Media Matters Archive

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 […]

Top 10 Films of 2018 – by Media Matters Reviewers

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January 30, 2019 Thirdway

As promised, here’s our annual list from most of our Media Matters reviewers, reflecting a pretty good year for film! Read and enjoy (or argue in the comments!) and file or bookmark this post for your film viewing queues! Several lists count down from ten meaning the best pick is last, others don’t prioritize their lists. But always fascinating what Mennonites are loving in the realm of film. Lists posted in the order they were received. (As always forgive the various list formatting of our beloved quirky reviewers. But don’t miss their descriptions/rationale for vote and placement.) Vic’s Top 10 […]

Vice

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January 24, 2019 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Vice opens with a disclaimer on its portrayal of former vice president Dick Cheney. The filmmakers claim the movie is “as true as it can be given that Dick Cheney is known as one of the most secretive leaders in recent history. But we did our (expletive) best.” This statement sets the tone for the movie as a satirical look at a polarizing figure in U.S. history. The movie is witty, but because the truth is never exactly clear, it allows writer/director Adam McKay to take liberties. Is he trying to do his “best” to tell Cheney’s story or his […]

Fiction readers: do you love literary or popular books?

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January 17, 2019 Gordon Houser

According to an October 2013 article in Scientific American by Julianne Chiaet, researchers at The New School in New York City “found evidence that literary fiction improves a reader’s capacity to understand what others are thinking and feeling.” Participants in the study read excerpts from genre (or popular) fiction, literary fiction, nonfiction or nothing, then took a test that measured their ability to infer and understand other people’s thoughts and emotions. The difference was significant. Literary fiction, writes Chiaet, “focuses more on the psychology of characters and their relationships.” It increases readers’ psychological awareness. “Although literary fiction tends to be […]

If Beale Street Could Talk

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January 10, 2019 Vic Thiessen

As I created my list of top-ten films of 2018, I noted that it was an outstanding year for films about the black-American experience and that most of those films were made by black filmmakers. Among them were Carlos López Estrada’s Blindspotting (written by Daveed Diggs), Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, George Tillman Jr.’s The Hate U Give, Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You and Peter Farrelly’s Green Book. But the best was saved for last, with Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk, which I like even more than Moonlight, Jenkins’ Best Picture winner of 2016. Tish (KiKi Layne) is a […]

Roma

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January 4, 2019 Jerry L. Holsopple

Roma, the latest release from Alfonso Cuarón, lulls you into the slow pace of repetitive chores and activities. You begin to wonder if anything is going to happen. Cleo, one of two maids, serves an upper middle-class family with four children. She cleans, takes care of the children, does laundry and helps serve the meals. She is called to hold the dog, every evening, while the father, Antonio, carefully pulls the car into the tight space behind the gates of their house. Sofia, the mother and Teresa, the grandmother, round out the family. Antonio, the doctor, offers the first excitement with […]

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

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December 27, 2018 Matthew Kauffman Smith

The only comic book I remember buying was one based on the movie The Muppets Take Manhattan. It was hardly a collector’s item, and my collection never made it past one. I perused comic books at friends’ houses, but I never became interested in comic books. On the big screen, I have enjoyed my share of movies from the Marvel Cinema Universe, but never had any interest in going back and reading the original stories on which the stories are based. So I was skeptical when I heard good things about an animated, big-screen version of Spider-Man. My skepticism morphed […]

Mortal Engines

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December 21, 2018 Carmen Andres

What happens when Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens—the filmmakers of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit—get a hold of the futuristic steampunk world of Mortal Engines, a 2001 young adult novel by Phillip Reeve? You get an adventurous and visually gorgeous two hour movie with a touch of thought-provoking ideas. Set hundreds of years after the “Sixty Minute War,” during which the use of powerful quantum weapons resulted in geological upheaval, giant predator cities roam the Western world on wheels, ingesting smaller cities and devouring dwindling resources. Haunted by her mother’s murder, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) […]