Jerry L. Holsopple Archive

The Salesman

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March 3, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

The Salesman won the Academy Award for the best foreign film a few days ago. Asghar Farhadi, the director, was not present but had someone else read his statement: “My absence is out of respect for the people in my country and those of the other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.” His statement went on to critique the practice of “dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories.” The cracks begin to appear as Emad wants to know what happened and pressures Rana to report […]

Hidden Figures

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February 3, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

The space race is on. Sputnik has orbited and the Russians are in the lead. Hidden Figures tells this based-on-a-true-story in the predictable ways of a triumphal movie. We meet the three African American heroines stranded next to a broken-down car on their way to work at NASA. The challenge of this day is to actually get there, as the car just won’t start. A police officer shows up, and they use his concern for America in the space contest to get past his initial prejudice. Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe, also in recently reviewed Moonlight) uses a similar tactic earlier […]

Fences

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January 6, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

It is Pittsburgh in the 1950s. Troy (Denzel Washington) and his friend Bono empty trash cans into the back of a truck. It is Friday, and Troy wonders aloud why it is only white men who drive the trucks, while the black men are the ones handling the garbage. He raises the issue in hopes of becoming the first black driver. Later that afternoon, Troy and Bono sit at the back of his house talking about life, and we meet Troy’s wife, Rose (Viola Davis). It is clear she loves him, and it seems like they have a good life […]

The Edge of Seventeen

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December 9, 2016 Jerry L. Holsopple

While some may dream of going back to high school, The Edge of Seventeen reminds everyone how hard it can be to grow up. Nadine thinks she doesn’t belong, perceives her popular jock brother, Darian, as being favored, and barely survives her mother’s attempts to get back in the dating scene. Nadine wields her wit like a shield to protect herself from a constant sense of loneliness. She picks on her favorite teacher because he doesn’t humor her but rather returns her comments with his own dry wit and concern couched in wise remarks. Her snarky remarks ricochet right back […]

Moonlight

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November 4, 2016 Jerry L. Holsopple

Moonlight is an extraordinary tale of growing up, of discovering who you are, and of hiding the truth, sometimes even from yourself. The film is full of irony and contradiction, and this combination is one that makes this movie incredible. We have seen many of the same challenges in films before, but this combination of black manhood and sexual identity is revealing and painful. We meet Chiron as he is running from a group of other young boys and escapes through a fence and hides in an abandoned building. Juan (Mahersala Ali of House of Cards), a drug dealer, sees […]

The Queen of Katwe

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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 […]

The Light between Oceans

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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 […]

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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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 […]

Tangerine and Risttuules (In the Crosswind)

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July 8, 2016 Jerry L. Holsopple

What does it mean to have a homeland and to long to return to it, or to choose to stay where you are because you have buried too many family members to pick up and leave again? What is worth sacrificing for your homeland? Two recent Estonian films flirt with answers to that question with very different narratives and styles. Two recent Estonian films flirt with answers to that question with very different narratives and styles. Tangerine opens in 1992 with a saw blade running through a board as Ivo makes another tangerine crate. He is Estonian but has lived […]

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 […]

About The Author

Jerry L. Holsopple

Jerry L. Holsopple is Professor of Visual and Communication Arts at Eastern Mennonite University with a PhD from European Graduate School. This fall semester 2015, Jerry is Artist in Residence at the Luce Center for Art and Religion, part of Wesley Theological Seminary. He spent a year as a Fullbright scholar in Lithuania. In 1998, he was instrumental in launching Third Way website.

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