The Road to Easter 2016: The Gospel According to St. Matthew

I wonder if sometimes the best people to bring sacred stories to life are nonbelievers. Untied to dogma, personal experience and church history, they’re able to bring new perspectives to old tales. While this runs the risk of misinterpretation or offense, sometimes it also means that an artist is able to look at an old story with fresh eyes and find the vitality that we’ve too often lost in our familiarity. Such is the case with Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1964 film, “The Gospel According to St. Matt … [Read more...]

“Deadpool,” libertines and the Christian critic’s dilemma

I love comedies, comic book movies and films that break the fourth wall. You would think "Deadpool" would be right up my alley. Based on a popular Marvel comic (produced by Fox, however, "Deadpool" is not part of the part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe), the film stars Ryan Reynolds as a mutant superhero with healing powers — he was part of the same program that created Wolverine — and a motormouth. Deadpool is an anomaly in the world of comics, with his over-the-top violence and absurd humor. … [Read more...]

Review: Zoolander 2

How bad must a movie be if it can't even make me smile by killing Justin Bieber?"Zoolander 2" thuds onto the screen reeking of desperation. Full of regurgitated punchlines, insipid mugging and dated jokes, it's a 100-minute parade of cameos occasionally interrupted by a story. Watching the cast of very funny people try and fail to make me laugh made me feel — to paraphrase Will Ferrell's villain, Mugatu — like I was taking crazy pills.The sequel to Ben Stiller's 2001 sorta-hit, the film t … [Read more...]

My Essentials: My five favorite critics

We're continuing the "Getting To Know You" portion of this blog. Two weeks ago, I wrote about my favorite movies. Last week, I tackled my favorite TV shows. This week, I'm doing something different. I want to talk about critics.Part of the reason I want to talk about this is because I believe that any good writer improves through reading better writers, no matter the subject. Part of it is that I feel that knowing the critics who influence me will help you understand more about where I'm … [Read more...]

The road to Easter 2016: The Jesus Project

Growing up Baptist, Lent always fascinated me. Many of my friends were Catholic, and I was always intrigued whenever they would have to give something fun up in the weeks preceding Easter. I never really wondered why my family didn't participate; mostly, I think I was just relieved that I didn't have to give up chocolate.As I grew older, my relationship with Lent grew complicated. In my twenties, when I was a bit of a "cage-stage Calvinist," I was dismissive of the idea of Lent. After all, … [Read more...]

Big Game Trailer Roundup!

For the first year in decades, I didn't watch the Super Bowl. It wasn't a big loss. I'm not a fan of football. I really can't stand Coldplay. Having two young kids means going to a party isn't really feasible. And the only excuse I had for watching — the commercials — is a moot point, since everything ends up online within minutes anyway. So, I spent the evening catching up on last night's "Saturday Night Live" and reading.One thing I did keep my eye one, however, was the trailers for big 201 … [Read more...]

Movie Review: Hail, Caesar!

When a colleague and I talked about the work of Joel and Ethan Coen on a recent podcast, we spent a great deal of time discussing how the brothers are Old Testament filmmakers. Themes of impending judgement, an angry god and the folly of man crop up repeatedly in their work, and their protagonists are rarely shown much in the way of mercy.So imagine my surprise when "Hail, Caesar's" very first shot was the image of the crucified Christ.I might be mistaken, but I believe this is the first … [Read more...]

On Christians, guns and the movies

Note: Spike Lee's "Chi-Raq" just became available on Amazon Prime this week. I thought it was appropriate to share this piece, which was edited from a blog post I did last year at my previous site. In Abigail Disney's 2015 documentary "The Armor of Light," Rev. Rob Schenck recalls meeting with the father of a young man killed during a mass shooting. The film doesn't give us many details of their conversation, but Schenck says a question by the grief-stricken man haunted him.Where the hell … [Read more...]

“The Witch” has The Satanic Temple? “Risen” has the Pope.

Maybe there really is a cinematic holy war going on.Just a day after The Satanic Temple announced its endorsement of horror film "The Witch," Sony Pictures announced that Joseph Fiennes, the star of their new religious thriller "Risen," has met with none other than Pope Francis. Both "The Witch" and "Risen" hit theaters on February 19 courting what I assume are very different audiences.A lot of movies do this -- as Peter Chattaway said, the man playing Jesus in the upcoming "Ben-Hur" … [Read more...]

Are Satanists using ‘The Witch’ to start a cinematic holy war?

I haven't seen "The Witch,"  Robert Eggers' upcoming horror film. I heard all about it several years ago when it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and impressed critics with its shocking visuals and eerie presence.Now, it appears as if it's also inspiring more than just reviewers. From a press release:Beginning February 10 in New York City, The Satanic Temple (TST) will launch premiere screenings of the highly ­anticipated historical horror film, T​he Witch,​amid interactive performan … [Read more...]