The Jesus Prayer and the Rosary

02/26/2010 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?

02/23/2010 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

02/19/2010 Comment

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

02/16/2010 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

02/12/2010 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

Crazy Heart

02/09/2010 Comment

Crazy Heart, one of my favorite films of 2009, is in theaters.

Bad Blake isn’t striking a pose. His life and his music are all of a piece. To my taste and temperament, most country music sounds cliched, but Bad Blake isn’t so much a cliche as the grizzled, world-weary reality behind the cliches.

Bad isn’t a pampered superstar singing about the hardships and struggles of other people. He’s a faded icon in the shadow of slick Nashville idols like his former protege Tommy Sweet; an aging alcoholic whose world consists largely of a battered old pickup truck that is literally named Bessie, a well-kept guitar that is the one thing he cares for meticulously, and endless miles of dusty roads...READ MORE

Filed under movies, reviews

Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood and Hollywood Revisionism

02/05/2010 Comments (7)

In a short piece at Variety, Roger Friedman (hat tip: Peter Chattaway) writes about the upcoming Ridley Scott movie Robin Hood:

Now comes Crowe and Scott. I am told they’ve been screening the new Robin Hood for insiders. Everyone likes it. Universal is counting on a big hit leading into Memorial Day.  Certainly the main actors at least have accents to begin with.

But wait: Does the public want a dark, brooding Robin Hood…? Robin Hood movies and TV shows are always fun. The Ridley Scott movie doesn’t sound like fun from what I’ve been told. It’s dead serious. “I don’t know if it will make money,” says a source. “But it will be respected. It’s dark, violent and very Gladiator.”

“Robin...READ MORE

Filed under movies

Academy Award Nominations: Notes

02/03/2010 Comments (7)

Last year’s Academy Awards were not the least-watched Oscars in history—that was the previous year—but they were widely perceived as contributing to the ongoing apathy of viewers by snubbing popular and critical favorites like The Dark Knight and WALL-E while honoring a roster of films (Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, Milk, Doubt) aptly characterized by A. O. Scott’s phrase “hermetically sealed melodrama[s] of received thinking.” (By contrast, Scott called The Dark Knight and WALL-E “contrasting allegories pitched at the anxieties of the moment,” “populist entertainments of summertime” that incited the “interesting movie debates of 2008.”)

It was probably with an eye to...READ MORE

Filed under academy awards, 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.