Thomas Hibbs
Thomas Hibbs
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

Latest Articles

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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Is Cinema Art?

February 17, 2015  •  Intercollegiate Review

Cinema, the novelist Graham Greene once observed, "has to appeal to millions." Greene, whose works were regularly turned into films and who worked for a time as a film critic, argued that the "popularity" of cinema, as a distinct medium depending primarily on "sound and movement," was a "virtue not to be rejected as vile."(1) Yet Greene's sense that cinema needed defending evinces the way in which its wide appeal has counted against it as an art form or at least as an art form capable of producing masterpieces on par with those of opera, theater, literature, and painting. Beyond its popularity, reasons for resisting film as great art are not hard to find, but, as we shall see, the most common reasons apply to other arts as well, and, where they do apply to film, they do not apply to the best examples of film art. Of course, responding to objections to the cinematic claim to greatness hardly establishes the positive thesis that film is capable of art of the highest order. There is no substitute for the direct encounter, in dark theaters before large screens, of the best films of Bergman and Kieslowski, Fellini and Rossellini, Wilder and Welles, Truffaut and Renoir, to name only a few. In such encounters, we experience what the contemporary film critic calls the "stealthy rapture" of film, its capacity to engage heart and intellect, to move us to a deeper appreciation of the human condition, and to refine the natural human appetite for beauty.(2)

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review of The Gambler

December 24, 2014  •  National Review Online

The Gambler, starring Mark Wahlberg as Jim Bennett and directed by Ryan Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), is a remake of a minor classic from the early 1970s starring James Caan. Both films capture rather nicely the way in which high-stakes gambling is not just a bad habit but a consuming way of life organized around the pursuit of moments of tantalizing excess. (James Toback's script for the original, on which the new film remains loosely based, was semi-autobiographical.) As an English professor by day and gambler by night, Wahlberg brings an infectious energy to the role of the quick-witted, ironic, and pugnacious gambler. His devotion to risk at all costs, to proving himself against the highest odds, means that each scene is latent with both self-destructive and darkly comic possibilities. Wahlberg's performance, combined with a well-paced plot, makes this an entertaining film.

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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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