London Olympics 2012: Women Rule


What has been your favorite Olympic moment?   How cool to see double amputee Oscar Pistorius compete in the 400 meters as South Africa's 'blade runner'.     Jamaicans celebrated the remarkable speed of Usain Bolt and the Brits rejoiced in the tennis grit of Andy Murray.    Americans can be so proud of our swimmers, our gymnasts, and our track and field athletes.  My favorite victory came from a woman who finished last in her event.   Why does Sarah Attar’s Olympic moment stand out?  Allow me to e … [Read more...]

Olympic Alternative: Ai Weiwei


Looking for an alternative to the ubiquitous Olympics coverage?   The riveting documentary, Ai Weiwei:  Never Sorry, slipped quietly into theaters as the 2012 Summer Olympics opened.  How appropriate for one of the most fervent advocates of democracy in China to present an alternative view of the People’s Republic.   Ai Weiwei:  Never Sorry is a celebration of a subversive artist and a bracing call to creative resistance.  Olympic viewers who care about equality and human rights are urged to enga … [Read more...]

Is Apple losing its mojo? Applefied Ads strike back


Do you find the new Apple "Genius" commercials blanketing the Olympics annoying?  They lack the simple, relaxed cool that characterized Apple for so long.   They seem to be trying to hard to please.   Is Apple losing its mojo?One of my sharpest students at Pepperdine, Bryan Evans, felt that Apple's white backgrounds on their print ads had fallen into cliche.   Too much of a good thing is still too much.  So he cooked his own series of Applefied Ads.   What if other companies adopted Apple's m … [Read more...]


Os Guinness Free People's Suicide

In a tumultuous American election year, social critic Os Guinness offers a bracing wake up call.   In A Free People’s Suicide, he calls upon Americans to defend their freedom from an unlikely foe:  too much freedom.   Born in China and educated at Oxford, Guinness writes as a concerned admirer, tracing the decline of empires across the centuries, drawing parallels to our current devolution.   While Americans once fought for freedom from the British in order to pursue excellence, Guinness laments … [Read more...]

The Dark Knight vs. Lord of the Rings: Best Trilogy?


When The Dark Knight premiered in 2008, I declared it the best film of the decade (with The Lord of the Rings as closest competition).  Now, with Christopher Nolan's trilogy drawing to a close, how will the complete Dark Knight saga compare to Peter Jackson's massive imagining of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic story?  I raised these questions in this review, first published at Purple State of Mind, in summer 2008.With The Dark Knight‘s claims to box-office pre-eminence secured, the spin cycle beg … [Read more...]

Does The Dark Knight Still Shine?


Four years ago, I raved about The Dark Knight.  My enthusiasm for Christopher Nolan's epic Batman saga was so boundless, it took two days of reviews to contain it.   I called The Dark Knight the best film of the decade.   But given some time and space, I wonder if Nolan (and the audience) fixate too much on The Joker.   Does Heath Ledger's galvanizing performance overwhelm the movie?   What do you think?  Does the film (and my review) hold up?The Dark Knight is the most ambitious and satisfyi … [Read more...]

Christopher Nolan and Batman Begins


Over the weekend, I introduced my children (ages 13 and 10) to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy.   They immediately grasped how much darker these Batman films are than than something like The Avengers.   Sure, the characters still wear masks, but in Nolan's universe their issues and problems (and special effects) resemble the real world.   No room for Loki and Thor and frost giants.   It was also intriguing to see Katie Holmes, holding her own with Christian Bale, prior to all the recent T … [Read more...]

Christopher Nolan on our Dark Knights


In anticipation of The Dark Knight rising in theaters this week, I am reviewing the remarkable films of Christopher Nolan.  Only Quentin Tarantino comes close to creating such a high percentage of classic movies (according to the dedicated users of the Internet Movie Database).   But while Tarantino revels in darkness, Nolan seriously laments our blind spots.   So in my book, Into the Dark, I focused upon Nolan’s breakthrough film, Memento as a way into understanding his recurring examination of … [Read more...]

Comic-Con Countdown: Chewbacca sighting!


As thousands of fanboys and girls descend upon San Diego for Comic Con, I stumbled across the one and only Chewbacca, Peter Mayhew, signing autographs at the Course of the Force tour stop in Huntington Beach.   Beyond the free samples of Otter Pops and Farmer John's sausages (couldn't quite figure out the Stars Wars connections), Mr. Mayhew was offering his signature in exchange for donations to the Make-a-Wish foundation.   While it would obviously be cool to see Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, or H … [Read more...]

What Piece of Pop Culture Challenged (or Inspired) Your Faith?


The AV Club over at the Onion recently asked the question, “What early piece of pop culture first challenged your religious faith or lack thereof?’   The staff’s answers unspool like an atheist revival with spirited testimonies of where they first encountered a crack in their convictions.  Robert Heinlein, Kurt Vonnegut, John Lennon and Marilyn Manson are cited as the creative catalysts of doubt.   Televangelists serve as a rather obvious source of skepticism, but so does the self-centered depict … [Read more...]

Hollywood Getting Enlightened on Faith?

LA Magazine breakfast2

The success of The Blind Side, Soul Surfer, Courageous, and a host of Tyler Perry movies has heightened Hollywood's interest in faith-fueled entertainment.   With the studios backing upcoming projects on Noah, Moses, and the entire Bible, it has never been a better time to be a person of faith in Hollywood.    Mark Burnett and Roma Downey recently wrapped production on an epic, 10 hour series on the Bible for the History Channel and principal photography is about to begin on a feature film vers … [Read more...]