Movie review Archive

Miracles from Heaven

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April 22, 2016 Carmen Andres

Good films, like all good stories, tell us something about ourselves and the world around us, and the best stories challenge and inspire us. You might think Christian films would be at the top of my list in this regard, but generally they’re not. From their low production quality to poor storytelling and character development, these films leave me more frustrated than inspired. But the film’s best moments are those without words, especially at pivotal points in Christy’s faith journey. Over the last few years, faith-based films have seen an infusion of Hollywood studios, star power, and directors. Unfortunately, most […]

Hello, My Name is Doris

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April 15, 2016 Jerry L. Holsopple

Doris Miller (Sally Field), on the heels of her mother’s death, meets John Fremont (Max Greenfield) on a crowded elevator on his first day of work. After stealing a pencil from his briefcase, she begins to fantasize that he felt the same sparks of romance that she did as she gazed into his eyes. The film attempts to turn the normal Hollywood script on its head—where it has become normal for an older man to seduce or fall for a much younger woman. Doris, we learn, chose to take care of her mother rather than pursuing love. Now she wants […]

Eye in the Sky

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April 8, 2016 Vic Thiessen

On March 7 of this year, the U.S. military used drones (and other aircraft) to kill over 150 people in Somalia, a country with which it is not at war. The immediate claim of the U.S. government was that all the people killed were either terrorists or militants, but no proof of this claim has been offered. The mainstream media nevertheless accept such claims without question, and one has to go to investigative journalists like Glenn Greenwald (of the Intercept) to find any critical analysis of such attacks. What about the likely death of the innocent young girl selling bread […]

Noble

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April 1, 2016 Gordon Houser

Noble (PG-13) tells the dramatic true story of Christina Noble, who overcomes a harsh childhood in Ireland to give her life to helping abandoned children. Overcome by how many children are in need of care and protection, particularly from sex traffickers, Christina eventually convinces donors to help create a ministry. The film moves between scenes of Christina’s life growing up in Ireland and her arrival in Vietnam in 1989, 14 years after the end of the war. Different actors portray her as a child, as a young adult, and as an older adult, arriving in Ho Chi Minh City with […]

Zootopia

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March 25, 2016 Matthew Kauffman Smith

As the U.S. presidential election ramps up, and candidates trade barbs, insults, and half-truths about each other, it’s easy to become cynical and jaded. No matter which party you support if you are in the United States, the rhetoric is old, familiar, and repetitive. “Don’t assume things about other people—or animals—based on how they look or where they originated from.” I watched a movie several days after listening to the aftermath of the Super Tuesday primaries in March. Suddenly, I realized that I didn’t think everyone is misguided and power hungry. Finally, I found some voices I could believe in: […]

Young Messiah

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March 18, 2016 Carmen Andres

Bible films have experienced a resurgence in the last decade or so, and last weekend The Young Messiah joined the ranks. Based on Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by bestselling author Anne Rice (which she wrote after her return to Catholicism), the film explores one year in the life of a seven-year-old Jesus as he and his family return from Egypt to Nazareth. To remember that Jesus grew up—and eventually taught the way of the kingdom—in such a volatile place and time strips away some of the Sunday school storybook sheen and fleshes out the Gospels in a fresh […]

Risen

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March 11, 2016 Vic Thiessen

As I mentioned in my review of Son of God two years ago, I like to watch Jesus films during Lent. But a new Jesus film worth watching seemed unlikely in wake of the many disappointments I have experienced watching Christian films over the past two years (including Son of God). A record number of Christian and religious films hit our local theaters during that time (e.g., Exodus, Noah, Heaven Is for Real, God’s Not Dead), and they have had huge box office success in the United States. But in my opinion that success was undeserved, as all of those […]

Landfill Harmonic

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February 26, 2016 Matthew Kauffman Smith

When I started working at a newspaper shortly after graduating from college, I learned a valuable lesson early on: When presented with a compelling story, resist the temptation to use flowery adjectives, and don’t try to overdramatize a story that is already dramatic. If someone overcomes an obstacle or rallies for an improbable victory, then the story should lead the author, not the other way around. Chavez noticed a void of opportunities for the children of Cateura, so he decided to provide music lessons. Simple storytelling and allowing the characters and subject matter to lead the way is the primary reason […]

Bridge of Spies

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February 19, 2016 Carmen Andres

[This review may contain spoilers] The Oscar-nominated Bridge of Spies is an inspiring story and a great piece of filmmaking. Critics praise the collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, calling the film gripping, satisfying, and even eloquent. It is a timely story that invites us to examine our own roles in our current culture, where fears of terrorism too often drive opinion and policy. But the heart of the film is Hanks’s James B. Donovan, a man of quiet tenacity and compassion who believes in the value of the Constitution and that “every person matters”—even an enemy. The Cold War […]

Hail, Caesar!

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February 12, 2016 Vic Thiessen

A Catholic priest, a Protestant minister, a Greek Orthodox priest, and a Jewish rabbi walk into a bar—no, they go fishing—no, they sit in a Hollywood studio office in 1951 and debate whether an upcoming film’s depiction of Jesus will be offensive to reasonable people. I had a grin on my face from almost the beginning to the end of this marvelous comedy. That absolutely hilarious scene is the best of many whacky and wonderful scenes in the Coen brothers’ new film, Hail Caesar! It’s a film that begins and ends with Jesus on the cross, has countless references to […]