A Cinematic Refuge for the Valentine-Averse

Well, here we go again. After a year of relative safety, we have arrived once more at Valentine’s Day, that most awkward of holidays, straddling the line twixt Twitterpation and Crass Consumerism. The day crabby old-timers love to hate; the day unromantic types hate because they are expected to love it so much; and the one shining [Read More…]

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Waiting On Happiness In Mateo Gil’s “Blackthorn”

“From of old no one has heard    or perceived by the ear,no eye has seen a God besides thee,    who works for those who wait for him.” Is 64:4 For years, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid has been hailed as one of the most influential Revisionist Westerns of all time. From William Goldman’s Oscar-winning script to Redford’s quiet smolder; [Read More…]

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Shadow-Warriors No More

Above all,” the self-help gurus say, “you must be comfortable in your own skin.” We all know what the confident folk look like; they’re the ones that draw your attention the moment they walk into a room; the self-assured, dynamic ones—the people that make me just a teensy, weensy bit envious; they have achieved a [Read More…]

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Losing for the Sake of Winning

Sorry that you feel that way The only thing there is to say Every silver lining’s got a Touch of grey. There are few things in life that bring home the value of a good cliché as quickly as becoming a new parent. A few short months as a father were all it took for [Read More…]

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Self-Sacrifice in Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away”

Hayao Miyazaki is a rare and indispensible artist. In a creative industry that flits happily between the brutal demythification and saccharine sentimentalization of childhood, his ability to capture the innocence, exuberance, and boundless imagination of youth is unusual. Watching My Neighbor Totoro, Laputa, or Ponyo with an audience of youngsters is a marvelous experience; their rapt expressions and delighted laughter [Read More…]

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Elmer Gantry and the Cult of Personality

“I have passed the test. I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel.” We Americans are obsessed with celebrity. We expend vast amounts of time, energy and money in the obsessive study of our heroes; we live vicariously through the paparazzi-plagued existences of those more “fortunate” than ourselves. So it comes as [Read More…]

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The Booth at the End and Our Faustian Selves

What would you do if you knew with absolute certainty that the completion of a particular task would bring about the fulfillment of your greatest wish? Would you be willing to commit disagreeable (even immoral) acts to achieve your dreams? How far would you go to get what you want? That is the question posed [Read More…]

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No Sunrises Without Sunsets

I hate to see this evening sun go down. Lord, I hate to see this evening sun go down. ’cause it makes me think I’m on my last go ’round. Few things are more enjoyable than watching a legendary actor, nearing the end of a long and illustrious career, who finds the passion and the [Read More…]

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The Illusion of Self-Sufficiency

Reinventing a cinematic icon is a daunting task. Ask George Lucas, who has been struggling to rehabilitate one of the silver screen’s greatest villains for over thirty years. Or ask Stan Lee, whose Marvel characters are subjected to ill-conceived “reboots” on a nearly annual basis. Just don’t ask Sylvain Chomet, the insane genius behind The Triplets [Read More…]

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Bruised for Our Iniquities: “The Passion of Joan of Arc”

Carl Theodor Dreyer’s silent masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc (La passion de Jeanne d’Arc) was released in the spring of 1928, making it one of the oldest Lenten-themed films available for these all-important days of Passiontide. Yet despite its age, it remains a moving cinematic portrayal of redemptive suffering and the power of faith. Based on [Read More…]

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