not find on other lists of movie romances.

The easygoing Catholicism of <i>Return to Me</i> ARTICLE

The easygoing Catholicism of Return to Me

Return to Me has an easygoing Catholic vibe akin, but not identical, to Golden Age Hollywood piety; in fact, the movie blends nostalgia and irreverence for the Catholic Hollywood of Bing Crosby’s era.

<i>Fantasia</i>: The Sistine Chapel of Disney animation ARTICLE

Fantasia: The Sistine Chapel of Disney animation

Among a few Disney films deserving of the title “masterpiece,” Fantasia remains a unique achievement.

2014: The Year in Reviews ARTICLE

2014: The Year in Reviews

The quest for justice and harmony echoed through the best films of 2014, playing out in various arenas: social, domestic and spiritual.

Raking through the ashes of unbelief: Woody Allen&#8217;s lost spark ARTICLE

Raking through the ashes of unbelief: Woody Allen’s lost spark

Woody Allen keeps telling us God is dead, but he also keeps compulsively burying him.

The Church on screen in 2014: Not a bad year for Catholics ARTICLE

The Church on screen in 2014: Not a bad year for Catholics

By mid-year I would have predicted that Mendoza would surely prove to be the best big-screen priest of 2014 — but Brendan Gleeson’s Rev. Lavelle in John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary proved me wrong.

Christmas Day is over &#8230; time to watch Christmas movies! ARTICLE

Christmas Day is over … time to watch Christmas movies!

What can Catholics do to keep things Christmasy until mid-January? Among other things, I suggest keeping the tree and the lights lit until at least January 6, if not the following Sunday — and saving the Christmas movies till after Christmas day.

The trouble with Christmas movies ARTICLE

The trouble with Christmas movies

“What are your favorite Christmas movies?” As a Catholic film critic, I get this question several times every December, often on the air or via social media. The question, alas, touches on a sore subject for me.

How <i>The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies</i> betrays Tolkien&#8217;s Catholic themes &#8212; and his religious fans ARTICLE

How The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies betrays Tolkien’s Catholic themes — and his religious fans

Changes like these are sadly typical of the Hobbit prequel trilogy, which is far cruder and less sensitive to the charm and beauty of its source material than the Lord of the Rings films were. As bad as Christopher Tolkien’s fears in 2012 about The Hobbit films might have been, the reality is worse.

<i>Exodus: Gods and Kings</i>: Theological reflections ARTICLE

Exodus: Gods and Kings: Theological reflections

It’s a movie with many problems, like most of Scott’s recent epics (Prometheus, Robin Hood, Kingdom of Heaven), but Scott has a better story to work with here and adds something of value to the world of Bible cinema.

Interview: <i>Exodus: Gods and Kings</i> filmmakers Ridley Scott, Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton ARTICLE

Interview: Exodus: Gods and Kings filmmakers Ridley Scott, Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton

Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings (in theaters Dec. 12) is the year’s second major Old Testament epic from a director who is not a believer — but don’t get Scott started on Noah’s rock-monster Watchers.

Moses at the movies ARTICLE

Moses at the movies

The Exodus is probably the Bible’s most cinema-ready story, the perfect Bible-movie subject. Unlike the stories of Noah, Abraham, David, Jesus, Peter, or Paul, it offers a sustained narrative structure, with a clear central conflict between a strong hero and a strong villain, building to a series of grand climaxes.

How Disney’s <i>Maleficent</i> subverts the Christian symbolism of <i>Sleeping Beauty</i> ARTICLE

How Disney’s Maleficent subverts the Christian symbolism of Sleeping Beauty

I’m very much open to fairy-tale revisionism in general, and to feminist critiques of classic fairy tales in particular. As a father of three daughters, I chafe at the passiveness of so many traditional fairy-tale princesses waiting for their prince to come and rescue them. Give me princesses like Leia from Star Wars, Merida from Brave or Tiana from The Princess and the Frog any day. But there’s a difference between creative revisionism and simple inversion.

Dystopia, <i>The Hunger Games</i> and the critique of the culture of death ARTICLE

Dystopia, The Hunger Games and the critique of the culture of death

The word utopia was coined by St. Thomas More in his book of that name — an important and enigmatic work of fiction and political philosophy generally understood as some sort of satire.

ARTICLE

Seeking accessible saint movies … for less arty viewers

A reader writes: “I am looking for easy-to-approach religious movies, especially ones on saints. Intellectually challenging, subtitled, confusingly artistic movies seem to dominate. While I really love those types of movies, I am trying to find films for my Bible study group … We tried the first half of Diary of a Country Priest, and I worried one might try to smother herself with my sofa pillow to end her misery. Do you have any thoughts?”

ARTICLE

Taking themselves lightly: “The Flying Nun” and The Reluctant Saint

If “The Flying Nun” is a bit too, well, flighty for some tastes, consider another 1960s production about a consecrated religious — a real-life one in this case, and a canonized saint — given to slipping the surly bonds of earth.

Religious filmmakers explore — and cross-examine — faith ARTICLE

Religious filmmakers explore — and cross-examine — faith

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.