film review Archive

Eighth Grade

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August 10, 2018 Vic Thiessen

Do you remember eighth grade? I remember it all too well. For me, it was the most difficult year of my life, especially in terms of relating to my peers. But I cannot begin to imagine how much worse that year might have been if I had been a girl in our age of social media. That’s the premise of Bo Burnham’s debut film (he wrote and directed), Eighth Grade, which stars Elsie Fisher as 14-year-old Kayla Day. Kayla, in her final weeks of middle school, is trying to navigate the daily experience of being shunned or ignored by her […]

The King and Won’t You Be My Neighbor

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August 3, 2018 Jerry L. Holsopple

  Filmmaker Eugene Jarecki takes the front seat in Elvis Presley’s 1963 Rolls Royce to explore America in a new film, The King. The coast to coast drive explores the American Dream, the roots of rock and roll, the 2016 U.S. election and the nature of success using Elvis as the metaphoric story. Ethan Hawke shares, near the end, that Elvis at each juncture in his career chose money, more money rather than what might have made him happy or fulfilled. Jarecki uses this theme to make social commentary on the U.S., suggesting that the dream is dead, or really […]

Three Identical Strangers

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July 27, 2018 Matthew Kauffman Smith

The age-old psychology debate of nature versus nurture has been studied and argued for years, but it’s not super splashy. No Hollywood exec is asking Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to star in an action thriller where he must choose between his friends Nurture and Nature—all while saving a burning building. As far as I know, Nature vs. Nurture: The Musical isn’t coming to Broadway anytime soon. The new documentary Three Identical Strangers, however, plays out like a compelling mystery, leaving the viewers to believe nature wins—only to turn that whole theory on its head in the second half of the […]

Leave No Trace

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July 20, 2018 Gordon Houser

One rule of good storytelling is that less is more. One of the things that makes Leave No Trace so effective is not just the story it tells but what it leaves out. Will (Ben Foster) and his 13-year-old daughter, Tom (Thomasin McKenzie), are living in a Forest Park, a nature preserve near Portland, Oregon. They find food, collect rainwater, and sleep in a tent. They also do drills to practice hiding from anyone looking for them. We’re not told why they are there or what they are afraid of. We learn that Will is a veteran, likely suffering from […]

First Reformed

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July 13, 2018 Vic Thiessen

When I was growing up, many of the films I watched made some reference to faith or the church because both played a central, or at least regular, role in the lives of most Americans. But for decades now, films about faith, the church, or both have been few and far between, and when faith is portrayed, it is often viewed negatively, or at best is portrayed as naive. So when a critically acclaimed film comes along that not only takes faith seriously but portrays both its positive and negative aspects, I take special notice. It’s not surprising that such […]

Incredibles 2

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July 6, 2018 Carmen Andres

When The Incredibles came out, our daughter was five years old and our son had just been born. The film instantly became a family favorite, and the DVD was one of our most viewed. Fifteen years later, with a daughter home from college and a teenage son now in high school, Incredibles 2 was designated a must-happen family event—and we weren’t disappointed. Incredibles 2 picks up right where the first one left off, in the middle of the battle between the superheroes and Underminer, who gets away and leaves Metroville with a lot of collateral damage—something the politicians and media […]

Disobedience

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June 15, 2018 Vic Thiessen

Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio recently won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for A Fantastic Woman, the story of a transgender woman in Chile. It was one of my favorite films of 2017. Disobedience, which Lelio directed and cowrote, is Lelio’s first English-language film. It feels very different from A Fantastic Woman, though it also showcases Lelio’s ability to elicit masterful performances from his actors, allowing the characters to speak as loudly with their expressions as with their words. Disobedience tells the story of Ronit (Rachel Weisz), Esti (Rachel McAdams), and Dovid (Alessandro Nivola), the closest of friends […]

Solo: A Star Wars Story

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June 8, 2018 Carmen Andres

By: Carmen Andres I can barely remember my life without Star Wars. As a kid, I daydreamed about using Jedi powers to do everything from my chores to defending the galaxy. As an adult, when the prequels started coming out, I secured opening night tickets for my husband and myself each time. When our own children got old enough to watch the films, we treated it like a rite of passage—and each new film that comes out is a family event. Solo: A Star Wars Story comes closest to the fun and adventurous feel of the original trilogy—something I didn’t […]

Lean on Pete

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May 25, 2018 Matthew Kauffman Smith

By Matthew Kauffman Smith Kids and animals. That’s a combination that moviemakers and advertisers alike gravitate to time and again. Cute sells. Flipper was the first movie I saw, and The Black Stallion might have been my second. Benji may have been my third. Even before I became a father, I enjoyed Because of Winn-Dixie and My Dog Skip. As a father, I have endured/enjoyed my share of animal movies.  Lean on Pete is the latest movie about a human and animal bond, but it elevates the narrative to a whole new level. The new movie from writer/director Andrew Haigh […]

Avengers: Infinity War

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May 18, 2018 Michelle D. Sinclair

Written by Michelle Sinclair PSA: This review is a spoiler-free zone. Despite the nauseating amount of my life that I have spent watching every tangential Marvel film to ensure I would Know All The Things going into Avengers: Infinity War, I didn’t particularly want to see it. Some of that is superhero burnout, but mostly I was turned off by the plethora of articles online speculating that the film would be the darkest installment and gushing over how many major characters could die. Not my favorite things. On top of everything else, the title Infinity War does not sound even remotely […]