New on DVD: Edith Stein: The Seventh Chamber

10/08/2010 Comments (6)

Recently I wrote an essay on an unusual film about an unusual saint: Edith Stein: The Seventh Chamber, newly available on DVD from Ignatius Press. The project required me to watch the film a number of times—more often than I would usually watch a film before writing an essay—and the more I watched it, the more I came to admire and appreciate it.

Maia Morgenstern (the Blessed Virgin in The Passion of the Christ) plays Edith Stein from the day of her baptism to her martyrdom at Auschwitz. Although the film refers to her Jewish upbringing, loss of faith and atheism, pursuit of philosophy, and discovery of Teresa of Avila, whose writings led her to the Catholic Church, all of this is in the...READ MORE

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Tale as Old as Time: New on Blu-ray/DVD

10/05/2010 Comments (44)

At the intersection of great animated films, great filmed stage musicals, and great fairy-tale romances, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast stands alone. Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, it is simply the quintessential Disney masterpiece, the perfection of everything that Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid aspired to.

True, Disney’s great pre-war fairy tales, Snow White and Pinocchio, are no less perfect—but they belong, with Fantasia and Bambi, to a world of their own, and each of those early, experimental films stands alone, unique and untouchable. (Dumbo is a ringer, a slight effort that almost feels more like the “package films” that filled out...READ MORE

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The Social Network

10/01/2010 Comments (4)

“Every creation myth needs a devil,” a sympathetic attorney tells Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, in the last scene of David Fincher’s dazzling, engrossing The Social Network. It’s a slyly subversive line, simultaneously summing up and calling into question much of the interpretation of events we’ve seen over the last two hours—and it gains another twist when you know that the line was neither dreamed up by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin nor copied from life, but was first uttered by a Facebook executive after reading the screenplay.

If The Social Network is a creation myth for the era of Facebook, what does it tell us about the world in which we live, the people we have become? As...READ MORE

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Babies on DVD!

09/28/2010 Comments (7)

I’m not sure, but I think that Babies is the only movie this year that I’ve already seen three times. (Movies I’ve seen twice include Inception and Iron Man 2, the latter of which arrives on DVD today.) The first time was my initial screening. After it opened, I brought my whole family to see it in the theater—and we were joined by friends from church—another family with six kids, so there were sixteen of us in all. (We were easily the majority of people in the theater.) And last week I received an advance DVD screener, and my whole family sat down and watched it again. (My second viewing of Iron Man 2 was also via advance screener, watching with Suzanne, who hadn’t seen it in theaters. Suz...READ MORE

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The Politics of Desecration: Burning the Flag

09/17/2010 Comments (2)

Chicago Cubs veteran Rick Monday makes the most famous play of his career, snatching a flag from a pair of would-be flag burners in 1976.

Continued from “The Politics of Blasphemy: Offending Others as Free Speech.”

Burning the American flag was the favored form of protest last week for many Muslim demonstrators in the Middle East responding to Terry Jones’s Quran-burning scheme—a desecration for a desecration, as it were. While Jones himself eventually canceled his plans, his calls for an “International Burn a Koran Day” did result in a small number of lightly reported copycat incidents. Among these, Fred Phelps’s Westboro Baptist Church—a hate group even smaller and more virulent than Jones’ church—reportedly planned to mark September 11 by burning both a Quran and an American flag.

In current US law and jurisprudence,...READ MORE

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“Dude, you HAVE no Quran!”

09/14/2010 Comments (41)

This morning I blogged on the overwhelming Christian repudiation of Quran burning involving everyone from the Vatican and the USCCB to the Patriarch of Jerusalem to Evangelical luminaries like Franklin Graham, Rick Warren and Chuck Colson. “Outrageous and grave,” “contrary to the respect due to all religions,” “contrary to the teaching of Jesus Christ,” “insensitive,” and “foolish and cowardly” were among the many words that world Christian leaders addressed to would-be Quran burners.

Jacob Isom, a 23-year-old skateboarding enthusiast from Amarillo, Texas, had something more succinct to say: “Dude, you have no Quran!”

The facts seem to be these. Isom, a skateboarding enthusiast, came...READ MORE

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Quran burning: The Christian world says NO

09/14/2010 Comments (20)

One gratifying thing that came out of Terry Jones’s much-publicized plans to burn Qurans on September 11: The world, including the Muslim world, saw all of Christendom stand up and speak with one voice universally rejecting this provocation against Muslims.

Most significantly, of course, the Vatican condemned Quran burning as “outrageous” and “grave”—language that was repeatedly reported by Qatar-based Al Jazeera. The Arab-language news agency also ran a photo of Pakistan’s National Council of Churches marching with banners condemning Jones’s threat.

The Vatican’s denunciation was echoed by Catholic leaders around the world. In India, the archbishop of Mumbai and president of the...READ MORE

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Cordoba House: NO mosque near Ground Zero? Part 2

09/10/2010 Comments (16)

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The situation is changing faster than I can blog it! (See my previous series of posts on Cordoba House.)

  • In addition to his recent piece in The New York Times, Imam Rauf has also given an interview on “Larry King Live” that may shed more light on his intentions.
  • Yesterday events took a surreally farcical turn as the two big Islam-related controversies in the news (each of which I’ve been trying to blog separately) converged as Terry Jones, pastor of the tiny Florida church that has threatened to burn Qur’ans on 9/11, implausibly announced that he had spoken to Rauf and had agreed not to burn the Qur’ans—in exchange for Rauf’s promise to relocate Cordoba House. No one with an...READ MORE

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About Steven D. Greydanus

SDG
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Steven D. Greydanus is film critic for the National Catholic Register and Decent Films, the online home for his film writing. He writes regularly for Christianity Today, Catholic World Report and other venues, and is a regular guest on several radio shows. Steven has contributed several entries to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, including “The Church and Film” and a number of filmmaker biographies. He has also written about film for the Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy. He has a BFA in Media Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York, and an MA in Religious Studies from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Overbrook, PA. He is pursuing diaconal studies in the Archdiocese of Newark. Steven and Suzanne have seven children.