Catching Up: Baby Driver, Better Call Saul, Movies Are Prayers, and more

It's a great time to be a media consumer. It's also an exhausting one. I've seen a great deal of movies and TV shows in the past month. I've also been reading voraciously, at a rate I haven't in years (this is likely thanks to having the summer off grad school). And yet, I feel like I'm still playing catch up. Normally, I would just write or podcast about what I could and move on without addressing the rest. But the problem these days is that everything is so good! It's been a phenomenal … [Read more...]

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“War for the Planet of the Apes” review: Hail, Caesar

 "War for the Planet of the Apes" is the type of movie I thought Hollywood had forgotten how to make.The third entry in the rebooted franchise is challenging, provocative and riveting entertainment. Boasting the best special effects and motion-capture work I’ve seen and an epic scope with strong biblical undertones, it’s a story of complex characters navigating muddy moral waters and the apocalyptic ramifications of violence. It’s troubling, astounding and difficult ⸺ and one of the … [Read more...]

Review: “Spider Man: Homecoming” Is Pure Marvel Fun

The most joyful moment — and there many — in "Spider-Man: Homecoming" happens  after a short prelude, as the Marvel production logo bursts onto the screen, accompanied by Michael Giacchino's orchestral arrangement of the theme from the "Spider-Man" cartoon series ("Spider-man, Spider-man, does whatever a spider can..."). It makes a promise: after 15 years, two actors and five movies, Spidey's finally part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and it's going to be fun.This isn't Spider-Man's firs … [Read more...]

Movie review: “Despicable Me 3” is a 90-minute headache

  Let's get this out of the way: Your kids are going to love "Despicable Me 3." My 5 year old cackled and cheered at every bit of mayhem. For the target audience, this film delivers.As for me? Five minutes in, I was ready to grab an aspirin but worried that the yellow-coated tablets would induce Minion-related flashbacks.The "Despicable Me" franchise finally goes the route of "Shrek," with a clever opening chapter followed by sequels that squeeze every bit of wit from th … [Read more...]

“The Women’s Balcony”: How a Jewish Movie Taught Me What Faith-Based Films Can Be

"The Women's Balcony" is not traditional summer entertainment. A foreign film without a massive advertising budget, I wasn't even aware it existed until a representative emailed me in advance of its debut at one of Detroit's art theaters. A shame, as Emil Ben-Shimon's film — the highest-grossing film in Israel — is a welcome antidote to summer's orgies of destruction.It's not surprising that the movie's flown under the critical radar; foreign-language films about religion, gender roles and co … [Read more...]

“Cross.Culture.Critic.” debuts today

As I've written before, in recent years podcasting has become a hobby of mine. I've found its a great way to dive into in-depth interviews and talk about things in more detail than I can on this blog. For over two years, I've co-hosted "It's My Favorite" with two friends, and recording those episodes has been a monthly highlight for me. Awhile back, I co-hosted a podcast for the Detroit Film Critics Society, which was great fun. Although I had to discontinue that one due to difficulties with … [Read more...]

“Cars 3” Review: How Lightning Got His Vroom Back

It's official: I'm just never going to "get" Pixar's Cars universe.Despite the studio's ability to make me care for friendly monsters, plastic toys, foodie rats, wisecracking bugs and personified emotions, I've been left cold by the adventures of Lightning McQueen and his buddies. There's just something about their design that makes it hard to connect. Aside from their windshield eyes and bumper-lips, these are still just vehicles moving around roadways and tracks, and something in me … [Read more...]

Review: “It Comes at Night” Leaves Audience in the Dark

Last year's "Krisha" was one of the most astounding directorial debuts I've seen. A disorienting, visually and aurally spectacular domestic drama told through the lens of a thriller, I was immediately a fan of writer-director Trey Edward Shults. The film's unnerving tone made me eager for his return behind the camera with the full-fledged horror movie, "It Comes at Night."Be careful what you wish for.Shults' sophomore effort cements his reputation as a visual maestro, capable of creating … [Read more...]

Review: “The Mummy” Makes Tom Cruise a Wrap Star

I had fun with "The Mummy," but I don't know that I can defend it.Universal's attempt to reinvigorate its stable of horror icons is a mess, with a weak plot, paper-thin characters, and Jake Johnson stumbling in from another movie altogether. But Tom Cruise is as charismatic as always, there are some decent action beats, a knowing sense of humor, and Russell Crowe devouring the scenery so rabidly that I'm sure it left him with indigestion. It's a silly film that knows exactly what it is, and … [Read more...]

Lord, Save Us From Your Followers: ‘The Keepers’ and the Dark side of Christianity

Few shows have provoked as much rage in me as Netflix's "The Keepers."I started watching Netflix's seven-part docuseries on Labor Day and finished it this past weekend. As a fan of true-crime podcasts and television shows, I found myself riveted by each part of this murder mystery, but also chilled and enraged at its depiction of Christianity perverted by lust and power. It's essential viewing, but it's not for the weak at heart. Righting the wrongs of "Making a Murderer" "The Keepers" is … [Read more...]