“Man, are you guys Jedis or what?” That’s what a surprised inner-city schoolboy said when he first encountered some of my fellow Dominican friars. And the question is not completely without basis. Our white habits and dark leather belts do give us an appearance similar to the legendary guardians of peace and justice in the Star Wars galaxy. We carry rosaries instead of lightsabers, but we are entrusted, like the Jedi Knights, with the task of safeguarding the truth. Yet we differ from the Jedi—as does any Christian—on several points.
This month marks the 20th anniversary of one of the great American movies, The Sandlot. Formative for a generation of children, this movie was one of many movies in the early 90′s that focused on the childhood love of sports and the heartwarming story of an underdog rising to success. The Sandlot has given rise to iconic quotes such as, “You’re killing me Smalls!” and “FOR-EV-ER” as well as a comprehensive list of acceptable nominal references to George Herbert “Babe” Ruth: “The Sultan of Swat, The King of Crash, The Colossus of Clout, The Great Bambino!”
Do you ever get silly tunes stuck in your head? I know my Dominican brothers are going to tease me about this, but I recently re-watched the 1971 film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and I have the “Oompa Loompa song” stuck in my head.
I have to admit that the Oompa Loompas are my favorite characters in the movie. They are happy little people with a simple creed: If you behave and have a good moral character, you will live in happiness, too, like the Oompa Loompa (do-ba-dee-doo).
Fifty million people watched, but no one saw a thing.
This tagline belongs to the film Quiz Show, which cleverly depicts America’s fascination with weeknight game-show drama. In 1955, millions tuned their black-and-white television sets to watch NBC’s Twenty-One, where men of talent and wit displayed their intelligence by answering the hardest questions that could be put to them, in both scholarly and popular domains. The one catch to America’s favorite game show, however, was that none of the drama and challenge was real.
Peter Parker learned an important lesson from his Uncle Ben: If you have power, use it for doing good. The lesson is simple enough, but is there not a contradiction here? Can power and goodness coexist? Today, “power” often brings to mind the vicious realities of oppressive dictatorships, corrupt politics, heartless bullying, and abusive relationships—an association which is understandable for those who have themselves experienced the tyrannical abuse of power. Using one’s power for selfish ends is precisely the kind of action that Uncle Ben warns against. Unfortunately, God, who is all-powerful, is sometimes seen as using his power in this self-centered way.
The highly acclaimed television series Downton Abbey has taken Britain and the United States by storm in its first two seasons, and many fans anxiously await the premiere of its third season (coming to the U.K. this fall and to the U.S. in January). Set in the early twentieth century—the first episode begins with the sinking of the Titanic—the show deals with the triumphs and conflicts both of England’s wealthy elite and of the men and women who serve their households. It chronicles the lives of the fictional Crawley family, the aristocratic residents of the Yorkshire estate called Downton Abbey, whose abiding concern is to confirm an heir to their name and fortune.
Why are Catholic movies so bad? Historically the Church has been patron to some of mankind’s greatest artists; from the Sistine Chapel to medieval mystery plays, Catholicism has been a wellspring for the arts, both elite and popular. So why is it that “good Christian movie” is almost a contradiction in terms?
I’m going to show the people that this city doesn’t belong to the criminals and the corrupt . . . People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy . . . A man is just flesh and blood, and can be ignored or destroyed. But . . . as a symbol I can be incorruptible, everlasting.
I’m not sure yet. Something elemental. Something terrifying.
There are many heroes on whose lips these words would not be out of place. This particular quote, however, belongs to Bruce Wayne at the beginning of Batman Begins, the first of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Anyone who has seen these movies recognizes that the Batman is an awesome and terrifying figure. An expert in dozens of martial arts and just generally intimidating in his armor and bat-gear, he is the one man that Gotham’s criminals fear. But there is more to this fighter than his skill and equipment. These are only the surface of what it means to be “the Batman.”
The latest installment of the Bourne movie franchise, The Bourne Legacy, opens today in theaters. Out of the three previous movies (The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Bourne Ultimatum), I particularly like the second because it deftly illustrates the human need for forgiveness.
The main villain of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Night Rises is a brutal killer named Bane, whose personal history of darkness has taken physical form in the disfiguring mask that reduces his face to a cruel cipher and his voice to an uncanny simulacrum of human speech. Bane is a dark vision of human power unshaped by the contours of a moral sense; his violence is not random, but cunningly orchestrated to deform order into chaos and life into death whenever he can. His seemingly unstoppable force and apparent lack of motive leads one of his victims to stammer out, “You’re… pure evil!” before falling into the waiting arms of death.