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Star Wars: An Explication – Part 3

Revenge of the Sith opens with one of the longest, most elaborate and ambitious shots George Lucas has ever attempted. The camera pans down from the opening crawl, past a blinding sun, to reveal a Star Destroyer flying over Coruscant, one last twist on the iconic opening image of the original 1977 film. There we saw an evil Star Destroyer from behind; here we see a good one from above. The scene is almost comforting in its familiarity and stillness, though the warlike drums of Williams’ score hint at a building energy…Read On

Star Wars: An Explication – Part 2

If Star Wars is about finding balance between the appetites and the intellect, and the best Star Wars films are those that find this ideal balance between spectacle and theme, allow me to open this review boldly, by suggesting that Attack of the Clones – the franchise’s most underrated entry – finds that balance nearly perfectly. While The Phantom Menace had perhaps too much of a tendency to convey concepts through dialogue, its sequel communicates ideas through images, sounds, and actions, fusing emotion with abstraction…Read On

Star Wars: An Explication – Part 1

I love Star Wars – perhaps too much. This is no secret, as my previous writings on the subject would attest, and I can make no pretensions to being an objective observer here. The Phantom Menace, George Lucas’ first prequel to his classic trilogy, was met with a decidedly mixed response when it premiered in 1999, but it is a source of fond memories for me…Read On

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

“Torn Apart”: Thoughts on The Force Awakens and the Myth of Star Wars We live in a post-Star Wars world. No, we don’t spend our days scavenging through the debris of Star Destroyers and X-Wings like the protagonist of the seventh and newest installment, J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens. But is it really that different? Take…Read On

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To Have A Crush On A Fictional Person

In an informal poll I conducted among my students late last year, every high school junior I teach claimed to have had a crush on a fictional person. The question both was and was not a trick. In truth, a crush is always a fictional person. While crush is a neologism and not a philosophically…Read On

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Talking Children’s Movies With Dr. Steve Turley

In speaking with many parents about the kind of movies their children watch, I’ve found that one of their chief concerns is “objectionable content.” For younger children, “objectionable content” means toilet humor, cursing, disrespect shown to parents. For older children, “objectionable content” means nudity, violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity, obscenity, drug use, casual sex and the…Read On

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Narration in Film

In his fascinating work of collected interviews with Alfred Hitchcock, french filmmaker Francois Truffaut discussed with Hitchcock the possibility of doing a film adaptation of Crime and Punishment. When explaining why he would not, Hitchcock said, “Well, in Dostoyevsky’s novel there are many, many words and all of them have a function…To really convey [the…Read On

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Beauty As Hermeneutic: The Best Of All Possible Endings?

Part I. A certain wistfulness attends God’s mercy. After Jonah preaches Nineveh will be overthrown in forty days, the people don sackcloth and fast. The king asks,” Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?” Who can tell? When St. John the Theologian…Read On

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A Few Words About Spoiler Alerts

If I could see any film again for the first time, I would choose David Fincher’s The Game. Had someone told me the ending of the film prior to seeing it, I would have counted myself robbed of something irreplaceable. I am not without some sympathy for those who don’t want the endings of their…Read On

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The Christian And LGBT Films

“There is… an undeniable ethical offense in beauty: not only in its history as a preoccupation of privilege, the special concern of an economically and socially enfranchised elite, but in the very gratuity with which it offers itself. There is an unsettling prodigality about the beautiful, something wanton about the way it lavishes itself upon…Read On

Hannibal

The Price of Imagination: The Danger of Empathy and the Aesthetics of Violence in Bryan Fuller’s “Hannibal” When we first meet Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), the protagonist of Bryan Fuller’s television series Hannibal, he is looking at the grisly aftermath of a home invasion, surrounded by FBI agents. Graham, a special investigator, closes his eyes…Read On

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Love Actually: A Theory

The following exchange between Sam (the little Thomas Sangster) and Daniel (Liam Neeson) in Love Actually has, for me, always been at the very heart and center of the film. Sam: By the way, I feel bad I never ask you how your love life’s going. Daniel: Ha! No. As you know, that was a done…Read On

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What We Are All Dying To Know

This is the preeminent human question: What is she thinking? Or else, What is he thinking? Or, What does she think of me? What does he think of me? Can I be certain of how she feels? Is she guarding her true thoughts of me? Does she know what I do? What I think about?Read On

Undefended: Let’s Get Political.

This week, the best of cinematic politics… Thomas Banks: The scene in Godfather II where Michael Corleone refuses to let Senator Whatshisname walk on him. “Senator, my answer is this…Nothing.” The scene in Casablanca where Humphrey Bogart meets Major Strasser. “What is your nationality, Monsieur Blaine?” “I’m a drunk.” “That makes him a citizen of…Read On

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Neopagan Christ Figures

It’s a small petpeeve of mine, but in modern young adult fiction the protagonist is often designed to be flattering. They all seem to be misunderstood or lonely or different (re: the virtue du jour: unique) in order to appeal to the vanity of the audience. Two of the most popular stories follow this model:…Read On

The Greatest Songs In Children’s Movies

This week, the five best songs from animated children’s movies. Sean Johnson: Roger Miller’s “Not In Nottingham” in Disney’s Robin Hood: An education in mournful sadness not likely to be soon forgotten by most children who knew the movie—never to be forgotten by me. Miller’s no crooner, but a good folk song is a perfectly…Read On

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Solomon Vs. Catharsis: Why We Need Movies

Why do people like movies so much? Why will we not shut up about movies? Why do we like making lists of our favorite movies, sharing those lists with friends, and perusing our friend’s lists of favorite movies? Why are movies so easy to talk about at a party? How is it that films are…Read On

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Violence, Justice Porn, And Free Characters

From time to time I hear teenage boys mutter, after directing their intellects toward the sticky issue of foreign relations and the Middle East, “Ah, geez, why don’t we just nuke them all?” I could not say for certain how long teenage boys have glibly advocated for the universal destruction of foreign nations, but if…Read On