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Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation REVIEW

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

Building on the momentum of its predecessor, McQuarry whips up a similar blend of brilliantly constructed set pieces, spectacular stunts, humor, exotic locations and — well, that’s about it, really. What more do you need?

Timbuktu REVIEW

Timbuktu (2015)

A haunting scene in Timbuktu depicts two teams of young athletes running back and forth on a field engaged in offensive and defensive patterns familiar the world over: kicking, dribbling, passing, blocking. All that is missing is a ball and goal markers.

Pixels REVIEW

Pixels (2015)

The idea of saving the world from alien invaders with classic video-game skills is not without a certain dumb appeal.

Black lives matter: Watching <em>Fruitvale Station</em> one year after Eric Garner ARTICLE

Black lives matter: Watching Fruitvale Station one year after Eric Garner

I recently rewatched Fruitvale Station (2013), first-time director Ryan Coogler’s shattering Sundance winner, with my oldest son, who has since gotten his driver’s license. Some day he will face that inevitable first traffic stop, and I want him to be aware just how different that encounter will be for him, with his bleached complexion and shining towheaded crown, than for many young men in the minority neighborhoods all around us.

Ant-Man REVIEW

Ant-Man (2015)

Three years ago, when Marvel first announced that Ant-Man would be getting his own movie, I tweeted, “I don’t care how much money Avengers makes. The world does not need an Ant-Man movie.” Ant-Man, I felt, was too minor a hero, too obscure and inconsequential — in a word, too small — to warrant the big-screen Marvel movie treatment.

Computer dating: Artificial intelligence and robot sex in <em>Ex&nbsp;Machina</em> and <em>Her</em> ARTICLE

Computer dating: Artificial intelligence and robot sex in Ex Machina and Her

Alex Garland’s Ex Machina is the latest in a string of recent science-fiction films exploring questions around artificial intelligence, transhumanism and the role of technology in our lives.

A Catholic family summer vacation entertainment survival guide ARTICLE

A Catholic family summer vacation entertainment survival guide

As a Catholic film critic, one of the top questions I get from parents during the summer months — right after “What’s good in theaters in this summer?” — is “Do you know anyone who does what you do, but for television?”

Minions REVIEW

Minions (2015)

Like the Penguins of Madagascar and Mater the tow truck, the Tic-Tac-shaped, banana-colored Minions join the ranks of popular comic sidekicks who have taken over their animated franchises. This is usually a sign of the end, although Cars 3 is on the way, and nobody has said Madagascar 4 isn’t happening.

What&#8217;s so special about Pixar&#8217;s flawed protagonists and their moral journeys ARTICLE

What’s so special about Pixar’s flawed protagonists and their moral journeys

Only Pixar regularly impresses on viewers that just because you’re the hero of your story doesn’t mean you’re right about everything: that you may make serious mistakes, there may be consequences, and you must take responsibility.

Batkid Begins REVIEW

Batkid Begins (2015)

Above all, it’s the story of the incredible lengths to which the Make-a-Wish staff and volunteers go in order to create special experiences for long-suffering children to make up in some way for their lost childhood.

Pixar and the Pope: Pope Francis&#8217; <em>Laudato Si&#8217;</em> and Pixar&#8217;s <em>Wall-E</em> ARTICLE

Pixar and the Pope: Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ and Pixar’s Wall-E

“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” Pope Francis writes. “In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish” (LS 21). From the outset Wall-E looks as if it had been created with these words in mind, projecting them into a dystopian future in which rubbish has expanded to cover the entire planet, even surrounding the Earth in a halo of space debris.

Inside Out REVIEW

Inside Out (2015)

Inside Out is a rare family film for so many reasons: a story with no villain, for one thing, centering on an imperfect but basically happy intact family going through a tough time. It is a wise and wounding depiction of growing up, a story of growth and loss, with real stakes and real consequences.

The extraordinary career of Christopher Lee ARTICLE

The extraordinary career of Christopher Lee

Sir Christopher Lee, who died on June 7 at the age of 93, had an extraordinary career and an extraordinary life. To speak only of his film work, while it’s impossible to sum up his incredibly prolific and varied output — IMDb.com credits him with more than 280 acting roles over a nearly 70-year career — Lee’s lean, towering build (he stood five inches over six feet) and sonorous baritone voice were well suited to playing villains and monsters.

Jurassic World REVIEW

Jurassic World (2015)

Pratt more than delivers. You could almost say he manages to stand in for Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern. He’s got Neill’s toughness, Goldblum’s humor and Dern’s down-to-earthness. His character, Owen Grady, is Jurassic World’s velociraptor trainer, and in a terrific early set piece Pratt persuades me that he’s capable of standing up to three raptors armed with nothing but charisma and nerve.

Roman holidays: Visiting the Eternal City in the movies, from the sublime to the ridiculous ARTICLE

Roman holidays: Visiting the Eternal City in the movies, from the sublime to the ridiculous

You could almost watch Bicycle Thieves and Roman Holiday back to back and never realize they were shot in the same city only five years apart.

Jurassic Park REVIEW

Jurassic Park (1993)

In the twenty-odd years since Jurassic Park pioneered the use of photorealistic computer-animated living creatures integrated into a live-action film, computer animation has become even more prevalent. Yet in all that time, it’s hard to think of a single blockbuster spectacle that uses computer imagery to achieve a similar sense of awe and grandeur.

Mad Max: Fury Road REVIEW

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

In the first act of Mad Max: Fury Road, Tom Hardy’s Max spends more time than you might expect strapped helplessly to the front of a turbo-charged Chevy coupe, maniacally driven by a fanatic through a hellish landscape, an unwilling witness to the chaos ensuing around him. Sitting in the theater, I felt about the same way, I think.

Becoming Blessed &Oacute;scar Romero ARTICLE

Becoming Blessed Óscar Romero

The recent beatification of Óscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador from 1977 until his assassination in 1980, has drawn new attention to the gap between public perception and reality regarding this popular but controverted figure in El Salvador’s turbulent history. For those interested in beginning to understand who Blessed Archbishop Romero really was, the Christopher Award–winning 1989 film Romero, starring Raúl Juliá, isn’t a bad place to start.

The dangerous family films of Brad Bird ARTICLE

The dangerous family films of Brad Bird

Few filmmakers working in Hollywood today enjoy so sterling a reputation as Bird. Although Tomorrowland is only his fifth feature film, and only his second in live action, his achievements in his first four films are extraordinary.

&#8220;Reel Faith&#8221; is back! More&nbsp;news! POST

“Reel Faith” is back! More news!

“Reel Faith” returns to NET TV tonight — with a new feather in our caps: We are now the proud winners of a 2015 Gabriel Award, bestowed by the Catholic Academy of Communication Professionals, the U.S. affiliate of SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication.

Tomorrowland REVIEW

Tomorrowland (2015)

Tomorrowland argues that the future is as dark or as bright as we choose to make it; that artists, scientists and dreamers can save the world; that the dystopian post-apocalyptic nightmares dominating popular culture are killing us, and are no more inevitable or realistic than the Space-Age techno-optimism of Disney’s Tomorrowland and EPCOT, Roddenberry-era Star Trek and even The Jetsons.

The Ascension of the Lord: My favorite screen depiction ARTICLE

The Ascension of the Lord: My favorite screen depiction

My favorite cinematic depiction of the Ascension of Jesus is one of the very first, from a very early silent film released 110 years ago.

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Christians in the Movies: A Century of Saints by Peter Dans

Every serious Christian movie buff should own a copy of Peter Dans’ Christians in the Movies: A Century of Saints and Sinners. First published in 2009, Christians in the Movies was originally available only in an expensive hardcover edition priced as a library reference work; since then it’s been reprinted in an affordable paperback edition.

The Sound of Music REVIEW

The Sound of Music (1965)

Half a century later, The Sound of Music is probably still the world’s favorite big-screen stage musical adaptation. Joyous, gorgeous, comforting, full of (almost) uniformly spectacular songs, the film’s emotional power is irresistible, even for the many critics, such as Pauline Kael, who hated its shallowness and emotional manipulation.

The staying power of <em>Selma</em> ARTICLE

The staying power of Selma

Long after other Best Picture nominees of 2014 have been forgotten, Ava DuVernay’s Selma, starring David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will still be watched, appreciated and talked about.

Make Way for Tomorrow REVIEW

Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)

Any time I run across a list of movies people probably haven’t seen but should, one title I look for is the Catholic director Leo McCarey’s forgotten humanist masterpiece Make Way for Tomorrow.

Avengers: Age of Ultron REVIEW

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

The first word of dialogue spoken by an Avenger in Avengers: Age of Ultron, from Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), is a rude expletive. The second word, from Captain America (Chris Evans), is a mild rebuke. In two words of dialogue, writer-director Joss Whedon gives us characterization, conflict and theme.

<em>Interstellar</em> and <em>Gravity</em>: Science fiction, outer space and the question of God ARTICLE

Interstellar and Gravity: Science fiction, outer space and the question of God

Last year’s Interstellar and the previous year’s Gravity follow different paths in a long tradition of asking ultimate questions against the biggest canvas available to our senses, the universe itself.

A pair of 1940s classics from Criterion ARTICLE

A pair of 1940s classics from Criterion

New this week from the Criterion Collection are the Blu-ray debuts of a pair of classic films from the 1940s — each arguably its director’s masterpiece, and one of two films for which the director is best known.

Sullivan&#8217;s Travels REVIEW

Sullivan’s Travels (1941)

The comic genius Preston Sturges believed that laughter is the best medicine, and that what people in hard times want is to forget their troubles and escape for 90 minutes or so into a world of lighthearted comedy, snappy repartee and slapstick silliness.