Update #2: From Assisi to Rome

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 8:33 PM Comments (8)

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

In my first update I mentioned someone comparing Assisi to Minas Tirith, Tolkien’s imaginary tiered city on a hill. What I didn’t know at the time is that unlike Minas Tirith, where the lowest level is the widest circle and the royal house is at the crown, Assisi’s crown is at the bottom: beneath the lower Basilica of St. Francis, in the crypt where Francis’s tomb is situated in the midst of four of his famous followers.

Not that the crypt is literally the lowest point in Assisi. As far as I know, though, it’s the lowest notable landmark. It’s immediately below the upstairs-downstairs Basilica of San Francesco, the lower basilica adorned by frescoes...READ MORE

Filed under pilgrimage, travel

Update #1: Romeward Bound!

Monday, June 28, 2010 7:10 PM Comments (4)

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

It’s 5am Monday morning in Italy. I’m sitting on a rooftop veranda outside my hotel room in Assisi overlooking the sleeping countryside. The moon is high. Later today we’ll be in Rome.

Our trip got off to a bad start. The story begins early Thursday afternoon at the Alitalia terminal at Newark Liberty Airport, where my daughter Sarah and I arrive to discover very long, seemingly unmoving lines and the news that our 5:30 flight was delayed at least seven hours. Over the next few days we heard that (a) the pilots were on strike, (b) they were watching the World Cup, or (c) issues from the previous day had affected numerous flights that day. I still...READ MORE

Filed under pilgrimage, travel

Romeward Bound!

Thursday, June 24, 2010 3:07 PM Comments (3)

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

In a few hours, my daughter Sarah (age 15) and I will be on a plane headed to Rome. Our archdiocese is leading a pilgrimage, and we’re on it.

Some readers may remember that I was in Rome once before last year, on a press junket for Angels & Demons. They gave us the official Angels & Demons tour of Rome, walking in the footsteps of Robert Langdon from church to church as he unraveled the path of the Illuminati.

The idea of tourists going to the Eternal City to see St. Peter’s and other locales specifically through the lens of a badly written, anti-Catholic conspiracy novel is pretty depressing (although not as pathetic as Twilight fans heading to...READ MORE

Filed under pilgrimage, travel

UPDATE: Hollywood admits its originality problem!

Is Hollywood literally out of ideas?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 8:51 PM Comments (44)

UPDATE: Hat tip to Ross Douthat for highlighting an intriguing recent NYMag.com piece on Hollywood’s originality problem. Some highlights:

With Sequels and Reboots Failing, Hollywood (Finally) Puts Out a Desperate Call for Original Material

Conventional wisdom in Hollywood of late has said that you should stick to familiar brands when making movies. It could be a sequel or an adaptation of an old TV show, board game, toy, or crumpled candy wrapper, just as long as people already know it. So how’s that working out? In a summer season where only three out of the fourteen major releases so far have come from a new idea, attendance is down 13.3 percent from last season … That’s why studio...READ MORE

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Edgy Fraggles?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 9:20 AM Comments (30)

Fraggle fans: Did you ever find yourselves singing along to the “Fraggle Rock” theme song and thinking, “You know, this is a great show, but it could be edgier”?

If so, help is on the way, courtesy of the Weinstein Company. Slashfilm noted this morning that writer-director Cory Edwards (Hoodwinked!), who has been developing a Fraggle Rock feature film for the Weinstein Company, posted an ominous note on his blog warning of “some dark days ahead.”

Apparently the Weinstein Company, unsatisfied with Edwards’ screenplay, has begun searching for a new screenwriter to rewrite it, perhaps from scratch. By itself, that doesn’t tell us much, but according to Edwards the studio’s complaint is...READ MORE

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“Welcome Yet Nonessential”

Wednesday, June 09, 2010 12:31 AM Comments (19)

Those three words from Peter Debruge’s Variety review of next weekend’s Toy Story 3, called out by Peter Chattaway in blogging the review, perfectly encapsulate what I’ve thought had to be the case about this film since I first heard of it. More broadly, as Peter suggests, it seems a harbinger of things to come from this “third phase” in Pixar history that this film is ushering in.

Nonessential. It seems virtually impossible for Toy Story 3 to be anything else, simply because 1999’s Toy Story 2 is so definitive, so authoritative and final in its delineation of these characters, of their purpose and destiny, that nothing more needs to be said. The first Toy Story established that toys...READ MORE

Filed under movies, pixar

Off With My Head!

Friday, June 04, 2010 5:33 PM Comments (43)

Out of a few topics I was considering blogging about today, none captured my attention quite like this impassioned email from a young reader who strongly disagrees with my review of Alice in Wonderland, and the issues suggested by the email, at least in my mind.

Dear Mr. Greydanus,

I am 15 years old and my family receives the National Catholic Register every week, and we are a very avid film-watching family! We’d like to comment on one of your reviews.

That review being Alice in Wonderland. We highly doubt you saw it or that you were even paying attention to what was actually on screen. In fact, your scathing review made us want to see the movie more!

You mentioned that Alice was...READ MORE

Filed under movies

Moviegoers to Hollywood: *YAWN*

Wednesday, June 02, 2010 12:37 AM Comments (31)

The long Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the beginning of the American summer movie season, so for Hollywood studios this past weekend’s the dismal ticket sales are clear cause for concern. Dollarwise, it was the worst Memorial Day weekend at the box office in nine years; in terms of actual bodies in seats, it was the worst in fifteen years. (Analysis: Box Office Mojo, Box Office Guru.)

Hollywood’s two-punch strategy, targeting male audiences with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and female viewers with Sex and the City 2, failed on both fronts as neither demographic showed much interest. By default, the weekend went to the week-old Shrek Forever After, though the DreamWorks...READ MORE

Filed under movies

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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.