This Is Not Goodbye. But It is… See You Elsewhere!

Attention, Looking Closer readers: This blog is moving.Three years ago, almost to the day — July 1, 2012 — I crossed the great Internet Sea carrying many years of Looking Closer blog content in my cargo hold, and I docked long-term here at the Patheos network. Today, I am pulling up the anchor and setting sail again for a new location.If you don't want to fall overboard, jot these two addresses down and we'll all arrive safely at our next destination: and Jef … [Read more...]

The Complete 2014 Christmas Playlist

It started as a spur-of-the-moment experiment.I asked Joe Henry if he'd be willing to share his Christmas favorites playlist. I so admire his music, the projects that he chooses to produce, and the way that he listens. I wanted to hear what he hears at Christmas time.But by the time I finished writing him an email, I began to think of other listeners I wanted to ask. And before long, I'd send out so many invitations that I made myself stop.Maybe two or three of them will respond, I … [Read more...]

Ten Years Ago Today…

Just marking the occasion... … [Read more...]

TEN YEARS! Pt. 1: The Best of Looking Closer – 2004

On April 27, 2004, I heard a song that reminded me of why I spend so much time working on this website. … [Read more...]

On “Difficult” Movies

As we're in a season busy with film festivals, I'm reading reviews of what sound like extremely challenging movies.Some of those reviews sound like the kind of comments that might provoke filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami to repeat what he said here... … [Read more...]

Mystery and Message, or What We Talk About When We Talk About Art

No one has taught me more about considering and making art than "Mr. D." That's Michael Demkowicz, who was my high school English teacher, and who remains a dear friend to this day. Demkowicz is a photographer, and several of his prints hang on the walls of my home. But he has also influenced what I read, how I watch movies, and how I listen to music. I'm making it an annual event to feature my favorite single article on art, an essay called "Mystery and Message" that he contributed to … [Read more...]

Further Thanks to Christianity Today for a Generous Send-Off

Today's unexpected notes from the team at Christianity Today have been a tremendous blessing to me at the end of a trying week. I am deeply grateful.And thanks to those of you who left comments for me there as well. All I ever did was ramble on, ad nauseum, about an art form that I love. That it has come to anything at all is powerful evidence, to me anyway, that there's a creative, resourceful God in charge of things. I've learned as much from my colleagues and readers on this journey as I … [Read more...]

“Hamlet, Threepio, and Us”

Anyone who can write an inspiring piece linking Rosencrantz and Guldenstern, The Hidden Fortress, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and R2D2, has my full attention.Ladies and gentlemen, Mark Shea! … [Read more...]

The Passion of the Christ – A Letter to Christians about Mel Gibson’s Film

This commentary is a follow-up to my review of The Passion of the Christ.-Most Christian press publications will lavish praise upon Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. They will celebrate the arrival of a film rich with spiritual power, rendered with riveting and even excruciating detail.Some will go so far as to declare that in this film, the Church has a fantastic "evangelical opportunity."But the fact that many Christians — many churches — are responding to the film as if i … [Read more...]

“Why do you have to analyze everything? Why can’t you just enjoy it?”

Recently, I encountered someone who was clearly disgruntled by the mixed reviews of the movie Fireproof. He responded to the critics' observations by declaring that reviews aren't really important... that "the success and value of the film" would ultimately be determined by "ordinary people"... not by those "paid to review the film." He went on to express disinterest in "movies that win awards," describing those who distribute film awards as "elitists," and noting that "hardly anyone has seen" … [Read more...]