Finding God in the Dark

Just to let you know that I won't be posting any entries for new films until November. Right now I am in Rome and will begin the Spiritual Exercises, a 30-day retreat, on September 29th. This is a silent retreat, including electronic silence. For the members of my religious community, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, though we do make a week long spiritual retreat once a year. If you are interested in reading up more on the Spiritual Exercises as designed by St. Ignatius of Loyola in … [Read more...]

The Shawshank Redemtion

What a wonderful idea: to bring back the film version of Stephen King's The Shawshank Redemption on its 10th anniversary. The loyalty between friends is a the most esteemed value for young adults today - ask any college student, soldier or gang member. Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) and "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman) develop a friendship based on integrity, respect and interior feeedom within the confines of a maximum security prison in the 1940's. Andy is wrongly accused and Red is doing his … [Read more...]

Wimbleton

-spoiler alert- I was looking forward to Wimbleton as a light romantic comedy. Instead I feel like I got a film without a second act. The very watchable Paul Bettany (A Beautiful Mind; A Knight's Tale) plays Peter, a pro tennis player who is ranked 119 in the world. Kirsten Dunst plays Lizzie Bradbury, an American pro tennis player. Both are in London to compete at Wimbleton. This is to be Peter's last competition; he is considering a job as a tennis instructor at a country club. And both are … [Read more...]

Suspect Zero

-spoiler alert- Suspect Zero stars Aaron Eckhart as Thomas Mackelway, a disgraced FBI agent who is moved to an obscure field office in New Mexico and assigned to find a serial killer. Thomas is seeking redemption from his failures, and so is the suspect. Both seek the serial killer and they end up chasing each other. The always excellent Ben Kingsley plays a former FBI agent,  Benjamin O'Ryan, who is actually some kind of phantom because he is supposed to be dead, … [Read more...]

Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair is based on the 1847 novel by British author William Makepeace Thackeray. It tells the story of young Becky Sharp, a poor orphan who goes from the charity of a boarding school into life as a governeness and professional social climber. This film is a rich, colorful historical drama that will remind some audiences of  Merchant Ivory books-into-film. Vanity Fair is a commentary on the social issues of the era when status was the key to an economically secure marriage for women … [Read more...]

Raise Your Voice

Raise Your Voice is Hilary Duff's new film about a teen girl, Terri,  whose brother (Jason Ritter) is killed the night of his high school graduation. She bought him two concert tickets for a graduation gift, but at the family party that day, her brother sasses his dad (David Kieth) and is grounded.  Terri convinces him that they should sneak out; on the way home, a drunk driver kills him and puts Terri in the hospital.. The back story to this is that Terri loves to sing in the school … [Read more...]

Napoleon Dynamite

What a lovely surprise of a film. Was high school really so much like hell? Napoleon hangs in there, and as he muddles his way through life with a repressed older brother and a perpetually adolescent uncle (while grandma is away), exudes the beauty of friendship in a performance that is its own reward - and he doesn't even seem to notice. It was so refreshing to see such unselfish characters in this small, odd little movie. It's funny. I felt like nothing was ever going to really … [Read more...]

Garden State

Garden State is a gritty/lovely surprise of a film written, directed by and starring Zach Braff (Scrubbs). I should call this series of entries to my movie blog "the vacations series" since I went to see it with my sister last weekend, too. We were to Borders first and when we were checking out (bought a copy of Vanity Fair) we asked the young sales assistant where the theater was in the mall and he asked what we were going to see. When we said Garden State, he said, "Awe, that's so good. … [Read more...]

Open Water

This relatively short drama about a married couple who are abandoned while on a diving trip in the Caribbean is quietly terrifying. The pre-release hype seemed to make it a real-life JAWS; but JAWS was a summer blockbuster about fear based on a novel; OPEN WATER is a low-budget cinematic look at relationships, blame and forgiveness, death and dying, and fear engendered by real life. The film asks what we might do in the same situation: the couple was stranded because they were late coming … [Read more...]

13 Going on 30

I was in Tulsa last week to speak at a conference of religious educators and a couple of women came up to me and asked if I had seen this film, starring Jennifer Garner and released earlier this year. I had to admit I had not, although Jennifer Garner is one of my favorite new stars (ALIAS is my guilty pleasure, as I think I have mentioned before.) These two ladies said: the main character is not a nice person, and she grows and changes... the movie is a thoughtful surprise. I admitted that … [Read more...]


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