What Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell Says about the Church

Susanna Clarke’s fantasy novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell begins in a peculiar place for a story about magic. As it commences in 1806, magic has ceased to be done in England for 300 years. There are magicians, but they meet in societies and discuss magic. They are theoretical magicians, not practical magicians. And in fact the doing of magic has become a bit disrespectable—associated with parlor tricks and fortune-telling done by grimy street performers. Thus, the “Learned Society of York … [Read more...]

Interview with Stephen Cone, Director of ‘Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party’

Tuesday, May 3, is an exciting day for lovers of good independent film because it marks the video release of Henry Gamble's Birthday Party. Written and directed by Stephen Cone, a Southern-born filmmaker now living and working in Chicago, it tells the story of a 17 year-old preacher's kid coming to terms with his sexuality. With this story line of course it's been wildly popular at LGBT and independent film festivals. But the film is so much more than a coming out movie. The events unfold over … [Read more...]

“The Wise Kids” and the Apocalypse of Young Adulthood

“…And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20.I am of the notion that there is not a singular Apocalypse. Apocalypses happen multiple times in one’s life: those moments when the ground beneath you shakes and the veil of reality rips, and whether you're ready for it or not, one age is over and a new one begins.For many young adults, the first great apocalypse is high school graduation. The highly structured environment of high school begins to rupture and fall … [Read more...]


Fox Searchlight has just released the first trailer for The Birth of a Nation, the standout film at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and what is sure to be one of the most important films of the year. The Birth of a Nation releases in theaters on Oct. 7th. You can view the trailer and read more about the film after the jump. … [Read more...]

THE INVITATION to THE PATH: Pain, The Search for Truth, and Being in Community

I spent the weekend in a cult frame of mind. Saturday morning, I watched Karyn Kusama's great new film, The Invitation, and spent much of Sunday afternoon obsessing over the terrific new Hulu series, The Path. Both have, whether their characters admit to it or not, cults at the center of their narratives. But the film and series are about much more than that as they also provide windows into much broader discussions about faith and the variety of ways we believe in and belong to religious c … [Read more...]

On Netflix Tomorrow: HUSH

A single, deaf-mute woman living alone in a cabin in the woods. The horror/thriller Hush (Blumhouse and Intrepid Pictures) almost writes itself. As such, it offers little in the way of narrative surprises, but its fresh use of sound--given its heroine's disabilities--adds something intriguing to the mix. … [Read more...]

SXSW Films Recap

Here's one last post on some interesting SXSW films. I didn't get a chance to put together full reviews for these, so check out some snapshots after the jump. … [Read more...]

An Interview with A STRAY’S Musa Syeed, Barkhad Abdirahman, & Faysal Ahmed

This week at SXSW, I had the privilege of speaking with director Musa Syeed about his film, A Stray, which premiered at the festival. Two of his actors, Barkhad Abdirahman and Faysal Ahmed, joined us to talk about their experiences with and hopes for the film. … [Read more...]