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Pokémon Detective Pikachu [video] POST

Pokémon Detective Pikachu [video] (2019)

When they announced The Lego Movie, this is basically the movie I thought we were going to get.

Aladdin REVIEW

Aladdin (2019)

It’s the story you know already, almost exactly. They say the lines and sing the songs, the same songs, almost exactly. It’s a good story and they’re good songs. There are no spoilers in this review because how could there be?

Tolkien REVIEW

Tolkien (2019)

“One of my strongest opinions,” J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in a 1971 letter, “is that investigation of an author’s biography … is an entirely vain and false approach to his works.”

Zac Efron&#8217;s Ted Bundy is <em>Extremely Wicked</em> &#8212; but there are other things he should be, and isn&#8217;t POST

Zac Efron’s Ted Bundy is Extremely Wicked — but there are other things he should be, and isn’t (2019)

The real Bundy could be charming, but an honest film about Bundy and Kloepfer’s relationship could just as easily be called Super Weird, Emotionally Abusive and Threatening.

Hesburgh REVIEW

Hesburgh (2019)

Patrick Creadon (I.O.U.S.A.) offers a compellingly attractive if one-sided portrait of a figure of exceptional gifts, astonishingly diverse accomplishments and extraordinary influence.

Why Mary Magdalene gets a bad rap POST

Why Mary Magdalene gets a bad rap

A reader of my review of Mary Magdalene offers an impassioned defense for the medieval Western view of St. Mary Magdalene as a penitent with a notoriously wanton sexual past, a profligate adulteress or harlot.

‘The Redemption Project’: Convicts, Victims, Confrontation and Forgiveness ARTICLE

‘The Redemption Project’: Convicts, Victims, Confrontation and Forgiveness

The prison setting and the word “redemption” in the Ludlumesque title are vaguely evocative of the most popular prison movie of all time, The Shawshank Redemption. A prison sentence, though, is seldom a redemptive experience for anyone.

Avengers: Endgame REVIEW

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Running just over three hours long, Avengers: Endgame builds to a denouement with a valedictory air akin to the last act of Peter Jackson’s similarly sprawling The Return of the King, except that it comes at the end of 22 movies instead of three movies.

Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and <em>The Divine Plan</em>: Filmmaker Robert Orlando (Interview) ARTICLE

Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and The Divine Plan: Filmmaker Robert Orlando (Interview)

Anyone who directs a movie about the converging efforts of Pope St. John Paul II and Ronald Reagan to take on the Soviet Union is someone I’m interested in talking to. But Robert Orlando isn’t just anyone to me.

Mary Magdalene REVIEW

Mary Magdalene (2019)

Somewhere roughly between Risen and Last Days in the Desert in its narrative and interpretive sensibilities, Mary Magdalene presents an interpretation of Jesus’ ministry, passion and resurrection that seems in some ways — with important caveats — fairly traditional, viewed from a feminist perspective with some biblical justification.

Shazam! REVIEW

Shazam! (2019)

It’s a little bit about the Seven Deadly Sins and a lot about how a 14-year-old boy would react if he were suddenly bequeathed with superpowers beyond imagining and also an Adonis-like adult physique in a bright red super-suit.

Unplanned REVIEW

Unplanned (2019)

“My story isn’t a neat and tidy one,” Abby tells us at the start, but this telling is still pretty neat and tidy. Perhaps the real story was messier.

Dumbo REVIEW

Dumbo (2019)

The Disney nostalgia train rumbles on with Tim Burton back at the throttle — not quite throttling the iconic tale of the flying baby elephant, but only barely rising to the challenge, sort of like Casey Junior struggling to clear that daunting hill.

Fathers Know Best? Phil Lord and Chris Miller&rsquo;s Surprising Animated Dads ARTICLE

Fathers Know Best? Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s Surprising Animated Dads

Particularly striking to me, and even moving, is a theme connecting Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (though not The Lego Movie): how themes of father–son conflict ubiquitous in other cartoons play out with unexpectedly insightful, consequential fathers.

Captain Marvel REVIEW

Captain Marvel (2019)

At this stage in Marvel Cinematic Universe history you almost need a Tolkieneque set of appendices and diagrams to make complete sense of everything.

A Star Is Born [video] POST

A Star Is Born [video] (2018)

So Bradley Cooper can direct and sing as well as act, and Lady Gaga can act as well as sing. The music is solid and sometimes excellent, but does Hollywood’s fourth take on this story have anything new to say?

Best films of 2018: More lists! POST

Best films of 2018: More lists!

First Reformed made more than half of the nine individual lists below, and unsurprisingly topped the year’s best films according to the Arts & Faith Ecumenical Jury … What’s more surprising — anyway I’m a little surprised, and delighted — is that another film was even more esteemed in this little community … and it wasn’t any of the films I would have expected.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World REVIEW

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)

The two sequels greatly expand the world and the mythology of the original Dragon. Yet our hero’s personal self-development was pretty much complete at the start of Dragon 2.

Roma [video] POST

Roma [video]

“No matter what they say,” the mother tells the maid, “we women are always alone.” More than any other 2018 film about unreliable men, Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma is a tribute to women holding their worlds together.

2018: The year in reviews ARTICLE

2018: The year in reviews

2018 was a remarkable movie year — for family films, films with religious themes, and documentaries — but it was also a year of family men who weren’t there for their families.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse [video] POST

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse [video] (2018)

Chris Miller and Phil Lord, Chris Miller and Phil Lord / Do whatever Chris Miller and Phil Lord do.
Can they swing from a thread? / No they can’t, they’re Hollywood filmmakers.

Mary Poppins Returns [video] POST

Mary Poppins Returns [video] (2018)

And so does Dick Van Dyke — but if you want the return of Julie Andrews, the movie to see is Aquaman.

Ralph Breaks the Internet [video] POST

Ralph Breaks the Internet [video] (2018)

Ralph doesn’t just break the Internet — he breaks the mold for Disney/Pixar sequels.

The Rider [video] POST

The Rider [video] (2018)

The lead actor in this film told me he feels much closer to God in the South Dakota Badlands than in New York or Paris. There were more theologically explicit films this year, but none that brought God closer to me.

Widows [video] POST

Widows [video] (2018)

There’s a lot to appreciate about this film from director Steve McQueen and Viola Davis, except the moral universe the film asks us to inhabit for a couple of hours.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald [video] POST

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald [video] (2018)

I swear I am not making any of this up. What else can I say?

The Hate U Give [video] POST

The Hate U Give [video] (2018)

If a parent having The Talk with their kids to you means the birds and the bees, you ought to watch this movie.

Aquaman REVIEW

Aquaman (2018)

Like the Star Wars prequels, like James Cameron’s Avatar, it’s a movie with tons of problems, but it also contains images that made me catch my breath — gorgeous and even numinous sights I will remember forever.

Mary Poppins Returns REVIEW

Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

Nostalgia for the original pervades virtually every aspect of the new film, from the production design of Cherry Tree Lane, where Emily Blunt’s Mary Poppins arrives to look after the next generation of Banks children, to the beat-for-beat exactness with which the sequel follows the original.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse REVIEW

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Here, at last, is the Spidey that family audiences need and the Spidey they deserve — and that’s just two of them!