Gladiator (2000)

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[Update January 2013: This review was originally published when the film opened in May 2000, at The Phantom Tollbooth. I remember watching in dismay as my prediction at the end of this review came true. I've seen the film a couple of times since then, and my opinion of it has not changed. I explored it further, with less snark, in Through a Screen Darkly.]-Gladiator, one of the summer's surefire blockbusters, has arrived. And people are going to love it. It's big, noisy, violent, and so s … [Read more...]

Departures (2008)

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This review, which also covers the film The Song of Sparrows, was originally published at Christianity Today Movies. For further exploration of this film, read Jeffrey's essay "Departures: Journeys with Asian Filmmakers," published in Image.-Layoffs, bankruptcy, skyrocketing unemployment. Tough times, busy days for job hunters, and everybody's got an opinion about what went wrong and how to fix it.Movies about employment tend to give us rags-to-riches success stories: Young people wi … [Read more...]

Terminator Salvation (2009)

This review was originally published at Filmwell.-When Arnold Schwarzeneggar first uttered the words "Ahl be bach!", people laughed and cheered. James Cameron's The Terminator was suspenseful,  exciting, and funny in a way that only the best B-movies can be. We loved the idea of an android assassin from the future hunting down a pregnant SWF who had no idea that her son would grow up to be humankind's savior during an onslaught of rebel machines. Arnie's wicked killing machine quickly … [Read more...]

Lake Tahoe (2009)

This review was originally published at Filmwell.-[In Fernando Eimbcke's second feature, Lake Tahoe, a young man emerges from a car wreck and begins a long and maddening search for help. And it quickly becomes obvious that he's searching for something far more profound than a mechanic.Eimbcke's film feels like a search as well. The filmmaker etablishes a rhythm of expansive, colorful, long-take shots (known to the pros as "master shots"). These scenes are interrupted by bold, … [Read more...]

Still Life (2006) and Up the Yangtze (2007)

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[These reviews of Still Life and Up the Yangtze were originally published in the "Through a Screen Darkly" column at Christianity Today.]-Nothing here along the Yangtze River is what it seems.If we just look at the mountains, we'll be fine. They're breathtaking, looming green and formidable over the river's winding silver path. They flow into and out of one another like waves, shrouded in an eerie mist as if the ghosts have gathered here to rest. If we watch cruise ships drifting … [Read more...]

Eldorado (2008)

My review of Eldorado, a bizarre comedy from Belgian filmmaker Bouli Lanners, is published at Filmwell. … [Read more...]

To Be and To Have (2002) and The Class (2008)

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This two-part review of The Class and To Be and To Have was originally published at Christianity Today.-"Carpe Diem."Remember that? That's what Professor Keating (Robin Williams) told his class of troubled youngsters in Dead Poets Society."Seize the days, boys. Make your lives extraordinary."In The Class, "Seize the day" might be the worst thing the teacher could say to his students. This multi-ethnic group of troublemakers, cynics, and egoists have already seized the c … [Read more...]

The Class (2009)

This two-part review of The Class and To Be and To Have was originally published at Christianity Today.-"Carpe Diem."Remember that? That's what Professor Keating (Robin Williams) told his class of troubled youngsters in Dead Poets Society."Seize the days, boys. Make your lives extraordinary."In The Class, "Seize the day" might be the worst thing the teacher could say to his students. This multi-ethnic group of troublemakers, cynics, and egoists have already seized the c … [Read more...]

The Class (2009): Looking Closer’s Film Forum

I'll be reviewing The Class soon. But for now, let me encourage you to see it as soon as you can. It's one of two 2009 releases I've seen that will probably end up in my Top 10 of 2009 next December.Here's a roundup of reviews at IFC Daily. … [Read more...]

Fireproof (2008): Looking Closer’s Film Forum

What is Film Forum? Well, with so many film reviews published, and so little time to read them all, I make a note of any review that I find particularly thoughtful, persuasive, or worth wrestling.Be sure to check back, as I've only just begun to read reviews of these films, and I'll add more interesting excerpts as I come across them. Feel free to submit more reviews, or even your own, in the comments below. … [Read more...]


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