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 BatumanSo 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 spiritual lives as a project we can work on, in which suffering is a problem we should fix o … [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...]

I review “I Am Michael,” The James Franco Ex-Gay Biopic

for America: For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.”As James Franco vehicles go, “I Am Michael” may be the James Franco-iest. Directed by Justin Kelly and based on a true story, “I am Michael” follows a gay activist who finds Jesus and proclaims himself no longer gay. The film dedicates equal time to threesome makeout scenes and chapter-and-verse Bible q … [Read more...]

“‘Roe’s’ Missing Stories”: I’m at First Things

playwatching: Roe, the new play from Lisa Loomer about the woman at the heart of the 1973 Supreme Court case legalizing abortion, is much like its main subject: easily distracted, unbalanced, but undeniably compelling. Roe (at Arena Stage in Washington, DC through February 18) at first suggests that it will be a story of two women. The play opens with Norma “Jane Roe” McCorvey (Sara Bruner) and lawyer Sarah Weddington (Sarah Jane Agnew) speaking in unison. We're encouraged to think that their l … [Read more...]

In Italy, They Call It “Battle Royale with Cheese”: I watch “The Tenth Victim”

Did you know that there's a '60s sunlit dystopia flick about a game show/social control mechanism where you hunt folk? Did you know it's also a romcom starring Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress? The Tenth Victim is wigged-out, askew, sexy in a PG-13 adolescent kind of way, and the most Roman movie I've ever seen. (I've seen The Great Beauty.)I loved this thing. I loved the interview with the "hunter": "Do you believe in God?" "Of course." "Do you believe in the family?" "A little … [Read more...]

“Junior Varsity Angel Wrestling Team”: I finally watch “The Wise Kids”

after a whole bunch of gay Christians told me I should: The last thing you see in writer-director Stephen Cone's 2011 film The Wise Kids is its dedication: to the former members of the youth ministry at a Baptist church in Florence, South Carolina. The Wise Kids has been slowly gaining fans via streaming services (it’s available on Amazon Prime and Netflix), as adults recognize in it their own experiences as teenage Christians. The film is in large part about the failures and sins of American c … [Read more...]

“Tenderness in Moonlight”: I’m at First Things

reviewing a movie, and also contemporary American Christian masculinity: Years ago I was reading testimonies from people who had experienced abusive corporal punishment. One man reached adulthood before he was able to give the right name to something for which he was frequently beaten. His parents had called it a lot of things, but the true name of his crime was “tenderness.”Moonlight, written and directed by Barry Jenkins from a story by playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, tells the story of … [Read more...]