Taika Waititi has directed some cracking comedies, but can even he make Hitler funny?
An exquisite art-house film about a beatified martyr. The triumphant arrival of a belated documentary of a celebrated gospel concert. A fact-based drama about an alliance of devout and unbelieving survivors of clerical sex abuse calling for justice. These are just a few of an unusually large crop of notable films that tackled religious and spiritual themes in 2019.
Let’s face it, they could play John Williams’ ominous “Imperial March” over scenes of Uncle Deadly from the Muppets lobbing Green Goblin pumpkin-bombs at Scrat the saber-squirrel (I mean, they literally could, legally, and you could watch it on Disney+ forever and ever), and many of us would still feel emotions stir.
An ecstatic, anguished three-hour cinematic hymn, Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life sings the life and death of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter in asymmetrical binary form, in contrasting theologies — theology and anti-theology — of the body.
For a Catholic critic — or at least for this Catholic critic — a movie like The Two Popes presents a number of temptations.
Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood holds a special place — it would not be too strong to say a sacred place — in the hearts of many. Yet that neighborhood is an infinite distance from where we live now.
Anna and Elsa’s relationship is a major improvement on the first film, but in almost every other way this sequel is lost in the woods.
Harriet’s appeal is multifaceted, appealing to three demographics underserved by mainstream Hollywood fare: women, people of color and people of faith. Producer Debra Martin Chase knows something about these three demographics.
The strongest scene in Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet might be a moment when its indomitable protagonist appears at her weakest.
I’m tempted to call Light from Light the first ghost story I’ve ever seen that I completely believe.
Silence, reflection, the search for meaning, the interior life: These are among the hallmarks of Paul Harrill’s work.
Near the end comes a moment when Alexandre is asked whether he still believes in God. The scene cuts from a complex reaction shot, the question left unanswered. The point, I think, is neither to affirm faith nor to deny it, but to highlight the stakes. By their action or inaction Church leaders make God more credible or less credible, instill faith or shatter it.
It’s tempting to suppose that Maleficent: Mistress of Evil opening in the wake of Columbus Day isn’t a coincidence.
Is it possible, in the world of Joker, to believe in real heroism? Do the filmmakers even care about that question?
There seems to be no reason for the title Ad Astra, meaning “to the stars,” to be in Latin, except to highlight writer–director James Gray’s elevated intentions.
Many movies have made me cry. Very few have been as difficult or impossible even to write about without crying as Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang’s brilliant, devastating Sundance Grand Jury winner One Child Nation.
Quentin Tarantino’s gifts are impossible to deny, but while I often find his set pieces mesmerizing, I have yet to fully buy into one of his films. This might be the closest one yet, though.
Why does Robin Hardy’s disquietingly cheery 1973 British folk-horror classic The Wicker Man work better than this sophomore film from the writer-director of Hereditary?
Fans of NPR’s This American Life already knew that Lulu Wang had an extraordinary story. What we now know is that she is also an extraordinary filmmaker.
For the first time, Pixar has made a Toy Story movie that adds nothing essential to the arc of the previous films. It’s still worth seeing.
I mean, you can kill them, but that’s not the point. The question is, were they ever alive in the first place?
It’s come to the point where the mere sight of the Illumination logo makes me think “lazy and scattershot.”
“Honor, greetings and blessings to you, conquerors of the moon, pale lamp of our nights and our dreams!” Paul VI exclaimed in his July 21 message to the astronauts on the day after the lunar landing. “Bring to it, with your living presence, the voice of the spirit, the hymn to God, our Creator and our Father.”
Alas, the mission wasn’t to improve The Lion King, only to mount it as realistically as possible. Favreau wasn’t hired as a creative, but as a taxidermist.
It’s just like the opening act of Favreau’s Chef: Favreau is literally Carl, and Disney is Dustin Hoffman.
Tony, Tony, Tony. How can we miss you if you won’t go away?
For Catholics and other Christians, the contradiction between Zeffirelli’s faith and the themes of his religious films on the one hand and his openly homosexual lifestyle on the other raise perennial questions about the mysterious relationship of art and the artist.
Toy Story 4 does not continue the story of the first three films, but casts about for new things to do in this world with the sprawling cast of characters in Bonnie’s orbit, most of whom once revolved around the now-absent figure of Andy.
Forgiveness in the face of murderous violence is a radical act that remains as shocking and controversial today as it was when a Second Temple–era Palestinian prophet commanded his disciples to love and to pray for those who persecuted them and ended his mortal life praying for divine forgiveness for his own executioners.
All art — even pop art, even bad or offensive art — is in some way a mirror to the soul of the culture that created it. Whether we embrace them, condemn them, or are indifferent to them, these secular apocalypses reveal something about who we are as a culture.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.