Rough Neighborhood: A Note About Facebook, Comments, and Social Media Manner

It’s been a rough week in America — and that means it’s been a rough week on social media as well. Yesterday, I posted something on Facebook that I wanted to offer as food for thought. But, knowing that emotions on the subject were running high, and knowing that on almost every page I visited [Read More...]


Coming Not Soon Enough to a Troubled Neighborhood Near You

“This film does more to advance new conversations on the legacy of human rights and the ever-present threat of violence and trauma in black life- something that seems so regular within the racist hierarchies that allow it, but when broadcast across the world and into homes of fellow human beings, becomes grotesque. There is no [Read More...]


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 — My First Impressions

Our futures will be shaped by the capacity of rising generations to challenge and test what their screens and gadgets tell them about the world, and The Hunger Games is a parable for them, about them, summoning them to demand freedom, human rights, and the truth. [Read more...]

Cinematic States

Which Movie Captures Your Part of the World? Tell Me, and You Might Win a Great Book.

“This is really wonderful stuff. Thoughtful, unique, insightful, and funny. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read.” That’s what Scott Teems, director of Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey and That Evening Sun, and writer for the hit TV series Rectify, says about Cinematic States, the new book by my friend, the Northern Irish film enthusiast and author Gareth Higgins. Marc [Read More...]


Looking Closer at “Saving Christmas”: Featuring Novelist N. D. Wilson’s Review

I’ve been talking to my new friend N. D. Wilson, author of Boys of Blur, Death by Living, 100 Cupboards, and more. While discussing the popularity of Kirk Cameron’s films among Christians, I asked him if I could publish his thoughts on Cameron’s latest big-screen endeavor. He generously agreed. [Read more...]

Interstellar (2014)

After I got home from seeing Interstellar — I saw it in good old-fashioned 35 mm, not in IMAX — I had mixed feelings about the movie, and decided I would jot down a few notes. About 90 minutes later, I was still writing. [Read more...]

Birdman (2014)

I’ve read that Birdman is a movie that pulls back the curtain to reveal (surprise!) that show-biz is really just a hell of egomaniacs on adrenalin highs, using and abusing one another for stardom, and taking the name of “art” in vain. The rumors are true… it does. [Read more...]

Looking Elsewhere: Star Wars – Episode VII, Interstellar, The Hobbit, Best U2 Punchlines, Glen West 2014, Hayao Mizyazaki, Sandworms, George Lucas, Collateral

Did you hear the one about the door of U2′s private jet falling off mid-flight? Best punchline for that set-up wins… [Read more...]

Looking Elsewhere: 14 Discoveries & Distractions for the First Week of November

On Halloween, Anne and I went out to celebrate Halloween dressed as Seattle Pacific University MFA in Creative Writing students who are running out of time to complete their homework assignments by the deadline. We were very, very convincing — we tricked everybody. The treats? They were provided by the pub where we put on an [Read More...]

Here Comes 2014′s Big Finale: Quick — What Were the Highlights of the First 10 Months?

Wow, what an eventful 2014 we’ve had so far here at Looking Closer. And we’ve only just arrived at November. Historically, November and December are the busiest months of the year on my blog, because it’s time to start reviewing the most impressive music, movies, and more. But before we get caught up in all of [Read More...]

Filmwell’s Michael Leary: Things I Learned About Parenting Daughters From “Gilmore Girls”

My longtime friend, colleague, and Filmwell co-founder Michael Leary, a writer I admire, a man of impeccable taste in cinema, and — above all — a big-hearted father, has something to say about Gilmore Girls. The whole series is now streaming on Netflix. I won’t hesitate to admit that I’m watching it again… …and not [Read More...]

Now on Netflix: Django Unchained

On Christmas Day 2012 — while Americans were still grieving for victims of the Newtown elementary-school massacre — “Django Unchained,” the new film by Quentin Tarantino, opened nationwide. This week, as my community grieves the loss of lives in two recent Seattle school shootings, Tarantino’s hyperviolent Western has arrived on Netflix. [Read more...]

Ragamuffin (2014) – A Guest Review by Martin Stillion

“… if the goal of Ragamuffin is to get viewers to reconsider the life and music of Mullins, who’s been dead these seventeen years … : I have some of his stuff playing on YouTube right now. If the goal was for the film to be a work of art in itself, then there’s a lot more work to be done.” [Read more...]

Scott Derrickson May Not “Deliver Us From Evil,” But He Knows Who Can

Arriving on home video just in time for Halloween, Scott Derrickson’s “Deliver Us From Evil” delivers a creative tangle of tropes and trippy special effects, aiming to do better than merely making us jump out of our seats. And it succeeds. [Read more...]

Battle in Seattle (or the Movie Directed by That Guy Who Was Almost Aragorn)

#Ferguson. #WTO. #U2iPhone6 Why am I not tweeting my outrage? Have I been pummeled numb by scandal, injustice, and atrocity? Have I become hard-hearted? [Read more...]

A Priest With a Death Sentence: Looking Closer at Calvary

“I don’t think it will be winning any awards from the Christian world. … It takes place in a universe very like ours.” [Read more...]

Well-Made Movies Won’t Be… Left Behind

Today, Matt Zoller Seitz, editor of, defended The Good Lie, a movie in which the central characters are Christians, as “a good movie.” Why did he feel the need to defend it? Well, the success of The Blind Side inspired some backlash — opposition to movies in which “a white lady comes to the rescue” of those in [Read More...]

Listen Closer: Second Impressions of U2′s Songs of Innocence

Hey, U2 fans, music lovers, and iPhone users… you’re invited! I’m joining Dr. Jeff Keuss and others on Monday night, October 13, for a live podcast conversation called “U2, Apple, and the Future of Music.” It’ll be at Hale’s Ales Brewery and Pub in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, and the dinner audience will be involved in [Read More...]

Listen Closer: Thom Yorke, Luluc, Lucinda Williams, Leonard Cohen, My Brightest Diamond, Sinead O’Connor

It’s time to check the New Music Seismograph! What albums are shaking the ground beneath my feet? Those who have followed my blog over the past decade or so know that I’m averse to “rating” art with a point system. (I mean, really… how much can you learn about a record if I tell you “I [Read More...]

Looking Closer at Left Behind – The Movie!

This post will be updated over the next few days, so check back as this thrilling — dare I say rapturous? — cinematic occasion unfolds! [Read more...]

The Christian Message of David Fincher’s Gone Girl . . . (Not Really)

One of my favorite writers on the subject of art, faith, and culture — Alissa Wilkinson — has seen “Gone Girl,” the new film by David Fincher. Let’s ask her: “What’s the message of the movie?” [Read more...]