Michelle D. Sinclair Archive

Stranger Things 2

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November 17, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

The second season of a hit show is always going to feel a bit like the kid sister of a standout student: it reaps the benefit of a good reputation, but is also unfairly expected to fit a certain mold. Don’t get me wrong—Stranger Things 2 ticks all the ’80s adventure monster movie boxes that made the original season so entertaining. But it’s also its own story and should be enjoyed without expectations that everything will be the same as it was. After all, the truly great movie sequels don’t simply try to recreate the recipe of the original—they expand on […]

Battle of the Sexes

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October 20, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

Battle of the Sexes is an island of fist-pumping inspiration in the usual seasonal deluge of October horror movies. The film tells the story of Billie Jean King, the push for equal pay in women’s tennis, and the cultural undercurrents surrounding the 1973 tennis match between King and Tennis Hall of Famer Bobby Riggs. Billie Jean insists multiple times throughout the film that she’s not trying to say that women are better than men, just that women deserve the same respect as men. It’s the early 1970s, and women’s tennis players are struggling for equal pay and respect. Tennis star […]

First They Killed My Father

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September 22, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers is a biopic directed by Angelina Jolie and released in theaters and on Netflix simultaneously. Based on the eponymous memoir, the story follows the memories of a woman, Loung Ung, who was five years old when the Khmer Rouge came to power in Cambodia. The father’s quiet endurance and the risks he takes for his family under this deadly cloud speak powerfully of his love and courage. The film begins with a brief but stark history lesson: Cambodia had been a neutral country since 1954, but in the early 1970s […]

Step

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August 18, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

Fifteen years ago, HBO’s The Wire gave the world an intimate look at the darkest parts of Baltimore, Maryland. In the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death in police captivity two years ago, the news delivered brutal images of rioting across the city. But there’s more to Baltimore than violence and professional sports, and thanks to the new documentary Step by Amanda Livitz, Baltimore’s big-dreaming kids, loving parents, and dedicated teachers get their chance to shine. Step is currently on limited release in theaters. The pulsing, seething staccato of their performances make you want to stomp along, but Step isn’t really […]

Spider-Man: Homecoming

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July 21, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review by Michelle Sinclair How many times can you sit through a reboot of the same superhero story and still be entertained, even moved? I had thought I was at my limit for Spider-Man movies, but after a little taste of Tom Holland’s joyous teenage web crawler in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, I knew I’d want to see what he could do in his own movie. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Holland—and the filmmakers around him–don’t disappoint. Peter Parker wants to stop big crimes and be a part of the Avengers so badly and yet Robert Downey Jr’s Tony […]

Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War

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June 23, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

It sometimes seems that there’s never an end to the horrifying things humanity will do to one another. Stories like the ones told in Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War offer an antidote to the toxicity, proving ordinary people have done—and we hope will continue to do—extraordinary things in defiance of hate. Periodically, they returned home to children who were growing up without them. In this Ken Burns documentary (released last fall and recently made available on Netflix), Tom Hanks and Marina Goldman narrate the voices of an American Unitarian minister and his wife who left their small children behind […]

13 Reasons Why

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May 19, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

The most talked about TV show on Netflix over the last few weeks has been 13 Reasons Why, the 13-episode series adapted from Jay Asher’s young adult novel of the same name. If you’ve missed the buzz, the show is about a teenage girl’s suicide, as well as the tapes she leaves behind to pinpoint the people and actions that led to her death. The tale plays out a bit like a murder mystery where you know the ending—Hannah Baker’s suicide—but don’t know how she got there. Most of the talk has centered around the effects watching the show might […]

The Lego Batman Movie

March 17, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

As a family comedy, The Lego Batman Movie excels, but as a parody, this film is virtually unparalleled. Its playful pokes at the explosion of superhero movies during the last 15 years proves that yes, you can make a blisteringly funny parody without falling back on sex gags and gross-out humor—and you can actually tell a better story in the process. It pillories everything from the format of dark superhero movies to comics, cartoons, old TV shows, and hero-archnemesis relationships. Three years have passed since Batman helped saved the universe in The Lego Movie, and he’s just as busy as ever […]

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo

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February 17, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

By Michelle Sinclair Longtime readers of Media Matters might remember my love of Korean dramas (self-contained 16-24 episode TV shows), and a recent series was so much fun I wanted to revisit the topic. Don’t be turned away by the silly-sounding title. Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo is a delight from beginning to end, subverting clichés and mining comedy from some of the most relatable parts of growing up. The title is a play on a piece of Korean culture, applying the word “fairy” to a female star of any stripe. For example, the South Korean women’s figure skating champion Kim […]

The Crown

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January 20, 2017 Michelle D. Sinclair

To be perfectly honest, The Crown had me at “an inside look at the early reign of Queen Elizabeth II.” I’m such an Anglophile and history buff that this show could have been a shoddily produced back-lot project and I probably would have watched. I’m saying all of this so you’ll take this review with about a heart attack’s worth of sodium. One also has to wonder what the Queen herself thinks about all this. Series creator Peter Morgan told Variety this past July that the royal family has had no involvement in the project. Luckily for me, The Crown is […]