September 7, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians has become the most popular romantic comedy in years.  Not since “Pretty Woman” (in 1990!) has a rom com topped the American box office for three weekends in a row. This remarkable reception is an overdue affirmation that moviegoers (and finally, maybe even Hollywood) see Asian actors and stories as significant and worthy of investment.  In an era when questions of identity dominate academia and social media, Crazy Rich Asians overcame massive expectations.  Imagine the pressure on… Read more

August 12, 2018

Last summer, Get Out took us inside the sunken place that paralyzes those caught in a spiral of racism.  Now, BlacKkKlansman exposes the unholy marriage of white nationalism and Christianity which motivates cross burnings and lynchings, excuses police shootings and justifies racist dog whistles.  BlacKkKlansman is an enormously entertaining mix—equal parts comedy and crime drama, cinematic valentine and potent agit-pop.  It is a fierce exploration of the past that we need NOW. BlacKkKlansman was originally slated to be directed by… Read more

October 5, 2017

How rare for a movie to allow kids to be kids in all their ferocious glory. They are capable of wreaking so much wondrous havoc in their natural, unfettered state. The frankness and fearlessness of the children in The Florida Project is both refreshing and disarming. Director Sean Baker revels in the anarchic, comedic spirit of kids. We meet Moonee, Scooty, Dicky, and the newest member of their gang, Jancey, as they race through the breezeways of The Magic Castle… Read more

January 4, 2017

Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Departed, The Wolf of Wall Street, Silence. One of these is not like the others. How could the same director who repeatedly reveled in the high cost of unchecked male rage also deliver the meditative and masterful Silence? Feudal Japan seems so far removed from the Mean Streets of New York City. Catholic priests dispensed wisdom and sacraments in both milieus, but the pace, tone, and body count is so different in the two… Read more

January 1, 2017

Bad times often produce great music. The socio-political disaster of 2016 was met by remarkably moving, relevant, and inspiring songs. Thank God for African-American artists who continue to rise above trying times with sounds of praise and protest. We have so much to glean by simply listening. I was raised as a music buyer and still enjoy owning a physical album, yet some of the finest songs of 2016 were only available in digital formats. Self-released mixtapes could prove even… Read more

December 22, 2016

What animated the most enduring films of 2016? While our nation suffered from our inability to empathize with the Other, thankfully the finest filmmakers reminded us how compelling compassion remains. Empathy turned a ‘small’ film like Moonlight into an immediate masterpiece. Not a shot, gesture, or line is wasted in Barry Jenkins’ gorgeous triptych. The evolution of Chiron across the mean streets of Miami communicated with such clarity why Black Lives Matter. The West Texas plains of Toby and Tanner… Read more

October 7, 2016

Rarely has such a small, independent film been forced to carry such weight on its shoulders. Purchased for a record breaking price at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and positioned as an Oscar contender months before it was released, The Birth of a Nation can’t really sneak into theaters. As soon as writer-director-producer-star Nate Parker audaciously titled his Nat Turner story, The Birth of a Nation, he was taking on the tangled history of Hollywood and race relations in America…. Read more

March 31, 2016

On the heels of Holy Week, National Geographic presents The Story of God, an ambitious, expansive six-part series hosted by Morgan Freeman. This is an impressive interfaith study, with Freeman traveling to Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Guatemala, India and beyond in search of God, or at least humanity’s efforts to reach God. From the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to bathers on the Ganges, we follow Freeman and his guides to spiritual hot spots connected to prophecies and religious rites. Digital imagery… Read more

March 10, 2016

Who has time to answer a child’s questions amidst racial strife, religious conflict, and a refugee crisis? There is so much uncertainty and anger surrounding our search for a new leader, threats can lead to violence at any moment. And if we fail to see the parallels being the tumultuous ancient world that Jesus entered and our context today, then we’ve missed the poignant, life affirming point of the captivating new movie, The Young Messiah. Opening in movie theaters this weekend,… Read more

February 17, 2016

The Greatest Story Ever Told is also one of the most oft told cinematic tales. So how can filmmakers bring a fresh take to Jesus’ death and resurrection? Directors often succumb to the digital temptation of bigger, louder, faster in an effort to instill faith in their audiences. Unfortunately, relying on spectacle only builds fascination with the special effects. Risen restores my faith in the Gospel film by doing the hard work of finding a new angle. It places us… Read more

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