Articles

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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 (Written by Jimmy Akin) 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 >

Open Letter to a Mother at an R-rated Movie

2003-03-14 00:29:55 Open letter to the mother sitting in front of me at last week’s Cradle 2 the Grave screening: Your daughter seemed to be about 8 years old, with her white dress and her hair done up in braids. I wonder what she thought when the people in this R-rated movie kidnapped a little girl about her age, duct-taped her mouth shut and shoved her into a van, planning to kill her later. Read More >

Left Behind

2003-02-10 04:25:26 Still others, trying to strike a happy medium, opt for a tolerant ecumenical openness to various interpretations. "Pray for ’pre’ but prepare for ’post,’ " advised Fundamentalist singer Keith Green when asked about his views on the timing of the rapture and the tribulation. Many likewise feel that the interpretation of end-times prophecy is an inessential matter regarding which Christians may legitimately hold different views. (Incidentally, if you’re already having trouble with terms like "pre" and "post," try this summary to get up to speed.) Read More >

2002: The Year in Reviews

2003-01-28 04:01:12 But there were positive trends too. For instance, it was a better year for families at the movies than in quite some time. Despite some disappointments and failures (Spy Kids 2, Big Fat Liar, Hey Arnold!, Scooby-Doo), there were solid successes (The Rookie, Stuart Little 2, Lilo & Stitch) and a sizable number of decent efforts (Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, Powerpuff Girls, Return to Never Land, Tuck Everlasting, Treasure Planet, Wild Thornberrys). Read More >

Harry Potter vs. Gandalf: Magic in J.K. Rowling, Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis

2002-09-16 07:01:48 What, then, defines morally acceptable use of good magic in fiction? Where, and how, do we draw the line? How do we distinguish the truly worthwhile (Tolkien and Lewis), the basically harmless (Glinda, Cinderella’s fairy godmother), and the problematic or objectionable (“Buffy,” The Craft)? And where on this continuum does Harry Potter really fall? Read More >

Simone: Reality and Fantasy in Hollywood

2002-08-24 05:12:47 The first line of the film’s closing credits read, "Introducing S1m0ne as Herself." At the time of the early-look screening I attended, no further information about "Simone" was readily available. The movie’s production notes, website, and Internet Movie Database entry were all silent about who, or what, Simone might be. Read More >

The Children’s Stories of E. B. White

2002-07-18 08:23:36 Just as no writer or editor can do without a copy of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, so no child’s library is complete without one or more of the latter writer’s beloved trilogy of children’s books: Stuart Little (1945), Charlotte’s Web (1952), and Trumpet of the Swan (1970). Read More >

Minority Report: A View from the Red Carpet

2002-06-23 17:32:06 “Hi, Internet,” Steven Spielberg says affably. Read More >

WTC: Thoughts from the Week of September 11, 2001

2002-05-05 16:01:03 It was only last week, though it seems like a lifetime ago, that I was standing on top of the Empire State Building, squinting to the south with my two older children toward the proud twin towers of the World Trade Center. Read More >

“Is it a Game?” Faith, Despair, and Cosmic Loneliness in A.I. Artificial Intelligence

2002-03-02 04:34:32 (Co-written with Chris Otsuki) "Those who made us," Joe explains to David, with a glance at the statue of the Blessed Mother, "are always looking for the ones who made them." Read More >

2001: The Year in Reviews

2002-01-28 04:01:14 That said, 2001 was still a pretty lackluster year for film. All spring and all summer, only a tiny handful of worthwhile flicks stood out in a vast wasteland of dreck. The summer’s big special-effects extravaganza, Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, was big on effects and short on absolutely everything else, including excitement, humor, charm, characterization, and narrative logic. The annual Disney animated release, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, continued the studio’s dismal slide into modest entertainment values and increasingly glaring New-Age rot. Then the end of the year came with such an onslaught of new releases that it hardly seemed possible to do them all justice. And, unfortunately, Hollywood continued to reap the rewards of its bad behavior with ever-higher box-office returns. Read More >

Possible Halloween Movies for Kids

2001-10-27 13:15:53 Read More >

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Meaning

2001-09-18 12:06:50 What is it about this film that’s pulling in ordinarily subtitle-phobic U.S. audiences and eliciting cheers and applause from jaded American critics and festival audiences, yet leaves the kung-fu fans of the East cold? Is this a good martial-arts movie, or not? Read More >

Kevin Smith: Is Nothing Sacred?

2001-09-13 18:27:25 Does he think of himself as being part of a generation of filmmakers? Smith reflects. "If I am part of a generation of filmmakers," he says with typically self-depracating candor, "it would be the generation that got in too easily." He recounts the epiphany he had after seeing Richard Linklater’s 1991 low-budget indie comedy Slacker: "I thought to myself, ’This counts? This is a movie? ’Cause I think I could do that!’" The result of this epiphany was Smith’s first film, Clerks, a cheerfully obscene comedy that Smith admitted he "never expected to play outside Monmouth County" in New Jersey. Read More >

2000: The Year in Reviews

2001-01-28 04:01:14 Movies this year were so bad that theater attendance was at an almost ten-year low; yet, paradoxically, box office revenues hit record highs — thanks largely to increased ticket prices. Never before have so few paid so much to see so little. Read More >

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