Archive for October, 2006

Conversations with God
Implications of the Metaphysical

Director Stephen Simon brings a marvelous visual eye and narrative pace to Conversations with God. Particularly impressive are the visual conceptions of the film’s opening and closing scenes—sequences whose metaphysical implications are sure to pique the ire of those who don’t particularly buy Walsch’s “God is within you all” line of inquiry—as well as the simple, gritty realism of Walsch’s experiences on the street, which reminded me of Martin Bell’s American Heart (1992) and Tim Hunter’s The Saint of Fort Washington (1993). This ain’t Factotum or Barfly land, which is good, because there’s no hint of ironic self-indulgence or sarcastic humor in Walsch’s Conversations.

Deliver Us From Evil
Child Abuse, Pedophilia, the Church, and the Law

My roughly two hours immersed in this film drained me emotionally, and challenged me personally, as I found myself feeling a range of emotions that I never expected. The challenge was to be more engaged in solutions to a problem that, until now, I admit I thought was isolated to a few Catholic parishes. I thought that this type of crime victimized only dysfunctional or estranged families—that somehow child molestation was the result of a number of issues, including passive parenting, curious children, really creepy adults, or mental illness.

A Talk with Documentarian Amy Berg
Documentarian Amy Berg Talks About Evil

“I now don’t have to chase the next story,” says Berg. “I’m just learning so much about the film industry… I think I have a lot more to contribute in full-length features. But I still get email and notes from victims and have to deal with them. This issue is not going away now that the film is done. I wish I could just have made a comedy or drama; put it in the can, have a cast party, and go to the beach. But people are still hurting.”

A Talk with Neale Donald Walsch
Where Love and Faith Hit the Road

“I didn’t want the world to think that I had suddenly become arrogantly wealthy,” says author Walsch. “With that waitress in the restaurant—true story—she was just at a little difficult moment in her life, and I had just had a wonderful moment in my life at the same exact moment, and I thought, ‘Don’t pass this up. Pay it forward.’ And I never dreamt that it would wind up in a movie. They had to beg me, because it looks like I’m patting myself on the back.”

An Open Invite

We love your questions, whether they’re about specific movies, specific artists, or what we’ve said about them.
Please feel free to contact us with your questions. If you give us permission, we’ll publish your question—and our response—here on this page. And if you don’t, we’ll respond to you in private anyway…
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Marie Antoinette
Too Leisurely for Her Own Good

The problem of leisure: what to do for pleasure?
About three-quarters of the way into Sofia Coppola’s exploration of France’s pre-Napoleonic monarchy, I finally got some idea of what Coppola was after. Boy, was I relieved. To that point, all I seemed to be seeing on the screen was an extremely languorous tour of French cuisine […]

Horse Sense for Parents

Flicka tells the story of the independent spirit. Of course, what better prop could there be to illustrate the free and independent spirit than a wild horse?
I have always liked horse movies, but the idea is becoming a little overused. I am beginning to walk away with the nagging thought that what it takes to […]

A Talk with Barry Pepper
Eastwood, Guns, War, and Heroism

“I remember one day,” said Pepper, “there was a series of explosions and machinegun fire, a very chaotic sequence that we had to run with grenades and live weapons to take this Japanese bunker. And I was just going through the pattern of it with Clint to make sure that I didn’t do anything that would mess up the shot, and he looked at me and said, ‘We’ve come this far; let’s not screw it up by thinking.’ This was in the first few days, so you learn right away that that’s his style, and after a while you learn to thrive on it, because it’s electric.”

Flags of Our Fathers
A Strange Kind of Flag Waving

The opening voiceover narration declares, “Every jackass thinks he knows what war is.” Off we go. And Clint Eastwood more than willingly adds himself to that list. It just so happens that the jackass writing this review is very sympathetic to what Eastwood’s film has to say, particular given my indoctrination at the hands of The Outsider. Right away, Flags’ script affirms that heroes and villains are “not what we think they are,” and Eastwood unfolds the action in such a way that we see the sense in that statement.

Nearing Grace
Productive and Beautiful Time in the Basement

Nearing Grace tells the story of what happens to the Nearing family after Mom’s death. Total anarchy and abject dysfunction are not always the effect—but boy does it hurt to lose your mom. The film is dripping with emotion throughout, from the screenplay (with its thoughtful and adult lines) to the exceedingly effective and innovative […]

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