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What Is It About Fargo?

What Is It About Fargo?

This past week, the third season wrapped up in FX’s Fargo. Just like the first two seasons, I remain blown away that show creator Noah Hawley and company have continued to create new narrative worlds that fit so perfectly into the landscape of the Coen brothers’ original film. What I’m writing here below is not just for those who have seen this season—the final episode of this season just got me thinking about what it is exactly that makes the show’s (and the original film’s) storytelling so compelling, beyond the impressive cinematography and soundtrack and Minnesotan accents and Peter and…

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Wonder Woman and the Side Effects of Losing Innocence

Wonder Woman and the Side Effects of Losing Innocence

This review of the new Wonder Woman comes to us from Caleb Ackley. 

Typically when I hear the words ‘summer’ and ‘blockbuster’ uttered in the same sentence, a shudder runs down my spine. Forehead wet with anxiety-induced sweat, I try with every ounce of strength I possess to keep from imagining the latest franchise subjected to the dreaded ‘reboot’ or, worse still, the newest installment in an ever-widening and ever more deafening Transformers universe. This summer, however, thanks to a certain female superhero, change was in the air, and when that fateful weekend in June finally came, I ran to the…

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It Comes at Night and the Fear of Grief

It Comes at Night and the Fear of Grief

If you’ve caught any trailers for It Comes at Night, you know it’s a scary one. I went to see it the other day, and, preparing for the worst, I took a seat near the back and nestled in behind my popcorn. Sensing a particularly horrific part coming, I fixed my eyes at a corner of the screen. Alas the scares came too suddenly for me to look away, but for the most part, I didn’t want to. In Trey Edward Shults’ second feature, not all was as it seemed. It Comes at Night promised something sinister lurking outside the red…

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Defeat Even in Victory: Wonder Woman, Critical Response, and Modes of Low Anthropology

Defeat Even in Victory: Wonder Woman, Critical Response, and Modes of Low Anthropology

When it comes to writing about DC Comics’ theological inclinations, there’s no one better for the job than Jeremiah Lawson, aka Wenatchee the Hatchet. Very grateful for his take on the new Wonder Woman:

The new Wonder Woman movie is upon us, and the overall reception has been very positive. This is not just because, compared to Man of Steel or Batman vs Superman (let alone Suicide Squad), Patty Jenkins and company have given us a straightforward, charming superhero story where our heroine gets to be heroic; it’s also because you can go watch this Wonder Woman movie and never have to waste any…

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A Clockwork Theology and the Un-Free Will

A Clockwork Theology and the Un-Free Will

A friend recently noted that TV, post-Breaking Bad, seems to be getting more violent. Typically I’d discard this as your run-of-the-mill cantankerous “kids these days” complaint…but somewhere between grimace-inducing episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale and Netflix’s The Keepers, I realized, well, maybe he had a point. Game of Thrones fits the bill. So does HBO’s adaptation of Big Little Lies, which was much darker than its airport-thriller source material. The list goes on.

Considering all this, I was reminded of the landmark violence of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, which I read way back in high school, for a project about banned books. For the (lucky?) uninitiated, it tells the story of a violent young…

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Entry of the Gods Into Alien: Covenant

Entry of the Gods Into Alien: Covenant

The latest Alien movie is in theatres, and it’s a lot like the others, which means tons of casualties, and robots can’t be trusted. A few wrinkles separate Covenant, though. First, Danny McBride is in this one, and he’s a convincing space cowboy. He knows his John Denver, and he won’t rest until the crew is rescued. “We didn’t come here to be safe,” he says. Next, we have a rather sad depiction of Christianity in Billy Crudup. He wants to do the faithful thing, but the multitude of monsters make it difficult for him. Finally, Michael Fassbender plays two…

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The Father You Have, Not the Father You Want: Cross and Glory in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The Father You Have, Not the Father You Want: Cross and Glory in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

“A typical American film, naive and silly, can — for all its silliness and even by means of it — be instructive. A fatuous, self-conscious English film can teach one nothing. I have often learnt a lesson from a silly American film.”

So judged the famously austere Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, fanatical opponent of intellectual affectation and devotee of Detective Story Magazine. Though I knew this remark from memory (they make you learn it when you send in your bottle caps to join the Wittgenstein Fan Club), Tasha and I did not hire a babysitter and head out Friday night in order to be…

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A New Musical, an Old Story: Amélie on Broadway

A New Musical, an Old Story: Amélie on Broadway

Readers of the blog may be familiar with the 2001 French film Amélie, an indie love story powered by actor Audrey Tautou’s impish smile and director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s whimsical storytelling. It’s on Netflix right now–if you’ve got time this week, put the kids to bed, snuggle up with a loved one, pop open a bottle of wine, and enjoy a bit of that inimitable French joie de vivre. 

Once you’ve caught up by seeing the movie, you can join the rest of the viewers in confusion over the reality that Amélie is now a musical. Attendees at last week’s NYC conference could have taken the N train to…

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In Praise of Excess: The Beauty of Babette's Feast

In Praise of Excess: The Beauty of Babette’s Feast

Another sneak peek into the Food & Drink Issue, which will be on sale at the conference this weekend! Ethan’s essay is all about grace in the 1987 Danish film (and Oscar winner) Babette’s Feast.

Last winter, my wife Hannah found out she has celiac disease, the rare autoimmune disorder that means you can’t eat gluten. Contrary to the many gluten-free fads that have taken the nation by storm, people with celiac suffer a gluten intolerance that is microscopically comprehensive. The smallest gluten part per million—a dust particle in a vat of soup—can wreak havoc on her stomach.

The fact that we’re in…

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The Beautiful Truth of Collateral Beauty

The Beautiful Truth of Collateral Beauty

In the Gospel reading appointed for Good Friday, Pilate asks Jesus, “What is truth?” He seems to really want to know. He seems to be searching for an answer to explain this bruised and beaten Jew standing before him and the chaotic scene outside in his courtyard. And the truth is what we come to church seeking each Good Friday. With Pilate we ask, “What is truth?” We show up before God on the day commemorating Christ’s death for us, asking such questions as, Why was this necessary? Why did God have to die for us? Why would God die for…

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Beneath the Pelagian Surface of Moana: A Conference Breakout Preview

Beneath the Pelagian Surface of Moana: A Conference Breakout Preview

Allow me to channel SNL’s Bennett Brauer (Chris Farley):

I don’t “read much” and I don’t
“look the part” I’m not
“seminary trained” or even
“theologically inclined.”

I don’t “know what ‘Pelagian’ means” and I
“don’t look comfortable in front of an audience” I
“sleep in my make-up” and
“also with stuffed animals” I guess I
“talk too much” and I
“sweat when I’m nervous” and I
“can’t remember names” because I’m
“too concerned with myself” even though I
“don’t bathe regularly” and I’ve
“let myself go.”

I haven’t “learned my lesson” my
“coffee hasn’t kicked in yet” I haven’t
“kept calm” or
“found my bliss” but I’m
“talking at this conference anyway.”

On the surface of things, Moana (Disney)…

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Beauty and (the Mark of) the Beast

Beauty and (the Mark of) the Beast

This second reflection on the revived Disney classic is written by Dustin Messer. 

“Winter turns to spring / Famine turns to feast / Nature points the way / Nothing left to say / Beauty and the Beast.” –Mrs. Potts

“Sleep is an image of death that is repeated every night. So the morning is the image of the resurrection. So the spring of the year is an image of the resurrection.” –Jonathan Edwards

How will the dark curse be broken? Sacrificial love. In the stunning new remake of Beauty and the Beast, Disney stayed true to this central theme. And why shouldn’t they?…

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