Category: Movies

Holding onto hope in Mad Max: Fury Road

When things fall apart, as they have in Mad Max: Fury Road, it can be telling to watch how society rebuilds itself. In fact, at least in the movies, few things so starkly reveal the fallen nature of humanity and its structures than a dose of genre apocalypse. A resuscitation of the Mel Gibson franchise of the 1980s, Fury Road takes place in a post-apocalyptic desert where gasoline and water are in excruciatingly…  [more]

Avengers: Age of Ultron’s tiny dollop of grace

“There is grace in their failings. I think you missed that.” There aren’t many quiet exchanges in Avengers: Age of Ultron, another run-of-the-mill, punchplosive Marvel movie. But near the end we do get an intriguing discussion between two central figures. It’s something of an addendum, after yet another city has been destroyed in the rubble-strewn climax. The villain – a malevolent,…  [more]

Ex Machina and what it (might) mean to be human

What makes us human? And how is that related to the way we’re made in God’s image? These are perennial questions that tantalizingly linger along the edges of the new science-fiction thriller Ex Machina, my favorite film of the year thus far. Written and directed by Alex Garland, who brings a cool mercilessness to the proceedings, Ex Machina imagines the birth of artificial intelligence in the form of a…  [more]

Sex and death in It Follows

The hit independent horror movie It Follows seems, on the surface, to be just another fright flick in which sex equals death. Yet the movie offers a narrative variation that suggests something far more interesting, especially in regard to a Christian understanding of sexuality. The sex-as-death theme goes back to the early days of film - 1942’s Cat People is a good example - yet it came of age, so to speak, in…  [more]

The bombastic beauty of Furious 7

More surprising than the $392 million Furious 7 took in at the box office over Easter weekend has been the number of positive reviews the action flick garnered. This usually doesn’t happen to movies starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and exploding vehicles. There may be a somber explanation for the positive reception, considering the movie is something of a memorial to co-star Paul…  [more]

Getting back to basics with the new Cinderella

Sometimes it seems that even Disney movies have given up on moral instruction. Take last year’s Maleficent, the studio’s revisionist version of the Sleeping Beauty tale. I loved it, but mostly for the way it evoked the psychological effects of trauma while also offering a nuanced understanding of evil. Not exactly kids’ stuff. Meanwhile, as animated efforts become increasingly chaotic, even those…  [more]

Chappie: Gnostic clown or resurrected body?

Chappie isn’t much of a science-fiction action film, what with its wild variations in tone and juvenile fetishizing of weaponry. Yet like even the most dunderheaded of sci-fi enterprises, the movie does offer some tantalizing speculation about where the human race may be heading. And according to Chappie’s future, downloadable souls will be the next big thing. Part E.T. and part Pinocchio – but…  [more]

Birdman (or, the unexpected virtue of the Academy Awards)

Birdman won the Best Picture Oscar at last night’s Academy Awards ceremony, something I predicted partly because it’s a movie about making movies, a subject of which Hollywood never tires. The fact that it’s also about the artistic ego – and how pride goes before the fall – could be seen either as the icing on the cake or the definition of Hollywood hypocrisy. With the somewhat…  [more]

A husband and wife walk into the Fifty Shades of Grey movie…

Author’s note: In an attempt to engage Fifty Shades of Grey from a Christian perspective, my wife and I attended a Valentine’s Day screening of the movie, which details the sexual relationship between a literature student and a young billionaire. The conversation below captures the dialogue we had immediately following the film. Lauren: I don’t know that I have ever been to a movie premiere that…  [more]

Sundance Dispatch #3: Leaving The Wolfpack

My last night at the Sundance Film Festival included a documentary that somewhat mirrored my time here. A profile of six brothers who were forbidden by their father to leave their Lower East Side apartment for most of their childhood, The Wolfpack depicts the way they filled that void by obsessively consuming and re-enacting Hollywood movies. In other words, it offered a vision of life as only experienced through…  [more]

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