Crashing: Christian in the wild

HBO's new series "Crashing" finished its first season on Sunday. As with many of the network's other comedies, I highly enjoyed it. The combination of star/creator Pete Holmes and executive producer Judd Apatow made this look into the stressful world of stand-up comedy heartfelt, awkward and funny, often in the same beat. But it's the show's spiritual side that made it resonate."Crashing" follows Holmes (playing a slightly fictionalized version of himself) as he tries to make a break in New … [Read more...]

Review: Danny Boyle, Ewan McGregor return for another hit in “T2 Trainspotting”

The 1996 cult classic "Trainspotting" was released 12 years prior to director Danny Boyle's Oscar-winning "Slumdog Millionaire" and three years before star Ewan McGregor became a Jedi. Based on Irvine Welsh's acclaimed novel, its scuzzy, rough-around-the-edges aesthetic fit its energetic, seat-of-your-pants vibe. It holds up as a surreal, vibrant, sometimes horrifying look at youth, friendship and drug culture in 1990s Edinburgh.Trading raucous energy for a creak in the bones and reckless opt … [Read more...]

Review: “Beauty and the Beast” charms, never fully enchants

Disney's recent trend of remaking its animated classics has been successful because of the studio's ability to find new angles on beloved tales. "Cinderella" added a dose of compassion and was anchored by a fantastic performance by Lily James. "Jungle Book" found new notes of menace and adventure. "Pete's Dragon" brought soul to a silly, slapdash story. This approach has allowed these live-action remakes to stand proudly alongside, and sometimes above, their animated predecessors.But what do … [Read more...]

Logan: Wolverine’s R-rated redemption

I've been wanting to write about "Logan," Hugh Jackman's final go-round as Wolverine, since I walked out of a theater a week ago, stunned silent by James Mangold's film. It's the rare comic book movie to provoke a visceral, emotional response, one of the few that is about something more than blue lights, shiny gizmos or franchise setups. It's not just a great superhero movie; it's a great movie, period. So, let's talk about it.Warning: From here on out, spoilers for the entire film.  My own … [Read more...]

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Review – John Wick: Chapter Two

I've seen several movies begin with a car chase. "John Wick: Chapter Two" is the only movie I've seen begin with a car fight.John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is the former contract killer who sought revenge on the criminals who killed his puppy and stole his car in 2014's sleeper hit. He ended that film with a new dog; as the sequel opens, he's returning for the car.As a mob boss (Peter Stormare) panics about Wick's impending return, the title character stalks through a warehouse like a slasher, … [Read more...]

Review: The LEGO Batman Movie

See, Zach Snyder? Batman can be fun.Since  Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" plunged the Caped Crusader into morally dubious territory in the 1980s, Batman has been defined by a grim aesthetic. Tim Burton made him a tortured weirdo; Chris Nolan a grounded-but-haunted vigilante. "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" depicted him as an angry dudebro, branding his symbol into thugs' flesh and trying to kill Superman. He's become pretty one-note.Sure, Batman's always been a character t … [Read more...]

Movies We Need: All the President’s Men

In light of the unprecedented times we're living in and the national turmoil surrounding us, I'm embarking on a semi-regular project called Movies We Need. As a believer that cinema can encourage action, restore hope and generate empathy, these are films that I believe speak to our times. Movie: All the President's Men (1976) Director: Alan J. Pakula Availability: Streaming on HBO Now/Go, available for rental on Google/ITunes, and on DVD/Blu-Ray You guys are about to write a story that say … [Read more...]

The Story of God: Heaven, hell, hope and justice

Season two of "The Story of God with Morgan Freeman" airs Mondays at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. Central) on the National Geographic Channel. Once again, I'm writing about it here each week from a Christian perspective as a preview. This post is about episode two, "Heaven and Hell."Years back, I was out to dinner with a friend when we began talking religion. She was agnostic and I was in the middle of a pretty ugly bout of cage-stage Calvinism. She kept trying to change the subject, and I kept bringing i … [Read more...]

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Wrestling with ‘Silence’

Raised in a Christian community, I constantly heard stories of martyrdom. The Bible is replete with such tales, whether it's the three men thrown into a fiery furnace or early apostles stoned for threatening the status quo. Youth leaders would solemnly tell of saints who were burned at the stake, singing songs of praise even as the flames lapped at their feet.These were not stories of tragedy but of triumph. The focus was not on those who killed the missionaries, but on the faith that … [Read more...]

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Review: “Moana”

In a year of uncertainty, one thing has held true: Don't bet against Disney.Sure, the Mouse House stumbled this summer with the box office disappointment of Steven Spielberg's "The BFG" (although I've heard that it's quite good), but they've been successful almost everywhere else. Not only have Disney's live action and animated offerings raked in the money, but they've also been critically acclaimed. "Zootopia" turned another anthropomorphized animal comedy into a timely story about … [Read more...]