Media Matters Archive

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 […]

Megan Leavey

()
July 10, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

Megan Leavey, based on a true story, spins a tale in mostly predictable ways while regularly grabbing your emotions and spiking your adrenaline. Megan, whose best friend died of an overdose, is stuck in the guilt of having survived, and the trauma of loss. She fights constantly with her mother, who never seems to understand. Seemingly bereft of options, Megan enlists in the Marines. She makes this multiyear commitment just to get away from her life as it is. If we were to consider the dogs in this film as a metaphor for our expectation and treatment of human soldiers, […]

Did you know it’s National Midyear Music Award Day?

()
June 30, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Every Christmas, my mom, a high school French teacher, would take her seasonal decorations out of storage. She had four wooden blocks, one for each letter of the originally French word Noel. My brother and I had a tradition of our own: reversing the letters to spell the name Leon. My mom would find Leon, sigh, and transform him back into Noel. This cycle repeated itself dozens of times throughout the Advent season. First presented in 2014, and again in 2015, the awards resume this year after I celebrated Take a Yearlong Hiatus Day in 2016. Unbeknownst to my brother […]

Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War

()
June 23, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

It sometimes seems that there’s never an end to the horrifying things humanity will do to one another. Stories like the ones told in Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War offer an antidote to the toxicity, proving ordinary people have done—and we hope will continue to do—extraordinary things in defiance of hate. Periodically, they returned home to children who were growing up without them. In this Ken Burns documentary (released last fall and recently made available on Netflix), Tom Hanks and Marina Goldman narrate the voices of an American Unitarian minister and his wife who left their small children behind […]

Wonder Woman

()
June 16, 2017 Vic Thiessen

Hailed by critics and educators as a groundbreaking feminist superhero film, Wonder Woman has also captured the attention of millions of viewers around the globe, becoming by far the biggest blockbuster of the year. But behind the acclaim lie questions that few people are asking, questions that may come to haunt us as a society as the superhero genre continues to capture the imaginations of today’s younger generations. For much of the film there is little evidence of Diana’s awareness of the fact that she is trying to achieve her noble antiwar ends through horrifically violent means. This is not […]

Anne with an E

()
June 9, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

Anne of Green Gables is my mother’s favorite movie. She watches the 1980’s version several times every year. I will not mention this new version to her, for Anne with an E opens a window to the trauma that fills Anne’s memories. I encourage fans of the books and previous incarnations to give this version a chance. While many of the situations that the 1980s version uses for great humor remain in this new take, they often have a more painful subtext. You will not laugh away your tough day watching the antics of this Anne. The 1980s version is […]