The Insider (1999)

'Tis the season to toss aside what other people think of you, do what you feel, and devil-may-care who gets hurt in the process.At least, that's what the movies will tell you.The leading men onscreen this season (Lester Birnam of American Beauty, Tyler Durden and "Jack" of Fight Club, Craig and Lottie of Being John Malkovich) are not generous people. They are not humble. They're not the kind of people to give up their own dreams for the good of others. They're distinctly American — "I hav … [Read more...]

Junebug (2005)

When filmmakers journey to the American South, they enter dangerous territory. Far too often, they aren't prepared to encounter such a rich, unusual culture, and they end up painting cruel caricatures.So it is a bit unnerving when director Phil Morrison takes us on a road trip from Chicago art studios to North Carolina baby showers in Junebug. Is this going to be just another movie exploiting Southern eccentricity for our entertainment?Not at all. Junebug is, at times, hilarious, but it … [Read more...]

King Kong (2006)

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A full hour of forgettable, underwhelming set-up introduces us to the key human characters of Peter Jackson's King Kong.That long, humdrum approach to the Main Event - the revelation of the ape - confirms what some have long suspected: that Peter Jackson, who served up those sensational adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, isn't much of a storyteller on his own. As his earlier track record proves, he's a bespectacled spectacle man. When you give him a script that is … [Read more...]

The Lives of Others (2006)

At the movies, transformations are the norm. Men become monsters and beasts are transformed by beauties on a regular basis. The formula is so familiar that storytellers and artists face a tremendous challenge if they hope to capture audiences with a sense of something new.Remember Schindler's List? In Steven Spielberg's beloved Holocaust film, we watched Oskar Schindler begin to question himself and his superiors. He gradually mustered the courage to take a small step in the right direction. … [Read more...]

The Passion of the Christ – A Letter to Christians about Mel Gibson’s Film

This commentary is a follow-up to my review of The Passion of the Christ.-Most Christian press publications will lavish praise upon Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. They will celebrate the arrival of a film rich with spiritual power, rendered with riveting and even excruciating detail.Some will go so far as to declare that in this film, the Church has a fantastic "evangelical opportunity."But the fact that many Christians — many churches — are responding to the film as if i … [Read more...]

The Passion of the Christ (2004)

"There is nothing less real than realism. Details are confusing. It is only be selection, by elimination, by emphasis that we get at the real meaning of things." - Georgia O'Keeffe-The words “excruciating” and “crucifixion” are related. It’s easy to see why when you read the reviews of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.Violence is not a new subject for this actor-turned-storyteller, and here he zooms in on a singular theme: how Christ persevered, in love, restraint, and forgivene … [Read more...]

Superman Returns (2006) – guest reviewer Greg Wright

This is a guest review by Greg Wright•Has anyone but me noticed that only one letter prevents Superman Returns from being an anagram for Superman Reruns? Dan Brown is to blame for doing this to my mind.Before you think I’ve gone entirely off the deep end, though, consider this: The Da Vinci Code postulated that Jesus Christ was not the chaste, virginal young man we read about in The Children’s Bible. Yes, and Ron Howard’s film ratcheted up this daring expose, delivering hard, documen … [Read more...]

The Queen (2006)

Stephen Frears' new film The Queen begins just before that catastrophic car crash, seemingly provoked by pursuing paparazzi, took the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her boyfriend, the rich playboy Dodi Fayed. With an efficient and effective montage of news clips, Frears reminds us (as if we could forget) just how popular Diana had become, and why.Unlike Queen Elizabeth, who stuck to the typical rituals of her tradition, Diana was an adventurous do-gooder. She was as big as Paris … [Read more...]

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

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An much-abridged version of this review was published at Christianity Today.•In a recent British poll, U2’s song “One” was voted the greatest song of all time. Okay, perhaps it wasn’t a poll of musicians, historians, and songwriters, but of music fans. Still, the poll proves that U2’s song about longsuffering has struck resonant chords in its listeners over the last decade. The refrain, “We’ve got to carry each other…” is indeed powerful and true.The song is not included in the soundt … [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, interesting, or persuasive.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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