Category: Movies

You named your kid Atticus?! Relax

We knew we wanted our son to have a Swedish first name. One that would balance out the very Spanish last name he’d carry through life and would pay homage to the Swedish half of his gene pool. And so my husband and I created a list, culled from the Internet and my grandmother’s family records. We weeded out ones we couldn’t pronounce or spell and ones deemed just too weird. (Sorry, Torbjörn.…  [more]

The earned ‘conservatism’ of Trainwreck

As a director, Judd Apatow has consistently blurred the line between sex comedies and romantic comedies. The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up are both distinct in that much of the laughs arise from sexual situations, yet the gags also serve a narrative that ultimately argues in favor of genuine human connection. Trainwreck continues in that tradition, with a feminine (and occasionally feminist) twist. Written by…  [more]

Love & Mercy: the spiritual haunting of a musical genius

As vapid summer pop music and mindless popcorn flicks reign supreme on the charts, a quiet little film called Love & Mercy explores the heart and mind of one of the most important musical artists of the last century. Brian Wilson - who ironically helped to perfect surf music, one of the most excellently shallow forms of pop ever invented - took a major creative and spiritual left turn when he stopped touring…  [more]

The best films of 2015 (so far)

The second half of 2015 has a tough act to beat, at least as far as the movies are concerned. It’s not only the quality of the films themselves, but the variety displayed among them. From smart science-fiction to broad comedy to foreign-language allegory, my favorite pictures of 2015 run the gamut. Here’s a list of the top five films of the year, at least at its midpoint. 5. What We Do in the Shadows If…  [more]

Inside Out and a theology of Sadness

The outstanding new Pixar film Inside Out gives walking, talking personalities to the various emotions inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley. My favorite moment takes place about midway through the movie and involves Joy, a Tinker Bell-like sprite voiced by Amy Poehler; Sadness, a blue bespectacled blob voiced by Phyllis Smith; and Bing Bong, Riley’s imaginary friend, who has the conveniently…  [more]

Jurassic World’s cruelty toward its creatures

One reason 1993’s Jurassic Park became so iconic was the timing of its release. The 1990s saw a growing popular interest in paleontology, particularly among kids. These days, a third grader will rattle off the identities and powers of Marvel superheroes; back then, they were more likely to know the scientific names and relative sizes of dinosaurs. Any dinosaur-obsessed kid who goes to the new Jurassic World,…  [more]

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]

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