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 (166)


American Dreamz

[National Review Online, April 21, 2006] 

The posters for "American Dreamz" are not real subtle: "Imagine a country where the President never reads the newspaper, where the government goes to war for all the wrong reasons, and where more people vote for a pop idol than their next president." Sounds like some lefties woke up feeling cranky on the day after Bush's re-election. The film's signature image, of Lady Liberty strutting in red thigh-high boots behind a microphone, reinforces the message that this is a rock-the-vote story for hip people, and squares need not apply.

But self-identified hip people who buy a ticket on the basis of this ad are likely to be disappointed.

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Friends With Money

[National Review Online, April 19, 2006) 

Here's a movie plot for you. There are four women, see? And on top of that, three of them are rich. But hold onto your hat, they're all friends. Whaddaya think?

I don't get it either. "Friends With Money" shows us four women, and shows that they are friends, and that's about it. Three of the women are married, and also wealthy, and one is neither.

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Thank You For Smoking

[National Review Online, March 17, 2006] 

There's something exhilarating about watching a clever liar in full, resplendent flight. Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhardt) has what he cheerfully describes as a "challenging" job: he represents the interests of the tobacco industry in a world that generally considers the product reprehensible.

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Failure to Launch

[National Review Online, March 10, 2006]

You'd have to have an extraordinary amount of confidence in a film to give it a title like "Failure to Launch." It's a target as big as a barn. And I'm left wondering what made the folks behind this film so sure that it was guaranteed boffo. It's got the elements a standard romantic comedy requires: two hot stars, their oddball friends,

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Beliefnet Film Awards 2005

Beliefnet Film Awards, 2006 

Cinderella Man

What's so inspirational about James J. Braddock, the "Cinderella Man"? Audiences have already given plenty of love

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Curious George

George, the curious little monkey, had a precarious start: his parents, Margaret and H.A. Rey, bicycled out of Paris just hours before the Germans arrived, with the preliminary watercolors and story text in their backpacks. Margaret, a Bauhaus-trained artist, was a sharp cookie and blazingly direct, capable of blurting to her publisher: “You always wear a hat. Is there something wrong with your head?” (The reply was, “Nothing that a hat can hide.”)

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Nanny McPhee

[National Review Online, January 27, 2006]

The best line in "Nanny McPhee" is not actually spoken; it's merely exhaled through Emma Thompson's prodigious nose, a quietly observant "Hmmm."

You may not remember Thompson's nose being particularly notable in such arched-pinky movies as "Howard's End," "The Remains of the Day," and various Shakespeare and Jane Austen productions. But here it is bulbous and red,

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Paradise Now

[Review of Faith & International Affairs, Winter 2005-2006]

In "Paradise Now," a new movie from director Hany Abu-Assad, there's a moment when the character Khaled (Ali Suliman) does a good imitation of a Wild West gunslinger. He faces a corner and then spins back out on one foot, turning toward his pals with a "quick draw" gesture and a grin.

The joke is that he has just had a set of explosives strapped to his chest.

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Narnia: Deeper Magic

[, December 9, 2005]

‘Deeper Magic.’ No, that’s not the name of a new ecstasy-inducing shampoo. It ‘s the two little words that tradition-minded Christians will be listening for as they watch Disney’s new family blockbuster, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.’ This dazzling film includes just about everything a child could want for Christmas: evil spells, talking animals, spectacular battles, and four apparently-ordinary siblings who discover that they can be heroes.

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

[National Review Online, December 9, 2005]

Any director who attempts to bring a beloved novel to the screen can expect his fair share of slings and arrows. Just ask Peter Jackson, the hardworking genius behind the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, or any of the parade of directors who have delivered "Harry Potter" films. The latest to step up for a smackdown is Andrew Adamson, previously known for "Shrek," as he offers his fresh and magnificent production of C.S. Lewis' novel, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe."

Unlike the "Potter" directors, Adamson has not only junior readers to please

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