The Terminal (2004)

[This review was originally published at Christianity Today.]Near the end of Steven Spielberg's new film The Terminal — an ambitious, whimsical and sentimental movie similar in tone and gloss to 2001's Catch Me If You Can — one of the characters proves to be quite a juggler. It's a delightful moment, primarily because we know we aren't watching a special effect. Kumar Pallana's really juggling those hoops and spinning those plates!Likewise, Spielberg's film is a juggling act that keeps th … [Read more...]

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008) – A Guest Review by Greg Wright

Greg Wright, who edits Hollywood Jesus and runs Past the Popcorn, impressed me with his thoughtful examination of the new documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed when we participated in a roundtable discussion at The Kindlings Muse a week ago. (That discussion will be available via podcast soon.)So I was delighted to see that Wright had published a full review of the film at Past the Popcorn, and I quickly asked him if he would be willing to share the review here.So here is Greg … [Read more...]

Longford (2006)

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This capsule review was originally published in the Winter 2008 installment of Connections, an email newsletter for Seattle Pacific University alumni.-Presented on HBO in 2006, Tom Hooper’s film Longford offers one of the most inspiring and moving portrayals of a Christian in recent memory.A frequent and compassionate minister to prisoners, the Seventh Earl of Longford — Frank Pakenham, or “Lord Longford” — made headlines and stirred up scandal in the 1960s as he developed a friendshi … [Read more...]

Flight of the Red Balloon (2007)

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An abridged version of this review was published today at Christianity Today Movies.-How is childhood like a red balloon?Watching Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s new film Flight of the Red Balloon, there are many possible answers to that question. … [Read more...]

Jindabyne (2007)

This review was originally published at Christianity Today Movies.-Fishermen have a tendency to return from fishing trips with tales of "the big one that got away." But not Stewart Kane. No, he's come back from a weekend fishing trip with a very different story. And he'd rather keep it to himself than discuss it with his wife.In Ray Lawrence's new film Jindabyne, Stewart (Gabriel Byrne) and his buddies, Carl (John Howard), Rocco (Stelios Yiakmis), and Billy (Simon Stone), venture out … [Read more...]

4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (2007)

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This is a revised version of a capsule review that first appeared in a recap of favorite 2008 films, published at Image:•In 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu tells a terrifying tale of two university students, Otilia and Gabriela, whose mistakes lead to excruciating consequences.Gabriela (Laura Vasiliu) seeks an abortion, which is illegal in her part of the world. This is Romania, and it's 1987. She can't just purchase whatever she pleases. If she wants … [Read more...]

Paprika (2006)

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This brief review of Paprika was originally published in Risen magazine.-In 2001, Hayao Miyazake’s Spirited Away won the Best Animated Feature Oscar, and introduced the glory of Japanese animation to a much larger American audience.Unfortunately, some of Japan’s most extraordinary animators are still relatively unknown in the U.S. You probably haven’t heard of Satoshi Kon. And thus you’ve probably missed Paprika, which isn’t just the most imaginative animated film of last year — it’s … [Read more...]

Killer of Sheep (1977, 2007)

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Filmed in 1977 as a thesis project on a budget of about $10,000, Charles Burnett's award-winning Killer of Sheep won an award in Berlin in 1981, and was among the first 50 films entered in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry. The National Society of Film Critics named it one of 100 "essential films." And Andrew O'Hehir at Salon.com calls Burnett "the most important African-American director" and "one of the most distinctive filmmakers this country has ever produced."But this … [Read more...]

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...]


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