Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl is the cancer movie our generation deserves

Review of Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl, Directed by Alfonso Gomez-RejonIf there’s a any sort of progression from A Walk to Remember to The Fault in our Stars, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl represents the next iteration  in stories about a young woman who gets cancer. It’s probably the best film in the category to date, and it is the cancer movie that this generation deserves. Where author John Green’s piercing Fault in our Stars struck an emotional chord with dis … [Read more...]

Far from the Madding Crowd is a welcome reinterpretation

Review of Far from the Madding Crowd, Directed by Thomas VinterbergDirector Thomas Vinterberg’s effort marks the fourth time Thomas Hardy’s pastoral novel has been adapted to film, and it’s not hard to see why. The story is slow but magnificently rewarding, reflecting the title, which is both idealistic and ironic. On the one hand, both Hardy’s novel and the film capture the idyllic setting of pastoral England, blissfully removed from the dirtying throes of the industrial revolution – the “ma … [Read more...]

The Water Diviner takes a refreshing dive into one of history’s footnotes

Review of The Water Diviner, Directed by Russell CroweRussell Crowe’s freshman directing effort tells the story of Australian farmer Joshua Connor (Crowe), who travels to Turkey to recover the bodies of his three sons, all of whom were killed fighting in the battle of Gallipoli during World War I. On its face, Connor’s journey is a fool’s errand, and so the story is weighted with an honorable pointlessness reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan. What does it really matter that he finds his sons’ … [Read more...]

Underdogs and the power of faith: director Alejandro Monteverde on Little Boy

Based on Interview with Alejandro Monteverde, Director of Little Boy The “faith-based” boxWhen it comes to telling stories, director Alejandro Monteverde doesn’t believe in a sacred-secular dichotomy.“I’m constantly being put in a box, he says, “constantly.”At first blush, it’s not hard to see why. His new film Little Boy tells the story of a young boy in a sleepy California coastal town during World War II whose father leaves to fight in the Pacific Theater. Pepper Flynt … [Read more...]

There are still new stories to be told in the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Review of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Directed by John Madden“Getting old is the second-biggest surprise of my life,” writes Roger Angell, longtime editor and staff writer at The New Yorker, in an essay about life in his nineties, “but the first, by a mile, is our unceasing need for deep attachment and intimate love… I believe that everyone in the world wants to be with someone else tonight.”This sentiment goes right to heart of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films. Director Jo … [Read more...]

McFarland, USA Shows How to Run the Race

A Review of McFarland, USA, Directed by Niki CaroThe film business, like TV and radio, has devolved into niche programming, as film companies increasingly target their products to different audience segments. Younger male audiences are especially catered to—witness the surplus of superhero movies in recent years, and planned for years to come. Then then are kids’ movies, movies for older adults, and the much-desired “four-quadrant” hit that manages to pull in both young and old, male and fema … [Read more...]

Moral Discussions Engage in “Winter Sleep”

Review of Winter Sleep, Directed by Nuri Bilge CeylanWriter-director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s latest film, Winter Sleep, is rolling out slowly in North American markets. Despite winning the Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, this talky, three-hour-and-16-minute drama from Turkey is challenging fare even for the North American arthouse crowd. But like last year’s 250-minute Norte: The End of History from the Philippines, Winter Sleep is a deeply engaging moral drama and rich cinematic … [Read more...]

“Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook?”

Review of Leviathan, Directed by Andrey ZvyagintsevIn a recent blog post for the New York Review of Books, journalist Masha Gessen makes a “bizarre and disturbing” observation about her experience in Russia: people kept dying.  It wasn’t like there was a war or epidemic, but the death rate was inexorably high, going back nearly half a century.Upon digging into the question, she concluded that Russians seemed to be dying from a lack of hope. And despite some improvements since the collaps … [Read more...]

Still Alice: Memory and the self-made woman

Review of Still Alice, Directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash WestmorelandThe premise of Still Alice is remarkable simple: a woman gets early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. But it is also remarkably compelling – something like a holiday family movie meets Memento – and the result is both heart-warming and frightening. Memory holds our own subjective, individual world together. It gives us our sense of identity and grounds our relationships. Without it, is there anything of us left?As the film u … [Read more...]

The Imitation Game: A war story for the 21st century

Review of The Imitation Game, Directed by Morten TyldumAfter the hit BBC TV series Sherlock and last year’s The Fifth Estate, The Imitation Game shows that whenever the silver screen needs a brilliant, troubled, eccentric protagonist, Benedict Cumberbatch will be there to play the part. In this case he portrays Alan Turing, the World War II-era British mathematician tasked with cracking the Nazi Enigma machine. As a professor, Turing evaluates his life accomplishments by comparing them to Al … [Read more...]