Media Matters Archive

Get Out

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March 31, 2017 Gordon Houser

Get Out came out more than a month ago, but it’s worth talking about. While it is rated R for violence, bloody images, and language, it tackles an important issue in a creative, disturbing way. The film’s plot draws on other horror films, such as The Stepford Wives and Rosemary’s Baby, as a conspiracy is gradually revealed. It also employs humor in many places. The film is by first-time director Jordan Peele, who also wrote and produced it. Made for only $4.5 million, it’s already grossed more than $154 million worldwide. Peele uses some typical tropes of the horror genre but […]

Designated Survivor

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March 24, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

During the Cold War, the U.S. government, out of fear of the Soviet Union using nuclear weapons, created a position of “designated survivor,” which still exists today. While the president, vice president, members of Congress, and members of the president’s cabinet attend, say, a State of the Union address, one lower-level cabinet member stays away from the scene. Escorted by the Secret Service in presidential fashion, the designated survivor hangs out in an undisclosed location. If all higher-ranking officials perish in a catastrophe, the designated survivor assumes the presidency. When the Capitol Building suffers a horrific attack, everyone ranked higher […]

The Lego Batman Movie

March 17, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

As a family comedy, The Lego Batman Movie excels, but as a parody, this film is virtually unparalleled. Its playful pokes at the explosion of superhero movies during the last 15 years proves that yes, you can make a blisteringly funny parody without falling back on sex gags and gross-out humor—and you can actually tell a better story in the process. It pillories everything from the format of dark superhero movies to comics, cartoons, old TV shows, and hero-archnemesis relationships. Three years have passed since Batman helped saved the universe in The Lego Movie, and he’s just as busy as ever […]

The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story

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March 10, 2017 Vic Thiessen

The first season of American Crime Story is really a 10-part miniseries on the so-called Trial of the Century: The People v. O.J. Simpson. Unlike many people around the world, including tens of millions in the United States, I didn’t pay much attention to the 1995 trial of O. J. Simpson for the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend Ron Goldman. Perhaps that’s one reason the show didn’t blow me away the way it blew away many television critics. The People v. O. J. Simpson has received countless awards and overwhelming critical acclaim. For a television miniseries, The People v. […]

The Salesman

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March 3, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

The Salesman won the Academy Award for the best foreign film a few days ago. Asghar Farhadi, the director, was not present but had someone else read his statement: “My absence is out of respect for the people in my country and those of the other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.” His statement went on to critique the practice of “dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories.” The cracks begin to appear as Emad wants to know what happened and pressures Rana to report […]

Not actually a review

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February 24, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Put your proverbial blindfolds on for a minute and ponder the contrast of two movies. Movie A impressed critics enough to earn a cumulative score of 83 on Metacritic and scored two Golden Globe nominations. By contrast, Movie B annoyed critics, earning a paltry score of 40 on Metacritic and earning two nominations for the Razzies, which serve as the anti-Oscars and dole out awards for the worst movies and performances of the year. There always seems to be a movie that racks up nominations but goes home empty-handed. Okay, blindfolds off. Movie A? 20th Century Women. Movie B? Suicide […]

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo

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February 17, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

By Michelle Sinclair Longtime readers of Media Matters might remember my love of Korean dramas (self-contained 16-24 episode TV shows), and a recent series was so much fun I wanted to revisit the topic. Don’t be turned away by the silly-sounding title. Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo is a delight from beginning to end, subverting clichés and mining comedy from some of the most relatable parts of growing up. The title is a play on a piece of Korean culture, applying the word “fairy” to a female star of any stripe. For example, the South Korean women’s figure skating champion Kim […]

20th Century Women

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February 16, 2017 Vic Thiessen

Filmmaker Mike Mills’s last film, Beginners (2010), was about his father, who came out as gay at the age of 75. The film 20th Century Women, which is set in Santa Barbara, California, in 1979, is about Mills’s mother (his father is completely absent and apparently long out of the picture). Mills is represented by 15-year-old Jamie (played by Lucas Jade Zumann), who lives in a large house with his mother, Dorothea (played by Annette Bening), and her two boarders: William (Billy Crudup), the handyman and a former hippie, and Abbie (Greta Gerwig), who is recovering from cancer treatments. Jamie’s […]

Hidden Figures

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February 3, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

The space race is on. Sputnik has orbited and the Russians are in the lead. Hidden Figures tells this based-on-a-true-story in the predictable ways of a triumphal movie. We meet the three African American heroines stranded next to a broken-down car on their way to work at NASA. The challenge of this day is to actually get there, as the car just won’t start. A police officer shows up, and they use his concern for America in the space contest to get past his initial prejudice. Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe, also in recently reviewed Moonlight) uses a similar tactic earlier […]

Open Season on Awards

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January 27, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

It’s open season. Not duck season, not deer season. It’s awards season, and you don’t even need a permit to collect your bounty. The next month will bring not only the most prestigious film and music award shows but also some lesser-known—but perhaps more interesting—award shows. By the way, my opening you just read was terrible. Dreadful. Hokey. But it could have easily been an introduction at an awards show. The Golden Globes ushered in 2017 awards season two weeks ago, and the next month will bring not only the most prestigious film and music award shows but also some […]