June 29, 2022

Essentially every self-described Christian group sees Jesus as its founder, either literally and historically or spiritually. So, while George Fox would acknowledge that Quakerism was an innovation of the 17th century, undoubtedly he saw Jesus as the departure point for his discovery of the Inner Light. No Bible, no George Fox. No Jesus, no Bible. Even Mormons, whose sacred texts radically rewrite salvation history, call themselves “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Sure, they may be “latter-day,” but... Read more

June 28, 2022

Outside of the modern United States this would seem a relatively open-and-shut question. Anyone baptized and confirmed Catholic who identifies with the Church and has not been excommunicated is rightly entitled to that label. But, of course, in our deeply polarized society that’s insufficient. When people raise such an issue, they’re generally asking a political question. They aren’t asking if a public figure like Joe Biden believes in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist or if he... Read more

June 27, 2022

In 1921 at eleven years old, Yoshio Kodama was unhappily living with his sister and her husband in Korea, beating steel into sheets at a nearby mill. By 1929, he had attempted to hand the emperor a direct appeal for greater patriotism. Kodama was stopped by security forces, though that didn’t stop him from spending the better part of the next decade plotting (and occasionally succeeding in) assassinations against major political figures. By the early 50s, only 20 or so... Read more

June 20, 2022

It’s a little late to eulogize Ray Liotta. He died three weeks ago.  And yet I couldn’t help myself but to turn on Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild (1986), not the film in which I first encountered Liotta, but the one in which he first really struck me. I caught the movie for the first time in a college cinema class, where I recall feeling blindsided by the work’s subtle transition from screwball comedy to thriller. Somehow it was both. It... Read more

June 14, 2022

No better time than another energy crisis to revisit Tamara Jenkins’ Slums of Beverly Hills (1998), the story of young teen girl and her dysfunctional-cum-loving family’s attempt to navigate life in 1976 Los Angeles. Vivian (Natasha Lyonne) and her brothers, Ben (David Krumholtz) and Ricky (Eli Marienthal) are used to getting yelled at in the middle of the night, told to move from one fleabag apartment to the next by their 65-year-old dad Murray (Alan Arkin). They are, as Vivian... Read more

June 12, 2022

I’m 28 years old, which means that when I think teen movies, I think sex comedies. American Pie (1999), Superbad (2007), and Project X (2012)—these carefree slices of Y2K and aughts (and honorary aughts) self-discovery are my hallmarks of teen sexual theology. Uncool boys pursue girls. Boys rag on each other. Hijinks ensue. None of that 80s heartwarming stuff. No Molly Ringwald. Bring on the Clinton-Bush-Obama degradation. Bring on the inadequacy and the failure. But make it funny. What could... Read more

May 31, 2022

1998’s The Faculty (dir. Robert Rodriguez) breaks the golden rule: never mention a better work of art in yours. The diagnosis is typically fatal. The viewer’s mind trails off, thinking about what could’ve been, the more entertaining time they could be having. This is always a risk when watching writer Kevin Williamson’s films [other credits include Scream (1996), I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999) and Dawson’s Creek (1998-2003)], since his brand of satire doesn’t... Read more

May 20, 2022

I grew up with Office Space (1999). It’s with us even now, the giggles to “yeah…I’m gonna have to ask you to…” and the famous printer scene (one version of which stands at over 4 million views on YouTube). Even in the book I’m reading right now about workplace massacres, Going Postal by Mark Ames, the movie is a constant refrain, serving to punctuate not just chapters, but even sections of chapters, as if Mike Judge had captured it. You... Read more

May 16, 2022

R.W. Fassbinder’s Faustrecht der Freiheit (1975) is usually translated Fox and His Friends. That title is coy and ironic, since our man Fox is a walking “with friends like these…” bit. It does, however, capture the alliteration of the German original and something of Fassbinder’s unhinged and biting sense of humor [most prominently displayed in Satan’s Brew (1976)]. A more literal rendering might be Fistfight for Freedom or Freedom’s Law of the Jungle; these distill things down. Fox comes from... Read more

May 6, 2022

It ain’t easy to watch movies when you’ve got a new puppy and there’s something decaying in your crawlspace. It’s upsetting my asthma. We think it’s a mouse. The pest control guy is supposed to be here soon. Either way, it turns out if a teething puppy smells something that rank, he’ll spend countless hours trying to claw through your carpet, pulling up rugs and trying to tear out their innards like a buzzard getting ready for a banquet on... Read more

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