Review: Avatar (dir. James Cameron, 2009)

avatarTHERE IS a lot that can — and will — be said about Avatar over the next few months.

The latest sprawling epic from Titanic director James Cameron is a technical marvel and, at times, an awesome thrill ride. It also has the clunky dialogue and simplistic political and philosophical posturing that we have come to expect from his later efforts. And already there is much talk about the film’s chances at the Academy Awards in March.

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Review: Munyurangabo (dir. Lee Isaac Chung, 2007)

IF YOU are reading this paper while it’s still hot off the presses, then here’s a tip: get to the VanCity Theatre as fast as you can and catch Munyurangabo, a stirring independent film, made in Rwanda, that is playing at that theatre for a few days until November 30.

If you miss the film’s Vancouver premiere, don’t worry; the film, which has been making its way around the festival circuit for the past two and a half years, also came out on DVD several weeks ago. So, one way or another, you should be able to find a copy.

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Review: Inglourious Basterds (dir. Quentin Tarantino, 2009)

Seventeen years after he burst onto the scene with the talky, violent crime flick Reservoir Dogs, the films of Quentin Tarantino continue to generate intense debate, even in theological circles.

Just the other day, I heard a prominent Christian professor assert that the hit men played by John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction make evil look attractive, and that those two characters remain “sociopaths” right to the end of the movie.

Many other Christians, however, have argued that Fiction does reflect a moral sensibility of some sort: the Jackson character abandons his criminal ways in the end, after he experiences something he believes to have been a “miracle,” while the Travolta character, who remains a criminal, is eventually killed with his own gun.

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Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (dir. David Yates, 2009)

harrypotter6THE END is near, for Harry Potter and his gang.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the sixth movie to be based on J.K. Rowling’s phenomenally popular books, and like all the previous sequels, it is darker and more mature than the instalments that have preceded it.

But there is only one book left to be adapted, and so this film is filled with a sense that things are coming to a head. Secrets are revealed, the nature of the evil Dark Lord Voldemort’s futile plan to cheat death is finally spelled out, and the film ends on a major cliffhanger that will set the story spinning towards its inevitable climax.

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A Passion for Women’s Rights

stoningofsorayamJim Caviezel and Steve McEveety, who played critical roles in The Passion, expose human rights violations in Iran through their new film, The Stoning of Soraya M.

Timing, they say, is everything. The Stoning of Soraya M., which depicts the rigged trial and execution of an Iranian woman whose husband has grown tired of her, goes into limited release this Friday after playing at a few film festivals — and it happens to be coming out at a time when the eyes of the world are on Iran and the crackdown that has taken place there against the protestors who claim the June 12 election was rigged by the authorities.

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Review: Year One (dir. Harold Ramis, 2009)

yearone2It had to happen eventually. It has been five years since The Passion of the Christ brought the Bible epic back to the big screen, and nearly four since Judd Apatow began producing and directing a string of raunchy comedies — a few of which, such as the musical pseudo-biopic Walk Hard, have dabbled explicitly in genre parody. It was only a matter of time before Apatow or someone like him turned their attention to the religious epic, and the result is Year One, a buddy comedy that takes a relentlessly lowbrow look at the Book of Genesis.

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