Rev. Robert E. Lauder

Rev. Robert E. Lauder is a Brooklyn diocesan priest and professor of philosophy at St. John's University, Jamaica, New York.

recent articles

At the Movies: Unfolding Intuition

Every time I think of British filmmaker Mike Leigh’s Secrets & Lies, it brings to mind a host of non-Hollywood films of the 1960s. Back then lovers of film could look forward to the regular appearance of great or near-great cinema from the creative genius of author/directors such as Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, … Read more

Sin’s Heavy Heel

That Liv Ullmann’s magnificent film version of Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter has had difficulty finding a distributor in this country is a depressing sign of the sorry state of contemporary cinema that is available to us. Ullmann, who also wrote the screenplay based on the first book of Undset’s trilogy, is very successful in capturing … Read more

Amazing Grace of Dorothy Day

Entertaining Angles: The Story of Dorothy Day is one of the most Christian and catholic films ever made. Some invisible force, I believe, was present during the making of this film. Moira Kelly as Dorothy Day and Martin Sheen as Peter Maurin both turn in performances that deserve Academy Award nominations. The story, told almost … Read more

Vatican’s Favorite Films

Last fall an important announcement appeared in both the Catholic and secular press. Observing the one hundredth anniversary of cinema, the Vatican judged forty-five full length films to have special artistic and religious merit. The list, compiled by the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, can provide a stimulus for some serious reflection among film buffs. … Read more

Capra’s Comedy of Triumph

The pantheon of great American film directors includes D. W. Griffiths, John Ford, William Wyler, Howard Hawks, Orson Welles, and Frank Capra (1897-1991). Working in film from 1926 to 1961, Capra won three Academy Awards It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can’t Take It With You; in addition to three nominations … Read more

Moral Complexity at City Hall

Movies that deal with the political arena have an appealing milieu for dramatizing morally complex problems. In the past the genre has called forth very high-calibre work from exceptionally skilled directors and talented actors. I think of four extraordinary political films, all classics: Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), with James Stewart as … Read more

A Cinema of God’s Grace

Let me state it simply and directly: the films of director Robert Bresson are by far the most Catholic in the history of cinema. Fortunately for serious students of film, but unfortunately for moviegoers whose experience of cinema is largely confined to blockbusters, the French director’s work is as aesthetically rewarding as it is demanding … Read more

Mountain Prayers

In his masterpiece, Citizen Kane, Orson Welles was able to sum up the theme of his entire film with five or six dissolve shots in the opening seconds of the movie. Director Darrell James Roodt accomplishes the same feat in the opening seconds of Cry, the Beloved Country with one shot of a cross on … Read more

Scorsese’s Flaw

Martin Scorsese has said that the two great influences in his life have been cinema and religion and that they continue to be his two main interests. Growing up in Little Italy in New York’s Lower East Side, Scorsese was an asthmatic child who, unable to play the games his contemporaries played, sought refuge in … Read more

Liv Ullmann Talks About Kristin Lavransdatter

There have been rumors for years that the great Catholic novel Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset was to be made into a film. The rumor has finally become a reality, at least in part. The first volume of the trilogy, The Bridal Wreath, has been brought to the screen by the director Liv Ullmann. Ullmann, … Read more

Unpious Clichés

Reflecting on Larry Clark’s Kids and Edward Burns’ The Brothers McMullen I keep thinking of author/director Jean Luc Godard’s statement that every camera angle involves a moral judgement. It is the weakness of moral vision at the center of these two interesting films that accounts for their serious cinematic faults. Written by the then 19-year-old … Read more

Seeking God Unawares

Last year at Cannes in honor of his 75th birthday, Swedish author/director Ingmar Bergman received a special tribute. This summer there is a four-month Bergman festival in New York City. These events and many others remind us of Bergman’s singular presence in the history of cinema. Simply put, he is the greatest single talent in … Read more

Film: Seeking God Unawares

Last year at Cannes in honor of his 75th birthday, Swedish author/director Ingmar Bergman received a special tribute. This summer there is a four month Bergman festival in New York City. These events and many others remind us of Bergman’s singular presence in the history of cinema. Simply put, he is the greatest single talent … Read more

Movies As Metaphysics: Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors Trilogy

In the hands of a master, metaphysics and movies can make a marvelous mix. Ingmar Bergman, no longer directing films, was such a master. Robert Bresson was one also, as is Woody Allen. Metaphysical moviemakers are able to depict on celluloid those seductive but awesome infinitives: to be, to live, to love, to die. To … Read more

Film — The Secret of Roan Inish: Some Blarney But No Baloney

The commercial success or failure of John Sayles’ The Secret of Roan Inish might serve as an indicator of the state of cinema in the U.S. today. In February, Sayles’ ninth film will open at art houses in the major cities, where he will be trying to find an audience for this exceptionally lovely little … Read more

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