Media Matters Archive

Wind River

()
September 15, 2017 Vic Thiessen

“Why is it that whenever you people try to help us, you always insult us first, huh?” This line from Wind River, spoken by Martin (Gil Birmingham), a resident of the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, is an example of that rarest of features in the history of North American cinema: treating Native Americans with understanding, honesty, and respect. Indeed, it’s a travesty that so few films about Native Americans and Aboriginal people have been made since the countless Westerns about “cowboys and Indians.” Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves (1990) was a huge step in the right direction, but […]

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

()
September 8, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

I couldn’t escape the irony as I sat in the theater, just minutes into the film, and watched Al Gore speaking in Houston about what could happen. Months later the rain and catastrophic flooding is happening in Houston and we barely have time to notice that a third of Bangladesh is under water. Yet some of those in power in our nation refuse to believe that climate change is happening. To believe requires taking responsibility, and that might impinge on policy. The film doesn’t leave us with doom and gloom. We are urged to take action. We want to believe […]

A Ghost Story

()
September 1, 2017 Gordon Houser

A Ghost Story, directed by David Lowery, is the ultimate anti-blockbuster film. It is slow, with long takes and little dialogue, and eschews any violent action or special effects. There aren’t any car chases or bombs going off. Lowery plays with our conception of time as linear. In addition to the long takes, he makes quick cuts from one time period to another. And it will not set any box-office records. It only stayed one week at my local cinema, and when I viewed it, I was one of three people in the theater. But art and popularity don’t always […]

Eclipse Bandwagon

(, , , )
August 25, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

In 1979, a pinhole camera seemed like pretty cool technology. With a shoebox, a safety pin, and some aluminum foil, my dad created a nifty little viewer for watching the partial solar eclipse in Indiana. I had just turned seven and come down with the flu, which gave me plenty of time to try to figure out how to watch something through a tiny hole. But hey, I watched Sesame Street on a 13-inch black-and-white TV, so a pinhole camera was practically an upgrade. For two hours or so, people were civil to each other on Twitter, cable news didn’t […]

Step

()
August 18, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

Fifteen years ago, HBO’s The Wire gave the world an intimate look at the darkest parts of Baltimore, Maryland. In the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death in police captivity two years ago, the news delivered brutal images of rioting across the city. But there’s more to Baltimore than violence and professional sports, and thanks to the new documentary Step by Amanda Livitz, Baltimore’s big-dreaming kids, loving parents, and dedicated teachers get their chance to shine. Step is currently on limited release in theaters. The pulsing, seething staccato of their performances make you want to stomp along, but Step isn’t really […]

War for the Planet of the Apes

()
August 11, 2017 Vic Thiessen

It began with Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011, followed three years later by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: the first two films of a trilogy based on the successful Planet of the Apes film series of the ’60s and ’70s. The original classic, from 1968, starred Charlton Heston as an astronaut who ends up on a planet where apes are the dominant species and where humans, who can’t talk, are treated like animals. We eventually learn that the astronaut has returned to a future Earth. The new trilogy provides its own explanations for how […]

Dunkirk

()
August 4, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

Cinematic takes on World War II seem more popular than ever. Recent films have traced events from the Holocaust (Ida, Denial, The Zookeepers Wife), demonstrated the devastating results of the cruelty of Soviet soldiers (The Innocents), portrayed heroes (Hacksaw Ridge, the upcoming Darkest Night about Churchill), or focused on events (Pegasus Bridge). Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk takes us into one extended moment where the will of the English (and French) is pitted against the formidable power of the German military. Surrender or annihilation of the 400,000 British and French troops surrounded by German forces seem like the only possible outcomes. They […]

The Big Sick

()
July 28, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

If there is a movie genre that could use an extreme makeover these days, it’s the romantic comedy. Sure, the formula of strangers meet, strangers fall in love, strangers grow apart, and strangers get back together is a tried-and-true one. Throw in a few one-liners, a couple of gags, and a happy ending, and you have a mediocre, albeit watchable, date night at home. Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon co-wrote this new rom-com, based on the eventful true story of their relationship. Thankfully, The Big Sick just elevated the genre. Pakistani-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his wife […]

Spider-Man: Homecoming

(, , , , )
July 21, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review by Michelle Sinclair How many times can you sit through a reboot of the same superhero story and still be entertained, even moved? I had thought I was at my limit for Spider-Man movies, but after a little taste of Tom Holland’s joyous teenage web crawler in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, I knew I’d want to see what he could do in his own movie. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Holland—and the filmmakers around him–don’t disappoint. Peter Parker wants to stop big crimes and be a part of the Avengers so badly and yet Robert Downey Jr’s Tony […]

Rectify

()
July 14, 2017 Vic Thiessen

With the advent of made-for-cable TV in the late 1990s, the quality of television took a huge leap forward, sometimes even reaching the level of top-quality filmmaking (very rare for network TV). This has made it not only possible but necessary for critics to take television seriously as an art form potentially equal to the best films. I have begun reviewing TV shows as a result. Indeed, Rectify is so unusual in its pacing and in the sublime quality of its writing (especially the dialogue) and acting that it sometimes feels like a new art form. This review is aimed […]