Jerry L. Holsopple Archive

Technology is making the world too small

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May 5, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

I considered reviewing The Circle this week, but the early reviews have been so scathing that I couldn’t bring myself to go to the theater. If a movie can’t convince 20 percent of the reviewers on a review site to approve of the film, you know it is not worth your hard-earned money. (Wait a minute—doesn’t this contradict what I will say later?) The film’s paranoid take on the Net cowers under the multiple screens and the surveilling cameras. We pay much less attention to the people we are with, as the device requires at least peripheral attention at all times. […]

Roll Columbia: Woody Guthrie’s 26 Northwest Songs

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April 7, 2017 Jerry L. Holsopple

Woody Guthrie wrote 26 tunes during one month of 1941, working for a Depression-era government project in the Columbia River Valley. The tunes reflect the struggle of those who work hard and still struggle to survive. The tales rewind the pain of those wandering the country looking for a job, a better place to live, and a way to raise their families. These new versions, recorded mostly by artists based in the Pacific Northwest, start the two-disc set with “Pastures of Plenty,” featuring the wonderful guitar work of Jon Neufeld and Michael Hurley. The tunes seem to be from another […]

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 […]

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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