July 9, 2021

  Natasha Romanoff never asked to be Black Widow. She wanted to be a butterfly; to shed her old skin and transform herself into something better, something new. Maybe that makes her a lot like us. Almost every time we’ve seen Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow on screen, she’s been on a quest that goes deeper than any given mission (no matter how important that mission might be). She’s looking for redemption. And in the new movie Black Widow, that ongoing… Read more

July 7, 2021

The Summer of Soul made me smile. The documentary (the full title of which is Summer of Soul [… Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised]) is playing now in select theaters and Hulu, and it showcases a critical cultural event you’ve probably never heard of: The Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969. Overshadowed by Woodstock even in its own day, the Festival was practically forgotten—the archival footage of the event stashed in someone’s basement for nearly 50 years. Ahmir… Read more

June 16, 2021

Awake, Netflix’s latest sci-fi thriller featuring a very stressed-out mother (see Bird Box), is a silly, bloody but reasonably interesting flick. No, most critics haven’t loved it: It’s holding a 33% “freshness” rating on Rotten Tomatoes right now. But they’ve overlooked, I think, the movie’s most intriguing theme: Its religion. But to dive into those spiritual elements, we’ll need to get into a few spoilers. Thanks to a really nasty solar flare, the world has gone a little crazy in… Read more

June 7, 2021

The Conjuring cinematic universe—now eight films strong—is the second highest-grossing horror franchise of all time, having earned nearly $2 billion. Technically, only Godzilla stands taller (with more than $2.3 billion in earnings), but the big guy comes with some asterisks. One, it took Godzilla 36 movies to claim its top spot, and two, it can hardly be called horror if 10-year-old me could watch Godzilla vs. Monster Zero at midnight and still go nightmare free. What has made the Conjuring… Read more

May 27, 2021

  The story behind Netflix’s Blue Miracle (starring Jimmy Gonzalez and Dennis Quaid) is almost too good to be believable: A bunch of kids from a troubled orphanage team up with a crusty, washed-up fisherman and enter the Bisbee’s Black & Blue—sometimes called the Super Bowl of the fishing world—and win the thing. And yet, Blue Miracle (which was released today on Netflix) is based on a true story. And for writer Chris Dowling, the real challenge was to take… Read more

May 19, 2021

The second trailer for Respect, a biopic of Aretha Franklin and starring the dynamic Jennifer Hudson, just dropped today. Man, if there’s one movie I’m excited about seeing this year, this is it. I’m a big fan of the Queen of Soul. I loved the documentary Amazing Grace, which depicted the recording of her landmark gospel album in 1972. (It became the biggest-selling album in Franklin’s 50-plus-year career.) This year features a double dose of Franklin, which makes 2021 inherently… Read more

May 14, 2021

Amazon Prime’s The Underground Railroad, based on the 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Colson Whitehead, is both great and terrible: It’s a powerful story with some incredible acting (hand an Emmy to Thuso Mbedu right now), but it can be really hard to watch at times. It’s not just the grotesque abuse we see that makes the show so difficult: Rather, it’s in how true it feels. And for Christians watching, it can be particularly convicting. The limited series centers… Read more

May 7, 2021

Monster, a new film premiering on Netflix today, focuses on 17-year-old honor student Steven Harmon (played by Kelvin Harrison Jr.) who’s been charged with murder. It deals a lot with plenty of issues in the cultural forefront: race, peer pressure and America’s judicial system. It’s not really about faith in the way we normally use that word. But it does come into play. In this clip, courtesy Grace Hill Media, Steve’s mother (Jennifer Hudson) tries to encourage her son through… Read more

April 25, 2021

His name is Dave, but he likes the kids to call him Pastor D. “I have the greatest job in the world,” Dave (Jeff Ryan) tells the camera. But, of course, he’s lying. I’m sure that being a youth pastor comes with some tremendous rewards, but it just might be the toughest job in ministry, and Dave has it tougher than most. Goth kid Deb rolls her eyes at him every time he opens his mouth. Bespectacled Steven won’t talk… Read more

April 22, 2021

I’m pretty up on my movies. When the Oscars roll around (as they will April 25), I can sit down and feel comfortable that I’ve seen most of what’s been nominated. That is, until the Best Documentary (Short Subject) pops up. And then I—like most of America—run to the kitchen to grab another cookie or two. Not this year. I saw all the short docs nominated this year, and I have to say, they were well worth my time. So… Read more

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