Media Matters Archive

Mia and the White Lion

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April 18, 2019 Carmen Andres

Mia and the White Lion is a family adventure English-language film by French director Gilles de Maistere focused on the friendship and bond between a lion and a young girl named Mia (South African actress Daniah De Villiers). Mia caught my attention after reading that it was filmed over a three year period in order to capture the real-life bond that can develop between lions and humans—in this case De Villiers. This genuineness and the film’s lack of CGI is refreshing and not only gives the movie a somewhat nostalgic throw-back feel to films like Born Free or television shows […]

Gloria Bell

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April 1, 2019 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Julianne Moore has made a career out of subtle performances that make her highly relatable. From playing a woman fighting chemical allergies – and suburban normality – in Safe, to her performance as a homemaker who supports her alcoholic husband and their family by winning contests in The Prize-Winner of Defiance, Ohio,to her Oscar-winning turn as a linguistic professor with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, Moore usually chooses nuance over melodrama. It’s no surprise, then, that Moore takes a subtler approach to dealing with middle age in Gloria Bell, an English-language remake of the 2013 Chilean film Gloria. Unlike many foreign remakes, Sebastian Lelio (Disobedience, A Fantastic Woman) directed […]

Captive State

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March 22, 2019 Carmen Andres

As a film reviewer, occasionally my deadline coincides with a month when there aren’t any films I’m particularly interested in. So, I scroll a bit further down the list and usually end up seeing one I don’t know much about. Sometimes, it doesn’t take long to realize there was a good reason a particular film flew under my radar. But other times I discover a good one. Captive State is one of those. A science fiction film directed by Rupert Wyatt (Rise of Planet of the Apes), Captive State is set in the near future after aliens have invaded the […]

Captain Marvel

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March 14, 2019 Vic Thiessen

Let me start by noting that I am not a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and consider only three of its twenty previous films worth watching (Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther), though I admit that I have only watched about half of the MCU films. Most MCU films I have seen had far too much mindless and pointless violent action and I am a little surprised filmgoers haven’t gotten bored. Based on the box office figures for Captain Marvel this past weekend, not only have filmgoers not gotten bored they continue to run to the cinema the […]

Black Earth Rising

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March 7, 2019 Jerry L. Holsopple

The opening music hooked me as Black Earth Rising, a mini-series on Netflix, came on with the titles featuring the fearful hope of the story, told with simple drawn lines rushing across the screen. I had to watch it again. It took me a few seconds to realize this was Leonard Cohen’s gravel-low voice chanting us into the darkness, surrounded by the voices of a choir and the cantor from a synagogue. The musical complexity is a fantastic opening to this multifaceted journey into the remains of the Rwandan genocide, and the tentacles that reach into the war next door […]

Oscar-nominated shorts and winners

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February 28, 2019 Matthew Kauffman Smith

The beauty of short films is that filmmakers can focus on one narrow aspect of life. Shorts can also be as powerful and meaningful as a movie that is 10 times as long, and can give fledgling filmmakers an opportunity to hone their craft. Short films also have received a boost in popularity in recent years with an annual theatrical release of Oscar-nominated shorts in the animated, live action, and documentary categories. While the films are also available on streaming platforms, the theatrical release is a great way to see a great diversity of films in one sitting.  While I […]

Lego Movie 2

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February 21, 2019 Carmen Andres

When The Lego Movie came out in 2014, my son was 11. By that age, he and his friends were far more into computer games, Star Wars and superhero movies than their Legos, but they got a kick out of the movie–in no small part because of its ability to not only draw on a childhood love of Legos but also appeal across pop culture landscapes like Star Wars and the DC comic universe. And it had a really thoughtful and satisfying story to boot. Lego Movie 2: The Second Part definitely continues the pop culture landscapes and references–cranking them […]

High Flying Bird

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February 14, 2019 Vic Thiessen

There is nothing worth watching at the local cinema this month, so I checked out Netflix, which released the best film made in 2018 (Roma). Roma is a perfect example of why I’m not a big fan of the concept of Netflix Original Films, because Roma deserves to be watched on a big screen, not on a TV (even if it’s 60” wide). The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, released by Netflix in November, is another example of this. But if Netflix is helping these films get made, I suppose I must view this as a positive thing. And some Netflix […]

The Favourite

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February 7, 2019 Jerry L. Holsopple

I asked one of my students what I should review this week, with both options being about powerful women (the other was On the Basis of Sex).  On the surface, The Favourite, nominated for ten Oscars, seems to just be an expose of the decadence of the royal court in the early 18th century.  We expect this to be another costume drama that exploits the audiences desire to see inside the lives of the rich and famous, but it is not even close. Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) ruled for twelve years starting in 1702.  When she came to power she […]

Heartland uncovers prejudices toward the poor

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January 31, 2019 Gordon Houser

One of my favorite books from 2018 is Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh. This is an important book in its uncovering of prejudices toward people who struggle in poverty. And while it’s not written from a specifically Christian perspective, it also addresses some biblical themes. Smarsh is a journalist who has covered socioeconomic class, politics and public policy for the Guardian, VQR, NewYorker.com, Harpers.org and many other publications. She also grew up in Kansas, which drew my interest, since I’m a lifelong Kansan. Smarsh challenges an idea—a […]