From Girlhood to Sublimity: Watching “The Fits” Again

It is the last dream of children: to be forever untouched.--Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name The AFI Silver theater in Silver Spring is doing this terrific series where they feature movies from the past year that you might have missed. I believe The Witch is later this week and yes, go see The Vvitch, it's vvonderful. (It's vvreally sad!) But what I saw in this series was The Fits, Anna Rose Holmer's extraordinary feature debut. It was the best movie I saw last year and now that … [Read more...]

Work Is a Four-Letter Word: Short movie notes

Let's do this one from worst to best, yes? Or no, "best" isn't what I want, let's do "worst to the one I moat want to talk about."Evil Laugh: '80s slasher, aka the one '80s horror subgenre I can almost never stand. This was an unusually stupid entry. There are organ meat gags (why did this random posh med student do-gooder have a thing for cooking organ meats?) and the music is indeed pleasantly neon-flavored, but that is about all the good I can say for this. I think I dug this thing up on … [Read more...]

Hey New York! Come See Me Yap About Catholicism & Art & the Body, This Thursday!

It'll be a neat little "interview" on the topic, "Christianity Is the Most Materialistic of All Religions." Hosted by the Crossroads Cultural Center, from 7 - 8 pm. Bring friends! For more info, and also the best photo of me taken since high school, click here. … [Read more...]

“Piety and Hunger”: Nice intro essay on “Kristin Lavransdatter”

why not start your journey w/Kristin during Lent? Undset was an obsessive researcher, and her 14th-century Norway has texture down to the dirt of the smithy floor. She captures annual agricultural rhythms of shortage and plenty, obscure ecclesiastical laws governing punishments for adultery, and the way the men douse themselves in ice water to sober up for church after Christmas festivities. Her descriptions of food, decor, and clothing are precise: the way Kristin strews juniper and flowers on … [Read more...]

The Viscerally Satisfying “Get Out”: My review

for America magazine: Rarely have I seen a movie audience as viscerally satisfied as the audience with whom I saw “Get Out,” the new horror-comedy written and directed by Jordan Peele of the comedy duo Key and Peele. I saw “Get Out” in a downtown D.C. theater on a Saturday night, amongst a big and mostly black crowd, drawn in by the promise of a horror movie where the villain is racism.You could describe several previous horror films that way. Think “White Zombie” or, to a lesser extent, “Ni … [Read more...]

“Grandfather Had Fangs”: I review an Estonian satirical novel

at AmCon: Kivirähk is well-known in his native Estonia. Snakish is his crossover novel, winning the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, lending its name to a board game, and, in 2015, becoming the first of his books to be translated into English. It’s a wild ride, full of twists and violent incident. The mordant fairytale tone will please fans of Angela Carter. Snakish is a novel about decline and fall, the passing of a way of life—or rather, it’s a novel about several conflicting narratives of decline. … [Read more...]

“Their Wives and Their Wealth Have Made Them So Mute”: Reading Waugh’s biographies of Campion & Knox

Recently finished Two Lives, which encloses in one volume Evelyn Waugh's biographies of St Edmund Campion, a martyr of the English Reformation, and Ronald Knox, a semirandom priest. You should absolutely read the Campion biography. It's passionate and the prose hangs in garlands, with thorns tipped in blood. It isn't swoony or silly (like the sentence I just wrote), it isn't sentimental or polemical although this is Waugh so he does stick a shiv in occasionally; in general it's crisp and acrid, … [Read more...]