Perseverance Leads to Payoff with ’12 Years a Slave’

Review of 12 Years a Slave, Directed by Steve McQueenAt the time of Northup’s kidnapping in April 1841, he was exactly 33 years old, the same age most assume Christ was when he carried his cross up to Golgotha. Unlike a God humbling Himself in the form of man, however, Northup was a man forced into the life of a slave, and the prospect of his resurrection was more elusive than three days.—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., from the press notes for 12 Years a SlaveDirector Steve McQueen’s (Hunger, Shame … [Read more...]

This Week on Sleepy Hollow: Plague, pestilence, and magical healing power of baptism.

Review of Sleepy Hollow, Episode 5Fair warning: if you're a student of history or literature, watching Sleepy Hollow every week will make blood shoot out your eyes. (Fortunately, I am a political scientist and as such immune to the abuse of knowledge—I even occasionally actively encourage it.) This week, we learn that the colony of Roanoke, which mysteriously disappeared in 1590, was actually led to safety by the ghost of Virginia Dare (the first child born to English colonists). Safety from … [Read more...]

Captain Phillips: Piracy, Courage, and Studies in Leadership

Captain Phillips, Directed by Paul GreengrassPaul Greengrass previously directed The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), the latter two installments in the Matt Damon spy thriller trilogy.  The Bourne movies enjoy an implausibly high critical and popular reception—the last of them won 3 Oscars, has a spot in IMDB’s list of the best movies of all time, and has a 94 percent rating on RottenTomatoes.com.  To me, having read the books by Robert Ludlum of the same name, the mo … [Read more...]

This week on Sleepy Hollow: Demons, Germans, and Tin-Foil Hats

Review of Sleepy Hollow, Episode 4Sleepy Hollow continues to be both entertaining AND educational. This week, we learn that Boston Tea Party was actually a diversion planned by Ichabod Crane so that he could sneak aboard a British ship and steal one of their secret weapons: a grimoire known as the Lesser Key of Solomon. (Presumably not the one published by the charlatan Alisteir Crowley in the early 20th century.) This foul tome possesses the power to open a portal to some sort of hell … [Read more...]

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...]

Confession is Good for the Soul

Review of Fox's Sleepy Hollow, Episode 3, "For the Triumph of Evil"Week three of Sleepy Hollow, and the apocalypse is still upon us. Maybe we can blame the government shutdown for how long it's taking to stop the end of the world? This week, a demon known as "Rokaronti" (also known in better fiction as the "Sandman") has been loosed on Sleepy Hollow and is systematically eliminating those who had a hand in covering up the dark secrets of the past. This particular villain strikes while the … [Read more...]

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...]

Ron Howard’s Rush is a high speed thrill ride with substance.

Review of Rush, Directed by Ron HowardBy ANDREW COLLINSIt would hard to find better source material for Rush, the latest film from director Ron Howard. The movie follows the legendary 1976 rivalry between Formula One racecar drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). Something about watching a race just never gets old, and the actual story has all the dramatic turns of well-crafted fiction. Building on this sporting sensation of yesteryear, Rush takes the … [Read more...]

Sleepy Hollow’s Abbie Mills: From Law-Breaker to Law-Keeper

Review of Sleepy Hollow, Season 1 Episode 2Just in case you missed the pilot: Revolutionary War hero/former Oxford Don Ichabod Crane has time-travelled to the present to save us from the devil's plan to destroy the world. This battle was being fought in the 1780s by Crane and George Washington against Death, the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse (now, thanks to quick swordplay by Crane, also known as the "Headless Horseman") and has continued into the present where Crane now works with … [Read more...]

FOX’s Sleepy Hollow; or, George Washington and Ichabod Crane vs. Evil

Review of Sleepy Hollow (‘Pilot’), Directed by Len WisemanIf you're familiar with the wonderful Washington Irving story, or the equally wonderful Disney cartoon, you probably think of Ichabod Crane as a tall, lean schoolteacher who has a way with the ladies, a sweet tooth a mile long, and a superstitious streak that is ultimately his undoing. Surely we all know that Ichabod was "tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his slee … [Read more...]