Media Matters Archive

Spider-Man: Homecoming

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July 21, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review by Michelle Sinclair How many times can you sit through a reboot of the same superhero story and still be entertained, even moved? I had thought I was at my limit for Spider-Man movies, but after a little taste of Tom Holland’s joyous teenage web crawler in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, I knew I’d want to see what he could do in his own movie. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Holland—and the filmmakers around him–don’t disappoint. Peter Parker wants to stop big crimes and be a part of the Avengers so badly and yet Robert Downey Jr’s Tony […]

Rectify

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July 14, 2017 Vic Thiessen

With the advent of made-for-cable TV in the late 1990s, the quality of television took a huge leap forward, sometimes even reaching the level of top-quality filmmaking (very rare for network TV). This has made it not only possible but necessary for critics to take television seriously as an art form potentially equal to the best films. I have begun reviewing TV shows as a result. Indeed, Rectify is so unusual in its pacing and in the sublime quality of its writing (especially the dialogue) and acting that it sometimes feels like a new art form. This review is aimed […]

Megan Leavey

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July 10, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

Megan Leavey, based on a true story, spins a tale in mostly predictable ways while regularly grabbing your emotions and spiking your adrenaline. Megan, whose best friend died of an overdose, is stuck in the guilt of having survived, and the trauma of loss. She fights constantly with her mother, who never seems to understand. Seemingly bereft of options, Megan enlists in the Marines. She makes this multiyear commitment just to get away from her life as it is. If we were to consider the dogs in this film as a metaphor for our expectation and treatment of human soldiers, […]

Did you know it’s National Midyear Music Award Day?

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June 30, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Every Christmas, my mom, a high school French teacher, would take her seasonal decorations out of storage. She had four wooden blocks, one for each letter of the originally French word Noel. My brother and I had a tradition of our own: reversing the letters to spell the name Leon. My mom would find Leon, sigh, and transform him back into Noel. This cycle repeated itself dozens of times throughout the Advent season. First presented in 2014, and again in 2015, the awards resume this year after I celebrated Take a Yearlong Hiatus Day in 2016. Unbeknownst to my brother […]

Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War

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June 23, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

It sometimes seems that there’s never an end to the horrifying things humanity will do to one another. Stories like the ones told in Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War offer an antidote to the toxicity, proving ordinary people have done—and we hope will continue to do—extraordinary things in defiance of hate. Periodically, they returned home to children who were growing up without them. In this Ken Burns documentary (released last fall and recently made available on Netflix), Tom Hanks and Marina Goldman narrate the voices of an American Unitarian minister and his wife who left their small children behind […]

Wonder Woman

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June 16, 2017 Vic Thiessen

Hailed by critics and educators as a groundbreaking feminist superhero film, Wonder Woman has also captured the attention of millions of viewers around the globe, becoming by far the biggest blockbuster of the year. But behind the acclaim lie questions that few people are asking, questions that may come to haunt us as a society as the superhero genre continues to capture the imaginations of today’s younger generations. For much of the film there is little evidence of Diana’s awareness of the fact that she is trying to achieve her noble antiwar ends through horrifically violent means. This is not […]

Anne with an E

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June 9, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

Anne of Green Gables is my mother’s favorite movie. She watches the 1980’s version several times every year. I will not mention this new version to her, for Anne with an E opens a window to the trauma that fills Anne’s memories. I encourage fans of the books and previous incarnations to give this version a chance. While many of the situations that the 1980s version uses for great humor remain in this new take, they often have a more painful subtext. You will not laugh away your tough day watching the antics of this Anne. The 1980s version is […]

Three novels to check out

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June 2, 2017 Gordon Houser

Summer is coming, and for some that means setting aside more time to catch up on reading. And what better to read than fiction? Here are three novels I’ve read in the past few weeks that I recommend. What is most effective is how Hannah helps readers experience what it must have been like to face hunger and cold and watch Jewish neighbors be hauled away. The Nightingale (2015) by Kristin Hannah tells the story of two sisters in France just before and during the Nazi occupation of France in World War II. Hannah draws her characters well and explores […]

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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May 26, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

It’s official: I’m a sucker. I convinced myself that, after watching the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it would be an above-average comic-book-themed movie. I didn’t think it would be a film classic like Citizen Kane, but I thought perhaps it could be the Citizen Kane of movies based on Marvel Comics. It could also just be good-guy-fights-bad-guy , things explode, good guy wins. And I’ll be a sucker again. After all, the first Guardians of the Galaxy showed promise in establishing a hodgepodge of outcasts who band together, earn each other’s trust, and form a semblance […]

13 Reasons Why

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May 19, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

The most talked about TV show on Netflix over the last few weeks has been 13 Reasons Why, the 13-episode series adapted from Jay Asher’s young adult novel of the same name. If you’ve missed the buzz, the show is about a teenage girl’s suicide, as well as the tapes she leaves behind to pinpoint the people and actions that led to her death. The tale plays out a bit like a murder mystery where you know the ending—Hannah Baker’s suicide—but don’t know how she got there. Most of the talk has centered around the effects watching the show might […]