Movie review Archive

The Man Who Invented Christmas

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December 15, 2017 Vic Thiessen

In December 1843, Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol, a novella that forever changed the way people think about and celebrate Christmas (introducing, for example, the concepts of linking family gatherings and special meals to the Christmas season). Most importantly to me, A Christmas Carol made Christmas a time to remember those less fortunate than ourselves. It’s a call to fight against the poverty created by our collective greed and to give generously of our time and money to assure that everyone can have a “Merry Christmas” (the popularization of this term is another contribution of the novella). The depressing […]

Lady Bird

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December 1, 2017 Gordon Houser

No, this film is not about Lady Bird Johnson. The title character, 17-year-old Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan in an outstanding performance), gives herself that moniker to try to establish a different identity. She wants to escape her hometown of Sacramento, which she calls “the Midwest of California” (as if the Midwest were a bad thing), and get into an East Coast college, preferably in New York City. What we pay attention to reveals what we love. Her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf, who is equally good), has other ideas. She harps on her daughter constantly that their family can’t afford to […]

Thor: Ragnorak

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November 24, 2017 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Cate Blanchett: winner of two Academy Awards and nominee for four others. Anthony Hopkins: winner of an Academy Award and nominee for three others. Mark Ruffalo: three-time Oscar nominee. Tom Hiddleston and Idris Elba: Golden Globe winners. One would expect to see all these talented actors in a new production of Hamlet, or maybe a Jane Austen screen adaptation, or a rousing episode of Masterpiece Theater. Or perhaps Thor: Ragnorak. What? While comic book film adaptations will never be timeless works of art, Thor: Ragnorak proves that they can be clever and entertaining. Yes, a who’s who of British thespians […]

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 […]