April 19, 2019

I’ve never read Pilgrim’s Progress. As a college English major, you think I would’ve. And I should’ve. At one point, pretty much everyone who could read was reading John Bunyan’s Christian allegory. The book has never been out of print since Bunyan first dropped it into the world in 1678. And while some consider it the English language’s first real novel, it didn’t stay strictly “English” for long. Bunyan’s seminal work (officially titled The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World, to… Read more

April 16, 2019

I’ve written plenty about the spiritual dichotomy we find in horror movies. For lots of Christians, they’re an automatic no-go. And yet, these same films are often the only ones that have permission to explore big spiritual issues, from the eternal conflict of good and evil to what might lurk in the hereafter. The Curse of La Llorona—heading to theaters this weekend—comes freighted with loads of spirituality to go along with all its jump scares. Not all of it is… Read more

April 15, 2019

The fire in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is dying down now. No one knows how much was lost yet. I’ve read the cathedral’s famed rose windows were damaged. No word on many of the art and relics (including, reportedly, Jesus’ crown of thorns) inside. No word on the 8,000-pipe organ, made in the 1730s. But the spire—itself remade in the 19th century—toppled in a flaming mass of orange and black, in fire and ash. Some called Notre Dame “the… Read more

April 10, 2019

Singer Aretha Franklin was at her peak in 1972. She’d recorded more than 20 albums, won five Grammys and was already the undisputed Queen of Soul. But now, in a way, she was coming home—to the music she grew up with, the music that still meant so much to her. Over the course of two January nights at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, Aretha Franklin recorded Amazing Grace—a collection of gospel songs that eventually sold more… Read more

April 9, 2019

I just got back from a film junket in Los Angeles for The Curse of La Llorona, the latest horror movie from what’s now being called The Conjuring Universe. For me, the Conjuring movies are a slice above typical, schlocky horror flicks. First of all, they’re pretty scary–a key component, obviously, for a good fright film. Second, most rely more on atmosphere than gore. (Despite the movie’s R rating, for instance, The Curse of La Llorona doesn’t have much blood at… Read more

April 4, 2019

D.C.’s on a roll. After spending years in a post-Christopher Nolan wilderness, D.C. and Warner Bros. are re-discovering what makes a good superhero movie. Latest evidence: Shazam! It’s the D.C. Extended Universe’s second-best movie—behind Wonder Woman, ahead of Aquaman and leagues better than Justice League. It’s light, fun and even silly. But while Shazam! doesn’t take itself too seriously, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find some pretty interesting themes here and there—ones that, if you’re so inclined, point to… Read more

March 29, 2019

If Batman throws a party to celebrate his 80 years in action, I’m hoping Zack Snyder misses the invite. Pretty sure he’d pour wine on the couch, give Alfred a noogie and draw crayon glasses on the portrait of Thomas Wayne. You remember Snyder, the guy who Warner Bros. put in charge of its D.C. Extended Universe until WB thought better of it. Before he left, Snyder turned Superman into a killer in Man of Steel. Then, in Batman v…. Read more

March 27, 2019

Durham was a powder keg in 1971, according to the film The Best of Enemies. The North Carolina city was deeply segregated and virulently polarized. And when the subject of school integration was foisted on the community, it looked like it just might be the match to set the whole thing off. Bill Riddick (played by Babou Ceesay) walked into that seething city with an optimistic idea: Gather the issue’s biggest stakeholders for what he called a charrette—10 days worth… Read more

March 25, 2019

Jordan Peele’s smart, terrifying new film Us is tethered, you might say, to the Bible—specifically the verse Jeremiah 11:11. Adelaide (played for most of the movie by Lupita Nyong’o) first sees the Scripture reference when she’s just a little girl. It’s scrawled on a piece of cardboard, held by the sort of guy who’d preach about the end being near. And the verse points to exactly that.  In the King James Bible, it sounds particularly impressive: Therefore thus saith the… Read more

March 22, 2019

The History Channel will unveil a new eight-part miniseries based on the life of Jesus March 25—and it’s a little different than most of the docudramas we’ve seen about Christ before. Titled Jesus: His Life, the program shows this Man from Galilee through the eyes of other people: Folks who loved him, like his mother Mary and disciple Peter, to folks who wound up sending him to His death, like the Jewish leader Caiaphas and the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate…. Read more

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