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...]

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...]

Now on Netflix: Django Unchained


Now that Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained is streaming on Netflix, I figured it was time to republish this article, which was requested by the editors of Christianity Today, and published in the March 2013 print issue under the title "Blaze of Gory" and online as "Django Unchained and the Quest for Revenge."•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 nat … [Read more...]

Ragamuffin (2014) – A Guest Review by Martin Stillion


Please welcome Martin Stillion, my friend of more than two decades — a former classmate, a multi-instrumentalist, an extraordinary editor, an accomplished journalist, a frequent contributor to Response, a devoted family man. I've often appreciated his discernment when it comes to music and movies.He posted some comments on Ragamuffin, a film that I've been hoping to check out soon, and I asked if I could share them. He responded by expanding them into a guest review. Thanks, Martin! … [Read more...]