“Beauty and the Beast” and the backfiring of outrage

So, my piece a few weeks back on the outrage over Disney's choice to include an "explicitly gay" moment in its remake of "Beauty and the Beast" caused quite a stir. As of this writing, there are 195 comments and it's one of my most-read pieces here at Patheos. I'm thankful to everyone who shared, read and commented.The film is out now (you can read my review here), and the controversy doesn't seem to have hurt its performance at the box office one bit; the film grossed a record $170 million t … [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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3 Reasons You Should See ‘Moonlight’ This Weekend

Hot off Sunday's historic — and famously gaffe-laden — Academy Awards, Best Picture winner "Moonlight" is expanding into 1,500 movie theaters this weekend. It's a victory lap for the indie darling, which was made for only $1.5 million and has since grossed more than $22 million.While that's not a giant number, it's a strong showing for such a small film, especially one that could be mistaken as a niche product. Barry Jenkins' film might be about a young, gay black man in Miami, but its theme … [Read more...]

So, let’s talk about that weird Oscar night

Of all the times for me to go to bed early on Oscar night.I'm sure you've witnessed the envelope rip heard around the world, but just in case you haven't:So, yeah, if you're having a rough Monday morning, just take heart: at least you didn't produce last night's Academy Awards.Here are a few belated thoughts:First off, I'm elated at "Moonlight's" win for best picture. I never boarded the "La La Land" hate wagon; indeed, the film was one of my favorites last year. But I saw … [Read more...]

Why don’t I care about this year’s Oscars?

The apathy I'm feeling toward Sunday's Oscar ceremony is very strange.I've written before about my fondness for the Academy Awards. Where most people groan about the Oscars' penchant for pretension and self-seriousness, I simply love that there's one night a year where the entire country celebrates movies. Moviegoers tend to award mediocrity so often that it genuinely excites me that we spend a month discussing films often ignored by the mainstream. Sure, if you want you can cringe that … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

From “Rogue One” to “Empire Strikes Back”: What I watched on my winter vacation

Don't let the headline mislead you: this isn't all about "Star Wars."As I write this, I'm coming off a very long vacation. On Dec. 23, I left work for two weeks to enjoy the holidays and recuperate from a very busy fall. I go back to work and school tomorrow and, as providence would have it, it's also shaping up to be a busy week for this blog. For now, I'm enjoying the last few hours of break. It wasn't the greatest vacation — quite a few stressors made it a bit hectic — but for the first ti … [Read more...]

My favorite films of 2016

Conventional wisdom holds that 2016 was, to use the technical term, a dumpster fire. I'm not going to argue against that; it was a year in which American culture finally curdled and icons were taken from us at an alarming rate. But bad times make for great art, and 2016 was another wonderful year of cinema. Unlike other years, in which the majority of great releases were clustered around the fall months, my list for favorite films of 2016 includes films that were released throughout the calendar … [Read more...]

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...]