Still Life (2006) and Up the Yangtze (2007)


[These reviews of Still Life and Up the Yangtze were originally published in the "Through a Screen Darkly" column at Christianity Today.]-Nothing here along the Yangtze River is what it seems.If we just look at the mountains, we'll be fine. They're breathtaking, looming green and formidable over the river's winding silver path. They flow into and out of one another like waves, shrouded in an eerie mist as if the ghosts have gathered here to rest. If we watch cruise ships drifting … [Read more...]

Times and Winds (2008)

This review was originally published at Good Letters, a blog published by Image.-Sharing cigarettes, two boys recline on a sun-baked rock high above their village. Here, close to heaven, they’re able to forget their troubles and enjoy the view.A gunshot jolts them from their reverie. Down among the technicolor trees, a hunter blasts at a bird with his rifle. He hits his mark, but then wanders off without claiming it.Bewildered, the boys descend and find the bird. Why did the h … [Read more...]

Guess Why I Love This Trailer

I'm rather excited about this.Anybody want to make a guess as to why I've watched this trailer several times? … [Read more...]

Eldorado (2008)

My review of Eldorado, a bizarre comedy from Belgian filmmaker Bouli Lanners, is published at Filmwell. … [Read more...]

Who’s the Fairest of Them All? (As Documentaries Go, Anyway…)

If I say "documentaries," most readers will probably stop reading and move on to something else.But for those of us who who are enjoying a "golden age" of documentaries, finding that they are often more engaging and rewarding than other kinds of films (Was there a better suspense-thriller last year than Man on Wire?)... here's a question: … [Read more...]

What does “mono no aware” mean?

Jason Morehead enlightens us as to the meaning of "mono no aware"... his first feature at Filmwell today.Lo and behold, I realize that I love a lot of movies that explore "mono no aware."He also surveys some memorable Japanese movies like The Twilight Samurai and After Life. … [Read more...]

Sara Zarr’s in the new issue of Image.

Sara Zarr and I are very, very different people, writing very different kinds of books.Nevertheless, we became friends a few years ago at Image journal's summertime arts conference, The Glen Workshop, which takes place in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We met in the fiction workshop taught by the magnificent novelist and short story writer Erin McGraw. We've been back every year since then, become fast friends, watched our dream of becoming published novelists come true, and now... we've had articles … [Read more...]

Browser: Zbignew Priesner. Jeff Buckley. Bruce Cockburn’s “Slice O Life.” Bob Dylan. U2. Tauntaun. Tom Hanks.

1. Start your day with a quick dose of Zbignew Priesner, my favorite film music composer. Here's a track from A Short Film About Killing, from Kieslowski's Decalogue.2. Another random musical surprise: M. Ward links to a recorded telephone conversation with Jeff Buckley, who sings Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" over the phone at about the 4-minute mark.3. The Matthews House Project has a long, in-depth look at the amazing Bruce Cockburn and his new double-live solo CD Slice O … [Read more...]

Wild Things!

They make my heart sing!I recently listened to an archived interview by Terry Gross with author Maurice Sendak. It brought back memories of the strange emotions I felt as a child whenever I read Where the Wild Things Are. That I feel those same feelings watching this trailer is very promising indeed. If I feel them as I watch the film itself, it will be something truly wonderful. And Spike Jonze might be just the man to make that happen.I also think this is my all-time favorite match … [Read more...]

To Be and To Have (2002) and The Class (2008)


This two-part review of The Class and To Be and To Have was originally published at Christianity Today.-"Carpe Diem."Remember that? That's what Professor Keating (Robin Williams) told his class of troubled youngsters in Dead Poets Society."Seize the days, boys. Make your lives extraordinary."In The Class, "Seize the day" might be the worst thing the teacher could say to his students. This multi-ethnic group of troublemakers, cynics, and egoists have already seized the c … [Read more...]