Media Matters Archive

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 […]

The Power of Art

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May 4, 2018 Gordon Houser

By Gordon Houser A delightful French film, Faces Places, directed by Agnès Varda and JR, is a documentary from 2017 that appeared on many critics’ top 10 lists, and it would have appeared on mine, had I seen it in time. Varda, 89, is a well-known director (she was part of the French New Wave in the early 1960s), and JR, 33, is a photographer known for placing large photos on buildings. The two travel through rural France and create portraits of people they come across, then paste them onto surrounding buildings. These are regular people, not celebrities.   The […]

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 […]

Kubo and the Two Strings

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September 2, 2016 Gordon Houser

Too many films designed for younger audiences tend to dumb down their stories. They follow a certain arc that includes humor, fighting, and a chase scene or two, followed perhaps by a moral that’s good enough but fairly tepid. It is carried out with such an imaginative array of characters and complications that it doesn’t feel like a typical movie for younger audiences. But some films depart from this tendency and actually respect their viewers’ intelligence. Kubo and the Two Strings is a recent example. The film uses stop-motion animation, which gives the picture a certain depth. It’s an American […]