Michelle D. Sinclair Archive

99 Homes and Beasts of No Nation

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October 23, 2015 Michelle D. Sinclair

Movie intensity has ratcheted tighter in recent weeks as Oscar time approaches. Since Hollywood leans heavily on franchising and remakes to make bank, we’re lucky there are still incentives to make movies that balance the bombast, films with no chance of winding up on novelty T-shirts. Two recent releases—99 Homes and Beasts of No Nation—are classic award-season fodder, though Homes is a quiet film and will probably not get much attention come February. However, both topics (the recent foreclosure crisis and child soldiering in Africa) are the kind of thing we grow numb to in the news, and sometimes it […]

The Much-Maligned Mother-in-Law

September 18, 2015 Michelle D. Sinclair

(Editor’s Note: Michelle Sinclair is the daughter of columnist Melodie Davis; she is married and works in Washington, D.C. She and her husband have a toddler son.) Three weeks of just you, your mother-in-law, and a toddler. Sound doable? Grandchildren really can be the great equalizer. There’s something connective about seeing your mother-in-law love your child too—even at 3 a.m., when the toddler has woken upset for the fourth time that night. My husband’s work took him away for part of this summer, and since I’m pregnant with our second child, I had the good fortune to have my retired […]

A Walk in the Woods

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September 18, 2015 Michelle D. Sinclair

Perhaps it’s because baby boomers like to reshape every age demographic they enter, but there seem to be more and more movies featuring the 60+ set. Broadening Hollywood’s standards of who can carry a compelling story and make money at it can only be a good thing. A Walk in the Woods is the latest entry into that category, a “road trip” type film starring actors whose heydays coincided with the Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan years. Even if some parts of this based-on-a-true-story film were rearranged, fictionalized or altered completely, this is a movie, not a documentary, and the […]

Shaun the Sheep Movie

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August 21, 2015 Michelle D. Sinclair

Stop-motion animation has a long history as a medium for film. Once the primary method for movie monsters to careen across the silver screen, the technique has been kept alive by Aardman Animations—the British animation studio known for their television and movie franchise Wallace & Gromit. Just when the sheep seem to have mastered a cloak-and-dagger escape, someone “baas” and nearly gives the game away. Tradition or practicality (or both) dictates that their characters speak only in grunts and unrecognizable words, but with tone of voice, gestures, and images, they broadcast their emotions and intentions with clarity. Shaun the Sheep […]

Spy

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July 17, 2015 Michelle D. Sinclair

Another season, another spy-themed comedy, another opportunity to watch Hollywood exploit Melissa McCarthy’s weight and willingness to go to any lengths to portray the anti-leading lady. Those were my thoughts heading into Spy, the latest movie by McCarthy and director Paul Feig. In some ways, I was not far off the mark, but to my surprise I also enjoyed the movie. If only I could recommend it without reservations. Melissa McCarthy has powered a renaissance of female-driven comedies in Hollywood (is it a renaissance if it was never really there to begin with?) and for that alone, I ought to […]

I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

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July 3, 2015 Michelle D. Sinclair

Book review By Michelle Sinclair There are many reasons to embrace the book I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. The immensely readable narrative flows like the story a friend might share while you sit on the couch, eating popcorn together—and yet the subject matter itself is haunting, even perspective-altering. Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has become world famous, but as she frequently reminds readers in word and deed, she is still a normal girl. Her endearing, enduring voice shines through many passages in her memoir (which was cowritten with […]

Far from the Madding Crowd

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May 22, 2015 Michelle D. Sinclair

Traditional power dynamics get the inside-out treatment in Thomas Vinterberg’s Far from the Madding Crowd, a historical film drama based on the 1874 novel by Thomas Hardy. The English author (most famous for Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure) was about a hundred years ahead of his time as a feminist thinker. This sweeping rural opera makes an unforgettable case for giving Tess a break from the high school English class spotlight and letting Bathsheba Everdene, the heroine in Madding Crowd, have the reins for a change. As romance-heavy as all that sounds, this isn’t your usual dances-and-horses […]

Monkey Kingdom: Part 2 — A Grown-Up’s Take

May 1, 2015 Michelle D. Sinclair

A ruler with absolute power. A rigid aristocracy with no avenues for advancement. And in the very lowest classes, a struggle to survive that borders on starvation. That might sound like 18th century France, but it also describes the world of the newest Disneynature documentary, Monkey Kingdom. Fellow Media Matters reviewer Matthew Kauffman Smith beat me to it by consulting with his young daughters, so be sure to check out his review for an accurate take on how kids will absorb this film. Unlike Matthew and his daughters, I came into Monkey Kingdom with no prior experience with Disneynature. I hope […]

When What You Don’t Know Can Kill You

April 30, 2015 Michelle D. Sinclair

Editor’s Note: Michelle Sinclair is the daughter of columnist Melodie Davis; she is married and works in Washington, D.C. She and her husband have a toddler son. It was a long, bitterly cold winter where we live. Every night, we fell asleep to the sound of our furnace humming to life. Next, we’d hear the gas jets ignite, and then, a few seconds later, the blower pushing heat through the vents of our home to keep us warm. In spite of the ensuing hassles—staying with friends and family for nearly two weeks while our home warranty company took its sweet time […]

Cinderella

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March 20, 2015 Michelle D. Sinclair

When I was a kid, we only owned two movies: Disney’s Bambi and Cinderella. And since Bambi’s mom [SPOILER ALERT] gets shot by a hunter and dies, I’m sure we never watched it more than three times. Our VHS copy of Cinderella, however, we wore to shreds. To this day, my mom can quote several scenes in that movie verbatim—and she’s not a movie quote person. Thus, when I learned Disney had made a live-action version, my inner 6-year-old did pirouettes of glee. The film also presents an interesting vision of racial equality, where races as we know them live […]