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)


Gods & Generals

[Our Sunday Visitor, March 2, 2003]

What is it about the Civil War? We can’t quite get over it. It’s a story we tell ourselves over and over, never sure we’ve gotten it right.

There’s good reason for that. It’s a complex story, and the easy categories of South Bad, North Good don’t do it justice. Yet, just to demonstrate our ambivalence, it’s the South we pine for. More reenactors want to be Rebs than Yanks. No Northern gal holds the heart-place of Scarlett O’Hara. You can attribute this to romanticizing the losing side, but nobody romanticizes Hitler.

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Pinocchio, About Schmidt

[Our Sunday Visitor, January 26, 2003]


I sat all alone in the theater to watch "Pinocchio". Sometimes I didn't sit but got up and stretched and walked around, or leaned against a wall taking notes. And I wondered why I was alone. This is one of the few films I've seen that deserves the description "enchanting": the sets, costumes, and cinematography are dazzling, the acting first-rate, the storyline exciting. Where were all the families--adults enjoying this as much as children?

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The Two Towers

Updated on Saturday, December 7, 2002 by Registered CommenterFrederica

[Our Sunday Visitor, December 22, 2002]




“The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” is big. You knew that. And it’s noisy—hoo boy, with the surround-sound, it’s like being inside a washing machine. A Victorian poet hailed “ignorant armies [that] clash by night.” Now imagine that literalized, with the help of computer graphic software that creates gazillions of little critters, each programmed to pick a fight with the nearest other critter, and each given individual levels of weariness, impulsiveness, and intelligence.

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Punchdrunk Love, Tuck Everlasting

[Our Sunday Visitor, November 17, 2002]

Punchdrunk Love

A friend who caught an early screening of "Punchdrunk Love" wrote me, "Adam Sandler is wonderful." I wrote back, "Those have got to be the strangest four words in the language." But it's true. Adam Sandler is wonderful in "Punchdrunk Love." Unfortunately, the movie isn't as wonderful as he is.

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Sweet Home, Moonlight Mile

[Our Sunday Visitor, October 27, 2002]

Sweet Home Alabama

“Sweet Home Alabama” is one of two movies this month titled after songs from the early 1970’s. While “Moonlight Mile” is actually set around that time, “Sweet Home Alabama” plants one foot in modern-day Manhattan (where, in a Halloween touch, Candice Bergen is mayor) and another in an imaginary deep south that has barely taken up indoor plumbing. There people set explosives under anvils, serve guests “baloney cake”, and linger by moonlight in the coon dog cemetery. I’m still hoping I heard “baloney cake” wrong.

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Four Feathers, Barbershop

[Our Sunday Visitor, September 29, 2002]

The Four Feathers

Toward the beginning of "The Four Feathers," news arrives at an opulent Victorian military ball that "an army of Mohammedan fanatics" has attacked a British fort in the Sudan. A clergyman reminds the soldiers and their ladies that "the Lord has endowed the British race with a world-wide empire," and the soldiers will soon achieve "victories over the heathen."

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Signs, Spy Kids 2

[Our Sunday Visitor, August 25, 2002]


The Baltimore theatre was packed the day "Signs" opened. At one point, lead character Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) explains that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who believe that someone is looking out for us, and those who don't. He states his own conclusion: "There is no one watching out for us. We are all on our own." All over the theater viewers pulled in their breath, and a few blurted "aw!" in sad surprise. It seemed like the loneliest thing a person could say.

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Men in Black II, Minority Report

[Our Sunday Visitor, July 21, 2001]

Men in Black II

One thing the makers of "Men in Black II" want you to know: this movie does not take place in the future. It's happening right now, today; a title at the beginning of the film announces "July 2002" and any viewers who checked their watches right then would feel pleasantly punctual. Of course that title will soon make the film feel dated, but that didn't dissuade the filmmakers. In a sea of movies set in the nebulous near future, they wanted to stress the presence of unseen realities, right here, right now.

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Ya Ya Secrets, Bourne Identity, Frequency

[Our Sunday Visitor, June 30, 2002]

The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

A French proverb goes, “To understand all is to forgive all.” If we only understood how miserable his childhood was, we’d forgive the ax murderer. If we only knew how strong his lust was, we’d look kindly on the adulterer. There’s a bit of self-protection in this saying: if people only understood me, they’d never blame me for anything; instead, they’d sympathize.

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Holywood Ending, Star Wars Episode II, About a Boy

[Our Sunday Visitor, June 6, 2002]

Hollywood Ending 

There’s a scene early in “Hollywood Ending” when Woody Allen, playing a neurotic and narcissistic movie director, fumbles through an important meeting saying all the wrong things. The people he desperately needs to impress looked pained, look away, and try to pretend he’s not the disaster that he is.

For the audience, the whole movie is like that.

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