Media Matters Archive
Here is My Home
I have been traveling to Lithuania since 2004, often spending the majority of my summer there. Every five years the Song and Dance Festival grabs the attention of Lithuanians, many from around the world, for a week of traditional music, dance, costumes, and food. This July was my first chance to experience these events, something I had heard about ever since my first visit. (Latvia and Estonia also have festivals as well. The Estonian one is documented in the documentary The Singing Revolution.)Imagine listening to over 14,000 voices singing, with the sound amplified by an acoustic shell built just for […]
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Dystopian stories abound now in books, TV shows and movies. For example, back to back on TNTon Sunday evenings, we get Falling Skies, about humans fighting an alien race that is taking over the Earth, and The Last Ship, about a U.S. naval ship carrying a scientist working on a vaccine for a virus that has wiped out most of Earth’s population. Turn to FXand we get The Strain.While the film depicts much fighting, it judges the fighting as destructive, tragic and unnecessary. The heroes of the film are those working to bring healing and reconciliation.
The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars is a publishing mega-hit, wowing young readers, adults, and literary minds alike (It’s witty! A great romance! Written by a man!)—and once the movie posters outed it as a cancer book, I lost all interest in reading it.With a due sense of exhaustion and dread, I opened the book. And finished it by the next day. Yes, it is a cancer book, and yes it is witty, and romantic, and written by a man.
Matthew Kauffman Smith’s First Annual National Mid-Year Music Award Day
Anyone or anything can achieve some level of fame these days just by pronouncing something as important. This past week, ESPNheld the ESPYAwards, which are suddenly important because ESPNtold us it was (and aired the ceremonies, of course). And did you know that last week you missed Don’t Step on a Bee Day and Cow Appreciation Day (conveniently promoted by chicken sandwich chain Chick-fil-A)? Today, July 18, is National Caviar Day. The glass-is-half-empty guy inside of me says these are shameless, bogus events. The glass-is-half-full guy inside of me says we don’t celebrate enough so we might as well make […]
here), I want to draw your attention to a gem you probably missed at the cinema this spring. Locke, a British indie film written and directed by Steven Knight, and starring Tom Hardy, will be released on DVDin August and I encourage you to check it out (though not at the end of a long day).
Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of the Broadway musical Jersey Boys into a movie broadens the story of the four friends from New Jersey who became the Four Seasons and rose to stardom in the early 1960s. While it includes many of their popular hits, it delves into their background and shows the conflicts that developed as their popularity grew.They go on the road, and after a while the troubles grow. Frankie’s marriage suffers from his being gone. Tommy gambles away all their earnings and lands them in a half-million dollars of debt.
World Cup Soccer
The United States Men’s National Team has punched their ticket to the elimination round in the 2014 World Cup, and Americans are—gasp—actually paying attention. As of this article, Nielsen ratings for Thursday’s 0-1 loss to Germany were not available, but Sunday’s draw with Portugal averaged 18.22 million viewers, the most viewed (non-NFL, non-college football) program in ESPN’s history.“Why now? Why do Americans suddenly care about their ‘futbol’ team?”
As the director of Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Cowboys and Aliens, Jon Favreau knows all about summer blockbusters. He also knows about being a critical darling and then finding mainstream success (see Iron Man),and losing some of his critical backing (see Iron Man 2 and Cowboys and Aliens). All of this is to say that Favreau is the perfect person to bring us Chef, a cinematic equivalent of the slow-food movement in a summer full of cinematic fast food franchises.It is a summer film in the respect that it takes place when school is out of session and […]
X-Men: Days of Future Past
In general, there is no film genre today that is more likely to assure box office success (usually blockbuster status) than superhero films. I believe there are many reasons why today’s filmgoers enjoy escaping into a world where evil villains (often super-villains) are defeated by superheroes (however flawed) who do not need to do things “by the book” (i.e., wait on the slow-moving wheels of a bureaucratic and sometimes corrupt justice system). This is not the place to review those reasons.Imagine my surprise, then, when I watch a popular superhero film that seems to challenge the myth of redemptive violence […]
Amid the superhero movies and raunchy comedies, the Cineplex occasionally sneaks in a quiet, “inspired by a true story” film. Such is Belle, which is based on the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mabatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy admiral.Belle deals with the racism that existed then, and we view it with a self-righteous disdain for their backward ways. But it doesn’t confront us with our own racist structures today.