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PZ's Podcast: Psychosis & One Monkey

PZ’s Podcast: Psychosis & One Monkey

EPISODE 236: Psychosis

“Psychosis” is a very strong word for a cultural phenomenon. But it allows us to speak of a fissure over against reality, when groups of people see things around them in a way that is divorced from the facts.

You can apply the phenomenon of group fissure from reality, to anything you like. I can see it in the way a very specific historical reality, the Anglican Church as the English expression of legal and official Protestantism, has been so completely buried by a different “narrative” that it is as if the reality never was and never existed.

So completely,…

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The Art of Memoir and a Divine Glimpse of Stefani in Gaga: Five Foot Two

The Art of Memoir and a Divine Glimpse of Stefani in Gaga: Five Foot Two

I spent the better part of my 20s working with teenagers in one form or another. Whether as a youth minister, a creative writing teacher, or a photography TA, one dazzling thread remained the same: Gaga. I spent time with kids who didn’t just adore her music, they worshiped her. They felt freed in some way by who she allowed them to be; she allowed them to be themselves (or whatever version of themselves they wanted to be) in all their average weirdness. In Gaga: Five Foot Two (a documentary released last month on Netflix), one of Lady Gaga’s fans…

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Art and Death in A Ghost Story: An Interview with David Lowery

Art and Death in A Ghost Story: An Interview with David Lowery

This interview was conducted by Daniel Melvill Jones. A Ghost Story is available for rent on iTunes and other outlets as of today Tuesday, October 3.

Director David Lowery burst onto the filmmaking scene with his breakout indie hit, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. This led to Disney entrusting him with last year’s remake of Pete’s Dragon, a critical success praised for its personal vision. But nothing prepared critics for this year’s Sundance hit, A Ghost Story. Wholly unique, this small film has a scope at once cosmic and contained. It elegantly expresses questions of loss, death, creativity, and the permanence of…

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Pennywise the Clown, Stephen King, and Jesus

Pennywise the Clown, Stephen King, and Jesus

This piece was written by Jill Moran.

I married a man who learned from God through fiction. My husband swears by the hand of Stephen King in his spiritual life just as he does Brennan Manning, G.K. Chesterton, and the Apostle Paul. The sceptic in me, at first, saw only blood and horror at the sight of a Stephen King book. I wanted nothing to do with it, as I don’t with most dark things, assuming there is nothing sacred to be found in the midst of gore. I now see something much deeper as I peer through the pages of these…

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Mother!: Sinners in the Hands of a Petty God

Mother!: Sinners in the Hands of a Petty God

This look at the controversial new film was written by Caleb Ackley. (Spoilers ahead.)

Mother! was advertised as a mystery-thriller and the trailer, which was riveting, left much to the imagination. Thus, on opening weekend, hordes of thrill-seeking men and women went to see it, each with their own set of expectations. Some came for horror, some expected gore, many came to see Jennifer Lawrence, that darling of the silver screen, be terrified herself; but most of all, they, and I in many ways, came that Saturday night to simply be entertained. Stuffed to the gills with excitement and no small amount…

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All Alone in a Disenchanted Universe

All Alone in a Disenchanted Universe

Did anyone actually see Miss Sloane in theaters? I remember seeing a trailer for it some moon cycles ago, but never did hear much buzz about it. That is, until last weekend, when, after some coaxing from my sister, I watched it on Amazon.

In any case, you don’t have to see the movie to know, essentially, who Miss Sloane is. You’ve likely encountered her “type” before, whether in movies or daily life. She’s a ruthless fast-talker, wicked-smart, but terribly lonely. The kind of person some would call a strong, independent woman and others would call an obsessive-compulsive conniver. A notorious…

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Roughing Up an Isle of Dogs

The debut of the unbelievably delightful first trailer for The Isle of Dogs (which arrives in theaters on yours truly’s birthday – coincidence?) is as good an occasion as any for posting a few paragraphs from the Wes Anderson essay that opens Mockingbird at the Movies.

“The very mention of a religious dimension to Wes Anderson’s films may sound surprising, even bizarre. It is certainly not what he is known for. Critics praise his visual imagination, his attention to detail, his pet themes and oft-imitated (but never replicated) whimsy. They do not, as a group, gravitate toward spiritual language when discussing his movies. If anything, Wes has been criticized for the emotional distance of his dollhouse-like visions. The net effect of the fanciful scenery and mannered dialogue is to keep the viewer from fully entering into the picture, heart-wise, to say nothing of the spirit. Everything is so gloriously precise; it seems there is no room in a Wes Anderson film for any deity other than Wes Anderson.

While such a view may not be entirely unfounded, it does not account for the stories themselves, in particular the trilogy of The Darjeeling Limited, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel. What emerges is something more akin to the fake Italian talk show interview with Wes that’s included on the Criterion edition of The Life Aquatic. Following a series of increasingly awkward exchanges, the befuddled host asks the director point- blank if he believes in God. Wes answers, “Eh, I think so. Yeah. I mean, roughly.”

By “roughly” he no doubt meant “approximately,” yet given the films in question he might as well have been using it in the physical sense. In Anderson’s films, God intervenes upon hapless human beings with force, often in the guise of something cataclysmic and unpleasant–as a divine interruption as opposed to something engineered by one of the protagonists. However precious his sensibility may be in other ways–that is, the opposite of gothic–Wes demonstrates time and again an implicit grasp of what novelist Flannery O’Connor once described in relation to her own work:

I suppose the reasons for the use of so much violence in modern fiction will differ with each writer who uses it, but in my own stories I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace. Their heads are so hard that almost nothing else will do the work. This idea, that reality is something to which we must be returned at considerable cost, is one which is seldom understood by the casual reader, but it is one which is implicit in the Christian view of the world.

Where Flannery speaks of hard-headedness, Wes’ characters tend to be softer, not so much calloused by suffering and indignity as consumed with charming minutiae and narcissistic navel-gazing. But the inwardness proves intractable and warrants just as much of an abrupt, outside interruption.” (pg 16-17)

To read more…

PZ's Podcast: Turning Point & The Year We Make Contact

PZ’s Podcast: Turning Point & The Year We Make Contact

EPISODE 234: Turning Point

This theme of the insuperability of at least one problem in your life continues to absorb me — and in the light of hope and hopefulness.

I tell the story of a woman who recently attended a meeting of church executives, almost all of whom are absorbed by current issues and questions of identity in political terms. This person said to me afterwards, “It seemed like a voice spoke to me, as I listened to the virtue-signalling: ‘This form of Christianity has no future.’ ” What she meant was that there was no SAVING being proffered, nothing related…

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I Still Believe: The Lost Boys’ 30th Anniversary Spectacular

I Still Believe: The Lost Boys’ 30th Anniversary Spectacular

If Georges de La Tour was a movie director, his films would probably look a lot like Joel Schumacher’s. Well, maybe…minus the nipples on the suits in Batman and Robin. I think my assertion, knowing Matt Milliner is lurking around here somewhere, holds up particularly well with Schumacher’s 1987 film, The Lost Boys, or as I like to put it, The Two Coreys’ (Haim and Feldman) Showcase.

My slightly sketchy comparison to a famous French Baroque painter aside, I’ve been reflecting on what I think about the movie, now, 30 years on. The surprising thing is that a couple of scenes…

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My Big Sick: When A Diagnosis Threatens to Define Us

My Big Sick: When A Diagnosis Threatens to Define Us

Over here in Sydney, the eclipse didn’t occur, and a 14-hour time jump from the East Coast means I actually often receive current events updates on a delay (while lying in bed reading them on my phone at 6am). The weird FOMO/day-ahead mentality, where my daylight is your nighttime, renders me disoriented; I feel as though I’m watching the world from a distance, as a bystander to all things America. The break from that most patriotic of traditions, the 24-hour news cycle, has been healing for me: in the absence of bottom-of-the-screen news tickers, I can choose when and how…

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Why I Invited Daryl Davis to Speak in DC

Why I Invited Daryl Davis to Speak in DC

There’s a scene about fifteen minutes into Accidental Courtesy, the 2016 documentary about musician Daryl Davis, that so blew my hair back that I immediately looked up his contact info for the purposes of begging him to join us at our upcoming event in Washington, DC.

The scene begins with a clip from Geraldo Rivera’s old daytime talk show, Geraldo, where the titular host is interviewing various families involved in Neo-Nazism and the Ku Klux Klan, the focus being on those who are “too young to hate”. Daryl is also on the show that day, presumably as a resident expert, albeit…

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Count On It – A Judd Hirsch Moment with Jim Munroe

An illustration that just may whet your appetite for the D.C. Conference

Count On It: The Essence of Mockingbird and Why Judd Hirsch is Like Jesus ~ Jim Munroe from Mockingbird on Vimeo.