Gravity: Traversing the Glorious Terror of the Cosmos

Review of Gravity, Directed by Alfonso CuarónBy ANDREW COLLINSDirector Alfonso Cuarón’s IMDB biography says that he has always wanted to be two things: a director and an astronaut. If so, it makes a lot of sense why he made Gravity, the survival story of astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and medial engineer Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) after their mission to upgrade a satellite telescope goes horribly awry.The story that follows is simple: Astronauts try to get back to eart … [Read more...]

A Warrior Fights to Come Home

Review of Warrior, Directed by Gavin O’ConnorI find it difficult to write about Warrior. I suspect that my response to it is highly idiosyncratic: it resonated with me personally, but I think others are unlikely to view it the same way I did. To some extent that’s probably true of every review, so here goes: Warrior is one of the most emotionally affecting movies I’ve ever seen.Warrior is the story of two brothers and their various fights in a mixed-martial arts (MMA) competition. But thi … [Read more...]

As You Wish: The Inconceivable Love of The Princess Bride

 Review of The Princess Bride, Directed by Rob ReinerIt is absolutely, totally, and in all other ways inconceivable that The Princess Bride is not on everyone’s list of the greatest movies ever made. This movie is, objectively speaking, better than apple pie, Legos, a shiny new bike on your birthday, and little league baseball—combined. It is the apotheosis of all childhood fantasies rolled into one. It is also the most quotable movie ever made. As a professor international security affairs, … [Read more...]

To See or Not to See: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Review of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Directed by George Roy HillButch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) is a movie I love to hate and hate to admit that I actually love. It is a movie about two outlaws who rob and kill their way through the Wild West and South America before meeting their ultimate end. Before they do, they become such endearing, hilarious, likeable crooks that you find yourself rooting for them. They are the archetypal anti-heroes, protagonists who embody vices … [Read more...]

‘UP’ brings down generational barriers

Review of UP, Directed by Pete DoctorBefore Toy Story 3 opened floodgates of slightly guilty tears (but after Toy Story 2 triggered … other, even guiltier tears), the geniuses at Pixar figured out another way to bring forth the waterworks [serious profanity warning for that article, folks]—this time in the opening montage of UP. In the first ten minutes of the film, a young Carl Fredrickson meets, marries, and builds a life with the spirited Ellie. By the end of the montage, decades have pas … [Read more...]

Into the Wild: Losing Yourself in the Great Outdoors

Review of Into the Wild, Directed by Sean PennChristopher McCandless wandered into the Alaskan wilderness in the spring of 1992 to live off the land, commune with nature, and find himself.  One hundred and thirteen days later he was dead of starvation.  His true story was told in Outside magazine (here) and The New Yorker in 1993, a book titled Into the Wild in 1996, and film of the same name in 2007.McCandless was well-read, idealistic, and and spiritually sensitive. Some people see … [Read more...]

Christ on Kane: On the Meaning of Rosebud

Review of Citizen Kane, Directed by Orson WellesTo write about Citizen Kane is to invite scorn for one’s ignorance and presumption.  How can anything new be written about this film?  How can I presume to have something to say?  Don’t you know this is the greatest film ever made?According to the American Film Institute, it is indeed the greatest.  And it was the greatest on the British Film Institute’s decennial poll for 50 years, until unseated last year by Hitchcock’s Vertigo.  It stands … [Read more...]

Wall-E: Pixar’s Sanctimonious Jerk

Review of Wall-E, Directed by Andrew StantonI hate Wall-E. I hate the cloying romance. I hate the mawkish sentimentalism. I hate the sanctimonious environmentalism. I hate the open contempt for suburban America. But mostly I hate that everyone else loves it.Wall-E was ranked the best movie of last decade by Time. It won the Oscar, the Golden Globe, and the BAFTA for Best Animated Film. It’s #59 on IMDB’s list of the greatest movies of all time. It won the Golden Tomato award—an award … [Read more...]

Beauty and the Beast: A Hymn to the Cult of Love

Review of Beauty and the Beast, Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk WiseWhen you think Disney, you think of bright colors, a mouse, princesses, enchanted castles, music and song, and possibly overpriced theme parks. But perhaps above all, you think of childhood. Disney specializes in a certain kind of entertainment (or marketing). It speaks to children, including the inner sort—those who are still under the age of 12 and those of us who remember being so once upon a time. Disney is all about … [Read more...]

Double Indemnity: Bleak Justice in Classic Noir

Review of Double Indemnity, Directed by Billy WilderBilly Wilder was more than the Steven Spielberg of his era. While Spielberg is one of the most prominent, acclaimed, and decorated directors of all time, Wilder is that and a writer as well. He wrote the screenplays for most of his best movies, including The Apartment (1961), Some Like it Hot (1960), Sunset Blvd. (1950), and Double Indemnity (1944). The amazing thing about that list is that it includes a comedy, a drama, a bittersweet … [Read more...]