Isolation and Freedom in “Tracks”

Review of Tracks, Directed by John CurranIn 1977, Robyn Davidson trekked across 1,700 miles of Australian desert. The journey, sponsored by National Geographic, was documented by photographer Adam Smolen and later became a memoir with the eponymous title Tracks. Now, the story is on the big screen, starring Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver as the reckless Ms. Davidson and her camera-toting partner Mr. Smolen. Tracks is about a woman who, when asked why she decided to undertake the endeavor, … [Read more...]

Don’t Watch ‘The Drop’

Review of The Drop, Directed by Michael RoskamLet me say up front, this movie was horrible. I’ll set up the background story then tell you why. Cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) and Bob (Tom Hardy) work at a bar in Brooklyn, a bar that Cousin Marv used to own. In fact, the bar is called Cousin Marv’s Bar. Ownership is past tense because the Chechens moved into town and Marv “flinched.” The bar is one of many “drop” spots for mafia-related money. So Marv is a retired boss and Bob is an average joe- … [Read more...]

God’s Not Dead … but His people have terrible taste in movies

Review of God's Not Dead, Directed by Harold CronkAs someone who has been involved in higher education either as a student or as a professor for the last thirteen years, I can tell you that the plot of God's Not Dead is ridiculous. Seriously, no legitimate college would allow a professor to treat a student that way, and no legitimate philosophy program would hire a professor who basically said "I hate talking about ideas that I clearly have passionate feelings about, so what I'll do instead … [Read more...]

The Giver keeps on giving

Review of The Giver, Directed by Phillip NoyceAs a book, The Giver has been remarkably generous. A Newbery Medal winner that has sold 10 million copies, the book has given millions of children their first chance to interact with questions that have plagued human beings for centuries: Which is more valuable: freedom or security? Should human life ever be discarded? What is love?Now, movie-goers will get to receive the magic of The Giver. Despite some changes, the movie is faithful to the … [Read more...]

Another ode to Americana action films

Review of The Expendables 3, Directed by Patrick HughesI was tempted, as an experiment in criticism, to write a review of The Expendables 3 before I even saw the film, just to see how much I’d have to revise it.As it turns out, I wouldn’t have had to do much. The third installment of the Expendables sticks to the tried and true formula of the previous ones, which embody the formula of the American action movie to a tee.At this point, I could go on for a couple hundred words about how … [Read more...]

Release your inner ‘Hercules’

Review of Hercules, Directed by Brett RatnerCan we just get this out there now? This movie is awesome. It has absolutely everything that a good Hercules movie should have: fighting, good guys, bad guys, monsters, and the Rock chucking dudes through walls. It takes everything that was truly spectacular about Kevin Sorbo's definitive artistic interpretation of the Hercules myth and puts it on the big screen. (I realize there may be a few of you out there who cannot appreciate the wonderfulness … [Read more...]

Calvary: A Passion Week of his own

Review of Calvary, Directed by  John Michael McDonaghCredit Calvary, a deliberately paced and otherwise dreary story, for having one of the best inciting incidents of any film this year. It begins with an opening shot of Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) inside a confessional, except the sin being confessed isn’t in the past, it’s in the future.“I’m going to kill you Father.”“That’s certainly a startling opening line,” Father James responds in a dark-humored deadpan style that co … [Read more...]

“Get On Up” and Feel the Funk

Review of Get On Up, Directed by Tate Taylor Coming on the heels of The Help, the same director Tate Taylor teamed up with Mick Jagger to create Get On Up, a raw biopic of James Brown spanning most of his life. Get On Up does a satisfying job providing both an entertaining movie that avoids the cliches of the usual biopic while providing insights into James Brown’s psyche without creating fanciful theories.Get On Up is part of a long line of biopics featuring the lives of important African Am … [Read more...]

Magic in the Moonlight: Is Magic Real?

Review of Magic in the Moonlight, Directed by Woody AllenWoody Allen’s latest film Magic in the Moonlight comes right on the heels of Blue Jasmine, and is of much-lighter fare. The romantic comedy features a world-renowned magician determined to unmask a psychic who is swindling a rich widow of her money and bagging her son in the process. The witty lines, charming characters, and quirky plot make the film a surprising delight, while asking significant questions about the spiritual world.The … [Read more...]

A tribute to authenticity

Review of Begin Again, Directed by John CarneyLike a movie about making a movie, Begin Again has a sort of postmodern, simulacra-tinged flavor. It uses the mask of celebrity to tell a story about being authentic, blending the “real” world of music with fiction by casting real-life music stars Adam Levine and CeeLo Green alongside Hollywood A-listers. This is ironic because Levine and Green are themselves products of the superficial, fake music industry that Begin Again critiques. The film is … [Read more...]