The Moviegoer: Spider-Man’s Amazing, but is he Good?

Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films.Full disclosure: I haven't read the comics. Also, I'm going to talk freely. But, let's be honest, we all know Uncle Ben isn't going to be in the sequels, right?Midway through Mark Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is a dinner guest at his new high school crush Gwen Stacy's (Emma Stone) home. Gwen's father, George Stacy (Denis Leary), is a proud police captain who isn't too fond of a … [Read more...]

The Moviegoer: "Moonrise Kingdom" and the Covenant Ties that Bind

Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films. Rather than describe what is probably my favorite scene in Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, I want to save you as much first-viewing bliss as possible and describe the scene immediately preceding it, which is perhaps just as powerful in its contrast with what immediately follows. A storm is brewing over the Bishop family summer house and the husband, Walt (Bill Murray), and his wife Laura (Frances … [Read more...]

The Moviegoer: The Girl with the Bear of a Problem

Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films.During the first act of Pixar's new film Brave, young Princess Merida shrieks defiantly at her mother, "I want my freedom!" And, to some degree, her youthful, bold resistance is understandable. As is customary for the Scottish kingdom of DunBroch, the Princess must marry one of the three lords' firstborn sons. Determined to refuse any forced betrothal and pursue what she wants (marriage or otherwise), Merida decides … [Read more...]

The Moviegoer: "Prometheus" Confounds

Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films.In one of Prometheus's (Dir. Ridley Scott) early scenes, a flashback reveals some helpful insight into who Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) is and what motivates her expeditionary belief. The film's crucifix-wearing central protagonist has been troubled by death and suffering since an early age. In the flashback, she earnestly asks her father, "Where do people go when they die?" And the scene works as a fine complement t … [Read more...]

The Moviegoer: Snow White Fails to Inspire

Just before the third act of Snow White and the Huntsman, Snow White (Kristen Stewart) asks, “How do I inspire?” The line carries an unintentional irony because, well, Stewart is mostly a bore in the role. Her inability to inspire is indicative of the film’s most significant flaw; for the most part, the storytelling comes up short. This is a shame, because, visually, Snow White is often stunning. Yet, while Sanders delivers quite an imaginative world to look at, his story lacks coherence. Too man … [Read more...]

The Moviegoer: "Bully" Explores the Hatred of the "Other"

Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films.If you’ve heard of Lee Hirsch’s recent documentary Bully, it’s likely because of the controversy between Harvey Weinstein and the MPAA over whether the film should be rated R or PG-13 due to instances of strong language from adolescent bullies. Eventually, some of those instances were cut, and the documentary received a PG-13 rating. Hopefully, conversation surrounding the film will take a more substantive turn, becaus … [Read more...]

The Moviegoer: Lucky Life is Like This

Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films. “Lucky life isn’t one long string of horrors, And there are moments of peace and pleasure as I lie in between the blows.” Lee Isaac Chung’s little-known 2010 indie film, Lucky Life (his follow-up to the critically acclaimed Muyurangabo), opens with these lines of Gerald Stern's poetry: they form the sentiment around which the film’s story unfolds. Recently made available on Hulu Plus, Lucky Life deserves far more attention … [Read more...]

The Televangelists: "Mad Men" and Recognizing the Abyss

 Each Friday in The Televangelists, one of our writers examines the met and missed potential of television.After finishing the first four seasons of Mad Men, I wrote that the nature of these characters' madness is a slow suicide of the self. The singular pursuit of happiness qua self-indulgent, unrestrained freedom does not produce a lasting contentment, but instead produces the suicide of the essential self because the self is constituted, in large part, by loving commitments. … [Read more...]

The Moviegoer: You can be "Elitist" and still really enjoy "The Avengers"

If you’re not familiar with some of the critical reviews that have appeared in response to Joss Whedon’s box office triumph, The Avengers, then you might assume -- based on the blockbuster-nature of its success and the aggregate work of Rotten Tomatoes -- that it’s an unqualified Hulk-smash hit. That's not quite the case, though. The Avengers has become the starting point for an interesting conversation centered on genre-fatigue, inherent genre limitations, the nature of entertainment, and the ba … [Read more...]

The Moviegoer: "The Kid with a Bike" and the Love that Never Leaves

Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films.Near the beginning of The Kid with a Bike (Dirs. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne), there’s a shot of 12-year-old Cyril Catoul (Thomas Doret) with a dead-stare strain on his face revealing him both determined and devastated as he ascends in an elevator to his single father’s former apartment. As it turns out, he has lost both his father and his bike, and he’s desperate to get them back.It was a shot that jolted me emot … [Read more...]