Movie review Archive

The human face of evil

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January 1, 2016 Gordon Houser

We are inundated by news of the atrocities of ISIS and other jihadist groups, and many Americans live in an often misguided fear of Muslims. We tend to view these Islamic militants as monsters. Timbuktu is that rare film that is both disturbing and inspiring. Abderrahmane Sissako’s outstanding film Timbuktu paints a different portrait by showing the complex humanity of his characters. This French-Mauritanian film, which originally came out in 2014 but only came to the United States this year, takes its name from the cosmopolitan city in Mali that draws people from many places and where many languages are […]

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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December 25, 2015 Matthew Kauffman Smith

I don’t blame anyone for loathing the Star Wars franchise. It’s a multibillion-dollar industry now in the hands of Disney. Go into any store—not just toy stores—and you’ll find all kind of tie-ins: vitamins, bandages, cereal, notebooks, and action figures. If you have Star Wars fatigue, or if you never cared for the franchise, then skip the long lines and sleep through the hubbub. If you can separate the hype from the art, however, and look at Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as a solitary story, then you’ll appreciate it for what it is: a well-made film. I was talking […]

Macbeth

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December 18, 2015 Michelle D. Sinclair

Double, double, toil and trouble. The new adaptation of Macbeth is a horrifying reminder why Shakespeare still has the power to affect audiences four hundred years after his death. Most everyone knows the play is the tragic story of Lord and Lady Macbeth’s ambition, but the enthralling gambit in director Justin Kurzel’s effort is to paint ambition as the food they eat when grief has taken every other reason to go on. Some moments felt too gut-wrenching to bear. That’s the way the play was written, with madness and desolation at the heart of the tale of a man who […]

Spotlight

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December 11, 2015 Vic Thiessen

Likely to be a major winner at the Academy Awards, Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight is not only a great film but a vitally important one. That importance has less to do with the specific story it tells than with the film’s general subject matter: investigative journalism. I believe risky investigative journalism is the most important prophetic work of our time. The specific story is based on true events, so I will take the liberty of describing more of the plot than usual, with a spoiler warning for those who don’t know the facts and might want to watch the film without […]

The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay Part 2

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December 4, 2015 Jerry L. Holsopple

The Hunger Games series slogs to an end with the second part of the Mockingjay. If you have seen the previous three films you need to see this film to bring resolution, which is what the producers were counting on when they split the third installment into two. That seems to be the standard approach with these epic stories, which in essence is what Katniss discovers as the series draws to a close and understands how both sides in this battle have attempted to manipulate her for their own purposes, just as we are manipulated to pay for one more […]

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 […]