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...]

2013 Blockbuster Roundup

When the best film of the year is an impressionistic montage of large robots punching large monsters, you know it’s been a bad year for movies.Don’t get me wrong: I loved Pacific Rim (see our review here). Unlike the other big movies of the year, it was light-hearted, energetic, and fun. It didn’t take itself so seriously that it dragged down the movie with dour angst. If I want that, I’ll go watch Man of Steel and Star Trek Into Darkness. But it was also a movie that was fundamentally about … [Read more...]

Bambi: The Deer King

Review of Bambi, Directed by James Algar, et al. In our ongoing effort to watch and blog our way through Disney’s classics, I’ve gotten around to Bambi (1942). With the other movies, I was revisiting films I had seen as a kid: nostalgia thus added another layer of enjoyment to the films’ immediate charms. Not with Bambi. Until last week, I had actually never seen Bambi before. My goodness, this movie has a high body count.Bambi occupies a certain niche in American cultural iconography. It … [Read more...]

Ella Enchanted/Ella Transformed

Review of Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson LevineAs a kid, I always thought Cinderella was kind of a lame fairy tale. The leading lady lets everyone run roughshod over her, the leading man is dull as toast, and, well, none of it really rang true to my enlightened, empowered child-of-the-80’s sensibilities. ‘Spineless, docile maiden weds boring Ken-doll’ didn’t exactly make for thrilling reading (or viewing), you know?That is, until author Gail Carson Levine decided to change all that. In her … [Read more...]

American Gods: Made in the U.S.A.

Review of American Gods by Neil GaimanLike pretty much everyone on the internet, I count myself something of a Neil Gaiman fan. His comics are excellent, his short stories are consistently good, and two of his novels—Neverwhere (1996) and The Graveyard Book (2008)—are easily among the best books I have ever read. The man is clearly a gifted public speaker, and brilliantly narrates the audiobook versions of many of his works. So it came as something of a shock to me that I didn’t love his most … [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...]

In Texas, Saints in Search of a Better Story

Review of Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Directed by David LoweryRead any review of David Lowery’s acclaimed new film Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and you’ll find comparisons of both style (voiceover narration, elliptical editing) and setting (Texas landscapes) to filmmaker Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, Days of Heaven). Malick set both Tree and Heaven largely in the Lone Star state, but Lowery, when asked about what influenced him in writing and directing Saints, never mentions Malick, citing oth … [Read more...]