Movie review Archive

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 […]

Their Finest

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May 12, 2017 Vic Thiessen

As filmgoers await Christopher Nolan’s probable blockbuster Dunkirk, coming in July, here is a quiet, humorous British drama that approaches the massive 1940 military evacuation from a very different angle, one focusing on the role of women in Great Britain during World War II. Most impressive was the subtle way Their Finest offers a look at how the role of women in the workforce changed during World War II. Their Finest also draws attention to the role of women in filmmaking. Despite all the advances in gender equality (and far too much remains to be done), women have had a […]

Born in China

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April 28, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

If the Academy Award winners were based on cuteness, Born in China would be the runaway winner for best picture, and Mei Mei the baby panda would pretty much win every other category. The latest Earth Day release from Disneynature revels in the cuteness factor of its baby panda, snow leopards, and golden snub-nosed monkeys as they learn to live and survive in the vast China ecosystem. But cuteness only goes so far in life. People eventually yearn for substance, and that bodes true for Born in China. As with its Earth Day documentary predecessors, Disney sacrifices story in favor […]

Beauty and the Beast

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April 14, 2017 Vic Thiessen

Disney’s 1991 Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney animated film. Featuring the delightful songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, the highest quality old-fashioned animation, and a well-told (if heavily altered) fairy tale, the film has several flaws—the biggest being the redemptive violence at the film’s conclusion. Disney’s typical need to kill off the baddie has nothing to do with the fairy tale on which the film is based. The film’s biggest flaw was entirely predictable and is difficult to challenge in a remake. I am referring to the killing off of the baddie at the end of […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Crown

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January 20, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

To be perfectly honest, The Crown had me at “an inside look at the early reign of Queen Elizabeth II.” I’m such an Anglophile and history buff that this show could have been a shoddily produced back-lot project and I probably would have watched. I’m saying all of this so you’ll take this review with about a heart attack’s worth of sodium. One also has to wonder what the Queen herself thinks about all this. Series creator Peter Morgan told Variety this past July that the royal family has had no involvement in the project. Luckily for me, The Crown is […]

La La Land

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January 13, 2017 Vic Thiessen

The big winner at the Golden Globes this week was La La Land. It was written and directed by Damien Chazelle, a young filmmaker whose only previous film was 2014’s Whiplash, which concerned a young drummer sacrificing everything to achieve his dream of greatness. La La Land pursues a similar theme, albeit with greater subtlety and ambiguity. It’s a film that can generate hours of discussion on the meaning of life, which is a wonderful attribute, though whether the answers it provides are always helpful is a matter for debate. The central question in La La Land is whether love […]