Movie Review

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They don’t make Christmas movies like they used to

They don’t make Christmas movies like they used to

They still make Christmas movies, as far as I can tell, but we’re a long way from Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney singing Irving Berlin tunes for a war-weary generation. This Christmas, for instance, we have the very wry Bill Murray spoofing the holiday TV special in A Very Murray Christmas, and The Night Before, a seasonal buddy film where Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Antony Mackie binge their ... (Continue reading)

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Three movies for families

Three movies for families

Perhaps it’s a quirk of our family, but sitting down together for a movie regularly has always been as important as sitting down for a meal. I have spent 30 years, on and off, writing about movies and other entertainment, so I’ve always wanted to be there for those moments I remember so well from my own childhood, when something I saw in a theatre or on TV exploded ... (Continue reading)

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Trainwreck an unusual rom-com

Trainwreck an unusual rom-com

It’s generally accepted that the romantic comedy went into decline at some point in the ‘90s and hasn’t quite been itself since its final heyday, with films like When Harry Met Sally and Working Girl. If the genre has any life left in it, its saviour has come in the shape of writer/director Judd Apatow, whose innovation was to scour away most of the “chick flick” conventions – sassy girlfriends, ... (Continue reading)

The pornification of Hollywood

The pornification of Hollywood

When Fifty Shades of Grey made the transition from best-selling novel to box office smash movie – on Valentine’s Day, no less – we were given another opportunity to watch the border between the mainstream movie industry and its pornographic cousin evaporate into further irrelevance. For anyone living in blissful isolation for the last couple of years, Fifty Shades began life as the first part of a trilogy written by ... (Continue reading)

Social dysfunction

Social dysfunction

No one’s really sure who coined the term “social media,” but there’s a loose consensus that it came about almost 20 years ago, in and around AOL and the small but vital nexus of tech companies that were busy birthing the internet as we know it today. What no one seems to dispute is the idea that, with social media, something wholly new had been brought into the world, ... (Continue reading)

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Boyhood cannot escape the emotional facts

Boyhood cannot escape the emotional facts

I was sitting on a midway ride recently, waiting for the lights to start flashing and the machinery to start hurling us around when I realized that my life might not actually get better than this moment. I was with my family, near the end of a lovely day at the end of our summer vacation, and it felt like a line was drawing itself around the moment to ... (Continue reading)

A thoroughly modern Noah

A thoroughly modern Noah

We are apparently in the middle of another surge of religious films, which is a sure way of telling that Hollywood is losing money and running scared and desperate to pull in the audience they do their best to ignore when times aren’t so lean. Forgive me for sounding cynical, but if you think I’m being bleak, I dare you to name one masterpiece of religious filmmaking made since ... (Continue reading)

Movies focusing on despair

One of the most profound aspects of Christian teaching is the idea of the sin of despair. It might seem either abstract or inapplicable for many people either too commonsensical or faithful than myself, but once the idea behind it became clear to me, it was like a bright, pitiless light came on in my mind, casting light where I had never had the wit or strength to shine ... (Continue reading)

The wonderful middlebrow of Monuments Men

The wonderful middlebrow of Monuments Men

Maybe it’s a good thing, but war movies aren’t anywhere near as popular as they used to be. There is, to be sure, no shortage of violent films doing decent box office, many set amidst vast wars fought in space, or in some wild reimagining of the distant, even mythological past. But dramas set during wars happening in recent memory are thin on the ground; on a scale of ... (Continue reading)

A hell of a documentary

A hell of a documentary

In a world where serious books sell poorly and newsmagazines are a shadow of their former selves – if they’re published at all – the documentary film has taken up much of the burden of bringing topical issues and debate in front of the public. While feature films have stagnated, pooling into either numbing blockbusters or a host of increasingly spiritless genres, documentary production has undergone a renaissance, either ... (Continue reading)

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Popes on the big screen

Popes on the big screen

Anthony Quinn as Pope Kiril in the film version of Morris West's novel The Shoes of the Fisherman When Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires stepped onto the balcony at St. Peter’s Square last month, he helped provide a satisfactory conclusion to a ritual that – as we were told repeatedly in the thicket of media coverage – is watched with fascination both within and without the Catholic ... (Continue reading)

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Overcoming squeamishness watching bin Laden movie

Overcoming squeamishness watching bin Laden movie

I doubt that I’m the only person who found the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Navy SEALS last year unsatisfying, both as a skirmish in an ongoing war and, looking at it a bit more flippantly, as a dramatic finale. For all the counter-espionage resources that it took to find the man, and the undeniable military skill of the SEALS who did the dirty work, it had the ... (Continue reading)

Even if a movie isn’t seen, can it still make a difference?

Even if a movie isn’t seen, can it still make a difference?

I’m writing this column at the end of what has to be one of the least interesting summers in movie history. To make matters worse – if you work for a Hollywood studio – it’s also been one of the least profitable, but that doesn’t mean that movies aren’t important. As the Middle East erupted into bloody riots that took the life of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, among others, it ... (Continue reading)

College movie offers non-religious thoughts on Christianity

College movie offers non-religious thoughts on Christianity

For most families, college is the acid test of their parenting, the point when independence is finally granted and the long years of helicopter parenting (hopefully) cease. In the aftermath of three generations that have embraced youthful rebellion as an inevitable stage of life – an idea almost unheard of a century ago – we send our children off to university (or its equivalent) resigned to seeing some, but hopefully not ... (Continue reading)

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The appeal of the apocalyptical

The appeal of the apocalyptical

Growing up during the Cold War, I saw the Earth end many times over. Mushroom clouds bloomed in films and TV shows such as The Day After, Testament, Threads, The War Game, By Dawn’s Early Light, On the Beach, The Bedford Incident, Fail Safe and Miracle Mile. Looking back from today, they might vary in quality but they share a common tone – grim resignation – and I can recall with certainty ... (Continue reading)

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