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I'll Come Speak

    I write and speak on all sorts of topics: ancient Christian spirituality and the Eastern Orthodox faith, the Jesus Prayer, marriage and family, the pro-life cause, cultural issues, and more. You can contact Cynthia Damaskos of the Orthodox Speakers Bureau if you’d like to bring me to an event. This Calendar will let you know when I’m in your neighborhood.

 

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Entries in Movie Reviews (164)

Monday
Mar012004

The Meaning of Christ's Suffering

[Books & Culture, March-April 2004]

* Selected for Best Christian Writing 2006*

 

Most movies wait till after they're released to stir up controversy, but Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" has been preceded by nearly a year of fisticuffs. It provided an unusually rich opportunity for people who don't know what they're talking about to do just that. I'll continue that tradition by admitting that, as I write this, I still have not seen the film. I expect it will be good movie-making, a powerful example of the artistic possibilities of film. I hope it will stir up old faith in Christians, and break forth new faith in unbelievers.

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Tuesday
Jan272004

2004 Oscars Overview

[Our Sunday Visitor, February 22, 2004]

No, your watch isn’t slow, they really did move the Oscars up this year. Fed up with the high-pressure lobbying for votes that filled the first three months of every year, the Academy opted this time around to shorten it to two: instead of a late-March ceremony, this year’s event will be February 29. This means that the high-pressure lobbying had to be compressed into a shorter time frame, so the folks who trudge the red carpet on Sadie Hawkins’ Day may look more frazzled than usual.

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Thursday
Jan082004

Big Fish

[Our Sunday Visitor, Feb 1, 2004]

As usual, I made a big impression at the premiere of "Big Fish." The director, Tim Burton, had been pestering me to come, and at last I agreed to pop in. What was tricky, of course, is that my husband is losing patience with the film's star, Ewan MacGregor, because he won't give up. "Give up, Ewan," I keep telling him. "I've been married thirty years." But still the roses arrive almost daily.

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Thursday
Dec182003

Peter Pan

[Our Sunday Visitor, January 11, 2004]

P. J. Hogue’s new production of ‘Peter Pan’ has a lot more sex in it, and that’s why you should see it. Not sex, exactly, but sexuality, the first budding of a young girl’s confused romantic feelings, and how she must learn to navigate them wisely. The film itself is wise and treats the topic with appropriate delicacy. You can take even young children to this film, and all they’ll see is a beautifully produced classic of fantasy and adventure. You’ll see something more.

Peter (portrayed by Jeremy Sumpter) is not the focus of this story, but Wendy (Rachel Hurd-Wood).

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Wednesday
Dec102003

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

[Our Sunday Visitor, December 28, 2003]

What becomes a legend most’ The old answer, ‘fur,’ wouldn’t be as popular today as it was when Blackglama mink draped legendary stars like Lauren Bacall in a glamorous ad campaign. What makes something a legend, a classic, is not easy to identify, but the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy has got it, hands down. ’ The Return of the King’ is a crowning conclusion to the trilogy, and also arguably the best of the three films, though none are disappointments. That’s something that can’t be said of most movie-sequel series.

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Thursday
Dec042003

The Last Samurai

[Our Sunday Visitor, December 28, 2003]

The Last Samurai

It turns out that guys are just as sentimental as the next guy, but what they get sentimental about is killing people. Run somebody through with a lance, shoot an arrow through a heart, slice a neck with a sword—pretty soon, everybody’s hugging and blubbering.

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Saturday
Nov152003

Master and Commander

[Our Sunday Visitor, December 7, 2003]

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

The opposite of "chick flick" is "guy flick," the kind of film that's expected to appeal to "real men." It has predictable elements: big explosions, naked girls, and high-speed chases. "Master and Commander" is a different kind of guy flick, because it's more thoroughly about "real men," who have normal-size, realistic powers rather than superhuman ones.

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Wednesday
Nov122003

Elf, Matrix Revolutions

[Our Sunday Visitor, December 14, 2003]

Elf

Step up and shake hands with the movie that is going to be playing in the next room every Christmas for the rest of your life. "Elf" appears to have been planned with that small-screen destiny in mind: uncomplicated camerawork usually features one big image in the middle of the screen, an image you can identify without squinting even as far away as the refrigerator.

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Saturday
Oct252003

Radio

[Our Sunday Visitor, October 26, 2003]

When a movie is set in South Carolina and involves a racial theme, I get my dukes up. I grew up in Charleston, and I'm well aware of sad history, but I've seen too many stories in which every character with a Southern accent is turned into a cloven-hoofed monster, for the sake of dramatic tension.

My dukes got mighty tired during the course of 'Radio,' as almost every character with a Southern accent treated Cuba Gooding's character with respect, affection, even big bear hugs.

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Wednesday
Oct012003

School of Rock

[Our Sunday Visitor, October 26, 2003]

School of Rock

Take a good look at those rolling eyebrows'you're going to be seeing them for a long time. In 'School of Rock' Jack Black inhabits his character, Dewey Finn, with such appealing manic energy that there's no question a comic star is born.

What makes Black such a winner' Probably his startling lack of self-consciousness.

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