Movie review Archive

The Queen of Katwe

()
October 7, 2016 Jerry L. Holsopple

The Queen of Katwe could be your typical sports triumph movie: a coach discovers an unusual talent who wins with amazing skill, overcomes major hardships, considers quitting after a setback, but in the end wins it all. Director Mira Nair, however, uses this true story with its setting in Uganda to create a larger tale. She asks Katende where her safe spaces are, like those he has taught her to look for on the chess board. She studies chess and practices endlessly as she pursues her dream to become a master. It is a story of triumph, and I couldn’t […]

Miss Sharon Jones!

()
September 30, 2016 Matthew Kauffman Smith

The only lull that occurs at a Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings concert is when Jones invites audience members onto the stage to dance with her. Most of the time, the chosen few will try too hard to find their 15 seconds of fame as they attempt to overshadow Jones with goofy, ill-advised dance moves. Jones may stand 4 feet 11 inches tall, but it’s impossible for anyone to overshadow her. Jones gave up a music career at some point because “some record label told me I was too fat, too short, black, and old.” Now 60 years old, Jones […]

The Light between Oceans

()
September 9, 2016 Jerry L. Holsopple

Six months on an island by himself is the choice Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) makes as the film opens. He is just back from the war and they need a replacement lighthouse keeper. Why would he choose to live in this isolation? What is he trying to forget from the Great War? Is he punishing himself or escaping from having to see other people? Is it appropriate to ease your own guilt through the potential destruction of others? What makes one a parent? Is it better to forgive than to hold onto wrongs committed? These questions are never really answered […]

Kubo and the Two Strings

(, , , , )
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 […]

Hell or High Water

()
August 26, 2016 Michelle D. Sinclair

Classic Westerns have a look about them: beaten landscapes, dusty shirts, and a hardness in peoples’ eyes that says they’ve seen the worst and don’t expect anything to get better. Hell or High Water doesn’t have to work too hard to apply those hallmarks to its modern-day setting. In fact, the New West looks worse than the old one, a place where hope grew despite itself before succumbing to the relentless pressures of oxidation and a downturned economy. Still, hard times makes good fodder for storytelling, and this tale is a whopper. Where does the line between doing the right […]

The Secret Life of Pets

()
August 19, 2016 Matthew Kauffman Smith

The animated feature film market is oversaturated now, with the major studios releasing one seemingly every other week (and in fact, that is the average since Angry Birds came out in May). While that is way too many in my opinion, it does have one benefit: it is helping my kids distinguish between what they think is a good movie and a just okay movie. At this point in their lives, they haven’t truly disliked any movie, but some movies don’t stick. At this point in their lives, they haven’t truly disliked any movie, but some things don’t stick. When […]

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

()
August 5, 2016 Jerry L. Holsopple

Hunt for the Wilderpeople by New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi is a fun-filled adventure in the wilderness, a coming-of-age tale, and a buddies-on-the-run-road film. But mostly it is about the difficult journey to find or create a family. Finding a family requires the protagonist to explore his or her own character, and to enter the mess that is relationship. While you might guess where the story will end, you can’t begin to chart the course as Waititi keeps changing the pacing, zigging and zagging between heartfelt emotion and pure craziness. Ricky (Julian Dennison) has gotten in trouble for stealing and […]

Captain Fantastic

()
July 29, 2016 Matthew Kauffman Smith

If potential moviegoers view the poster for Captain Fantastic, they may get the wrong impression. Ben (Viggo Mortensen) wears a bright-red suit while flanked by his six children, who are dressed in clothes ranging from semi-formal blazers and dresses to pajamas and a green jumpsuit with gas mask. They stand next to Steve, the family bus. Anyone expecting to see a comedic, fish-out-of-water story will be disappointed. Anyone willing to be simultaneously entertained and challenged will be rewarded. The poster screams QUIRKY COMEDY! Even the film’s name implies something whimsical. While the movie is quirky and features comedic moments, the […]

Ghostbusters (2016)

(, , , )
July 22, 2016 Michelle D. Sinclair

The 2016 remake of Ghostbusters hit theaters last weekend with more than 30 years of ectoplasm dripping off its back. First of all, the very idea of remaking Ghostbusters strikes my generation as heresy. It’s as ridiculous as remaking Back to the Future or Raiders of the Lost Ark. Then you have the brouhaha over putting four women in the packs and jumpsuits, and it’s easy to forget there might be an actual movie under all the nasty Internet comments. A little silly, a little scary, and a whole lot of humor that somehow manages to be old school and […]

The BFG

(, , , )
July 15, 2016 Vic Thiessen

Steven Spielberg rose to fame and fortune as one of the world’s greatest film directors because of his uncanny skill in reading the inclinations of the masses, resulting in one blockbuster after another (though there were a few misfires along the way). That skill seems to have deserted him with his new film, The BFG, which has bombed all over North America despite being (in my opinion) one of the better children’s films made in this century. Unlike the nonstop action featured in most children’s films made today, The BFG is a slow, thoughtful film. Based on Roald Dahl’s 1982 […]