The Moviegoer: Better Moral Discernment Requires the Cultivation of the Imagination

Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films.Last week, Plugged In blogger Paul Asay wrote a post on Christians and movies in reference to Philippians 4:8. His post is titled "Sorting out the Good, the Bad and the Excellent." The author begins by affirming the oft-cited premise that Philippians 4:8 is a challenge to Christians' consideration of what movies they should or shouldn't see, because Paul is concerned with what we allow to influence us. Asay writes: I … [Read more...]

The Moviegoer: Slashing the Voyeur's View of "The Cabin in the Woods"

Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films.My appreciation for The Cabin in the Woods (Dir. Drew Goddard) might best be found in a question that also describes a key scene early in the film: If you suddenly came upon a one-way mirror, and you had the opportunity to take in an exploitative view of another person, would you indulge the temptation? Now consider the question in view of the prevalence of the “slasher” sub-genre of horror films. Why the voyeuristic love … [Read more...]

The Moviegoer: Jeff, Who Needs to Leave Home

Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films.Jeff (Jason Segel) and his brother Pat (Ed Helms) are both drifting through life, and, in the Duplass brothers’ latest comedy, Jeff, Who Lives at Home, their respective purposelessness is set against a backdrop question: is there some sense of cosmic order to this life? At first glance, Jeff’s aimless existence is more obvious. He’s 30 years old, jobless, and living in his mother’s basement. Leaving the couch might be consid … [Read more...]

The Moviegoer: After the Final Kill — A Special Episode of "The Hunger Games"

Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films. Spoiler Alert... The flamboyant show-host Caesar Flickerman has his alive-and-well, star-crossed lovers -- Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark -- on stage together for their first interview since surviving the Hunger Games. Caesar asks the right questions -- the ones we're just dying to know. The bright lights are shining, the cameras are rolling, and we -- uh, I mean the Capitol studio audience -- look on with great … [Read more...]

The Moviegoer: "John Carter" Is an Entertaining Sci-Fi Fantasy Beneath the Box Office Flop

Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films.Unless you haven’t read a review of Disney’s box office-failing film, John Carter (Stanton, 2012), then you’re probably aware of the unanimous conclusion that Disney badly botched the $250 million film with its advertising campaign. I remember seeing the first trailer and thinking, “That looks positively uninteresting.” This was before I knew that the film was directed by Andrew Stanton, the Pixar alum well known for his cri … [Read more...]

The Moviegoer: Secret Worlds, New Perspectives

Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films.Confession: The Secret World of Arrietty (Yonebayashi, 2012) is my introduction to the wonderful world of Studio Ghibli. Founded in 1985, the Japanese animation and film studio enjoys a spirited following of fans and critics that is not dissimilar to Pixar’s fervent admirers. It’s not that I had never heard of the beloved studio, but — for whatever reason — I had never got around to seeing Ponyo, Spirited Away, My Neighbor T … [Read more...]

The Moviegoer: "Act of Valor" (McCoy & Waugh, 2012)

Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films.While Act of Valor is certainly ripe for negative criticism, it has somewhat unfairly become a punching bag for critics. One drum that is getting beat too often is that the movie feels like little more than a “recruitment poster.” Yes, that’s true, but it’s not incidental — mostly because it began as a recruitment video. Ultimately, whether or not you find reason to appreciate Act of Valor comes down to whether or not you ar … [Read more...]

The Moviegoer: Chronicling the Descent into Villainy

Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films.While it may seem like an unlikely candidate for 2012’s first good movie. Chronicle (Josh Trank, 2012) is a sci-fi drama that thrives on the specific combination of two sub-genre conventions: “found-footage” and real people gaining superhuman powers. By themselves, these conventions are growing a bit stale, but together in Trank’s movie they infuse one another with some entertaining, creative tension.Chronicle is a teenage … [Read more...]

The Moviegoer: Oscars 2012 Preview

Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films.On Sunday night, they will roll out the red carpet for the 2012 Oscar ceremony. I want to share some predictions, hopes, and regrets for all of the major categories. Then, at the end of the preview, I'll share my favorite ten movies from 2011.Best Supporting ActorNominees: Kenneth Branagh (My Week With Marilyn); Jonah Hill (Moneyball); Nick Nolte (Warrior); Christopher Plummer (Beginners); Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud … [Read more...]

Of Oscar Nominees and Disgruntled Critics

The seven days following the announcement of Oscar nominations should be designated "Disgruntled Critics Week." I confess, I often count myself among the soured when it comes to considering what was (and wasn't) nominated by the Academy. After finally seeing all of 2011's "Best Picture" nominees, I can say I have some problems. I don't want to unjustly belittle, though. It's not all bad by any stretch. Among the nine "Best Picture" nominees, one is my favorite film of the year (The Tree of L … [Read more...]


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