Where Have You Gone, Gregory Peck?

08/20/2010 Comments (92)

Last weekend saw a lopsided box-office collision of two very different types of action hero: In one corner, The Expendables, an old-fashioned 1980s-style action-fest drenched in testosterone, adrenaline and blood; in the other corner, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, starring Michael Cera as a geeky slacker with mad video-game-style combat skills.

It’s a stark illustration of how much the action landscape has changed. A quarter of a century ago, action heroes were musclebound, lantern-jawed he-men like Schwarzenegger and Stallone who weren’t afraid to get down and dirty. Even more vulnerable heroes like Harrison Ford and Bruce Willis, who actually got hurt or scared and made mistakes, were...READ MORE

Filed under men, movies

Eat Pray Buy!

Consumer Spirituality in Age of Oprah

08/16/2010 Comments (3)

Will the new Julia Roberts movie Eat Pray Love encourage viewers to buy into spiritual ideas? Or will it just encourage them to buy?

Fans of Liz Gilbert’s “Gnosh-tic lit” memoir can now wear their spirituality on their sleeve … on their whole wardrobe, in fact, not to mention their fragrance and jewelry, plus a raft of other merchandising tie-in products, from wine and tea to a $400 replica day bed like the one Roberts used in Bali.

Hollywood Reporter:

Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling 2006 memoir launched a self-discovery movement that could best be described by its full title: “Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia.”

Although Sony...READ MORE

Filed under movies

The apocalypse will be televised

08/10/2010 Comments (54)

“Not with a bang but with a whimper” was T. S. Eliot’s revisionist idea of the world’s end in The Hollow Men. He was almost right. Not with a whimper, but with a million whimpers, each more feeble and bathetic than the last, is the way we seem to be slouching toward oblivion.

Whimper du jour: a pitch for a new reality show … starring Levi Johnson … making a run for mayor of Wasilla. From Variety:

Johnston will run for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska — yes, the same job that propelled Sarah Palin to governor of that state (and later, the vice presidential nomination) — in a new reality project being pitched by Stone and Co.

“Loving Levi: The Road to the Mayor’s Office” will center on...READ MORE

Filed under reality tv, television

Bad Family Films!

08/05/2010 Comments (74)

Hat tip to reader Rachel for her combox suggestion that I follow up my “best family films” post with a post on “worst family films.”

Note, though, that this post is called “Bad Family Films,” not “Worst Family Films.” “Best of” lists are tough and subjective, but “worst of” lists are usually close to meaningless. Picking best films is like trying to map out the heights of a mountain; picking worst films is like trying to map out the mountain’s roots. There’s a lot more ground to survey down there, and where do you stop? Is any film fair game, however obscure or low-budget? Or is it better to stick to high-profile flops? Which is “worse”: a film that is utterly inept, inspiring complete...READ MORE

Filed under movies, parenting

The Best Family Films?

08/03/2010 Comments (81)

The greatest family film of all time? Respondents polled for a Radio Times magazine survey ranked Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial as the best, with The Wizard of Oz in the runner-up spot. (Hat tip: Guardian.co.uk.)

Is the story of Elliott and his wise-yet-childlike alien friend really more magical than Dorothy’s adventures in Oz? It’s debatable. A film writer I know has said he’s a fan of lists but not of ranking, and I tend to agree.

There’s a reason why the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications, releasing the Vatican film list in 1995, was careful to note in its press release, “Not all [films] that deserve mention are included.” A list points us to films worth...READ MORE

Filed under movies, parenting

Update #6: Homeward Bound

07/30/2010 Comments (1)

Intro | #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6

Wednesday afternoon, another papal basilica, Saint Mary Major. The smallest of the papal basilicas, it is also the most architecturally ancient, and possibly the most beautiful (always bracketing St. Peter’s as another experience entirely). The building dates to the fifth century (from the reign of Pope Sixtus III), and its fifth-century mosaics of Old Testament scenes and the life of Christ may be the sacred works of art that speak most powerfully to the devout Catholic in me, as opposed to the art student, in all of Rome. (The art student in me would probably go for the Sistine Chapel.)

I’ve seen St. Mary before, but with a guide you learn things...READ MORE

Filed under pilgrimage, travel

Update #5: In Rome with Peter and Paul

07/29/2010 Comments (2)

Intro | #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6

At last, the much delayed conclusion to my Italian pilgrimage blogging, in two parts (final installment tomorrow).

We began the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul at Saint Peter’s Basilica; fittingly, we ended it with a visit to the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.  In fact, Peter and Paul met us again and again in Rome, much as Saint Francis had met us everywhere in Assisi.

What’s more, the two apostles were nearly always together in Rome. They stand side by side in Saint Peter’s Square directly in front of the basilica: on the left, the much-photographed statue of Peter holding the golden keys with upraised hand and index finger extended; on...READ MORE

Filed under pilgrimage, travel

Update #4: Catacombs of St. Callixtus!

07/09/2010 Comments (3)

Intro | #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6

Tuesday afternoon after the papal Pallium Mass, the itinerary includes the catacombs of St. Callixtus and St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. I missed the catacombs on my first trip to Rome, so I’m really looking forward to this.

The visit to the catacombs begins with a brief introduction to the history and iconography of the period and the site. While the pagan Romans traditionally practiced cremation, the early Christians, in continuity with Jewish belief and custom refocused and refined in light of the resurrection of Jesus, placed a high premium on burying the dead in preparation for their rising. Because land was limited, starting in the second century...READ MORE

Filed under pilgrimage, travel

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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.