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Spirited Away REVIEW

Spirited Away (2001)

No film in Miyazaki’s oeuvre haunts me like Spirited Away. One reason is the evocation of a seemingly impenetrable, incalculable world with rhythms and rituals that seem all the more opaque and unnerving because they are routine and transparent to those that are of that world.

We need to talk about cartoon parents ARTICLE

We need to talk about cartoon parents

I don’t expect animated heroes to have uniformly ideal, harmonious family lives. It’s not realistic — and it doesn’t make for good drama, which needs conflict. The ubiquity of the pattern, though, is striking.

Moana REVIEW

Moana (2016)

It would be going too far to say that Moana combines everything I enjoy about contemporary Disney with everything I dislike, but it’s got quite a bit of both.

Arrival REVIEW

Arrival (2016)

In some ways it warrants comparison with Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, if only because Arrival achieves much of what I was hoping for from Interstellar.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them REVIEW

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

The fact is, moving from the Harry Potter films to Fantastic Beasts feels a bit like moving from the original Star Wars trilogy to the Star Wars prequels.

<em>Doctor Strange</em> and <em>Hacksaw Ridge</em>: Breaking rules and the greater good ARTICLE

Doctor Strange and Hacksaw Ridge: Breaking rules and the greater good

In each of their latest films, the battle against a threatening power raises questions about which principles the protagonist should or shouldn’t compromise in order to protect his world — questions that aren’t necessarily clearly answered by the end of the film.

<em>Hacksaw Ridge</em>: Mel Gibson and Robert Schenkkan at the Sheen Center ARTICLE

Hacksaw Ridge: Mel Gibson and Robert Schenkkan at the Sheen Center

The director and screenwriter spoke at a screening of the film at the New York Archdiocese’s cultural center, and I chatted with Gibson about the film.

Hacksaw Ridge REVIEW

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Gibson crafts a resolutely traditional exercise in Hollywood mythmaking: a tale of a man who stoically endures accusations of cowardice before being vindicated as the bravest of all, a man of integrity who stands by his unpopular principles regardless of the consequences; a pious man whose sincere faith eventually wins the respect and admiration of his less devout comrades.

Doctor Strange REVIEW

Doctor Strange (2016)

Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Marvel’s sorcerer supreme, is a rare action blockbuster — and an even rarer superhero movie — that really ought to be experienced, not only on the big screen, but in 3D — and if possible in IMAX.

The Birth of a Nation REVIEW

The Birth of a Nation (2016)

The prominent, polyvalent exploration of the uses of religion and especially Scripture, both to condone slavery and to condemn it, to sedate slaves and to inflame them, is one of the most striking and welcome things about the film.

The Greater Freedom: Karol Wojtyla and <em>Our God&rsquo;s Brother</em> ARTICLE

The Greater Freedom: Karol Wojtyla and Our God’s Brother

As a seminarian in the 1940s, the future Pope St. John Paul II wrote a play about a Polish artist turned religious who helped inspire his vocation. In 1997, a film adaptation featuring Christoph Waltz was directed by Krzysztof Zanussi (Life for Life).

&ldquo;You do it for Christ, and forget the rest&rdquo; ARTICLE

“You do it for Christ, and forget the rest”

Krzysztof Zanussi on Our God’s Brother, Adam Chmielowski, Pope John Paul II, and how he discovered Christoph Waltz.

It&#8217;s a Wonderful Life REVIEW

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

The truth is that It’s a Wonderful Life is both darker and more subversive than its popular reputation as cheery holiday “Capra-corn” would suggest, and more robustly hopeful than cynics and hipster deconstructionists would have it.

Miss Peregrine&#8217;s Home for Peculiar Children REVIEW

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

1999 was a very good year for film, and how much more peculiar Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children might have been had it come out that year, before the X-Men and Harry Potter franchises were launched in 2000 and 2001, respectively.

Deepwater Horizon REVIEW

Deepwater Horizon (2016)

The film sketches in these characters just enough to hold the story together. What really interests Berg is exploring how the disaster happened, what it was like, and how those 126 people responded, for better and for worse.

The culture of wrath: How not to poison your soul on social media ARTICLE

The culture of wrath: How not to poison your soul on social media

The pitfalls of human nature being what they are, to dwell excessively on negative thoughts and preoccupations — to give free rein to outrage, anger, fear, antipathy, and, all too easily, hatred — is a constant temptation. (It’s a special hazard during election seasons, but the problem is perennial.) That which is dishonorable, unjust, impure, and worthy of condemnation drowns out what is honorable, just, pure, and worthy of praise.

<em>Inside Out</em> and upside down: Does&nbsp;Pixar&rsquo;s most recent masterpiece distort human nature? ARTICLE

Inside Out and upside down: Does Pixar’s most recent masterpiece distort human nature?

None of this is to say that Inside Out doesn’t present a lopsided view of the place of emotions in human nature. It does. Most if not all stories, even great ones, are lopsided in some respect or other.

Queen of Katwe REVIEW

Queen of Katwe (2016)

There are so many reasons Queen of Katwe shouldn’t even exist, and just thinking about them all makes me even more vexed at Hollywood for its desperate obsession with exhausted franchise fare when there are winning and wonderful stories like this to be told.

Hillsong &#8211; Let Hope Rise REVIEW

Hillsong – Let Hope Rise (2016)

Possibly the best and most cinematic sequence in Hillsong – Let Hope Rise is a montage that strikingly captures how the music of the Australian Evangelical church-based praise band Hillsong United touches, and unites, people all around the world.

Sully REVIEW

Sully (2016)

Many actors come to own the roles they play so completely that once you see them, you can’t imagine anyone else in the part. Tom Hanks plays roles in which you can’t imagine anyone else even before you see him.

People keep lying about computer &#8220;creativity&#8221; POST

People keep lying about computer “creativity”

Nearly 15 years ago the British futurist Ian Pearson predicted that by 2010 the world’s highest-paid celebrity would be an artificial “synthespian.” That didn’t pan out, but now journalists and PR people are trying to hype A.I. entities as filmmakers behind the camera.

The Iron Giant REVIEW

The Iron Giant (1999)

There is a purity to Brad Bird’s directorial debut The Iron Giant, based on the British poet Ted Hughes’ children’s novel The Iron Man, that is inconceivable in the family film landscape of today.

Greater REVIEW

Greater (2016)

Greater has three surprises, which is three more than most faith-based films, particularly of the inspirational sports-movie variety.

Kubo and the Two Strings REVIEW

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Kubo and the Two Strings comes close to being a masterpiece, and one of the two best American animated films in years, the other being Pixar’s Inside Out.

Ben-Hur REVIEW

Ben-Hur (2016)

On paper, and sometimes even on screen, there’s some promise and potential in this remake of Ben-Hur.

Pete&#8217;s Dragon REVIEW

Pete’s Dragon (2016)

I’m almost afraid to say it out loud, or even in writing, but with Pete’s Dragon joining The Jungle Book and Cinderella, Disney may be giving the lie to the old cliché “They don’t make ’em like that any more.”

Where are Hollywood&#8217;s good Catholic characters? ARTICLE

Where are Hollywood’s good Catholic characters?

Here is a sobering question: Has there been a single substantial, positive depiction of Catholic faith or identity in a major Hollywood non-horror film in the last 10 or 15 years?

Let&rsquo;s face it: Hollywood&rsquo;s got a &ldquo;religion problem&rdquo; ARTICLE

Let’s face it: Hollywood’s got a “religion problem”

One area of representation is disproportionately ignored: how Hollywood deals with religious belief and identity.

Ice Age: Collision Course [video] POST

Ice Age: Collision Course [video]

The tipping point has been reached where I now wish that even the original Ice Age had never been made in the first place. Yes, even if it means no Scratt ever.

Jason Bourne [video] POST

Jason Bourne [video]

You know his name. David Webb. You did know that was his name, right?