Review of Rebecca, directed by Alfred Hitchcock By PAUL D. MILLER Rebecca (1940) is a creepy film. From the opening shot of trees in the mist to a key sequence in the fog to the closing shot of a mansion engulfed in smoke, the film is pervaded with wisps of the gray stuff, a visual analog to the murkiness of the world in which it takes place. Unease and anxiety build through almost three-quarters of the film—without any clear reason… Read more

Review of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Directed by David Gelb By KENDRICK KUO I love sushi, but I don’t dream of it. Jiro does. The documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi examines the life and art of Jiro Ono, who is hailed as the world’s best sushi shokunin. The word Japanese word shokunin literally means ‘craftsman’ or ‘artisan,’ but it’s pregnant with much weightier meaning that verges on public service, whereby the shokunin is conscious of the great role he plays… Read more

Review of Ghost Brother Angel by Grant Schnarr By COYLE NEAL Ghost Brother Angel by Grant Schnarr is utterly without redeeming spiritual value. (And no, that’s not a phrase I throw around very often. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, I’ve only used it once.) To be fair, never in the book does he claim to be a Christian, though he does so on his blog. Nor does he ever crack a Bible or speak with a Christian… Read more

Review of The Searchers, Directed by John Ford By PAUL D. MILLER The Searchers (1956) is a John Wayne western made in the 1950s, which might immediately suggest to you a certain kind of movie:  an all-American hero fighting outlaws and Indians with a six-shooter, a pack of one-liners, and a grinning swagger.  Wayne did plenty of those movies—this isn’t one of them.  Not by a long shot.  Instead, think of a western directed by Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola,… Read more

Review of The Call of Cthulhu, Directed by Andrew Leman By ALEXIS NEAL Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn …  In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming … That is not dead which can eternal lie,  And with strange aeons even death may die … These cryptic phrases appear in a manuscript found among the papers of the late Francis Wayland Thurston of Boston.  The manuscript is full of curious things—feverish dreams of Cyclopean cities and  green ooze, a bizarre… Read more

Review of City at the End of Time by Greg Bear By COYLE NEAL  “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” –Hebrews 11:10 What does this verse mean to a non-Christian? That’s the question engaged by Greg Bear in City at the End of Time. Basically, if Martin Heidegger, Albert Einstein, and Karl Barth had a Buddhist baby, this is the book that baby would have written. And that sentence should… Read more

Review of The Syrian Bride, Directed by Eran Riklis By KENDRICK KUO Not a terribly famous movie, The Syrian Bride is mainly in Arabic with occasional Hebrew and is directed by an Israeli. The very context of the film is fascinating. It takes place in the Golan Heights, a hotly contested area between Israel and Syria, where residents have an “undefined” nationality. Mona, a young Druze woman, is arranged to marry a famous Syrian actor, knowing that to cross into… Read more

Review of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner By PAUL D. MILLER Abraham Lincoln was a racist who believed Africans were intellectually inferior to whites and should not have equal political rights with their racial superiors. He opposed immediate abolition and favored only gradual emancipation, coupled with compensation for slave owners deprived of their property, and followed by the deportation of ex-slaves back to Africa, or colonized in South America. His initial plan for Reconstruction envisioned almost… Read more

Review of Looper, Directed by Rian Johnson By COYLE NEAL If you’ve seen Timecop, The Butterfly Effect, or any of the Terminator or Back to the Future films, you’ll have a rough idea of the premise behind Looper. In this particular spin on the time travel tale, the mob sends people it needs “disappeared” into the past, where they are executed and disposed of by “Loopers.” When the mob decides to retire a Looper, they “close the loop” by sending… Read more

Review of Looper, Directed by Rian Johnson By ALEXIS NEAL It’s 2042, thirty years before time travel is finally invented (or do I mean discovered?) and immediately outlawed. But as with most illegal technologies, prohibition does not equal eradication, and the crooks of the future still make use of time travel—most notably in the disposal of individuals who’ve overstayed their welcome. But rather than commit murder on their own time-soil, they ship the live targets back in time to particular… Read more

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