Media Matters Archive

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 […]

Stranger Things 2

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November 17, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

The second season of a hit show is always going to feel a bit like the kid sister of a standout student: it reaps the benefit of a good reputation, but is also unfairly expected to fit a certain mold. Don’t get me wrong—Stranger Things 2 ticks all the ’80s adventure monster movie boxes that made the original season so entertaining. But it’s also its own story and should be enjoyed without expectations that everything will be the same as it was. After all, the truly great movie sequels don’t simply try to recreate the recipe of the original—they expand on […]

Suburbicon

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November 10, 2017 Vic Thiessen

George Clooney’s new film, a dark-comedy noir starring Matt Damon and based on an old screenplay by the Coen brothers, seems like it should have been a guaranteed success. Instead, Suburbicon flopped at the box office and was panned by the critics. What happened, and is the film really as bad as the critics say? Suburbicon’s satire works quite well and does give viewers something to think about as we consider life in North America today. The opening scene would suggest otherwise. By way of a TV ad that perfectly captures the time (1950s) and place (small-town USA) in an […]

Fifteen

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November 3, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

The low drone of a viola broken by a single voice leads us into the stone-filled churchyard. In our mind we see the names of those who have passed before us. As a Jennys fan I thought I might be disappointed by an album of covers, but they push them in such fascinating directions that they seem like new songs. Come, come with me out to the old churchyard I so well know those paths ’neath the soft green sward Friends slumber in there that we want to regard; We will trace out their names in the old churchyard Soon […]

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House

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October 27, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

When I taught college journalism, there was one thing I included on the syllabus every quarter: a midterm viewing of All the President’s Men. Watching young reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein track down leads and overcome obstacles served as an example of the hard work, luck, and dogged reporting it took to break a big story. Aside from providing journalistic inspiration, the movie also entertained; it was as much a detective thriller as it was a historical account. Anyone looking for an exciting, eye-opening supplementary sequel to All the President’s Men, however, will not find it in this movie. […]

Battle of the Sexes

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October 20, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

Battle of the Sexes is an island of fist-pumping inspiration in the usual seasonal deluge of October horror movies. The film tells the story of Billie Jean King, the push for equal pay in women’s tennis, and the cultural undercurrents surrounding the 1973 tennis match between King and Tennis Hall of Famer Bobby Riggs. Billie Jean insists multiple times throughout the film that she’s not trying to say that women are better than men, just that women deserve the same respect as men. It’s the early 1970s, and women’s tennis players are struggling for equal pay and respect. Tennis star […]

Blade Runner 2049

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October 13, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

The original Blade Runner is a hard act to follow. It has been studied and written about and re-edited so many times that I always have to check which version is being referred to. Blade Runner 2049 partially answers the questions we have argued over for years, while leaving more unanswered. Is Deckard (Harrison Ford) a replicant, as is hinted several times in the original? 2049 continues the questions from Blade Runner and raises the stakes by asking what it means to reproduce. Can’t tell you. We do discover at least a sketch of what happened after he and Rachael […]