Aretha Franklin may be gone, but her voice lives on. And what a voice. In the wake of her death from pancreatic cancer this morning at the age of 76, much has rightly been made of her influence on music and culture. She was the unquestioned Queen of Soul, and she made her mark on pop, rock and even country. With her exuberant, fierce hit “Respect,” she became an icon for both women and the Civil Rights movement, which she… Read more

The Meg paddles into theaters this weekend, and the makers of this Jason Statham action vehicle surely hopes it gobbles up dollars like the prehistoric shark does swimmers. I haven’t seen The Meg, and I doubt it has deep spiritual undertones. But its very presence gives us an opportunity to consider the enduring fascination and fear we have for these and similar creatures. Let me tell you a little secret: I’m kinda scared of big fish. I’m not particularly phobic… Read more

To the denizens of the Hundred-Acre Wood, Christopher Robin has always been a hero. In A.A. Milne’s classic stories (and in Disney’s animated cartoons, too), he’s saved them from high waters and heffalumps, from bees and burrows and, very often, from themselves. But in Disney’s Christopher Robin, Christopher (in a fantastic performance by Ewan McGregor) joins the likes of Odysseus, Frodo Baggins and Luke Skywalker in taking a classic Hero’s Journey straight out of Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth. Almost all hero… Read more

Robert Redford announced a couple of days ago that he’s retiring from acting at the age of 81. He’ll appear in The Old Man & the Gun this fall, but that’s it, he says. Probably. “Never say never, but I pretty well concluded that this would be it for me in terms of acting, and [I’ll] move towards retirement after this ’cause I’ve been doing it since I was 21,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “I thought, Well, that’s enough. And… Read more

When Christopher Robin was a child, he knew everything. Or, at least, that’s what his friends in the Hundred-Acre Wood thought. “You’ll be quite safe with him,” Piglet tells Pooh when they’re on the trail of some vicious heffalumps in A.A. Milne’s original Winnie-the-Pooh book. But a funny thing happens when you get older. You don’t know everything anymore. As you get bigger and stronger, the world around you gets bigger and stronger and scarier around you. As you learn… Read more

OK, so Living Biblically didn’t work out so well for CBS. The network canned it earlier this spring after its first season. But the network has another faith-based show in the works—this one a drama—and it looks pretty interesting. Over the last several weeks, I’ve seen a surprising amount of religious content dance across the television landscape. Sure, we expect a certain amount of religiosity from Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale and AMC’s tellingly titled Preacher (much of it not particularly… Read more

Look, I’ve seen a lot of good movies this year. First Reformed was great and challenging. Leave No Trace was great and poignant. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? was just plain great. But I don’t know if I’ve enjoyed, and thought about, a movie this year as much as I have  A Quiet Place, out on DVD and Blu-Ray as of Tuesday. Director John Krasinski’s haunting thriller is a great piece of popcorn cinema—tense and terrifying and flat-out fun. It’s… Read more

I believe in happy endings. Most Americans do, I think. We’re optimistic folks, conditioned through our history and culture and yeah, even our movies. We see our heroes ride off into the sunset. We see wrongs righted. We believe every wound can heal, every relationship can mend. Sometimes, our superheroes even come back from the dead. Maybe it stems from America’s most historically dominant religion, too. Those of us who call ourselves Christians believe that our own Savior came back… Read more

Buzz Lightyear versus Iron Man? Mr. Incredible versus Captain America? Though Disney owns both Pixar and Marvel, seeing these colossal clashes play out on the big screen seems a bit … unlikely. Even if such a showdown were to happen, faceoffs between Marvel’s and Pixar’s protagonists might fall a bit short. Watching Hulk and Thor duke it out on the trash planet of Sakaar … oh yeah, I’d pay money for that. Watching Hulk take on Up’s Carl Fredricksen has… Read more

Every superhero has his weakness. Superman has his kryptonite, Batman had his Bane. And in Incredibles 2, Mr. Incredible faces perhaps his strongest foe yet: Single fatherhood. It’s not as if his wife, Helen (a.k.a. Elastigirl) is leaving him permanently. This is, after all, a Pixar movie. But when she’s given a chance to help legalize superheroes again—an exclusive club that her entire family belongs to—she feels she must take it. That means leaving home for a bit to take… Read more

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