Media Matters Archive

I Am Not Your Negro

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January 19, 2018 Gordon Houser

On Wednesday, Third Way released the top 10 films of 2017 by three of its reviewers, including me. With each film we chose, we included a brief synopsis and why we chose it for that position. Today, I get to expand on my choice of what I felt was the best film of 2017. I chose it as my no. 1 film of 2017 because it is a must-see documentary for our time. I Am Not Your Negro is a documentary by Raoul Peck that focuses mainly on James Baldwin, the African American writer known particularly for his books Go Tell […]

Top Ten Films of 2017 – by Media Matters reviewers

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January 17, 2018 Third Way

Vic’s Top Ten Films of 2017 Counting down, in a year of great films made by and about women: 10. Their Finest – In a year when, for the first time, my top-ten list includes two films written and directed by women, as well as eight films with a female protagonist, it’s appropriate to begin with a film about the role of women in filmmaking (and in WWII Britain generally). Written by Gaby Chiappe and directed by Lone Scherfig, Their Finest stars Gemma Arterton as a screenwriter for a 1940 propaganda film about the retreat from Dunkirk. It’s much more […]

Downsizing

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January 12, 2018 Vic Thiessen

One of the key challenges facing a planet on which human life is becoming increasingly unsustainable is overpopulation. But what if you could find a way to downsize not just our companies or personal living spaces but people themselves—to 0.0346 percent of their current size? Not only would such a miniature population require only a tiny fraction of the Earth’s resources (compared to our normal-sized population), but a thousand people would produce only one small bag of waste in a year. It’s an absurd idea, of course, but that’s the premise of Downsizing, the latest film from writer/director Alexander Payne. I […]

Godless

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January 5, 2018 Jerry L. Holsopple

The cowboy western is the quintessential American movie form. These films can function as a mythic telling of American history, how to solve problems, and what the nature of evil is. I paid attention when Netflix released a new western miniseries, to see if they disrupted this myth in the same way that they and several of the premium cable networks have disrupted the delivery of entertainment. These binge-inducing shows often have the aesthetic properties of cinema while enjoying the more serial nature of television. Godless breaks less ground then I would hope, since in the end violence is presented […]

The Post

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December 29, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

By Michelle D. Sinclair Streep. Hanks. Spielberg. With Oscar-bait like that, The Post could have rested on its headlining laurels and cranked out a movie that would have made money and won recognition regardless. Fortunately for history, the film is every bit as good as advertised. The classic book and movie All the President’s Men immortalized the most infamous event of the Nixon years, but the lesser known scandal that preceded it and positioned The Washington Post as a newspaper powerful enough to take on the president has faded from common knowledge. This is the story of the Pentagon Papers–both […]

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

December 22, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

My 11-year-old daughter came out of the movie theater after seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and said, “Okay, Mo question.” A “Mo question” consists of my daughter, known around the house as Mo, asking a question about preferences. The Last Jedi does exactly what the middle, transitory movie in a trilogy should do: keep the audience on edge. “What did you like better?” she asked. “The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi?” Mo questions always seem easy, but I usually deliberate for a while. They’re difficult enough that she rarely has an answer to her own questions. “Well, maybe […]

The Man Who Invented Christmas

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December 15, 2017 Vic Thiessen

In December 1843, Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol, a novella that forever changed the way people think about and celebrate Christmas (introducing, for example, the concepts of linking family gatherings and special meals to the Christmas season). Most importantly to me, A Christmas Carol made Christmas a time to remember those less fortunate than ourselves. It’s a call to fight against the poverty created by our collective greed and to give generously of our time and money to assure that everyone can have a “Merry Christmas” (the popularization of this term is another contribution of the novella). The depressing […]

House of Harassment

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December 8, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

The question came a few minutes after I finished my presentation. “Should we watch the films of the actresses who revealed what Harvey Weinstein did to them?” That was a thoughtful question, since I had ended my talk by suggesting that we stop reading John Howard Yoder and spend the time seeing where his sexually abusive behavior influenced his theology. The convocation happened in conjunction with my exhibit Laments for an Age of Sexualized Power at Bethel College in Kansas. I will approach with skepticism and caution the denials made by those in power. We should expect a denial since […]

Lady Bird

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December 1, 2017 Gordon Houser

No, this film is not about Lady Bird Johnson. The title character, 17-year-old Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan in an outstanding performance), gives herself that moniker to try to establish a different identity. She wants to escape her hometown of Sacramento, which she calls “the Midwest of California” (as if the Midwest were a bad thing), and get into an East Coast college, preferably in New York City. What we pay attention to reveals what we love. Her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf, who is equally good), has other ideas. She harps on her daughter constantly that their family can’t afford to […]

Thor: Ragnorak

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November 24, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Cate Blanchett: winner of two Academy Awards and nominee for four others. Anthony Hopkins: winner of an Academy Award and nominee for three others. Mark Ruffalo: three-time Oscar nominee. Tom Hiddleston and Idris Elba: Golden Globe winners. One would expect to see all these talented actors in a new production of Hamlet, or maybe a Jane Austen screen adaptation, or a rousing episode of Masterpiece Theater. Or perhaps Thor: Ragnorak. What? While comic book film adaptations will never be timeless works of art, Thor: Ragnorak proves that they can be clever and entertaining. Yes, a who’s who of British thespians […]