New Orleans’ legendary Mardi Gras celebration has been depicted or used as a backdrop in scores of films, though surprisingly few depictions are of any great or enduring note.
Six years ago I put together a list of movie recommendations for Lenten viewing, six titles for the six weeks of Lent. This year, for the Year of Mercy, here’s a new list: one that puts particular emphasis on mercy, charity, and active concern for one’s neighbor.
23 years ago I had the privilege of catching Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in theatrical re-release. At the time I was acutely aware what a privilege it was, because about five years earlier, in a history of animation class at the School of Visual Arts, I had written a research paper about that very film, and in those days there was no easy way for me to actually watch the film I was writing about!
Two of this year’s eight best picture Academy Award nominees, Spotlight and Brooklyn, present dramatically different depictions of Catholic clergy — though neither gives a clerical character more than a few minutes of screentime.
43 years after Roe vs. Wade, Americans remain about as deeply conflicted over abortion as ever… The nation’s divided conscience on this subject is reflected on the screen.
This week the world lost three English performers who were all film actors … Bedford’s best-known film role was in Disney’s animated Robin Hood, in which he voiced the legendary outlaw. Rickman, who died the next day, had played the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner. David Bowie, alas, never made a Robin Hood movie.
The most celebrated films in any given year are often laced with dark or harrowing themes, and 2015 was no exception… There were also films with uplifting themes, though it’s possible they were harder to find than in past years. In part for that very reason, I treasured them more.
Lee has called Malcolm X the movie he was born to make; in some respects it may be the role Washington was born to play.
Stations of the Cross is among the most insightful and devastating cross-examinations of religious fundamentalism that I have ever seen, certainly in a Catholic context. The film is not an attack on faith or religion, but an examination of how faith goes wrong.
There are at least a half dozen reasons “Phineas and Ferb” never should have existed, and how fortunate for viewers of all ages that it does.
Is the Star Wars mythos Gnostic? If so, how Gnostic is it? The question is complicated by confusion over exactly what Gnosticism is.
By the most empirical of measures, it doesn’t look like anything can kill Star Wars. From another angle, one could equally ask: At this late date, can anything revive Star Wars?
I smiled and laughed through much of the film. Why don’t I love it more? Why did The Force Awakens make almost no lasting impression on me?
According to Paul Valéry, art is “never finished, only abandoned.” Maybe so, but this is the first Pixar movie that really glaringly illustrates the point.
During the second week of Advent, as we’re wrapping up Genesis and turning to Exodus, our family viewing often includes DreamWorks’ two animated Pentateuch movies: the Exodus movie The Prince of Egypt and its made-for-TV prequel, Joseph: King of Dreams.
Due to the vagaries of history, Lloyd is less well-known today than Chaplin or Keaton, but his legacy lives on. If you’ve seen Back to the Future (1985), Bringing Up Baby (1938), any of Jackie Chan’s movies, or any incarnation of Superman or Harry Potter, or you’ve experienced Lloyd’s influence.
Pieces of April is about the danger, and the necessity, of hoping against hope in a troubled situation, of taking the risk of trying to make it work when there is ample reason to foresee failure.
Of Gods and Men is the most extraordinary cinematic depiction of the Christian ideal in at least the last quarter century. It also depicts something of the variety of expressions in the Islamic world.
We cloak the monstrous in euphemisms. We call it “unspeakable” or “unthinkable” — designations that are accurate simply because in using them we make them so. In Catholic circles a dozen years ago, one sometimes heard about “The Crisis”; later it became “The Scandal.” We all knew what these terms referred to, but did we really know?
“He has been many different men,” Antonio Banderas tells Catherine Zeta-Jones in the last scene of the rousing 1998 action movie The Mask of Zorro.
Hall doesn’t want credit; as far as he’s concerned, the rescue was God’s work, not his.
Both films revolve around a number of tense cat-and-mouse interviews between the believing protagonist and a shrewd Nazi antagonist … The interviews in both films are a clash of worldviews.
The Peanuts Movie comes billed as being “From the imagination of Charles Schulz,” and, almost astonishingly, it pretty much is.
“Peanuts”’ appeal was universal: It was beloved by young and old, by the intelligentsia as well as the masses; it was the definition of mainstream, yet it was also embraced by the counterculture. It was bitterly pessimistic, yet never succumbed to the despair and nihilism of, say, “Dilbert” or “Pearls Before Swine.”
“When it comes to fighting vampires and performing exorcisms, the Roman Catholic Church has the heavy artillery” is how Roger Ebert opened his review of John Carpenter’s Vampires.
If the early scenes with Marty’s mother suggest that parents sometimes try to hold their children to a standard they never tried to meet themselves, the parking scene suggests that the reverse may also be the case: Children may want their parents to embody a higher standard than they want for themselves.
There is not a wasted or unnecessary shot in Peter Weir’s Witness, or a superfluous line of dialogue. Like the great barn-raising scene late in the second act, the film’s construction is both efficient and unhurried, functional and beautiful.
There is a sense in which “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is for my children in part what Star Wars was for my generation: a new and enthralling mythology about a young hero with a mysterious power slowly learning to channel that power to fight against a tyrannical empire.
Disney’s Aladdin does more than give Williams an opportunity to let loose the comic giant inside him: It offers the Disney animators perhaps their greatest creative challenge, and inspiration, in over half a century.
We aren’t exactly talking The Matrix here, but it’s been awhile since a Hollywood popcorn action movie elicited such a range of theological and philosophical analysis.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.