Movie review Archive

Money Monster

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June 3, 2016 Gordon Houser

Money Monster is a thriller that takes on current issues and offers some surprising twists, which only adds to its interest and appeal. The film confronts us with our own complicity in the way CEOs run their companies. The film opens with Lee Gates (George Clooney), who hosts a cable show, Money Monster. He’s full of himself and resists taking direction from his longtime director, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts), who cues him when to say what. During the show, a deliveryman, Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), sneaks onto the set with a gun, and takes Lee hostage. Angry, Kyle says he […]

Sing Street

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May 27, 2016 Matthew Kauffman Smith

When I taught 100-level college writing, there were times where I would read a student’s paper and not have any clue how to respond. A professor of mine deemed these papers as the “ungradables.” I would put the paper back in the rotation to read it again later, and hope I’d have a clearer vision the next time around. (Side note: One time I was grading outside at the coast, read a paper, and exclaimed, “I don’t know what to say about this!” With impeccable timing, a seagull flew over and dropped its opinion right on top of the student’s […]

Captain America: Civil War

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May 20, 2016 Carmen Andres

Comic book movies are a big deal at my house. My son’s birthday conveniently falls near the early May release dates of many of the Avenger films, so I often see the movies with a group of my son’s friends, who are avid young fans. It is the internal struggles of the heroes, villains, and even the minor characters that resonate most in this film. Not that I mind. I love comic book films, too—and I’m obviously not alone. But it’s not just the blockbuster nature of the films that attracts audiences. Like all good stories, we are drawn to […]

A Hologram for the King

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May 13, 2016 Vic Thiessen

German filmmaker Tom Tykwer doesn’t get much respect in North America. This has always been a mystery to me, because in Europe he’s considered one of the greats and he’s been one of my very favorite directors since he made one of my 25 favorite films of all time, Run Lola Run, in 1998 (it’s the only one of Tykwer’s films that was critically acclaimed in North America). In the brilliant opening scene, we learn that Alan has lost his house, his wife, and his car. His personal life feels like a roller coaster and his work isn’t going well […]

Midnight Special

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May 6, 2016 Gordon Houser

Jeff Nichols’s film Midnight Special has you wondering from the beginning what is happening and where is it leading. It opens with a news report about a man who is wanted for kidnapping 8-year-old Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher). The man is Roy (Michael Shannon), and it turns out Alton is his son. Nichols treats each of his characters with respect for their complex humanity. He doesn’t view the members of the cult as dolts or the government workers as villains. Roy is accompanied by Lucas (Joel Edgerton), and the two of them flee the motel where they have the boy […]

Elvis and Nixon

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April 29, 2016 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Out of all of the photographic treasures housed at the National Archives, one stands out as the most requested picture of all time: a 1970 photograph of Elvis Presley standing with then president Richard Nixon in the White House. The photo captured the moment after a brief, informal, and impromptu meeting between the two icons. Elvis’s yin is three times larger than Nixon’s stoic yang. That, of course, is what makes the meeting intriguing. Four and a half decades later, that meeting plays out on the big screen in Elvis and Nixon, an entertaining, albeit shallow account of what the movie’s […]

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 […]