Such “hope” as Shyamalan has to offer is less persuasive and less memorable than the fears and horrors he conjures; the overall impression created by his film is an ultimately dehumanizing, depressing one.
Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken is an honorable movie about an inspiring true story. It is impeccably crafted, with a raft of remarkably talented people behind it. It is a celebration of the old-fashioned virtues of duty, grit, fortitude and honor. In the end, it tips its hat to faith, forgiveness and reconciliation. The film I just described is a film that, on paper, I should love.
In its most extreme form, the charge of morbidity has been laid at the feet of the Christian faith itself. Christianity’s harshest critics denounce it as "a religion of death." Clearly, at some point objections of this sort must be regarded as a case in point of what the scriptures call the "scandal" of the cross. It is the cross itself, the very suffering and dying of God made man, and the way Christians respond to this event in their faith and devotion, that is behind much (though again not all) of the religious and anti-religious controversy over the brutality of this particular film.
Whatever monument is eventually built at Ground Zero or anywhere else, United 93 is as fitting and worthy a memorial to the victims and heroes of September 11 as one could hope for.
Jenny will do a lot of listening in the drama that follows. First, though, will come a moment when she does not listen — the only time in the film she ignores a bid for her attention, but that one time hangs over the rest of the film.
“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.
Denzel Washington and Chris Pine versus runaway train. That’s enough, isn’t it? How much more do you need?
I can’t believe I never realized it until now, but I can’t think of another fact-based motion picture about the slave experience in America — that is, a movie about slavery in the United States told from the point of view of actual, historical slaves, many of whose stories were published by abotionists prior to the Civil War and by civil rights activists after it.
As wonky as the proceedings get, director Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc.) and screenwriter and co-director Bob Peterson (Finding Nemo) never entirely lose touch with the ragged human emotions underlying the story. There’s an obvious metaphor in the film itself for the strange blend of realism and zaniness, partly tethered to solid ground, partly twisting in the capricious winds of whimsy.
It’s 5am Monday morning in Italy. I’m sitting on a rooftop veranda outside my hotel room in Assisi overlooking the sleeping countryside. The moon is high. Later today we’ll be in Rome.
In my first update I mentioned someone comparing Assisi to Minas Tirith, Tolkien’s imaginary tiered city on a hill. What I didn’t know at the time is that unlike Minas Tirith, where the lowest level is the widest circle and the royal house is at the crown, Assisi’s crown is at the bottom: beneath the lower Basilica of St. Francis, in the crypt where Francis’s tomb is situated in the midst of four of his famous followers.
It isn’t until I actually see the procession of 38 new metropolitan archbishops walking up the center aisle at Saint Peter’s Basilica at the start of the Pallium Mass a little after 9:30 Tuesday morning, and hear the cheers from pilgrims of the 26 countries represented—Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe—followed by the Bishop of Rome, Benedict XVI, that it really hits me: This is the greatest visible display of the Church’s catholicity that I have ever seen, and perhaps may ever see.
Tuesday afternoon after the papal Pallium Mass, the itinerary includes the catacombs of St. Callixtus and St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. I missed the catacombs on my first trip to Rome, so I’m really looking forward to this.
A belated announcement that “Reel Faith” is back for 5 weeks only, starting last Sunday. Now airing on Sundays at 7pm, the mini-season runs through December 26.
UPDATE: Hat tip to Ross Douthat for highlighting an intriguing recent NYMag.com piece on Hollywood’s originality problem.
Neither of the two reviews posting today is for a newly opening movie, but with the summer winding down, vacation behind me and “Reel Faith”’s summer season ending with next week’s finale (edit: not tonight’s finale; preempted for World Youth Day), I’m trying to catch up. After Cowboys & Aliens and Crazy, Stupid, Love, movies I’ve screened that I’d like to write about including today’s Fright Night as well as The Help, 30 Seconds or Less and even The Smurfs.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.