Movie review Archive

The Peanuts Movie

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November 27, 2015 Matthew Kauffman Smith

A friend of mine went to see The Peanuts Movie at a matinee show and reported back to me that there was no one in the theater under the age of 30. Granted, there were only about 15 people present, but for the opening weekend of a major children’s release, that’s an interesting statistic. My nine-year-old daughter thought so too, especially since we went to a matinee on Veteran’s Day with a couple of hundred other families with the same idea. Kids ruled that theater. Why, my daughter wondered, were there no kids at the other showing? Charles Schulz used […]

The Martian

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November 20, 2015 Michelle D. Sinclair

The Martian came out more than a month and a half ago, but there’s a very good reason it’s still in theaters, with many available showtimes. Director Ridley Scott’s latest space effort is based on a 2011 novel by Andy Weir, and it has nothing to do with nightmare aliens or cryptic plotlines. Instead, this rare non–R rated adventure film deals with one man’s Robinson Crusoe–esque sojourn on Earth’s closest neighbor, a place humanity may visit in the not so distant future. After all, it is public goodwill that ultimately drives our reach for the stars. When a sudden storm […]

Steve Jobs

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November 13, 2015 Vic Thiessen

A biopic about a computer genius doesn’t sound like the recipe for a spellbinding classic. But when you have Aaron Sorkin writing the screenplay (based on the book by Walter Isaacson), Danny Boyle directing, and actors like Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogan, and Jeff Daniels at the top of their game, a masterpiece is apparently achievable. It is a stroke of genius on Sorkin’s part to write the story of Jobs in three isolated acts. With Sorkin’s gift for brilliant dialogue writing, it’s like watching a great play. Fassbender plays the man behind the MacBook Pro I am currently […]

Back to the Future

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October 30, 2015 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Last Wednesday, October 21, 2015, I picked up my phone and hailed Siri, iPhone users’ favorite personal assistant, confidant, and fake friend. I said, “Happy Back to the Future Day, Siri.” She responded by saying, “Be careful who you date today, or you could start disappearing from photos,” a reference to the first Back to the Future movie. I wished her Happy Back to the Future Day probably 20 times, and received 10 original answers, all referencing the 1985 film and its two sequels. She said “Great Scott,” a favorite saying of character Doc Brown. She asked if I wanted […]

A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story

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October 9, 2015 Jerry L. Holsopple

Like its protagonist, the documentary A Brave Heart remains upbeat and positive throughout. Both could have justifiably wallowed in the pain, which would create empathy in many viewers, but would not win our respect. In an age obsessed with appearances, Lizzie lives fully in the body she has been given. From birth, Lizzie Velasquez has suffered with a rare syndrome, actually undiagnosed until she was an adult, which gives her unusual facial features and makes it almost impossible for her to gain weight. When Lizzie was in high school, she discovered a YouTube video titled “The World’s Ugliest Woman,” which […]

Slavery By Another Name

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October 2, 2015 Gordon Houser

On Sunday, Sept. 13, Jeanne and I walked from our home in North Newton, Kansas, over to the Bethel College campus to attend a showing of the documentary Slavery by Another Name, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and had its national broadcast on PBS on Feb. 3, 2012. KIPCOR (Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution) sponsored the showing and the discussion that followed. President Teddy Roosevelt looked the other way, not wanting to displease his wealthy supporters. After all, this penal servitude, unpaid labor, was good for business. Slavery by Another Name is a powerful film, […]

A Walk in the Woods

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September 18, 2015 Michelle D. Sinclair

Perhaps it’s because baby boomers like to reshape every age demographic they enter, but there seem to be more and more movies featuring the 60+ set. Broadening Hollywood’s standards of who can carry a compelling story and make money at it can only be a good thing. A Walk in the Woods is the latest entry into that category, a “road trip” type film starring actors whose heydays coincided with the Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan years. Even if some parts of this based-on-a-true-story film were rearranged, fictionalized or altered completely, this is a movie, not a documentary, and the […]

Mistress America

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September 11, 2015 Vic Thiessen

Mistress America is another quirky, witty, honest, and thought-provoking independent comedy drama from writer/director Noah Baumbach. His previous films include Greenberg, The Squid and the Whale, Frances Ha, and While We’re Young, all of which contain a lot of social commentary and all of which I enjoyed very much. Since I also have trouble enjoying films with unsympathetic characters, my appreciation for Baumbach’s films must be grounded in the strong element of hope that I find in his films. Baumbach grew up in New York City and had a difficult childhood, which is reflected in the dark edge that is […]

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

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September 4, 2015 Jerry L. Holsopple

I slipped into the seat early—like normal—and watched the stream of trailers. Almost every trailer noted its film was based on a true story, or was “the” true story, or that it revealed the hidden true story.  Watch, have some laughs, enjoy the ending, and forget it by tomorrow. I watched three minutes of climbers trying to survive a trip down Everest, 33 miners trapped for 69 days in Chile, and the secret soldiers of Benghazi, who apparently rescued the Americans at the embassy. Being based on a true story seemingly validates the expenditure of making a movie and should […]

The Gift

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August 28, 2015 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Psychological thrillers are an odd genre for me, because once the intrigue has played out, the secrets come out, and the ending reveals surprises, the thrill is gone. I can watch good comedies repeatedly because a good laugh never gets old. I’ve seen the Fugitive half a dozen times because watching the good guy win—and watching Tommy Lee Jones’s character—never gets old. I’ve seen Hoosiers probably 20 times because, well, I’m from Indiana, and watching game-winning buzzer-beaters never gets old. The Sixth Sense? Once. Mystic River? Once. Silence of the Lambs? Once. They’re all well-made, entertaining films, but I don’t […]