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THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REVIEW
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Film
Lost in Perfection
Allison Shapiro
My memories of reading The Giver in middle school are vivid, although not because of any particular effect the novel had on me. Lois Lowry’s 1993 novel has a famously ambiguous ending, and our assignment in 7th grade was to write a satisfying conclusion and share it with the class. Ms. Butler—who was as close as a woman can get to being a nun without actually putting on a habit—listened to each piece in turn, making notes as we progressed down the class roster in alphabetical order...
The Final Act
September 29. 2014
John Anderson
Promises made in good faith, promises broken. People being hurt because we “couldn’t get our act together.” The whole execution of the war being summed up, quite rightly, by the chaos and ineptitude of its last act. And no, we are not talking about the Middle East.
Two for the Road
John Anderson
In 1937, Paramount Pictures released “Make Way for Tomorrow,” a drama that documentarian Errol Morris once declared “the most depressing movie ever made, providing reassurance that everything will definitely end badly.” In it, an elderly couple (Victor Young, Beulah Bondi), lose their home to foreclosure and are forced to split up, because none of their many children will take both parents in at the same time. The film’s director Leo McCarey, a.k.a Mr.
Acts of Contrition
August 18-25, 2014
Ronan McCoy
Stark reality meets gentle whimsy. I’d like to think this is a characterization of the Irish temperament and the arts that flow from it; but whether or not that idea has any wider validity, it fits Calvary perfectly.
Life Itself
Sept. 1-8, 2014
John Anderson
There is perhaps no better example of the motion picture as an act of faith than Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. The best-reviewed film of 2014 thus far, it was shot in a little over a month of days spread over a time span of 12 years, with the same actors playing the same roles, aging as their characters aged, changing as their characters changed. What could possibly have gone wrong, other than everything?
Academia Agonistes
John P. McCarthy
 A lot is wrong with higher education in America but plenty more is right. If its economic problems can be dealt with, there’s reason to be optimistic about the future. Only time will tell. That’s the take-away from Ivory Tower, an informative if somewhat complacent documentary by director Andrew Rossi ("Page One: Inside the New York Times").
Sisters Act
July 7-14, 2014
John Anderson
There is nothing quite like a nun with a voice.
This month, 50 years after Soeur Sourire, the Belgian singing sister, topped the charts with her pop hit “Dominique” (and received the dubious distinction two years later of being portrayed on screen by Debbie Reynolds), Sister Cristina Scuccia of Sicily won the televised talent competition “The Voice of Italy” with her rendition of “What a Feeling,” a rousing performance...
Out of the Convent
June 9-16, 2014
John Anderson
Nothing’s ever black and white, including black-and-white. Ida, the revelatory feature film by the Polish-born, Oxford-educated Pawel Pawlikowski, is shot in the kind of gloriously lamp black/lead white/smoke gray palette that suggests Ansel Adams, classic Hollywood publicity stills and the Weegee crime-photo catalogue of noir-era New York, as well as Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “The Gospel According to Matthew,” and the “The Sweet Smell of Success”—movies, respectively, about...
Waterworld
April 28-May 5, 2014
John Anderson
Is it blasphemous to say that the problem with Noah is the story? That it may not be substantial enough to float a star-driven, effects-laden, $125-million movie? Or that director Darren Aronofsky’s attempt to hang flesh, blood, human logic and nautical mechanics on a tale that takes up barely 2,500 metaphorical words of biblical text turns out to have been a crazier idea than collecting two of every species on a very big boat and waiting for the flood—a...
Elevated Action
John Anderson
One delightful and certainly unintended consequence of Divergent—the fantasy novel by Veronica Roth, its sequels and the movies they are beginning to spawn—may be an improvement in teenage America’s vocabulary. In book form, Divergent was followed by Insurgent and Allegiant; the dystopic society in which the action takes place is divided into lofty sounding factions reflecting each citizen’s dominant trait: Dauntless (the brave); Abegnation (the self-less...
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