“In Sweden, Human Darkness Is Confronted by the Arts, Not the Church”

terrific final paragraphs: The culture wars afflicting the Church of England are basically over. By the end of the summer, the General Synod will have agreed women bishops. And while the fight for full gay equality has some way to run, this one is substantially over too: not least because the demographics are pushing inexorably in a liberal direction. Young people, even evangelicals, don't see the problem. So Christian progressives like me ought to be celebrating? Well, not quite. more … [Read more...]

“The Boy Is the Father of Whatever”: I Review Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”

at AmCon: About an hour and a half into Richard Linklater’s memorable new film, my notes say, “This is RIVETING.” Exactly one hour later, as the movie finally ceased (“ended” is too strong, too decisive), I breathed a sigh of relief. What went wrong to turn the movie from startling, luminous journey into boring, platitudinous slog?Linklater’s movie has gained a lot of press for one of those gimmicks which hide deep meaning under their showy surface, like the delays in Hamlet. Linklater shot … [Read more...]

Various Tails: Or, An Update on My Summer Reading

This year I answered not one but two of those hubristic "What do you plan to read this summer?" poll-articles. Last year I read exactly one of my "planned" (= "selected in order to bolster my public image," really) books, and didn't like it--you guys can hate me, but I did not get A Confederacy of Dunces at all, just thoroughly remained outside of it the whole time. I did read Two Murders in My Double Life eventually, and liked it.But this year I've knocked off the lot (more or less) fairly … [Read more...]

From “Graham Greene on Film: Collected Film Criticism, 1935-1939″

During the conferences [with David Selznick] which followed I remember there were times when there seemed to be a kind of grim reason in Mr Selznick's criticisms--surely here perhaps there was a fault in "continuity," I hadn't properly "established" this or that. I would forget momentarily the lesson which I had learned as a film critic--that to "establish" something is almost invariably wrong and that "continuity" is often the enemy of life. Man, that is great advice, especially the bit about … [Read more...]

I Review “Venus in Fur” Movie

for AmSpec: Venus in Fur opens like a horror film—more precisely, like a horror-comedy. The camera swoops slowly over rainswept streets toward a shuttered theater, as thunder rolls and a darkly glittering waltz plays. The music sets the mood for something like Beetlejuice or even Gremlins: The carnival’s in town, and it opens at midnight!Roman Polanski’s adaptation of David Ives's play about Leopold Sacher-Masoch’s perverse novel Venus in Furs manages to sustain this edgy, gleeful mood despi … [Read more...]

Pelagius of Montreal

1989's does-what-it-says-on-the-tin Jesus of Montreal is two hours long, and for the first hour and a half I loathed the movie and everyone in it. By the end, though, I was totally compelled and moved, and I think the movie has real insight into the Procrustean drive to recreate God in our own image.The basic story is that a fairly faithless priest gathers a bunch of non-Christian actors to revamp his annual passion play. They get super intense about it, of course, led by the guy who plays … [Read more...]

“Carrie White Will Never Die”: I review the Carrie musical

at AmCon: Carrie is the only book I ever put down because I knew I was too young for it. It was the summer between fourth and fifth grade and I was staying with cousins, taking the opportunity to raid their bookshelves. I flipped idly through the book’s opening, got to the shower scene (“Plug it up! Plug it up!”), and–for once in my life–realized I was in over my head. The combination of nudity, menstruation, and sadism, all happening to kids just a few years older than I was, overwhelmed me. I’ … [Read more...]


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