Media Matters Archive

13 Reasons Why

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May 19, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

The most talked about TV show on Netflix over the last few weeks has been 13 Reasons Why, the 13-episode series adapted from Jay Asher’s young adult novel of the same name. If you’ve missed the buzz, the show is about a teenage girl’s suicide, as well as the tapes she leaves behind to pinpoint the people and actions that led to her death. The tale plays out a bit like a murder mystery where you know the ending—Hannah Baker’s suicide—but don’t know how she got there. Most of the talk has centered around the effects watching the show might […]

Their Finest

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May 12, 2017 Vic Thiessen

As filmgoers await Christopher Nolan’s probable blockbuster Dunkirk, coming in July, here is a quiet, humorous British drama that approaches the massive 1940 military evacuation from a very different angle, one focusing on the role of women in Great Britain during World War II. Most impressive was the subtle way Their Finest offers a look at how the role of women in the workforce changed during World War II. Their Finest also draws attention to the role of women in filmmaking. Despite all the advances in gender equality (and far too much remains to be done), women have had a […]

Technology is making the world too small

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May 5, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

I considered reviewing The Circle this week, but the early reviews have been so scathing that I couldn’t bring myself to go to the theater. If a movie can’t convince 20 percent of the reviewers on a review site to approve of the film, you know it is not worth your hard-earned money. (Wait a minute—doesn’t this contradict what I will say later?) The film’s paranoid take on the Net cowers under the multiple screens and the surveilling cameras. We pay much less attention to the people we are with, as the device requires at least peripheral attention at all times. […]

Born in China

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April 28, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

If the Academy Award winners were based on cuteness, Born in China would be the runaway winner for best picture, and Mei Mei the baby panda would pretty much win every other category. The latest Earth Day release from Disneynature revels in the cuteness factor of its baby panda, snow leopards, and golden snub-nosed monkeys as they learn to live and survive in the vast China ecosystem. But cuteness only goes so far in life. People eventually yearn for substance, and that bodes true for Born in China. As with its Earth Day documentary predecessors, Disney sacrifices story in favor […]

Reason vs. belonging

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April 21, 2017 Gordon Houser

We live in a society where facts don’t seem to mean much. If the president, for example, doesn’t like a report or scientific study, he simply calls it “fake news.” When this ruse was revealed, the one group still thought they were better than average at identifying real suicide notes. He’s not alone. Many of us take similar positions, and, according to some recent books, there are reasons for that. In her article “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds” (The New Yorker, Feb. 27), Elizabeth Kolbert reviews three of these books. All, by the way, were written before last November’s […]

Beauty and the Beast

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April 14, 2017 Vic Thiessen

Disney’s 1991 Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney animated film. Featuring the delightful songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, the highest quality old-fashioned animation, and a well-told (if heavily altered) fairy tale, the film has several flaws—the biggest being the redemptive violence at the film’s conclusion. Disney’s typical need to kill off the baddie has nothing to do with the fairy tale on which the film is based. The film’s biggest flaw was entirely predictable and is difficult to challenge in a remake. I am referring to the killing off of the baddie at the end of […]

Roll Columbia: Woody Guthrie’s 26 Northwest Songs

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April 7, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

Woody Guthrie wrote 26 tunes during one month of 1941, working for a Depression-era government project in the Columbia River Valley. The tunes reflect the struggle of those who work hard and still struggle to survive. The tales rewind the pain of those wandering the country looking for a job, a better place to live, and a way to raise their families. These new versions, recorded mostly by artists based in the Pacific Northwest, start the two-disc set with “Pastures of Plenty,” featuring the wonderful guitar work of Jon Neufeld and Michael Hurley. The tunes seem to be from another […]

Get Out

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March 31, 2017 Gordon Houser

Get Out came out more than a month ago, but it’s worth talking about. While it is rated R for violence, bloody images, and language, it tackles an important issue in a creative, disturbing way. The film’s plot draws on other horror films, such as The Stepford Wives and Rosemary’s Baby, as a conspiracy is gradually revealed. It also employs humor in many places. The film is by first-time director Jordan Peele, who also wrote and produced it. Made for only $4.5 million, it’s already grossed more than $154 million worldwide. Peele uses some typical tropes of the horror genre but […]

Designated Survivor

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March 24, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

During the Cold War, the U.S. government, out of fear of the Soviet Union using nuclear weapons, created a position of “designated survivor,” which still exists today. While the president, vice president, members of Congress, and members of the president’s cabinet attend, say, a State of the Union address, one lower-level cabinet member stays away from the scene. Escorted by the Secret Service in presidential fashion, the designated survivor hangs out in an undisclosed location. If all higher-ranking officials perish in a catastrophe, the designated survivor assumes the presidency. When the Capitol Building suffers a horrific attack, everyone ranked higher […]

The Lego Batman Movie

March 17, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

As a family comedy, The Lego Batman Movie excels, but as a parody, this film is virtually unparalleled. Its playful pokes at the explosion of superhero movies during the last 15 years proves that yes, you can make a blisteringly funny parody without falling back on sex gags and gross-out humor—and you can actually tell a better story in the process. It pillories everything from the format of dark superhero movies to comics, cartoons, old TV shows, and hero-archnemesis relationships. Three years have passed since Batman helped saved the universe in The Lego Movie, and he’s just as busy as ever […]