Vic Thiessen Archive

Risen

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March 11, 2016 Vic Thiessen

As I mentioned in my review of Son of God two years ago, I like to watch Jesus films during Lent. But a new Jesus film worth watching seemed unlikely in wake of the many disappointments I have experienced watching Christian films over the past two years (including Son of God). A record number of Christian and religious films hit our local theaters during that time (e.g., Exodus, Noah, Heaven Is for Real, God’s Not Dead), and they have had huge box office success in the United States. But in my opinion that success was undeserved, as all of those […]

Hail, Caesar!

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February 12, 2016 Vic Thiessen

A Catholic priest, a Protestant minister, a Greek Orthodox priest, and a Jewish rabbi walk into a bar—no, they go fishing—no, they sit in a Hollywood studio office in 1951 and debate whether an upcoming film’s depiction of Jesus will be offensive to reasonable people. I had a grin on my face from almost the beginning to the end of this marvelous comedy. That absolutely hilarious scene is the best of many whacky and wonderful scenes in the Coen brothers’ new film, Hail Caesar! It’s a film that begins and ends with Jesus on the cross, has countless references to […]

Carol

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January 15, 2016 Vic Thiessen

Sure to be nominated for numerous Academy Awards, Carol is an engaging and evocative period drama about two women who fall in love with each other in 1951, a time when such a relationship was not only scandalous but a sign of serious psychological dysfunction. Carol is a quiet, understated film featuring terrific performances by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as well as gorgeous cinematography, a great score, and tight, flawless direction. Carol (played by Cate Blanchett) is a wealthy woman who has recently initiated divorce proceedings with her husband, Harge (Kyle Chandler). She has a close friend, Abby (Sarah […]

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 […]

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 […]

Highlights of the Edmonton International Film Festival

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October 16, 2015 Vic Thiessen

I had the privilege of spending the first 10 days of October watching 20 films at the Edmonton International Film Festival (EIFF). The EIFF is quickly becoming one of the continent’s better festivals, with a top-notch selection of foreign and independent films scheduled for release over the next few months. Below you will find capsule reviews of eight of the most important films I watched (in alphabetical order): My favorite film at the Edmonton International Film Festival is an extraordinary filmmaking achievement. Made by German director Sebastian Schipper, Victoria was filmed in one shot lasting 140 minutes. Bikes vs Cars […]

Mistress America

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September 11, 2015 Vic Thiessen

Mistress America is another quirky, witty, honest, and thought-provoking independent comedy drama from writer/director Noah Baumbach. His previous films include Greenberg, The Squid and the Whale, Frances Ha, and While We’re Young, all of which contain a lot of social commentary and all of which I enjoyed very much. Since I also have trouble enjoying films with unsympathetic characters, my appreciation for Baumbach’s films must be grounded in the strong element of hope that I find in his films. Baumbach grew up in New York City and had a difficult childhood, which is reflected in the dark edge that is […]

Mr. Holmes

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August 14, 2015 Vic Thiessen

Rather than encouraging people not to waste their time watching this month’s big blockbuster (Rogue Nation, which is entertaining and well-made but also shallow and ultimately supportive of our insane and evil “intelligence” communities), I have decided to encourage people to watch a relatively obscure and underrated gem called Mr. Holmes. At its heart, Mr. Holmes is about an aging Sherlock beginning to question the value of the logic and chemistry that have ruled his mind and his life. Mr. Holmes opens with a scene in a train compartment where a young boy sitting opposite Holmes is observing what he calls a […]

Love & Mercy

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July 10, 2015 Vic Thiessen

With so many people wasting their time (sorry, just my opinion) on flimsy entertainment like Jurassic World, let me point you to a recent film of substance called Love & Mercy (hard to find fault with a title like that). I was never a huge fan of the Beach Boys, but I enjoyed many of their songs and owned three or four of their albums back in the day (in the ’70s; the ’60s were before my time, which is partly why I wasn’t a huge fan). While I had heard vague rumors over the years about Brian Wilson, the […]

Last Days in the Desert

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June 12, 2015 Vic Thiessen

I recently had the privilege of attending the first Movies and Meaning Film Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The festival was led by Gareth Higgins and Richard Rohr and featured a variety of profound films and inspiring talks. One of those profound films was a new Jesus film that is scheduled for a limited release in October (it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January). The film’s writer/director, Rodrigo Garcia, joined us for a long Q&A after the screening. Those who know the story of Jesus and are interested in exploring his wilderness encounter with the devil in a […]