Tomorrowland? Or Tomorrow-bland?


"Is anything more dispiriting than a failed attempt at inspiration?"That first line of Steven Greydanus's latest film review reminds me of some of the reviews I read for Andrew Stanton's first non-Pixar feature film — the unfortunately named, and more unfortunately reviewed, John Carter. That movie and its critical reception (rejection?) were hard pills to swallow for this faithful Pixar fan. Stanton's a great storyteller, and I had been excited about his labor of Edgar Rice Burroughs lov … [Read more...]

My Favorite Film of 2014: The Strange Little Cat


[This review was included in my Favorite Films of 2014 post. But, for the archives, it gets a post of its own.]•In one scene, two young people play Connect Four. Do you remember Connect Four? I loved playing this game when I was a kid. There was the tic-tac-toe fun of trying to see connections before somebody else did, but it was more complicated than tic-tac-toe, and it also had tactile elements that made it more satisfying: the sound of the chips clattering together, the sound of them … [Read more...]

Something, Anything

3_Ashley Shelton (Margaret) and Linds Edwards (Tim) in Paul Harrill's SOMETHING ANYTHING_Courtesy of Self Reliant Film

Ida, Ewa, Gloria, and now... the final contestant in this, the Looking Closer Beauty Pageant.Readers, let me catch you up: In early 2014, I began a four-part series in which I focused on films that captured the rare cinematic marvel of a living, breathing, three-dimensional female character — somebody who does not capture our attention by being fashion-model "perfect," but rather by evincing a far more human kind of beauty.The fourth part of the series has been long delayed because it to … [Read more...]

Looking Closer at Selma: My Review and Some Other Perspectives


Thank God Almighty. Director Ava Duvernay had a monumental task before her, making a high-profile motion picture focused on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, with a cast of famous names. What's more, the closer the film has come to release, the more the headlines have shown us just how much we need a Great Film about Dr. King's vision. Even great directors would probably have disappointed us. Think of Spielberg's Lincoln: Hey, I loved it, but I acknowledge that it had weaknesses, just as h … [Read more...]

The Fault in Our Stars (2014): First Impressions

fault in our stars

"It was unbearable. Every second worse than the last."For the record, I hate cancer, and I'm in awe of those who bear that burden through unimaginable challenges. What's more — I love a good love story.With that settled... wow, this movie has some disappointing "faults" such that I couldn't rate it with "stars" (plural). One... okay, one and a half, for Shailene Woodley (who is excellent), and I'll leave it at that.[Caution: Spoilers ahead.] … [Read more...]

Moses and Errin’ — A Review of Exodus: Gods and Kings

DF-04525 - Moses (Christian Bale) charges into a fierce battle.

Dear Ridley Scott,My name is Aaron. I'm the brother of Moses.In the Holy Scriptures, when Moses balks at God's call for him to go and free the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, claiming a lack of eloquence, God gets aggravated and assigns me to travel with him, to face Pharaoh, and to act as Moses' translator."Moses and Aaron." To anyone of any religion who has grown up valuing this story, my name has belonged beside my brother's like Jacob and Esau. Like chocolate and peanut butter. … [Read more...]

Looking Closer’s Thanksgiving Movie: Terrence Malick’s The New World


As we observe Thanksgiving once again, my attention is on, yes, giving thanks. That means prayers of thanksgiving to the giver of all good things through times of harvest and hardship. That means giving attention to Anne, to my family, to friends and loved ones who enrich my life. And that means celebration.In my house, celebration is marked with candlelight, incense, a bounty of beverages (coffee, tea, pumpkin ales and winter ales, wine), a feast that's more about quality than quantity, … [Read more...]

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


[These first impressions were published earlier at Letterboxd. To catch my first impressions of almost every movie I see, sign up at Letterboxd and follow me there.]It must be strange to be Jennifer Lawrence, rising to become an icon for a generation, willfully playing the game of celebrity while trying to maintain her integrity, knowing full well that she's being exploited, knowing full well that the public that loves her now could turn against her in a moment, knowing full well that the … [Read more...]

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


"A Christian movie."The label will make some Christians cheer, happy at the prospect of a film that portrays them and their beliefs without the cynicism and punishing stereotypes they see in so many mainstream films.Christian crusaders will decide ahead of time that a film labeled "Christian" is a film worth promoting because it is made by people who are "in the fold," and thus can be trusted.The label will make other Christians cringe, presuming that the film is poorly made, … [Read more...]

Interstellar (2014)


[This review is an expansion of comments I made when I gave Interstellar a four-star first-impression rating at Letterboxd.]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. It's been a long time since a movie provoked me to write so much, since a big-screen experience inspired such a rush of thoughts.When I look back on … [Read more...]