All posts tagged: film

Grace Lurking in the Midst of an All-Consuming Anger

 SPOILER ALERT: This review does indeed contain spoilers. Red Welby (Caleb Landry Jones) reads Flannery O’Connor. This is not a defining feature of his, and no neighbor would probably note his reading choice. But to the viewer of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, writer-director Martin McDonagh’s momentary close-up of A Good Man is Hard to Find in Red’s hands early in the film is full of meaning. I suggest that it may be the key to understanding what this film is trying to say. In spite of the cycles of anger that seem to define and consume the world, there are moments of grace that shake our expectations and show another path. It is up to us to choose whether we will walk that new path, or continue down our current road. Three Billboards is the story of Mildred Hayes (Best Actress nominee Frances McDormand), an acerbic woman who rents the titular billboards outside of her southern town to call attention to the unsolved rape and murder of her teenage daughter. Mildred’s message tries to …

The Filming of Outcasts: An Interview with the Producer

Joe Campo, founder of Brooklyn-based Grassroots Films, recently visited the University of Notre Dame for a screening of the independent film studio’s newest documentary, Outcasts. The hour-long documentary captures a close-up view of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and their work with the hungry, the dying, the addicted, and other individuals cast off from society. The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal were founded in 1987 with eight friars and have grown to a community of about 100 men. Campo has worked with the friars for several decades at the St. Francis House in Brooklyn where suffering young men can find stability and a new start in life. He began Grassroots Films in 2006 to provide members of the household with meaningful work. Outcasts was filmed over seven years in five countries—the United States, Ireland, England, Honduras and Nicaragua. It is the fourth documentary from Grassroots Films, also the creators of The Human Experience and Child 31. Screenings of Outcasts began in the summer of 2016. Campo, executive producer and co-director of the film, answered …

Religion and the Arts: Augustine’s Netflix

Binge-watching is America’s new pastime. Netflix alone currently boasts 43 million subscribers and counting, who—to adopt a wry turn of phrase from an article in The Economist—are “living the stream.” Netflix­ and its competitors Hulu, Amazon Prime Instant Video, HBO Go, et al have revolutionized how and how much we watch television and film. They have commercialized entertainment ad infinitum: drama, humor, insight, and a good plot line compel our attention as a kind of dramatic watering hole, something we come back to again and again during our given work week. The plot lines of our favorite shows are familiar, quirky, and dependable like a close friend, and online streaming has only expedited this quality time. Each show and movie slowly gives shape to an entire life that we imaginatively inhabit. In a certain poetic sense, it is not a coincidence that the plot diagram itself figuratively (and literally, if you consider the shape) imitates the human pulse. Thus the comfort and autonomic vitality of a continuous stream of plots packaged in episode form: exposition, …

Silence: A First Review

The Jesuits left Japan in 1587. Shūsaku Endō published Silence in 1966. Martin Scorsese read it in 1989 and now releases, 27 years later, the movie he has wanted to make ever since. Why drag a story from distant history to examine today? Scorsese’s Silence raises so many issues it’s hard to choose one. It made me consider: What is the nature of humility? What happens when we and our environment conflict? How does Scorsese change Endō’s story? How do stories change us? So a little of each. Silence traces Fr. Sebastiao Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield), a young Jesuit who goes to Japan searching for his mentor, Fr. Christovau Ferreira (Liam Neeson). Ferreira has allegedly apostatized, permanently betrayed his once viral faith and has since been living as a Japanese man with a Japanese wife. Rodrigues and fellow priest Francisco Garrpe, convinced this is a lie, want to find the man who inspired them. Japan reveals the prideful underbelly of Rodrigues’ zeal. Their translator Kichijiro (Yôsuke Kubozuka) introduces them to clandestine Christians, literally starving for the sacraments. …