Legion: Peter Chattaway Speaks

Regular readers know that one of the critical voices I cite most often is my friend Peter T. Chattaway. For a ripping example of why Peter is so quotable, check out his brilliant blog post on Legion, now in theaters.


The 2010 Academy Award Nominations

Last year’s Academy Awards were not the least-watched Oscars in history—that was the previous year—but they were widely perceived as contributing to the ongoing apathy of viewers by snubbing popular and critical favorites like The Dark Knight and WALL-E while honoring a roster of films (Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, Milk, Doubt) aptly characterized by A. O. Scott’s phrase “hermetically sealed melodrama[s] of received thinking.” (By contrast, Scott called The Dark Knight and WALL-E “contrasting allegories pitched at the anxieties of the moment,” “populist entertainments of summertime” that incited the “interesting movie debates of 2008.”)

The fox so cunning and free: Walt Disney’s “Zorro” POST

The fox so cunning and free: Walt Disney’s “Zorro”

Silent star Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. is still the silver screen’s ultimate swashbuckling Zorro. Tyrone Powers ideally embodies the sly subterfuge of a man of iron turning on a dime from foppish languor to finely double-edged banter to masked derring-do. But Guy Williams, hero of Walt Disney’s popular 1950s television series, is the most beloved Zorro of all time.


Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy

A Vatican list film, Rossellini’s celebrated 1945 landmark of Italian neorealism [Open City] is a must-see film for film lovers — and of course I saw it, and reviewed it, years ago. Even at the time, though, I knew I wasn’t really experiencing the film Rossellini made.


Avatar: What the Vatican Really Said

A priest friend, frustrated by dodgy media coverage, recently sent me his own translation of the entire L’Osservatore Romano review, as well as of a segment that ran of Vatican Radio.


Avatar, the Golden Globes … and the Vatican

See my latest at on “Avatar, the Golden Globes … and the Vatican.” (I’ll be blogging more here at Decent Films starting next week … I’m still emerging from the New Year crunch!)


Avatar and the Meaning of Life

Was I wrong to contend, as I did recently in a response to a reader, that “Unlike Star Wars and The Matrix, Avatar doesn’t strike me as a film likely to burrow deep into the collective consciousness”? A recent story at, “Audiences Experience ‘Avatar’ Blues,” at least raises questions about that assessment.


The New

I’m pleased to note that National Catholic Register, for which I have been writing on film since 2003, has launched a completely revamped website at


This week on DVD & Blu-ray

This week’s DVD and Blu-ray releases include noteworthy new editions of a pair of films worth highlighting: The Reluctant Saint, newly available from Ignatius Press, and Fellini’s , now on Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection.


The 12th Day of Christmas: St. Lucy Nativity

One of the top questions I’m getting about the new Decent Films is how I’m going to be using the blog. My hope is that the blogging format will allow me to be flexible: to post short movie reviews and commentary, notes on DVD releases, and perhaps occasional personal tidbits of the sort that I have often posted in the past at my friend Jimmy Akin’s blog — though generally, I think, with a film-centric focus here.


Welcome to the New Decent Films!

Has it really been ten years?