Thomas Hibbs
Thomas Hibbs
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review
 

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review of Gemma Bovery

June 25, 2015  •  National Review Online

A film offers a new take on the classic novel

Gemma Bovery, the new French film directed by Anne Fontaine (Coco before Chanel) and based on the witty graphic novel by Posy Simmonds, is something of a satiric take on Flaubert's famous novel Madame Bovary. The story begins with Gemma Bovery (Gemma Arterton) and her husband, Charles (Jason Flemyng), moving from England to a village in Normandy — the same village, as it happens, where Flaubert wrote his famous novel. A local baker, Martin Joubert (Fabrice Luchini), a former Parisian and a Flaubert devotee, becomes obsessed with Gemma — not only with her beauty but also with the similarities between her name, what he perceives to be her fate, and the story of Emma Bovary. It's a clever idea, a fictional story about a character whose life may or may not imitate that of a character in a classic novel. And it works for a short film that doesn't take itself too seriously, with a script that successfully exploits the comic potential latent within the original novel.

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Cosmos, Crisis, and Thanksgiving: A Reflection on Laudato Si'

June 23, 2015  •  The Catholic World Report

Reflecting on Pope Francis' new encyclical Laudato Si', Alan Jacobs notes that the encyclical's third chapter, "The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis," calls to mind an influential essay by Lynn White, entitled "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis." White's thesis is that the roots of the current crisis can be found in the Christian teaching that it is "God's will that man exploit nature for his proper ends." Surprisingly, White detects an alternative, healthy model of religious ecology in Francis of Assisi, whom he dubs a heretical exception to "orthodox Christian arrogance toward nature." By focusing on Francis as both an orthodox Catholic and as the embodiment of the ecological virtues of asceticism, gratitude, joy, and praise in the presence of creation, the Pope offers a double rejoinder to White.

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Will the Real Don Draper Please Stand Up?

May 18, 2015  •  National Review Online

The much anticipated finale of Mad Men, Matt Weiner's critically acclaimed series, had its moments of humor and drama. But, with perhaps one or two exceptions, the ending was not just a disappointment; it was a betrayal of the very dramatic strengths of the series, its sense of how illusory happiness is and its sobering skepticism about the prospects for character change. It's as if Weiner became a fanboy of his own characters, someone who gets so attached to them that he can't help but want them to be happy, even if very little in their lives to that point would warrant such endings.

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A Cromwell in Our Image and Likeness

May 13, 2015  •  The Catholic World Report

In one of the early episodes of the BBC mini-series Wolf Hall, based on Hilary Mantel's award-winning novel of the same name, there is a conversation between King Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell about the monasteries. Henry sees their confiscation as a fiscal resource for the crown. Cromwell responds:

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Through a Glass, Darkly
The year in religious films

February 23, 2015  •  National Review Online

Winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, the Polish film Ida ranks not just as one of the best films of this year but among the best in the past five to ten years. The film combines good storytelling with fine performances; in an era in which films seem to get longer and more indulgent with each passing year, Ida also has the virtue of brevity. With a main character as a nun about to make final vows, Ida illustrates — in a year in which religious films were prevalent — the way that film can be both sympathetic to religion and artistically satisfying. The same can be said of Calvary, a film set in Ireland about a parish priest that manages to be by turns darkly comic, terrifying, and inspiring.

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Books by Thomas Hibbs

Cover of Rouault-Fujimura: Soliloquies Cover of Arts of Darkness Cover of Aquinas, Ethics, and Philosophy of Religion Cover of Virtue's Splendor Cover of Shows About Nothing Cover of Dialectic Narrative In Aquinas

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