March 5, 2013

The church, like the world, is currently awash in the banal, the ugly, and the stupid. Read more

March 3, 2013

Somebody else is calling Amour what it is: propaganda for euthanasia. Back in the ‘70s the tear-jerker movies were about people dying of cancer. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, it was people dying of AIDS. For the 21st century, the new chic is euthanasia/assisted suicide/”mercy killing” movies. Million Dollar Baby, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The English Patient, The Sea Inside, Un Dimanche à Kigali, Le Temps qui Reste, The Barbarian Invasion (Les Invasions Barbares), Magnus – all have... Read more

February 27, 2013

“In respect of character ….The second thing to aim at is propriety.” (Aristotle, The Poetics, II.XV) pro-pri-e-ty (/prəˈprīətē/) n. The state or quality of conforming to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or morals. It is without question the hardest concept that I have to cover every semester with my undergrads. But it is a key concept, so I can’t fudge it or skip it. According to Aristotle, the key to a character becoming relatable for the audience, is found in... Read more

February 2, 2013

Not that anybody really cares anymore because with a half century of government school moral relativism and the persistence of demonically-inspired anti-Semitism, most folks today probably think that Hitler was just one more guy doing what was right for him and who are we to judge? But, for the record, the Nazis were mind-explodingly evil and  this kind of impulse to mimic them in anything should freak us out. Ich klage an (Eng: I Accuse) is a 1941 film, directed by Wolfgang... Read more

January 30, 2013

The Way, Way Back Written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash Starring Steve Carell,Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Maya Rudolph, Sam Rockwell, Liam James I loved this film.  It’s the kind of “little gem” project you hope to find at Sundance, but, sadly,  all too rarely do.   I sat through a lot of smut and sloppy messes at the world’s “premier” indie film fest, but finding this little movie made the whole trip worth it for me.   (As... Read more

January 30, 2013

Excuse the moment of shameless self-promotion, but people are always asking me if any of my courses are on-line or available outside the university/Act One bubble. Here are a few talks which are available for download, some of them free and a couple of them for what amounts to a piece of chicken.  That’s seventeen years of Hollywood experience for five bucks a pop.   We’d be grateful if you’d let the writer in your life know.   Read more

January 22, 2013

Stoker  Written by Wentworth Miller and Erin Cressida Wilson Directed by Chan-Wook Park Starring Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowski At Sundance…. This was one of the big premieres that everyone wanted to see, mainly because Nicole Kidman was in the house, but also because it is the first English language movie from the reputed Korean film genius, Chan-wook Park.  At the end of the screening, the director, a very humble-not weird looking Korean gentleman walked on stage to acknowledge the “only... Read more

January 12, 2013

The biggest statement of this year’s Oscar nominations is the extraordinarily fawning attention being given to Amour; a very little French-language film written and directed by the ever-despairing Austrian director, Michael Haneke.  The best review I read of the film expressed the tone and “big idea” thusly: “Haneke is playing with the same themes of alienation and isolation, repression and bleakness that have marked his entire career. The pair of lead performances makes it convincing to a point, but these poor characters... Read more

December 19, 2012

For years, my friends in Hollywood and I have had one main gripe at every meeting, lunch, dinner and party:  Hollywood-based storytelling is broken, irrevocably broken, and the whole system needs to be rethought or the incidences of good movies at the theaters will continue to be more and more rare. The remote problem is that with the general loss of philosophy and, so ethics, in the society, we have also lost the sense of the artist/storyteller’s true nature in... Read more

November 29, 2012

My friend Daniel McInerny (“Son of Ralph”) has a great piece just out on the depictions of evil and sin in art and storytelling.   There’s a nice big quote from me. Hollywood screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi sizes up the distinction between these two approaches in this helpful way: “The depiction of evil in art becomes a problem when the evil acts fall into the realm of what Aristotle, in his Poetics, calls ‘spectacle.’ Spectacle, appropriately, is the sixth and lowest... Read more

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