Looking Closer’s Film Forum: “Fracture”

Fracture Ryan Gosling. Anthony Hopkins. You would think those would be two great reasons to run out and see Fracture. And yet, the current reviews have discouraged me from rushing out to see it. See for yourself... In The National Review, Peter Suderman says it's "another plodding exercise in legal proceedings and implausibly mangled plotlines. Primal Fear and Fallen were at least diverting, but this time around, Hoblit and his writers didn’t even have the decency to learn why the genre works … [Read more...]

Looking Closer’s Film Forum: Perfect Stranger

Perfect Stranger Rotten Tomatoes shows that critics are placing Perfect Stranger under citizens' arrest. Religious-press critics agree that this one's a waste of time and talent. Commenting on director James Foley, Christian Hamaker (Crosswalk) calls Perfect Stranger "a sad case of an artist whose career once seemed promising. Two of the director’s early films, After Dark My Sweet and At Close Range, garnered attention for their stylish look and moody performances. The filmmaker peaked s … [Read more...]

Looking Closer’s Film Forum: Grindhouse

Grindhouse Before we join the rush of religious-press reviewers who are condemning Grindhouse outright, let's understand what it is first.Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have a particular nostalgia for films like those they watched growing up. Many of those films were cheap, exploitative, spectacularly bad, and filled with gratuitous violence, graphic nudity, and characters who flaunted their way with profanity. They were populated with strippers, zombies, monsters, and muscular … [Read more...]

Looking Closer’s Film Forum: The Hoax

The Hoax Todd Hertz (CT Movies) calls The Hoax "a mix of Catch Me If You Can, Shattered Glass, and A Beautiful Mind. But unlike the characters from those better films, there's nothing redeeming about [the central character]. I enjoy 'spiral into madness' movies, but this one can feel unsettling and smarmy because it's not a good man spiraling out of control until he realizes what he's done. Instead, you're merely watching a bad man get worse — with no eventual lesson learned or expression of c … [Read more...]

Film Forum: The Reaping

The Reaping "Oh, it's very biblically based," said the promoter who called me to encourage me to see The Reaping.I'm still trying to figure out what that meant. For all of its God-talk, The Reaping is just the kind of "faith-based film" we don't need. What hath The Passion of The Christ wrought? With only a few notable exceptions, it hath wrought a plague of exploitative, superficial, theologically confused, audience-abusing movies like Constantine and this big-budget howler. … [Read more...]

Film Forum: The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Premonition, I Think I Love My Wife

Great Odin's raven! It's... Looking Closer's Film Forum!The Wind That Shakes the Barley When the envelopes are torn open and the winners are breathlessly announced on Oscar night, most American moviegoers have already had plenty of opportunities to see the nominated features. But when the Cannes Film Festival crowns the winner of the Palme d’Or each year, only the fortunate festival attendees get to feel the excitement. It often takes months for the rest of the world, America included, t … [Read more...]

FILM FORUM: Into Great Silence, Zodiac, Black Snake Moan, and Wild Hogs

Welcome to the first installment of Looking Closer's Film Forum! Yes, Film Forum has moved from Christianity Today Movies to Looking Closer, and things are going to change somewhat. It'll include links to a wider range of reviews, from the religious press to mainstream film criticism. It's not meant to be a comprehensive list of reviews, but rather just a journal of the reviews that caught my attention with some arresting observations or opinions. We have oh-so-many mainstream reviews that … [Read more...]

“Film Forum” is Coming to Looking Closer!

As I sat watching the Oscars and writing the last installment of Film Forum for Christianity Today, I was inspired by all of the thank-you speeches made by the winners.So I've started this week’s edition with thanks to a few people who have supported me in this work over six years. And I want to repeat those thanks here. … [Read more...]

Record-Breaker: 17 Movies in This week’s Film Forum

Which Christian film critic calls The Fountain "a syncretistic mishmash that never addresses core biblical teaching about humanity's sin and our need for a Savior"? And which one calls it "a brilliantly conceived and executed artistic vision"? Who said Deja Vu "feels a bit like a shell game"? What do Christian critics think of the new James Bond? Is Bobby going to "lead many people astray, morally, politically and theologically" with "false Romantic, Neo-Marxist liberal ideology and … r … [Read more...]

Hiatus!! (or Through a Book Project Darkly)

For the first time in my five-plus years writing the weekly Film Forum for Christianity Today Movies, I'm going on hiatus.The lovely and talented JOSH HURST will be piloting the craft while I'm gone, and I'm sure I'll be humbled by his zeal and competence.I'll return to that "desk" in June.Right now, every spare moment is focused on my book about faith and film: Through a Screen Darkly. … [Read more...]