Gatsby: Tragic Hero of Hope

Review The Great Gatsby, Directed by Baz Luhrmann I rarely disagree with what the internet tells me to think about a movie, but today I do. The critics dislike Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby. It has a 45 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. They are wrong. Gatsby is a fine film. Baz Luhrmann [Read More...]

‘Bound Together’ in Suffering…and Salvation

Review of Bound Together: How We Are Tied to Others in Good and Bad Choices by Chris Brauns As Americans, we love our independence. I am my own man (or woman), I make my own destiny, I am autonomous, don’t tread on me. But for all our cowboy sentiment, there is a union, communion, and solidarity [Read More...]

My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro, by Hayao Miyazaki  My Neighbor Totoro (1988) is a quiet, calm, beautiful film. There is no dialogue for very long stretches of story while characters explore, watch, and discover—akin to the opening sequence of WALL-e. There is no sass talk, there are no quick cuts, no pop-culture references, and no special effects.  [Read More...]

Republocrat: The Pitfalls of American Politics

Review of Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative by Carl Trueman Imagine that an evangelical Brit decides to make running commentary on American politics–what would he say? Add to that the fact that this particular Brit has lived in the United States for almost two decades; then add the dash of cheekiness that we have [Read More...]

George F. Kennan: Biography of a Bureaucrat

Review of George F. Kennan:  An American Life, by John Lewis Gaddis Magisterial, thousand-page, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographies are usually reserved for presidents, emperors, generals, and saints.  With John Lewis Gaddis’ definitive  George F. Kennan:  An American Life, the epic treatment is given to a 20th Century American bureaucrat.  Who was George Kennan, and why does [Read More...]

At Any Price: A Study in Discontentment

Review of At Any Price, Directed by Ramin Bahrani Profoundly American and profoundly disturbing, At Any Price, the newest release by acclaimed director Ramin Bahrani (Goodbye Solo, Chop Shop), strikes at the heart of our enterprise and reveals the broken souls drifting along this cycle of greed. The Whipple family is steeped in Iowa’s agriculture [Read More...]

Iron Man 3 is worth every nickel

Review of Iron Man 3, Directed by Shane Black Does this movie even really need a review? As with everything else in the Avengers oeuvre to date (with the possible exceptions of Hulk and The Incredible Hulk), Iron Man 3 is a lot of action-y goodness with light moral thematic underpinnings. Which is exactly what we [Read More...]

Kon-Tiki and the Risk of Faith

Review of Kon-Tiki, Directed by Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg Kon-Tiki is a name that has faded from popular memory, but launched a generation of explorers and adventurers, including astronauts. Kon-Tiki is the name of a raft that carried a crew of five Norwegians, a Swede, and a parrot named Lorita, all the way from [Read More...]

At Any Price: Interview with Dennis Quaid and Ramin Bahrani

At Any Price tells the fictional, but oh so real story of the Whipple family, caught up in the Darwinian struggle to survive in the modern agriculture business, which thrives under the banner “expand or die”. We watch as this attitude of never having enough seeps from the corporate level down to the individual lives [Read More...]

The General: A Train Full of Laughs

Review of The General, Directed by Buster Keaton In our effort to blog our way through the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Films, I picked out one of the few movies on the list I had not only not seen, but never even heard of:  The General (1927).  For some reason I expected a somber [Read More...]

Last Train Home in Industrializing China

Review of Last Train Home, Directed by Lixin Fan The documentary Last Train Home tells the heart-wrenching story of a family caught in the turbulence of an industrializing China. Every Spring, for Chinese New Year, 130 million migrant workers trek back to their rural homes to rejoin their families, only to return again to their [Read More...]

Wreck It, But Be Nice to Your Sister

Review of Wreck-It Ralph, Directed by Rich Moore Confession:  I love video games.  When I was 2, my dad bought the Apple II computer.  Some of my earliest memories are playing stone-age video games together as a family.  I remember playing Cranston Manor.  This was a game only slightly more sophisticated than Pong. It was [Read More...]

If you love America, go see Pain & Gain

Review of Pain and Gain, Directed by Michael Bay “Don’t be a don’t-er, do be a doer.” Such is the motto of body-builders/gym-rats Danny Lugo, Paul Doyle, and Adrian Doorball (Marky Mark, the Rock, and Anthony Mackie). Okay, if we’re being all technical about it, it’s the motto of Johnny Wu—the hottest self-help guru to [Read More...]

My Beef With a Delicious Read

A Review of Recipe for Joy, by Robin Davis By Jennilee Miller I like personal interest stories and I love to cook.  And eat.  So it wasn’t a tough sell for me to pick up “Recipe for Joy” when my husband encouraged me to check it out. “It’s a memoir about a woman’s journey of [Read More...]


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