The BBC 100 Greatest Films list presents a learning opportunity

I love lists.I know that's not the critically correct thing to say — most critics go to great pains to say how much they hate compiling lists and how ranking art is futile, even as they regularly churn out their own best-of lists each year. And, of course, they're right. Ranking art as "best" is silly. In any given year, there are great comedies, moving dramas, superb genre pieces and whimsical animated experiments. How do you determine which of those has more value than the other?But "b … [Read more...]

Jesus VR, the Ark Encounter and fetishizing authenticity

Next month, visitors to the Venice Film Festival will have the opportunity to view the life of Christ like never before: in 360 degree virtual reality, just as God intended."Jesus VR" is a virtual reality film depicting the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in 360°, crystal-clear video and sound. The 90-minute film will be available just in time for Christmas — for those wealthy enough to own a VR system — but a 40-minute clip will be available to film festival audiences in September. The … [Read more...]

5 Great Ideas for “God’s Not Dead 3”

If you've read this site for awhile, you're likely aware that, despite my interest in films about faith, the "God's Not Dead" films and I are not on the best terms. I called the first movie dangerous and offensive. And while I thought this year's "God's Not Dead 2" was a tad gentler, it still didn't work for me.But there was  improvement! And maybe, I thought, the series could continue to get better over future films. Alas, despite a post-credit tease that hinted at a third entry, the next st … [Read more...]

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Review: “Pete’s Dragon”

"Pete's Dragon" returns wonder to family movies.Director David Lowery's remake of the 1977 Disney musical ditches the songs and slapstick and spins a gentle tale of friendship, family, healing and faith.  Told with beauty and charm, it's one of the best family films in a year filled with great ones, and a reminder that Disney knows the key to effective remakes — hiring directors who can find a story's soul.Lowery relocates the tale from a Maine fishing seaport to a lumber town in the Pac … [Read more...]

“Film Nerd 2.0” promises a movie education for parents and kids

Back when I started this blog, I created a list of some of my favorite critics. Top of that list was Drew McWeeny, who writes the Motion Captured blog for HitFix. I've been following Drew's writing since his Ain't It Cool News days, and he is one of the critics I most trust. I don't always agree with his opinions — although, more often than not, we share sensibilities — but I always understand where he's coming from. And as I said in that original piece, I think he weaves his personal life into h … [Read more...]

BoJack Horseman, Ecclesiastes and the search for happiness

The best show on television right now is a cartoon about an alcoholic horse.Three seasons in, and Netflix's "BoJack Horseman" is still a hard sell to my friends. Some raise an eyebrow over yet another adult cartoon about characters behaving badly. My friends who are up for some edgy humor raise the other eyebrow when I tell them that the show regularly goes beyond coarse jokes and wonderfully bad puns to a place of contemplative silence and existential angst. But those who give it a shot … [Read more...]

5 Reasons ‘Stranger Things’ is Great

If you read my July wrap up, you know that I've been obsessed with Netflix's new series, "Stranger Things." I'm not alone; you can't go online without another entertainment site talking about the Duffer Brothers' creepy love letter to the 1980s.I can't remember the last time I raced through a show so quickly; maybe "Breaking Bad." My wife and I finished the show in a three-episode marathon Sunday night, and my first impulse was to watch it again (I didn't). It's been a long time since I've … [Read more...]

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The Monthly Catch: “Stranger Things,” BoJack, Star Trek and more!

I cannot believe we're at the end of August already. We're having an incredibly busy summer here, with family events, vacations, busy work schedules and more, and it's hard to accept that there's only a month left before we have to start shifting gears into fall. There was quite a bit going on in July, and I'm amazed that I still found time to write anything at all, let alone consume more media to write about here. So, let's get into what interested me this month that I just haven't had the time … [Read more...]

Review: “Jason Bourne”

The most disappointing thing about "Jason Bourne" is the feeling that we've seen it all before.In the early 2000s, the "Bourne" trilogy reinvigorated action cinema. After years of glossy, over-the-top action thrillers, Matt Damon and directors Doug Liman and Paul Greengrass melded post-9/11 unease with brutal, camera-shaking action to create one of that decade's most memorable franchises. Based loosely on Robert Ludlum's best-sellers, the films were vital, exciting and relevant, delivering … [Read more...]

Review: “Gleason”

Early in "Gleason," former football player Steve Gleason, who is beginning to experience the first effects of ALS, visits a faith healer. Steve's father, clinging tightly to his fundamentalist teachings, believes that the preacher can cure his son. The speaker asks those who want to be healed to put their hands behind their heads and sing "It's the end of my pain as I know it," to the tune of REM's "It's the End of the World as We Know It." He then asks them to come up and demonstrate their … [Read more...]