Perpetual Adolescence: A Review of Young Adult

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The new film Young Adult, the latest from the writer/director team of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody of Juno fame, features Charlize Theron as Mavis Gary, a writer of young adult fiction living in the Twin Cities who returns to the small town of Mercury, MN to relive her glory days as a high school prom queen and to reclaim her former beau, Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson). Although it is not without its funny moments, Young Adult is hardly a pleasant film. Yet it is a compelling and instructive one … Continue Reading »

Uncanny Man

From the January 2012 Print Edition

A Case for Irony by Jonathan Lear Harvard, 224 pages, $29.95 Not long before 9/11, a young Harvard graduate, Jedediah Purdy, published a jeremiad against irony, For Common Things , treating irony as a catch-all for a host of contemporary vices: cynicism, apathy, avoidance of commitment, jaded . . . . Continue Reading »

A Story From Before We Can Remember: A Review of Tree of Life

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A young son in Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life asks his mother, “Tell us a story from before we can remember.” Malick begins his story even earlier by telling the story from before we can remember. With visually arresting imagery and a mesmerizing musical score, a lengthy opening sequence traces the history of the universe, from initial explosion and expansion through the formation of galaxies and planets to the formation of earth and the development of life on what the philosopher Charles DeKonnick calls a “poor little planet born of a catastrophe.” … Continue Reading »

Julie Taymor’s Tempest

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More famous for her Broadway productions of The Lion King and the upcoming Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark than for films such as Titus, Frida, and Across the Universe, Julie Taymor has brought a new version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest to the screen… . Continue Reading »

Dim and Dimiter

From the October 2010 Print Edition

Dimiter By William Peter Blatty Forge, 304 Pages, $24.99 The Ex-orcist”as William Peter Blatty, the now eighty-two-year-old author of the original novel and the screenplay based on it, is fond of saying”both made and ruined the writer’s career. Adjusted for inflation, the . . . . Continue Reading »

Leo Strauss and the Second Cave

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In a 1932 letter Leo Strauss wrote, “I cannot believe and … therefore I search for a possibility to live without faith.” That search, which began in the 1920s, led him from contemporary theological debates and the modern liberal critique of religion to medieval Jewish and Islamic thinkers and back to Plato and Socrates, from whom Strauss learned that “raising the question regarding the right way of life”this alone is the right way of life.” … Continue Reading »

Ralph McInerny (1929—2010)

From the April 2010 Print Edition

According to Aristotle, is the performance of virtuous acts with ease and delight. On that basis, as well as others, Ralph McInerny was a remarkably virtuous man. One of Ralph’s most beautiful books is entitled The Very Rich Hours of Jacques Maritain: A Spiritual Life , the premise of which is . . . . Continue Reading »

Oscar’s Parochial World

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In a scene in the Oscar-nominated film An Education, an older British man with designs on a precocious teenage girl concocts a story for her parents about how he is taking her to visit his old professor, C.S. Lewis. Although Lewis does not figure further in the film, this is a pivotal moment… . Continue Reading »

Children of Lesser Gods

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Woody Allen’s Whatever Works, a serious contender for worst movie of 2009, is noteworthy mostly as a disastrous attempt to channel Allen’s humor through the caustic verbiage of the increasingly unfunny Larry David. But the problem is deeper than casting… . Continue Reading »