Movie review Archive

Suburbicon

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November 10, 2017 Vic Thiessen

George Clooney’s new film, a dark-comedy noir starring Matt Damon and based on an old screenplay by the Coen brothers, seems like it should have been a guaranteed success. Instead, Suburbicon flopped at the box office and was panned by the critics. What happened, and is the film really as bad as the critics say? Suburbicon’s satire works quite well and does give viewers something to think about as we consider life in North America today. The opening scene would suggest otherwise. By way of a TV ad that perfectly captures the time (1950s) and place (small-town USA) in an […]

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House

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October 27, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

When I taught college journalism, there was one thing I included on the syllabus every quarter: a midterm viewing of All the President’s Men. Watching young reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein track down leads and overcome obstacles served as an example of the hard work, luck, and dogged reporting it took to break a big story. Aside from providing journalistic inspiration, the movie also entertained; it was as much a detective thriller as it was a historical account. Anyone looking for an exciting, eye-opening supplementary sequel to All the President’s Men, however, will not find it in this movie. […]

Battle of the Sexes

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October 20, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

Battle of the Sexes is an island of fist-pumping inspiration in the usual seasonal deluge of October horror movies. The film tells the story of Billie Jean King, the push for equal pay in women’s tennis, and the cultural undercurrents surrounding the 1973 tennis match between King and Tennis Hall of Famer Bobby Riggs. Billie Jean insists multiple times throughout the film that she’s not trying to say that women are better than men, just that women deserve the same respect as men. It’s the early 1970s, and women’s tennis players are struggling for equal pay and respect. Tennis star […]

Blade Runner 2049

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October 13, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

The original Blade Runner is a hard act to follow. It has been studied and written about and re-edited so many times that I always have to check which version is being referred to. Blade Runner 2049 partially answers the questions we have argued over for years, while leaving more unanswered. Is Deckard (Harrison Ford) a replicant, as is hinted several times in the original? 2049 continues the questions from Blade Runner and raises the stakes by asking what it means to reproduce. Can’t tell you. We do discover at least a sketch of what happened after he and Rachael […]

Three Film Gems to Watch For: The Florida Project, Loveless, A Fantastic Woman

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October 6, 2017 Vic Thiessen

Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to attend the annual Edmonton International Film Festival (EIFF), now among the 50 most prestigious film festivals in North America and generally featuring the best independent and foreign films of the year. I have watched 14 excellent films over the past six days (seven more films to go), three of which stand out as almost flawless gems that are not to be missed (if you enjoy independent and foreign films). They are reviewed below, in the order in which I liked them. This is profound independent filmmaking at its very best. […]

Brad’s Status

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September 29, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

When Facebook ceased becoming a college phenomenon and branched out to include older folks, people found long-lost friends, acquaintances, or someone they nodded to every day in the hall. This allowed people to reconnect with blasts from their pasts, but it also inevitably led to comparison of lives. What was their occupation? Did they have kids? Were they more successful than me? One of the problems with Brad’s Status is that there is too much Brad. Clement, Fischer, Sheen, and Wilson form a great cast, but they’re all underused. Of course, success is all relative and depends on what each […]

First They Killed My Father

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September 22, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers is a biopic directed by Angelina Jolie and released in theaters and on Netflix simultaneously. Based on the eponymous memoir, the story follows the memories of a woman, Loung Ung, who was five years old when the Khmer Rouge came to power in Cambodia. The father’s quiet endurance and the risks he takes for his family under this deadly cloud speak powerfully of his love and courage. The film begins with a brief but stark history lesson: Cambodia had been a neutral country since 1954, but in the early 1970s […]

Wind River

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September 15, 2017 Vic Thiessen

“Why is it that whenever you people try to help us, you always insult us first, huh?” This line from Wind River, spoken by Martin (Gil Birmingham), a resident of the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, is an example of that rarest of features in the history of North American cinema: treating Native Americans with understanding, honesty, and respect. Indeed, it’s a travesty that so few films about Native Americans and Aboriginal people have been made since the countless Westerns about “cowboys and Indians.” Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves (1990) was a huge step in the right direction, but […]

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

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September 8, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

I couldn’t escape the irony as I sat in the theater, just minutes into the film, and watched Al Gore speaking in Houston about what could happen. Months later the rain and catastrophic flooding is happening in Houston and we barely have time to notice that a third of Bangladesh is under water. Yet some of those in power in our nation refuse to believe that climate change is happening. To believe requires taking responsibility, and that might impinge on policy. The film doesn’t leave us with doom and gloom. We are urged to take action. We want to believe […]

A Ghost Story

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September 1, 2017 Gordon Houser

A Ghost Story, directed by David Lowery, is the ultimate anti-blockbuster film. It is slow, with long takes and little dialogue, and eschews any violent action or special effects. There aren’t any car chases or bombs going off. Lowery plays with our conception of time as linear. In addition to the long takes, he makes quick cuts from one time period to another. And it will not set any box-office records. It only stayed one week at my local cinema, and when I viewed it, I was one of three people in the theater. But art and popularity don’t always […]