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Top Gun: Maverick REVIEW

Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Top Gun: Maverick is more than a nostalgia sequel or legacyquel; it is almost more than a movie. It is a manifesto and a monument, a defiant time capsule and a swaggering IMAX spectacle without precedent or peer.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness REVIEW

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

I’m thinking of a moment in the original movie in which Stephen looks skeptically at a deeply corrupted individual nattering about the greater good and retorts, “No. I mean, come on — look at your face.” Nobody says that in the sequel, but they should.

Trying to reach the sublime: Robert Eggers, cinematic poet of the past ARTICLE

Trying to reach the sublime: Robert Eggers, cinematic poet of the past

In the Viking epic The Northman, the arthouse horror auteur behind The Witch and The Lighthouse takes on his most ambitious challenge to date.

<em>Petite Maman</em>: A quietly powerful fairytale about childhood, loss, and ties that bind ARTICLE

Petite Maman: A quietly powerful fairytale about childhood, loss, and ties that bind

For a child, losing a grandparent can be part of growing up, a coming-of-age experience; losing a parent for an adult can be an encounter with childhood, especially if it involves going through the contents of the household they grew up in, the actual stuff of their childhood.

<em>Father Stu</em> is a mostly endearing, shaggy redemption story ARTICLE

Father Stu is a mostly endearing, shaggy redemption story

Based on the unlikely true story of an amateur boxer turned priest who died of a rare degenerative disease, Father Stu leans on Wahlberg’s mischievous charm and buoyant aura of invincibility, with hints of something darker and more fragile beneath the surface.

&ldquo;Everything happens for a reason&rdquo;: Mark Wahlberg and Teresa Ruiz on <em>Father Stu</em> ARTICLE

“Everything happens for a reason”: Mark Wahlberg and Teresa Ruiz on Father Stu

I recently spoke with Mark Wahlberg and Teresa Ruiz via Zoom about making the film and what it meant to them.

<em>The Godfather</em>&rsquo;s two endings: Lighting a candle and the wrong side of the door ARTICLE

The Godfather’s two endings: Lighting a candle and the wrong side of the door

Now half a century old, Francis Ford Coppola’s revered New Hollywood masterpiece has one of the best-known final shots in film history — but it almost had a much more Catholic ending.

Mother knows best: <em>Turning Red</em>, <em>Encanto</em>, and Disney/Pixar&rsquo;s new overbearing moms ARTICLE

Mother knows best: Turning Red, Encanto, and Disney/Pixar’s new overbearing moms

The familiar animation trope of the domineering dad and the (sometimes) supportive mom gets an update in recent films from the Mouse House.

Caped crusaders and the common good ARTICLE

Caped crusaders and the common good

Questions around how what people need and deserve and how they should be governed are of course recurring themes in the saga of Zorro’s more famous heir, Batman … We don’t look to superhero movies to answer these questions for us, but their varying answers tell us something about ourselves and the times in which they were made.

Cyrano REVIEW

Cyrano (2021)

Dinklage swaggers and glowers magnificently and sings decently, but he’s at his best in quiet, intimate moments, especially with Roxanne and with his confidante Le Bret, the only one who sees his pain.

2021: The year in reviews ARTICLE

2021: The year in reviews

What kind of year was it for movies? I’ve heard some folks complain that 2021 wasn’t a great movie year, but I’ve come to the point where I believe there are no good or bad movie years, just years in which people have or haven’t watched enough movies.

Spider-Man: No Way Home REVIEW

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Not so long ago, a movie like John Watts’ Spider-Man: No Way Home would definitely have prompted me to open my review by dubbing it, if not the best Spider-Man movie ever, at any rate the most Spider-Man movie ever.

SDG says farewell to the National Catholic Register ARTICLE

SDG says farewell to the National Catholic Register

I have, as I suppose most anyone would, complex, mixed feelings about leaving an institution that’s been such a big part of my life for so long a time, but I have no regrets regarding my decisions nor doubts about how God is leading me.

The Tragedy of Macbeth REVIEW

The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021)

Fog and mist, translucent pavilion sidewalls, blowing curtains, dark water, shadows, reflections: the film is full of motifs evoking the murkiness in which Macbeth’s last days play out.

King Richard REVIEW

King Richard (2021)

As rousing sports films and inspirational biopics go, while King Richard is far from a pitiless, warts-and-all inquiry, it has a particular kind of truthfulness, analogous to the truthfulness of a family scrapbook or stories recounted at family reunions.

Dune: Part One REVIEW

Dune: Part One (2021)

Watching Dune drove home to me the extent to which no one in 2021 can really go into an adaptation of Dune completely cold.

Marvel&rsquo;s <em>Eternal</em> problem: The Man, the Powers that Be, and God ARTICLE

Marvel’s Eternal problem: The Man, the Powers that Be, and God

Incarnations of The Man vary from one MCU movie to another in terms of how sympathetic or compromised he is. Always, though, The Man has damaging secrets, misrepresents his true intentions, and can’t be trusted, at least not completely.

The sacred and the profane: Religious themes in vampire fiction ARTICLE

The sacred and the profane: Religious themes in vampire fiction

Almost from the beginning, vampire fiction has been a battleground between the powers of heaven and hell.

How do you make a documentary about purgatory? Not like this. ARTICLE

How do you make a documentary about purgatory? Not like this.

That our hatred should burden souls in the process of purification makes sense, but that our grief should burden them seems baffling and cruel — and it’s not a passing idea tossed off in one line.

<em>Midnight Mass</em> is drenched in blood and Catholicism, but there’s one thing missing ARTICLE

Midnight Mass is drenched in blood and Catholicism, but there’s one thing missing

Midnight Mass isn’t the first vampire story to blend vampirism as a metaphor for addiction with literal substance abuse. It is, however, probably the only paranormal horror story to focus so intently on the role of religion in recovery.

A deep cut: <em>The Green Knight</em> ARTICLE

A deep cut: The Green Knight

After the library of books that is the Bible, no literary corpus means more to me than Arthuriana, and no Arthurian work means more to me than Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Interview: <em>The Chosen</em> producer Derral Eves ARTICLE

Interview: The Chosen producer Derral Eves

Part of the success story behind writer-director Dallas Jenkins’ popular life-of-Jesus TV series is the remarkable crowdfunding approach spearheaded by viral marketing strategist Derral Eves.

Jungle Cruise REVIEW

Jungle Cruise (2021)

Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt are highly watchable, but Disney’s latest theme-park movie trails haplessly in the wake of Pirates of the Caribbean without a ghost of its inspiration.

Black Widow REVIEW

Black Widow (2021)

If it took a full-on case of amnesia to put Jason Bourne on the path to redemption, how do you redeem a Black Widow?

<em>Of Animals and Men</em>: Extraordinary story, mixed presentation ARTICLE

Of Animals and Men: Extraordinary story, mixed presentation (2019)

Of Animals and Men tells a story of light shining in the darkness — but the preciousness of the light depends in a way on the prevalence of the darkness, and, in that connection, it must not be forgotten that the Nazis were not the sole agents of darkness.

Luca REVIEW

Luca (2021)

In Pixar’s Luca, a gentle, overtly Miyazaki-esque coming-of-age period piece struggles under the heavy weight of iron-clad Disney/Pixar formula requirements and story beats. The charming elements work well enough to carry the film, but only just.

A Quiet Place Part II REVIEW

A Quiet Place Part II (2021)

There are day-to-day crises and traumas that are somehow absorbed into the continuity of our lives, and then there are inexorable turning points that divide our lives into “before” and “after.”

The Mitchells vs. the Machines REVIEW

The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021)

In some ways The Mitchells vs. the Machines harks back to Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Most obviously, it’s another goofy, rollicking techno-apocalypse centered on a bumpy parent-child relationship between an awkward, gifted youngster and a handy but technophobic dad.

A Triduum ritual: <em>The Miracle Maker</em> ARTICLE

A Triduum ritual: The Miracle Maker

Our seasonal movie-watching during Advent, Lent, and the Christmas and Easter seasons varies from year to year, but Triduum is always the same.

Resurrection REVIEW

Resurrection (2021)

The Bible world of Roma Downey and Mark Burnett’s LightWorkers Media productions sometimes seems not unlike a movie about Shakespeare in which you hear lines like “To be or not to be, that is the question” and “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” but everyone seems to have heard them already.