Parents Are the Problem in Enough Said

Review of Enough Said, Directed by Nicole Holofcener Today’s media critics are fond of saying that TV is the new cinema. More and more, big-screen directors like Rian Johnson (Looper) and Agnieszka Holland (The Secret Garden) are finding an outlet through cable dramas like Breaking Bad and The Wire. And the trend isn’t limited to directors: Actors familiar from the movies (Steve Buscemi and Michael Shannon, Boardwalk Empire) also are finding a home on TV, which is no longer considered a fall … [Read more...]

The World’s End: We can finally laugh at ground zero of the apocalypse.

Review of The World’s End, Directed by Edgar WrightBy ANDREW COLLINS For viewers who can stomach the language, The World’s End hits all the big comedy targets. It shamelessly borrows and mocks tropes from the well-worn Hollywood canon (just look at this poster, for starters) and strikes with well-crafted irony at both micro and macro levels. The dialogue snaps between characters with delightful chemistry (the British accents don’t hurt), and the whole business takes place in an absurd sce … [Read more...]

2 Guns and Lots of Swag

Review of 2 Guns, Directed by Baltasar KormakurBy ANDREW COLLINSBetween Man on Fire, Shooter and your favorite buddy comedy, there’s a good chance you’ve already seen 2 Guns, the new summer action flick from director Baltasar Kormakur. Ecclesiastes’ ancient adage that there’s nothing new under the sun certainly applies to all films, but some—like this one—are more unoriginal than others.The film opens with powerhouse stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg rolling into a small south … [Read more...]

Blanchett Wondrous in Woody’s Humdrum Blue Jasmine

Review of Blue Jasmine, Directed by Woody AllenIf you were asked to describe a typical Woody Allen movie, what would you say? The prolific writer/director is probably best known for comedies like Annie Hall, which won the Best Picture Oscar, but Allen also has a serious side, explored in films such as Manhattan and Crimes and Misdemeanors. He’s had notable successes but also numerous failures across genres, falling short when he fails to craft compelling stories.Such inconsistency might b … [Read more...]

Ruby Sparks and True Freedom

Review of Ruby Sparks (2012), Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie FarisThis quirky film about a writer who imagines his ideal woman and puts it down on paper, only to find her materialize in his house (without explanation), is surprisingly delightful. The lightfooted feel of the film is complemented by raw characters that offer deep wells of emotion and considerable weight.Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) is an author who wrote a critically-acclaimed novel in his younger years, but … [Read more...]

The Lone Ranger: Pirates of the Old West

Review of The Lone Ranger, Directed by Gore VerbinskiWe can sum up The Lone Ranger with a simple comparison: it is Pirates of the Caribbean out west.It makes sense. It comes to us from the same gang – director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer – who brought us the Pirates franchise and features Johnny Depp in a starring role as an off-kilter, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants hero.Imagine Captain Jack Sparrow as a Native American, and you have Tonto. With his long, black h … [Read more...]

Despicable Me 2: The Sanctifying Power of Adoption

Review of Despicable Me 2, directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris RenaudBy Josiah & Carolyn DavisAdoption is a sort of salvation—saving orphans from orphanhood—so much so that the Bible talks of our “adoption” by God as part of our salvation from sin and death (Ephesians 1:5). However, in Despicable Me 2, there is a twist. Instead of the typical tale of a parent being the “savior,” the tables are turned. Despicable Me 2 presents the heartwarming story of adopted children who “save” their fat … [Read more...]

You’re Not Good Enough, You’re Not Smart Enough, and Some People Don’t Like You: The Refreshing Realism of Monsters University

Review of Monsters University, Directed by Dan Scanlon When I was little, I wanted to be a veterinarian. And a farmer. And an ice skater. But time passed, and I realized that I was far too sensitive (about animals, anyway) to endure the heartache of watching families say goodbye to beloved pets. Raising animals for slaughter was likewise out of the question. I lacked the dedication and, quite frankly, the physical grace to be a skater. Plus, it turns out that veterinarian/ice skater/farmer is a … [Read more...]

The Kings of Summer, Masters of Themselves

Review of The Kings of Summer, Directed by Jordan Vogt-RobertsWhatever happened to those coming-of-age films that mixed a naive innocence with humor and a touching story? Nostalgia? The Kings of Summer offers an antidote. Three adolescent teenagers decide to declare independence from their parents, build a house in the woods, and live off the land. Joe Toy (Nick Robinson) is sick of his father’s (Nick Offerman) smothering control over his life. Patrick Keenan (Gabriel Basso) finds his pa … [Read more...]

The General: A Train Full of Laughs

Review of The General, Directed by Buster KeatonIn our effort to blog our way through the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Films, I picked out one of the few movies on the list I had not only not seen, but never even heard of:  The General (1927).  For some reason I expected a somber silent drama about some military officer’s dreary, tragic life.  I think the one-word nondescript title sounds drab and pretentious, so I assumed the movie would be too.The General (available on Netflix stre … [Read more...]