There Will Be Blood (2007)

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This review was originally published in an abridged edition at Christianity Today.-In Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, detective Jake Gittes became suspicious of a devious California millionaire named Noah Cross, played by the great John Huston. Dazzled by Cross’s fortune, which he’d acquired through laying irrigation pipelines across Los Angeles, Gittes asked why such a rich man would want to get richer. “How much better can you eat? What can you buy that you can't already afford? … [Read more...]

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)

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For decades, viewers have marveled at the deeply engraved face of actor Tommy Lee Jones. Now, seeing his directorial debut, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, it all makes sense. You’d have extravagant furrows in your brow too if your imagination lived in territory like this.The Three Burials is about border crossings, but instead of playing the guy who arrests illegal aliens — as he did in Men in Black — Jones is playing Pete Perkins, a guy who watches with grim dismay as border patro … [Read more...]

THX 1138 (The Director’s Cut) (2004)

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Do you ever get the feeling that, to the government, you're just a number?Have you ever visited a church service, or a political rally, or a company meeting where you had the strange feeling that everybody had been brainwashed into "talking the talk" and going through the motions?Does the world sometimes feel cold and impersonal, and leave you longing for something more?If you said "yes" to any of these, it's likely that THX 1138 will draw you into its nightmare and leave you haunted … [Read more...]

Waitress (2007)

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Fans of Firefly and Serenity, don’t despair. The charismatic Nathan Fillion may have a bright big-screen future ahead of him.In Waitress, Fillion is fantastic as Dr. Pomatter, the amorous doctor who comes to the rescue when a pregnant and perturbed young beauty named Jenna, played by Keri Russell, finds herself in a nightmare marriage.But there’s a problem. Both Jenna and her good doctor are married — Jenna to a hard-hearted, self-absorbed monster called Earl (Jeremy Sisto), and Pomatter … [Read more...]

Juno (2007)

An abridged version of this review was originally published in Risen Magazine.-Knocked Up, Waitress, Bella, and the internationally celebrated "masterpiece" 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days… yes, 2007 is officially The Year of the Unexpected Pregnancy.And now, here comes Jason Reitman's Juno, a comedy about a high-school girl whose sexual experimentation has left her pregnant and confused.What's going on? Is Juno just another movie in this unlikely trend? … [Read more...]

The Golden Compass (2007)

Finished with their phenomenal Lord of the Rings trilogy, New Line Cinema needed another series, something with box-office promise. Harry Potter and the Narnia chronicles were already spoken for. So they seized the next-best thing: Philip Pullman's award-winning trilogy, His Dark Materials.The first movie, The Golden Compass, is full of dazzling spectacles. Director Chris Weitz conjures awe-inspiring environments and fantastic creatures that recall Peter Jackson's Middle-Earth movies. And, … [Read more...]

The Golden Compass – Christians, Controversy, and Phillip Pullman – A Commentary

¬†And so it begins.The first review of New Line Cinema's The Golden Compass, which is based on the first book in Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, has been published in The Daily Telegraph.Telegraph reviewer John Hiscock says: ... an early screening of The Golden Compass in Los Angeles reveals that the investors who put up the $90 million cost of the film can rest easy - though it lacks the impact or charm of The Chronicles of Narnia, the special effects are ex … [Read more...]

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

A while back, maybe a year or two, I saw some photographs in the newspaper that revealed a new wax likeness of Brad Pitt for the famous Madame Tussaud's museum.My how far he's come. It seems like only yesterday that a feisty actor with a roguish grin showed up in Thelma and Louise, and then earned comparisons to the young Robert Redford in A River Runs Through It. Since then, Pitt has blazed his own trail through Hollywood history and become an uber-icon. His personal choices have thrown … [Read more...]

Wings of Desire (1987)

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When the child was a child, it was the time of these questions. Why am I me, and why not you? Why am I here, and why not there? When did time begin, and where does space end? ... Isn't what I see, hear, and smell just the mirage of a world before the world? ... How can it be that I, who am I, wasn't before I was, and that sometime I, the one I am, no longer will be the one I am? - Damiel in Wings of DesireThe Criterion Collection has just polished up Wings of Desire — my favorite film — an … [Read more...]

Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)

Y Tu Mama Tambien is being hyped as a "teen movie" for the arthouse crowd.Having seen it, I can say this without any doubt: while it is about teenagers, it is definitely not for teenagers.This is serious, and dangerous, artmaking — a story of two adolescent boys whose journey of sexual recklessness becomes a metaphor for political corruption in Mexico. The film contains some extremely explicit scenes of their lustful misbehavior. And while I think it goes too far in portraying realistic l … [Read more...]


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