About Craig Detweiler

Craig Detweiler is Professor of Communication and Director of the Center for Entertainment, Media and Culture at Pepperdine University. He is a filmmaker, author, and cultural commentator who has been featured on CNN, Fox News, NPR, ABC's Nightline and in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. He blogs as "Doc Hollywood" for Patheos.com.

MCFARLAND USA: An Interview with Legendary Coach Jim White

McFarland movie poster

Do you like sports movies?   I cry every time I watch Field of Dreams. The rousing underdog stories of Rudy or The Rookie almost feel too good to be true. The cynic in us may resist, but once you actually meet Jimmy, the guy who sank the winning shot in Hoosiers, your perspective shifts.   These aren’t just tall tales, manufactured by Hollywood.  These can be modest, “everyday” heroes who challenge us to practice, to press on, to never give up.I recently met Jim White, the legendary cross … [Read more...]

OSCARS 2015: BOYHOOD, BIRDMAN OR BUDAPEST FOR BEST PICTURE?

birdman_movie_Michael_Keaton

The 2015 Oscar race has become one of the tightest and most unpredictable contests in years. Three well-crafted films emerged over awards season as the key contenders for the 2015 Academy Award for Best Picture: Boyhood, Birdman, and The Grand Budapest Hotel.  While Selma and Interstellar combined epic scale and meticulous craft, the Academy and the guilds obsessed over a few peccadilloes that kept them out of serious Oscar contention. (Only time will honor these two towering cinematic … [Read more...]

COMMON BRINGS GLORY TO THE GRAMMYS (AND THE OSCARS): An Interview

Common_Glory_Grammys_2015_Selma

What 2015 Grammy moment moved you?   Kanye West’s cut in on Beck’s acceptance speech for "Album of the Year" garnered most of the headlines.   How sad to a stunt overshadow Annie Lennox’s rousing rendition of “I Put a Spell On You” with Hozier.   Pharrell reimagined his sunny single, “Happy,” into an intriguing protest echoing the "Hands up/Don’t shoot" posture that accompanied events in Ferguson, Missouri.   Prince slipped in the best one-liner of the night, “Albums still matter. Just like books … [Read more...]

SELMA: The Fierce Urgency of Now

selma-movie-edmund-pettis-bridge

What does courage look like? Does it come with confidence, the swagger of certainty?   Or does it spring from something more fragile, vulnerable, and costly? Selma offers a feature length portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that rises above clichés that drag so many bio-pics down. Far from a stodgy hagiography, Selma is enormously entertaining and remarkably resonant. King’s marches may look clear and strong in archival footage but what kinds of confusion and doubt preceded them?Selma tak … [Read more...]

BUYING TIME: THE BEST FILMS OF 2014

SELMA

So many movies, so little time. Why must Hollywood hold back their most ambitious movies all for the same month? Couldn’t they offer a few provocative choices each season?   Alas, the lure of awards causes the studios to cram too much good things into too small a space.   I start my best of 2014 list with an admission that I have yet to see such acclaimed flicks as BOYHOOD, INHERENT VICE, LOCKE, TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT, UNDER THE SKIN, LAST DAYS OF VIETNAM, and CITIZEN FOUR. As an advocate for these … [Read more...]

A BLACK MESSSIAH ARRIVES–THE YEAR IN MUSIC 2014

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Just as most music critics had wrapped up their best of 2014 lists, D'Angelo dropped a musical gift anticipated for over a decade.   Torn up by the death of Eric Garner in New York, D'Angelo rush released "Black Messiah" with almost no advance notice.   Taking a page from Beyonce's surprise December 2013 release, D'Angelo snuck up on everyone with the funkiest and finest sounds of the year.  "Black Messiah" proved to be more than worth the wait.His liner notes link the title to "people risi … [Read more...]

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING: Love in Practice

Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking

British accents? Check.   Period clothes? Check.   Physical demanding role?   Yes, The Theory of Everything is definitely Oscar bait.While the title suggests a scientific treatise, The Theory of Everything actually delves into the mysteries of love and devotion. It is a celebration of the remarkable woman behind the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking.   Jane Wilde provides a dramatic counterbalance to the magnetic mind of the famed cosmologist. While he may have “a slight problem with th … [Read more...]

DEAR WHITE PEOPLE: OUR DAILY MICROAGGRESSIONS

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Dear White People is a letter (or film) addressed to people like me.   I am a college educated, indie film fan, aware of America’s tangled history of race relations, and eager to do the right thing. And yet, Dear White People senses that I (maybe even we) haven’t rooted out a curious fascination and indirect racism in my expectations.   We feel familiar enough with black folks to expect certain patterns and tendencies.   In slotting colleagues into such boxes, we further delimit the glorious poss … [Read more...]

HOW TRANSFORMERS AND MICHAEL BAY SHILL FOR CHINA (& UNDERCUT HONG KONG)

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I was so happy to miss Transformers: Age of Extinction in theaters.   Director Michael Bay engages in such an unrelenting assault on the senses.   The cuts and crashes happen so fast and so frequently that audiences rarely have time to consider what is actually transpiring onscreen.   Most viewers don’t care where Optimus Prime and the Autobots have come from or how Mark Wahlberg became an inventor in rural Texas with a Boston townie accent.   We want to see metal crunch metal. This time they’ve … [Read more...]

WHIPLASH: What Price Glory?

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Whiplash is the bracing flip-side to Mr. Holland’s Opus, an exploration of how cruel and demanding teachers may drive students to dizzying heights (if they don’t destroy them in the process). It is feel good film about a feel bad teacher, Terence Fletcher, and his driven student, Andrew Neyman. Whiplash depicts the hours of practice necessary to achieve genuine excellence, but it also questions the wisdom of such a single-minded pursuit.  Andrew wants to be a game-changing musician associated wit … [Read more...]


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