‘The Witch,’ ‘Risen’ and the problem with faith-based films

Last weekend, indie horror film “The Witch” debuted head-to-head against faith-based historical drama “Risen.” One film was a horrifying depiction of evil, the other an inspirational tale of faith. “The Witch” courted controversy by winning the endorsement of The Satanic Temple; the same day that endorsement was announced, Pope Francis met with “Risen” star Joseph Fiennes. It had, as I previously wrote, all the makings of a box office holy war. So in the end, with tickets tallied and opening weekend… Read more

The Road to Easter 2016: Jesus Christ Superstar

With “The Gospel According to St. Matthew,” we looked at one of cinema’s most straightforward adaptations of the Christ story. With “Jesus Christ Superstar,” we come to one of the more unorthodox. Where Pasolini’s film was sparse and no-frills, “Jesus Christ Superstar” is frantic and loud, fueled by music from Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s popular rock opera. Those wanting a clear look at who Jesus was will likely walk away confused — the Christ on display here is… Read more

“It’s My Favorite” talks “X-Files,” “Hamilton,” OJ and more!

Hey everyone! For about the past year, I’ve had the great joy of co-hosting a pop culture podcast with two good friends. “It’s My Favorite” is a show where we banter about pop culture, life and our favorite things. We do two episodes a month and we just hit our one-year podcast anniversary! This is one of the highlights of my month, and I’m excited to share it with all of you! In our latest episode, we talk about the… Read more

Review: ‘Risen’ is a fresh take on the gospel story

“Risen” isn’t a movie that will change the world. It’s not going to take home an Oscar. It isn’t likely to win over skeptics or make much of a dent outside the community of people who already believe its story. But those who want to see their faith portrayed on screen with some sincerity and imagination could do worse. It’s not much of a pull quote, but it’s high praise in a world of wretched faith-based dramas like “War Room”… Read more

Review: ‘The Witch’ is terrifying and troubling

A masterpiece of tension and atmosphere, “The Witch” left me disturbed and unsettled; it’s not hyperbole to suggest that it rattled my soul. Not merely scary, it’s the rare horror movie that is legitimately horrifying. Whether that’s a compliment or a caution, I’m not sure. It’s probably both. Billed as a “New England folktale,” Robert Eggers’ directorial debut tells the story of a Puritan family cast out of their community after the father, William (Ralph Ineson), confronts the town elders… Read more

Christians and the movies: What are we afraid of?

Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square. This month we’re asking: Has Hollywood Become Our National Conscience? Read other perspectives here. Christian culture has long had a rocky relationship with cinema. Evangelical websites count swear words in lieu of discussing the actual film. Boycotts are organized against offensive movies. Some families require all art to come with the label “Christian” attached to guarantee that it’s safe. As a critic, I’ve received angry emails upon recommending an R-rated movie. Simply admitting… Read more

Kirk, Kanye and Christians sharing the spotlight

Let’s get this straight: Normally, I don’t care what Kanye West does. I’m a 36-year-old father of two. I am not hip to the music of the kids these days. My oldest child is 4 years old; the only music he listens to is from “Jake and the Neverland Pirates.” I might earn some “cool” points by knowing most of the songs on the “Hamilton” soundtrack, but I lose those straight away given how often I have Huey Lewis on rotation. So,… Read more

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… 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… 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… Read more

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