14 Jan 2017

Paterson (2016)

1. It’s as if director Jim Jarmusch heard about the year that I just survived and somehow decided to bless me, so he studied the movies that have given me particular blessings in the past, and then he went and made a movie that makes make me laugh and cry

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13 Jan 2017

Scorsese’s sympathy for the devils

Some Christians recoil at the name “Martin Scorsese” just the way that the two priests in his new movie Silence are repulsed by their untrustworthy guide Kichijiro. (I know this first hand, I get angry mail from evangelicals whenever I review Scorsese’s work.) In many Christian minds, this former Jesuit seminarian

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06 Jan 2017

Cameraperson (2016)

[UPDATE: Cameraperson is now streaming on Amazon Prime.] “Things means things.” That’s what my high school poetry teacher used to say as I blinked at seemingly unrelated elements of a poem. Now I know what he means. The details of our lives, however arbitrary, will talk with one another if

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03 Jan 2017

Why Watership Down belongs alongside Narnia and Middle-Earth

Among the many artists we lost in 2016, the one who influenced me the most passed away on Christmas Eve. Without his imagination, I might have lived a very different life.

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23 Dec 2016

Guns and nukes are for cowards

Last week, I introduced Of Gods and Men to the high schoolers in my online film class. After we watched it, we wrestled with hard questions about how these monks chose to answer the threat of terrorism. One of them surprised me with his answer — boldly disagreeing with Roger

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22 Dec 2016

My favorite moment from a Brad Bird classic

In what I would argue is Ratatouille’s most important scene  —  its thesis, so to speak  —  screenwriter Brad Bird makes his appeal to moviegoers that curiosity, playfulness, and a spirit of adventurous experimentation are the secrets to turning merely practical pursuits into a joyful way of life. We watch

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19 Dec 2016

The difference between Gandalf and Saruman

I grew up in a Baptist church. There were a lot of good-hearted people there. I’m still in touch with some of them. But at 14, I began to smell, in that community, a certain stench. It wasn’t the hairspray of the church ladies who sat in the pew in

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15 Dec 2016

The test of a great Star Wars story

“Star Wars at Christmas?” “Put it back in May where it belongs.” Some Star Wars fans had “a bad feeling about this” when The Force Awakens was scheduled for December 18, 2015. But complaints were forgotten when the movie opened to rave reviews. Me, I’ve associated Star Wars with Christmas

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14 Dec 2016

Star Trek Beyon-and-on-and-on…

This is not a review. How can I review a movie if I didn’t pay attention to it? And — I admit it — I did not… no, I could not pay attention to Star Trek Beyond. It’s such a letdown to discover that what the Star Trek franchise has always celebrated as “the final

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09 Dec 2016

Your new favorite Christmas movie

The world outside—it’s a dangerous place. Stick with Christian community. Where it’s safe. I have received that message—sometimes blatant, sometimes merely implied—within so many Christian communities from childhood through adulthood. I’ve been instructed to read only Christian texts, attend only Christian schools, support only Christian charities, seek out Christian doctors,

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