Hellboy (2004)

This review of Hellboy was originally published at Christianity Today in April 2004. -Some superheroes focus on settling a score. Some learn lessons about responsibility, talent, and weakness. But for some, like Hellboy, being a superhero is just a job.For director Guillermo Del Toro, the job of bringing the comic book hero Hellboy to the screen was a labor of love—love for comics, and especially for the work of artist Mike Mignola, Hellboy's creator. Del Toro effectively recreates Mig … [Read more...]

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

[Here's my own original review, which was first published at the original Looking Closer website on January 21, 2001. I also covered the Christian media coverage of Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone in Christianity Today's Film Forum.]-For the record, I'm not a big fan of the Harry Potter books — So already I'm in the minority. And many will immediately disqualify my opinion of the film because of it.But Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is a film now, and needs to be fairly t … [Read more...]

Man on Fire (2004)

Jeffrey's review of Man on Fire was published at Christianity Today in April 2004. … [Read more...]

Enemy at the Gates (2001)

[This review was first published at the original Looking Closer website in March 2001.]-Ready to test your imagination?Picture Jude Law as a Russian shepherd-turned-sniper. Then imagine Ed Harris as a sinister German Nazi. Yeah, Enemy at the Gates, a new film by Jean-Jacques Annaud, asks you to suspend your disbelief with all of your might. We see several familiar Hollywood stars as characters of foreign origins, in an area of the battle where the U.S. never becomes a presence … [Read more...]

Best in Show (2000)

[This review was first published at the original Looking Closer website in 2001.]•Sometimes humans are more beastly than their pets.Christopher Guest's new "mockumentary" about dog shows, Best in Show, revels in that fact. The nine human beings that converge on Philadelphia for the Mayflower dog competition seem themselves to represent a wide variety of breeds, grooming styles, and gaits, regardless of the quality of their dog. They all want to be validated by the success of their p … [Read more...]

Coming Home to Ohio: A conversation with Over the Rhine’s Linford Detweiler about the New Double Album

[This interview was originally published July 30, 2003, at the original Looking Closer website.] -On August 19th, 2003, Over the Rhine will celebrate the release of their tenth album by making it a double.Ohio boasts two full-length discs of new material. And that most astonishing thing is that, after they have played for ten years to stellar reviews, chances are 9 out of 10 that you’re reading this and saying to yourself “Who are Over the Rhine?”Somehow those who discover the band a … [Read more...]

Making Songs Out of Stories: Over the Rhine’s Linford Detweiler on 10 Years of Songwriting

[This interview was originally published at the website for a non-profit arts organization called Promontory Artists Association in February 2000.] •Linford Detweiler has learned to take it easy.It’s a Saturday afternoon in Seattle, unusually sunny for late February, and he joins my wife Anne and me for coffee and cranberry juice at the University Plaza Hotel, his home for the weekend, far from his Cincinnati headquarters. Linford, his wife singer/songwriter Karin Bergquist, and their ba … [Read more...]

Monster’s Ball (2001)

[This review was first published on the original Looking Closer website on May 12, 2002.]-In Monster’s Ball, Billy Bob Thornton plays Hank, a corrections officer carrying intense racial prejudice in one hand and a sidearm in the other. Hank’s aging father Buck (Peter Doyle) constantly reinforces the family’s race-hate, calling Sonny, Hank’s son, "weak" because he befriends their black neighbors.Halle Berry plays Leticia, the wife of a convicted killer, a mother trying to raise her son … [Read more...]

The Dish (2000)

[This review was first published at the original Looking Closer website in 2002.]-The Dish is one of those rare movies that does not aspire to be anything but short, sweet, and good for the heart. Thus, it doesn't arrive like an "event," and it leaves not with the hoopla of a blockbuster but with the whisper of a rumor. Those who plan their moviegoing by the Box Office Top Ten, or by what gets advertised on television, will miss it. Those who are paying attention and catch it will tell … [Read more...]

Max (2002)

[This review was first published on the original Looking Closer website on May 12, 2003.] -Noah Taylor is best known for his charming lead role in the romantic comedy Flirting, and more recently made memorable marks on Almost Famous and Vanilla Sky. Now he’s starring as the most notorious monster of the 20th century.Max dares to delve into the life of Hitler in the days before the Holocaust, and Taylor is scarier than any orc in his intense performance as Adolf. His performance reveals a … [Read more...]