Media Matters Archive

Brad’s Status

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September 29, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

When Facebook ceased becoming a college phenomenon and branched out to include older folks, people found long-lost friends, acquaintances, or someone they nodded to every day in the hall. This allowed people to reconnect with blasts from their pasts, but it also inevitably led to comparison of lives. What was their occupation? Did they have kids? Were they more successful than me? One of the problems with Brad’s Status is that there is too much Brad. Clement, Fischer, Sheen, and Wilson form a great cast, but they’re all underused. Of course, success is all relative and depends on what each […]

First They Killed My Father

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September 22, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers is a biopic directed by Angelina Jolie and released in theaters and on Netflix simultaneously. Based on the eponymous memoir, the story follows the memories of a woman, Loung Ung, who was five years old when the Khmer Rouge came to power in Cambodia. The father’s quiet endurance and the risks he takes for his family under this deadly cloud speak powerfully of his love and courage. The film begins with a brief but stark history lesson: Cambodia had been a neutral country since 1954, but in the early 1970s […]

Wind River

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September 15, 2017 Vic Thiessen

“Why is it that whenever you people try to help us, you always insult us first, huh?” This line from Wind River, spoken by Martin (Gil Birmingham), a resident of the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, is an example of that rarest of features in the history of North American cinema: treating Native Americans with understanding, honesty, and respect. Indeed, it’s a travesty that so few films about Native Americans and Aboriginal people have been made since the countless Westerns about “cowboys and Indians.” Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves (1990) was a huge step in the right direction, but […]

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

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September 8, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

I couldn’t escape the irony as I sat in the theater, just minutes into the film, and watched Al Gore speaking in Houston about what could happen. Months later the rain and catastrophic flooding is happening in Houston and we barely have time to notice that a third of Bangladesh is under water. Yet some of those in power in our nation refuse to believe that climate change is happening. To believe requires taking responsibility, and that might impinge on policy. The film doesn’t leave us with doom and gloom. We are urged to take action. We want to believe […]

A Ghost Story

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September 1, 2017 Gordon Houser

A Ghost Story, directed by David Lowery, is the ultimate anti-blockbuster film. It is slow, with long takes and little dialogue, and eschews any violent action or special effects. There aren’t any car chases or bombs going off. Lowery plays with our conception of time as linear. In addition to the long takes, he makes quick cuts from one time period to another. And it will not set any box-office records. It only stayed one week at my local cinema, and when I viewed it, I was one of three people in the theater. But art and popularity don’t always […]

Eclipse Bandwagon

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August 25, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

In 1979, a pinhole camera seemed like pretty cool technology. With a shoebox, a safety pin, and some aluminum foil, my dad created a nifty little viewer for watching the partial solar eclipse in Indiana. I had just turned seven and come down with the flu, which gave me plenty of time to try to figure out how to watch something through a tiny hole. But hey, I watched Sesame Street on a 13-inch black-and-white TV, so a pinhole camera was practically an upgrade. For two hours or so, people were civil to each other on Twitter, cable news didn’t […]

Step

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August 18, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

Fifteen years ago, HBO’s The Wire gave the world an intimate look at the darkest parts of Baltimore, Maryland. In the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death in police captivity two years ago, the news delivered brutal images of rioting across the city. But there’s more to Baltimore than violence and professional sports, and thanks to the new documentary Step by Amanda Livitz, Baltimore’s big-dreaming kids, loving parents, and dedicated teachers get their chance to shine. Step is currently on limited release in theaters. The pulsing, seething staccato of their performances make you want to stomp along, but Step isn’t really […]

War for the Planet of the Apes

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August 11, 2017 Vic Thiessen

It began with Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011, followed three years later by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: the first two films of a trilogy based on the successful Planet of the Apes film series of the ’60s and ’70s. The original classic, from 1968, starred Charlton Heston as an astronaut who ends up on a planet where apes are the dominant species and where humans, who can’t talk, are treated like animals. We eventually learn that the astronaut has returned to a future Earth. The new trilogy provides its own explanations for how […]

Dunkirk

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August 4, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

Cinematic takes on World War II seem more popular than ever. Recent films have traced events from the Holocaust (Ida, Denial, The Zookeepers Wife), demonstrated the devastating results of the cruelty of Soviet soldiers (The Innocents), portrayed heroes (Hacksaw Ridge, the upcoming Darkest Night about Churchill), or focused on events (Pegasus Bridge). Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk takes us into one extended moment where the will of the English (and French) is pitted against the formidable power of the German military. Surrender or annihilation of the 400,000 British and French troops surrounded by German forces seem like the only possible outcomes. They […]

The Big Sick

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July 28, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

If there is a movie genre that could use an extreme makeover these days, it’s the romantic comedy. Sure, the formula of strangers meet, strangers fall in love, strangers grow apart, and strangers get back together is a tried-and-true one. Throw in a few one-liners, a couple of gags, and a happy ending, and you have a mediocre, albeit watchable, date night at home. Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon co-wrote this new rom-com, based on the eventful true story of their relationship. Thankfully, The Big Sick just elevated the genre. Pakistani-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his wife […]