“Ecstatic Dance”: I review “The Fits,” A Stunning Film

review at First Things: Anna Rose Holmer's extraordinary new film The Fits begins with a young girl whose body obeys her will implicitly. “One,” eleven-year-old Toni (Royal Hightower) counts, as she pulls herself into a sit-up in the very center of the frame. “Two.”She works her body, grunting and gasping and twisting just a little with the effort, all the way past twenty. Then it's time to box. She spars with her older brother (Da'Sean Minor): She is a child, a disciple. She helps him clean … [Read more...]

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“Some Possibilities for Narratives of Friendship”: I’m at Spiritual Friendship

readin' books: I loved Wes’s post on writing about friendship, and figured I’d throw some specific examples out there to see what actual novels and movies suggest about the nature of friendship. These are very much first-draft thoughts, as I hope you guys will riff on them.“The Body” & Stand By Me–friendship as childhood. This heartbreaking Stephen King novella, which was turned into probably the best adaptation of his work for the screen, tells the story of a group of boys who go on a j … [Read more...]

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“Poor Citizenship”: I watch “Behavior,” a 2014 drama of Cuban childhood and faith

review at AmCon: Behavior, the 2014 movie from Cuban writer and director Ernesto Daranas that is still playing festival circuits in the U.S., is not one-of-a-kind. It is not unprecedented; it does not break (much) new ground. What it is, is an exceptionally heartfelt, moving, and artistically accomplished example of its genre. As Brooklyn is what an Irish-American romance should aspire to be, so Behavior is the “coming of age in the underclass” story at its most luminous. more … [Read more...]

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Beyond “Die Hard”: Some Christmas Flicks for the Cold and Creepy Child Within

A few years back I started noticing how many bleak, cheerless, or just unexpected films are set during tinsel season. That penitential stretch from just-before-Thanksgiving to just-after-New-Year's can be really hard for people. Meta-emotions are at an all-time high (It's the most! wonderful!! time of the year!) and you're intensely reminded of all your financial and familial stresses. A couple of the daytime workers at the pregnancy center agreed with me that we've been getting an unusual … [Read more...]

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“In Single Moms’ Households, Two Heads Are Often Better Than One”: Washington Post

on finding vocation, and new paths of love, in hard circumstances: When Kimberly Taylor separated from her husband three years ago, she and her daughter, Amelia, stayed in the marital home — a four-bedroom house in Woodbridge, Va., with a finished basement and a huge back yard. It was a lot of square-footage and a financial strain. But rather than downsize, Taylor decided to fill it with someone she could relate to: another single mom.She placed an ad in Craigslist — “Mother w/awesome child … [Read more...]

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My Top 10 Young Adult & Middle-Grade Novels About Drugs and Addiction

at The Fix: The YA addiction novel has become its own mini-industry. Which ones offer insight instead of hawking clichés? Below you'll find the best addiction-related YA and middle-grade fiction I could find. more--and a couple notes. That Alaya Dawn Johnson joint is like the most DC thing I've ever read, it was glorious. I wrote earlier about the book and movie of The Spectacular Now.I just realized that I left off Because of Winn-Dixie literally by mistake! It really should have ranked … [Read more...]

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“Fragile Unions Like the One That Conceived Me”: Matthew Loftus

on the way two recovering alcoholics' troubled marriage is still bearing fruit, decades after they almost split up: I was six months old, and my mother was ready to leave. My dad had been remarking for some time that he did not want to be married anymore, that it just wasn’t working out for him. My mother had tired of saying that that was fine.They couldn’t communicate much beyond that, though she did know how to make things dramatic. Lacking funds for a suitcase, she piled our belongings in … [Read more...]

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