Movie review Archive

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 […]

Room

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January 29, 2016 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Room is not an easy movie to watch. Joy, known simply as “Ma” lives in captivity, kidnapped at the age of 17 by a man known as “Old Nick,” who locks her in a shed. She gives birth to a son, Jack, and the two of them live in what they refer to as “Room.” Nick visits nightly as Jack falls asleep in a closet, oblivious that his mother has been a captive concubine for more than seven years. Jack does not know he is in peril. He has lived in Room all of his life, and has never stepped […]

Creed

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January 22, 2016 Carmen Andres

I grew up watching the Rocky films, so after Sylvester Stallone received a Golden Globe for his performance in Creed, I thought it about time to see that one too. Like Mary Anne, Johnson, and Rocky, we are a family of adopted and wounded brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, mothers and fathers bonded by a sacrificial love. Since it had been decades since I’d seen the first film, I decided to watch Rocky first. Rocky, which won Best Picture, was written by Stallone, who also was nominated for his portrayal of the blue-collar boxer who holds his own in […]

Carol

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January 15, 2016 Vic Thiessen

Sure to be nominated for numerous Academy Awards, Carol is an engaging and evocative period drama about two women who fall in love with each other in 1951, a time when such a relationship was not only scandalous but a sign of serious psychological dysfunction. Carol is a quiet, understated film featuring terrific performances by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as well as gorgeous cinematography, a great score, and tight, flawless direction. Carol (played by Cate Blanchett) is a wealthy woman who has recently initiated divorce proceedings with her husband, Harge (Kyle Chandler). She has a close friend, Abby (Sarah […]