Post-Demon Stress Syndrome: Some horror-flick reviews

Stake Land: A teenage boy and his grizzled mentor travel north through a vampire-ridden, devastated America, picking up vulnerable people, encountering security cordons and emptied towns, and seeking a haven they’ve heard all about on the radio. They forge a found family by killin’ the dead. Also there’s quite lush cinematography and big sweeping shots. If this is starting to sound familiar, you are correct, this is basically 28 States Later. Even the “vampires” are actually zombies with big teeth…. Read more

“The challenges of being both gay and Catholic”: I’m in the Washington Post

reflecting on Fr James Martin’s new book. FWIW I think it’s worth either reading or skipping to the end of this fairly long piece: After the Pulse shooting, Washington area houses of worship held an interfaith vigil. The participants were of every sexual orientation and many beliefs; celibate gay people stood alongside those in same-sex marriages to mourn and pray. Sometimes it can be harder to come together in ordinary times than in the wake of crisis. But our challenge… Read more

If We Shadows Have Offended: I read “If We Were Villains”

So you don’t have to! No, this trashy novel by M.L. Rio, set at an exclusive arts conservatory where the Shakespeare-obsessed fourth-year students probably kill a dude, could be cheaply summarized as, “The Secret History, but dumb.” That’s not even necessarily a criticism–lots of smart books are painfully dumb, and some dumb books are unexpectedly smart. I found myself enjoying this book and finding unexpected pleasures in it. It’s frustrating and I think for most readers its flaws will–understandably–overwhelm its… Read more

“It Was the End of Solo Singing”: I revisit a monarchist’s epic about the Spanish Civil War

for the University Bookman: When Eric Hobsbawm suggested that the period 1914–1991 could be called “the short twentieth century,” he not only defined an era but separated it from our own. Few conflicts are as emblematic of that final modern century than the Spanish Civil War; the familiar English-language writings on the war can seem remote from us, Orwell and Hemingway. If you want to see what’s only too contemporary in the Spanish clash of ideologies, turn to a novel… Read more

Maybe Stop Seeking?

“A short story says, ‘I looked for x, and didn’t find it,’ or, ‘I was not looking anymore, and then I found x.’ A novel says, ‘I looked for x, and found a, b, c, g, q, r, and w.’” -Etif Batuman So yesterday I suggested that you maybe try a thing. Now I want to suggest that you maybe should stop trying things. I’m a cornucopia of contradiction over here. There’s a lot of narrative pressure to view our… Read more

In Your Eyes I See the Doorways to a Thousand Churches

One of the moments that stood out to me at that Calvin College “Faith & Writing” conference last year was James K.A. Smith’s line that “the discipline and regimen of historic Christian worship… [plies] and stretch[es] your imagination.” I’ve been thinking about the ways gay Christians are damaged by the “liturgies” of our surrounding culture–and by the absence of images, practices, forms of prayer which could teach us to see better. There’s a pretty obvious commercial anti-liturgy in which bodies… Read more

What If We Remade “I Confess”… But Sleazy?: And more movie notes

Wow, guys, this is a lot. Strap in. A Cottage on Dartmoor: British silent revenge flick; very grabby with the intercutting and the emotional intensity; ends with quite poignant scene of forgiveness. Forgiveness, rather than reunion, as the climax of a love story. Laura: Noir (although the noir style mostly doesn’t kick in until late) and mostly standard, although I liked how pleasant and undefensive the career-woman scenes were. There’s a specific kind of relationship here, the man who mentors… Read more

A Coptic Priest’s Message to Those Who Kill Christians: “Thank You!”

incredibly powerful: The first thing we will say is “Thank you very, very much,” and you won’t believe us when we say it. You know why we thank you? I’ll tell you. You won’t get it, but please believe us. You gave us to die the same death as Christ–and this is the biggest honor we could have. Christ was crucified–and this is our faith. He died and was slaughtered–and this is our faith. You gave us, and you gave… Read more

“The Long Years After Failure”: I review “After the Storm”

at AmCon: After the Storm, the latest film from writer-director Hirokazu Koreeda (Maborosi, Nobody Knows), opens with a discussion of the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, where U.S. figure skater Janet Lynn fell during her free skate, came up smiling, and won the hearts of the Japanese audience. Forty-five years later the reaction of elderly Yoshiko (Kirin Kiki), the mother of Storm’s central character, is very different. “She fell on her butt and got a perfect score,” Kiki grouses. “It… Read more

Moving Pictures from an Institution: Movie notes

Four films linked by a really depressing theme! Scum: Our institution: a 1970s Borstal (juvenile prison). Does exactly what it says on the tin, not quite two hours of violence and contempt. The use of rules as abuse, creating impossible demands (guard throws a prisoner back into his cell, spilling the guy’s mug of soup, then snaps: “Dirty cell, you’re on report”); use of prisoners’ self-created hierarchies to divide and conquer. The scenes where suicidal prisoners are mocked and beaten… Read more

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