Archives for January 2013

The Awful Truth: “Portlandia” and How to Succeed in “Journalism”

NSFW.Do I have your attention? I should warn you, this post may take more than 30 seconds to read."Don't waste my time" — that's the prevailing attitude for most readers on the Internet. But here's the thing: If you don't take time to read, re-read, discuss, and reflect on what you're reading, then you are wasting your time. I know because I'm guilty of this. I can spend hours perusing the Internet, and the next day I won't think about any of it. At all. That was time wasted.For art, … [Read more...]

“The Master”: Too Much Art for Oscar?

I'm grateful to David Dark, author of one of my favorite books — The Sacredness of Questioning Everything — for highlighting this article by Tyler Sage on Paul Thomas Anderson's film The Master, published at The Los Angeles Review of Books.It is so refreshing, after reading a storm of hasty reactions, wild accusations, and complaints about this "difficult" work of art, to read such a thoughtful, patient, studious consideration of this film.Here's how it starts... … [Read more...]

In Honor of Sister Rose Pacatte

Today, The New York Times is telling the world about my fellow Patheos blogger Sister Rose Pacatte!This just makes my day.I've always enjoyed the company of Sister Rose in the community of those who love to discuss the inseparable natures of art and faith. So many who are identified as "Christian film critics" seem to spend the majority of their time complaining about the unethical behaviors they see in the movies, whether those behaviors are merely depicted or actually condoned. But … [Read more...]

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

When Guillermo Del Toro was announced as the director of a big-screen adaptation of The Hobbit, Tolkien fans rejoiced.Del Toro has a marvelous way of bringing to life both the childlike and the frightful, and that story needs both. Moreover, he is a master of hand-crafted cinema. Since Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings series set a new standard for digital animation, now Del Toro would have a chance to set a new standard for elaborate puppetry and handmade special effects. (He made it clear … [Read more...]

Will These Books “Grab You By the Throat”?

I'm almost always surprised when I come across new reviews of my four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread.It's never going to be a best-selling series. It isn't about a girl and the boys who are competing for her. It isn't about zombies or vampires or werewolves (although it does have beastmen, who are kind of like all three). It spends as much time on quiet moments as loud moments, and reveals that I'm as interested in environments as characters, as intrigued by the interior lives of … [Read more...]

Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book,” Directed by Wrong Howard?

Dear Neil Gaiman,Speaking as a fellow fantasy novelist, I envy you the experiences you've had... seeing your stories brought to life on the big screen with vivid imagination in brilliant adaptations.I'm a huge fan of the film version of MirrorMask, one of the Henson Company's most original and daring works. I discover new rewards in that movie every time I watch it.I've also come to love Henry Selick's version of Coraline very much. But that's no surprise. Selick's The Nightmare … [Read more...]

A Pledge of Allegiance: In Search of Beauty at Good Letters

Today, Good Letters — the blog published by Image at Patheos — posted my reflections on Empire of the Sun, a Steven Spielberg film that I love more and more as the years pass.I'm grateful for the opportunity to write about it for Good Letters, as I'm grateful for the whole four-year experience there.As I wrote earlier, I am taking a long sabbatical in order to focus on other projects. Here is an index of all of the Good Letters posts I turned in. Some of the time I offered reluctantly at … [Read more...]

A Late Addition to My 2012 Top 10: “The Queen of Versailles”

My friend Julia, describing The Queen of Versailles, just said, "If you ever feel like you want more than you have, well... just watch this movie, and you will be so thankful for what you have... and for what you don't have."I agree. I've never seen a more unsettling portrait of how money changes perception, relationships, and worldview than Lauren Greenfield's documentary The Queen of Versailles. Every year, I end up adding a couple of late titles to my top ten list, and this, which I w … [Read more...]

Another Year, Another Bunch of Meaningless Awards

A lot of people are talking about last night's Golden Globes awards. Thank goodness. Just when some interesting discussions were happening about the films of 2012, along comes a show that will drown out those conversations with tsunami of meaningless celebrity buzz. Nothing kills thoughtful consideration of art like turning it into a contest.So, I'll play my small, contrarian role by trying to rekindle the conversations about the artistry in the films that the HFPA decided to call "the … [Read more...]

Look! – Sicinski on “Barbara” and “Zero Dark Thirty”; Greydanus on “It’s a Wonderful Life”; “American Horror Story”; “Universal Soldier”; “Twin Peaks” Teaser

Believe it or not, 2012 brought us several "foreign language films" that are just as good or better than the few that the Academy are willing to mention in their Oscar nominations. (If the ten greatest films of the year were made in Germany, the Academy would force Germany to submit only one for consideration... and then they might choose to nominate that film alongside only four from other countries. Wow, America. That's the kind of superiority complex that leads you to call your national … [Read more...]