Antonia Bird’s Priest and my early days as a film critic

Antonia Bird passed away yesterday at the age of 54.

I don’t know how many film buffs out there will recognize her name. The IMDb indicates that she had been working pretty steadily since 1985, but mostly in TV; her feature-film output was limited to four films she directed in the 1990s, and of those, I have only seen two: Priest (1994) and Ravenous (1999).

But Priest looms large in my mind as a film that I got to review at a particular crucial juncture in my life — and so, although my review is fairly critical of the film, I have posted it here in memory of its director.

A bit of background, if I may: In the summer of 1992, I had begun to contribute film reviews on a regular basis to the paper that became known as BC Christian News. Around that same time, I had also begun to seriously re-examine my beliefs about, well, just about everything — starting with sexuality, thanks to a special issue of Discover magazine that kind of blew my mind.

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Review: The Dark Knight (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2008)

FOR YEARS, the people who write the Batman comics and movies have been drawn to the theme of insanity. The Joker is wild, of course, and so are many of the other villains; and it is often suggested that a billionaire like Bruce Wayne must be crazy on some level too, if he feels compelled to wear a bat-shaped costume every night just so he can prowl the streets looking for criminals to terrorize.

Thankfully, the two Batman films directed by Christopher Nolan have so far avoided this cliché. Instead of dwelling on the inner psychology of Batman, they have explored the social implications of the character, using him as a lens through which to raise profound questions about the nature of authority, the value of myths and the lengths to which any civilization should go in protecting itself from evil.

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