Media Matters Archive

Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War

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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

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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

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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 […]

Three novels to check out

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June 2, 2017 Gordon Houser

Summer is coming, and for some that means setting aside more time to catch up on reading. And what better to read than fiction? Here are three novels I’ve read in the past few weeks that I recommend. What is most effective is how Hannah helps readers experience what it must have been like to face hunger and cold and watch Jewish neighbors be hauled away. The Nightingale (2015) by Kristin Hannah tells the story of two sisters in France just before and during the Nazi occupation of France in World War II. Hannah draws her characters well and explores […]

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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May 26, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

It’s official: I’m a sucker. I convinced myself that, after watching the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it would be an above-average comic-book-themed movie. I didn’t think it would be a film classic like Citizen Kane, but I thought perhaps it could be the Citizen Kane of movies based on Marvel Comics. It could also just be good-guy-fights-bad-guy , things explode, good guy wins. And I’ll be a sucker again. After all, the first Guardians of the Galaxy showed promise in establishing a hodgepodge of outcasts who band together, earn each other’s trust, and form a semblance […]

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 […]