I haven’t posted any Hi 5s on the blog in a while, but it’s… um… “hi time” that I got back in the habit of it. Gratitude is good for the soul.

What is Hi 5 to the Face? Find out here.

Let’s get started! This time, I’m sending Hi 5s to the following superstars…

Ken Morefield over at 1 More Film Blog, for inviting Steven Greydanus to toast Pixar’s The Incredibles, which is now ten years old!

Steven writes that the film has only grown in his estimation over the past decade. And he notes that it “captures the rhythms of family life with more honesty and clarity than any other family film” he can remember.

I share the lasting enthusiasm. Here’s my original review. And wow, do I feel old?

Here are reviews of three more films I treasure that will celebrate their tenth anniversaries in 2014:

So… big Hi 5s to the faces of Ken Morefield, Steven Greydanus… and the great Brad Bird!

Donna Bowman, Keith Phipps, and Tasha Robinson at The Dissolve — for sharing this insightful, timely conversation on portrayals of Jesus in film.

It’s Phipps who says:

…That seems to me like the great contradiction of attempting to make a movie about Jesus: Make him too godlike, and he becomes distant and unknowable. Make him too much a man, and he starts to seem too earthly to be divine. And make him kind of annoying — as Son of God does — and he doesn’t seem like someone anyone would want to follow.

Also… I agree with Peter Chattaway, who says:

Rick Warren declared, in a video touting one of the “theatre takeovers” that took place Thursday night, that Christians should “skip church and go see” the film on opening weekend, because “it’s that important.”

Incidentally, I’m definitely a numbers guy, so I obviously don’t mind looking at box-office figures and the like, but there is something about Christians paying attention to the daily grosses and obsessing over how to get a movie to #1 at the box office — even going so far as to tell pastors to push films from their pulpits and parishioners to skip church for the movie theatre — that irks me a bit.

While I know some of my fellow believers will disagree with me on this, I can’t help thinking that our sacred spaces should stay a little more “innocent”. Movies are good, some of the time at least, but they aren’t church. And if someone would rather see Liam Neeson’s latest thriller than a Bible film that has had mixed reviews even from some Christians, then they can certainly do so in good conscience.

Hi 5s to Donna, Keith, Tasha, and Peter!

Matt Zoller Seitz — for giving the world such a glorious coffee table book full of writing and art about the films of Wes Anderson!

It was a joy to finally meet one of my film criticism heroes when he visited Seattle on his book tour. Seitz, who is the editor of RogerEbert.com, talked about The Wes Anderson Collection, showed clips from his series of video essays on Wes Anderson, and then answered questions.

He also convinced me to join a reception crowded with Seattle critics and film historians (including my SPU colleague Todd Rendleman, author of Rule of Thumb: Roger Ebert at the Movies) at the movie-poster-filled home of the legendary Film Comment editors and writers Richard T. Jameson and Kathleen Murphy… critics I read and admired when I was in college.

I returned home encouraged by long conversations with inspiring company. (Thanks to Sean Axmaker, film reviewer extraordinaire, for snapping this picture of me with Matt.)

By the way, the book isn’t just a coffee table book.

It’s big enough to be a coffee table.


Hi 5s just aren’t enough to express my gratitude to Scott Cairns, the poet who wrote these “Idiot Psalms,” which are becoming a meaningful new liturgy of prayers in my life.

The stack of Scott Cairns books that I consider essential is growing all the time. I think I’ve persuaded more people to purchase The End of Suffering than any other book, and I also treasure Philokalia, Recovered Body, Short Trip to the Edge, and others.

I cannot recommend Scott’s new collection highly enough.

It’s titled, yes, Idiot Psalms.

If you like the poems at the link above, then you really need this volume.