The Stoning of Soraya M: New on DVD

Thursday, March 11, 2010 8:10 AM Comments (3)

New this week on DVD, Cyrus Nowrasteh’s The Stoning of Soraya M shines a pale, narrow beam of light at a real atrocity that, tragically, continues to play out in certain corners of the world. Highlighting the powerlessness and peril of women under a system that requires them, if accused of infidelity, to prove their innocence or die, the film’s spotlight exposes a barbaric injustice while for the most part leaving the surrounding social and cultural context in darkness.

Adapted by Nowrasteh and his wife Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh from the historical novel by French-Iranian writer Freidoune Sahebjam, the fact-based film tells the story of an inconvenient wife who was stoned to death in 1986,...READ MORE

Filed under islam, jim caviezel, movies, reviews

Poland's Dark Night: Why You Should See Katyn

Friday, March 05, 2010 4:17 PM Comments (5)

Exactly 70 years ago today, on March 5, 1940, Josef Stalin and the entire Soviet Politburo signed an order to massacre tens of thousands of Polish prisoners of war: officers, mostly reservists; doctors, academics, civil servants, clergymen of all faiths—the cream of the Polish intelligentsia.

If you haven’t seen the great Polish director Andrzej Wajda’s film Katyn—one of my top 10 films of last year—you should take this occasion to make a point of seeing it. (It’s available on DVD and streaming from Netflix.)

Some background: The massacre was uncovered in April 1943 by the Nazis, which found tens of thousands of bodies in mass graves in Russia’s Katyn Forest near Smolensk. A...READ MORE

Filed under movies, world war ii

Arts & Faith Top 100 Films: 2010 edition

Tuesday, March 02, 2010 3:50 PM Comments (4)

“Read not the Times, read the eternities,” Thoreau advised. The 2010 Arts & Faith Top 100 Films, just released days ahead of the Academy Awards, won’t make the headlines of the Times — but if you prefer to scrutinize the eternities, you might want to skip the Oscars and check out the Arts & Faith Top 100.

Arts & Faith is an online community with roots going back to 1999. “A forum to discuss movies from a Christian perspective” was the original mission statement. In 2004, the A&F message board was founded to offer broader discussion of the arts in general. Later that year, the A&F community produced the first edition of its “Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films” list. (I’ve been a part...READ MORE

Filed under movies, top film lists

The Jesus Prayer and the Rosary

Friday, February 26, 2010 5:15 PM Comments (12)

In a Lenten departure from my movie blogging beat, I’d like to share a development in my family’s prayer life that may be of interest to others.

For years we have prayed a daily rosary, a practice that has borne much fruit in our lives. Recently, I’ve felt moved to introduce some variation into this discipline. Several factors contributed to this; in particular, I took inspiration from Pope John Paul II, whose devotion to the rosary was probably a factor in our family’s daily rosary in the first place.

We’ve also been influenced by John Paul II’s openness to varying usages of the rosary. Like many Catholics, we generally pray the Luminous Mysteries on Thursdays, following the Holy...READ MORE

Filed under jesus, john paul ii, prayer

2009: Year of On-screen & Offscreen Infidelity?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 11:28 AM Comments (1)

A recent story in Variety connects the dots around various real-life and large- and small-screen stories and comes up with a disturbing picture: One way or another, 2009 was a high-profile year for adultery. 

The headline reads “Infidelity scores Oscar noms,” but Variety writer Diane Garrett sees a larger pattern that includes the public scandals of Tiger Woods, Governor Mark Sanford, and John Edwards, revelations concerning small-screen personalities David Letterman and “John & Kate Plus 8” stars Jon and Kate Gosselin, and what Garrett suggests seemed like “nearly every other movie released in the past six months,” including the musical remake Nine and the Meryl Streep–Alec Baldwin...READ MORE

Filed under marriage, movies

Best Films of 2009: More Lists

Friday, February 19, 2010 10:19 AM Comments (0)

Katyn (Andrzej Wajda).

A few weeks ago the National Catholic Register ran my 2009 year-end piece with my lists of “top ten” and runner-up films. (An expanded version of the article appeared at Decent Films.) This week, I’d like to catch up with a few other lists from Christian sources worth noting.

Earlier this week, Christianity Today Movies & TV released the second of its two annual Top 10 lists, the CT Critics Choice Awards. Last week CT released its other list, the 10 Most Redeeming Films of 2009. (Full disclosure/disclaimer: As a regular CT contributor, I voted in these awards, though I didn’t necessarily vote for all the winners, or even see them all.)

In 1-10 order, the 2009 CT Critics Choice winners...READ MORE

Filed under movies, top film lists

Into the Desert: Lent, Fasting and Film

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 3:31 PM Comments (8)

The traditional forty days of Lent, Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II have reminded us, recall our Lord’s forty days of fasting in the desert. In Lent we are invited to join Christ in the desert, to recapitulate Israel’s forty years of wilderness wandering.

Lent is a penitential season, but also an invitation to a closer intimacy with God. The Pentateuch presents the forty years of wilderness wandering as a punishment for unbelief, but the prophets offer a startling complementary vision of the desert as a privileged time of intimacy between God and Israel, a romantic season in which God wooed Israel as his bride (Jeremiah 2:2, Hosea 2:16).

The two aspects are inseparable; the time of...READ MORE

Filed under fasting, lent, movies

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Friday, February 12, 2010 10:25 AM Comments (2)

Harry Potter meets Clash of the Titans in Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, the first installment of Rick Riordan’s fantasy pentalogy, directed by Chris Columbus. The target audience for Percy Jackson & The Olympians has never seen Clash of the Titans, of course. That they have seen Harry Potter goes without saying.

Perhaps the most refreshing thing about The Lightning Thief is that Percy is a boy hero who naturally takes the initiative. J. K. Rowling called Harry Potter “The Boy Who Lived,” but too often, as I’ve noted, a more accurate moniker would be “The Boy Things Happen To.” Where Harry often wound up being a passive protagonist in his own adventures, Percy sets off...READ MORE

Filed under movies, reviews

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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.