Category: Movies

The Hateful Eight’s missing man of sorrows

The Hateful Eight is at once one of Quentin Tarantino’s most formally accomplished pictures and his most thematically thin. It’s a gloriously filmed, cleverly structured, 70mm extravaganza, but beyond an ample portion of hate and violence, Tarantino is unable to fill the wide screen with many substantive ideas. Some have argued otherwise, saying that the movie — which gleefully watches a random…  [more]

The Oscars’ fear of a black planet

It’s become an unfortunate annual tradition to grouse about the lack of diversity among the nominations for the Academy Awards. In fact, the affront has become so expected that earlier this week The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore did a bit called “A Preview of Upcoming Black Oscar Snubs.” Sure enough, yesterday’s announced Best Picture nominees did disappoint. It’s a very white, very…  [more]

Revenge as misdirection in The Revenant

Detractors of The Revenant have dismissed the brutal, bruising survival drama as a simplistic tale of revenge. I’m a defender of the film — it took the No. 7 slot on my 2015 top ten list — partly because I think the revenge elements are a bit of a red herring. What resonated most for me while watching The Revenant, even if it was in short supply, was the movie’s vision of mercy. Set in the…  [more]

An Assassin, White God and Fury Road: the top 10 films of 2015

10. It Follows It Follows is a sex-as-death horror film, but one that’s far less hypocritical and puritanical than the 1980s slasher flicks it means to echo. Rather than depicting sexuality as titillatingly naughty and deserving of punishment, the slow, ponderous camera of It Follows gives it a metaphysical weight. Ultimately, the movie recognizes sex’s significance to us as created beings in search of…  [more]

Myth, masks and Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Among the many motifs in the Star Wars universe, one that plays a prominent role in the deeply nostalgic Star Wars: The Force Awakens is an element of costume design. Specifically, the use of masks. This seventh episode in the ongoing space saga could hardly be told without them. Although the series’ heroes have donned masks on occasion (recall Luke posing as a Stormtrooper in A New Hope or Lando Calrissian…  [more]

Star Wars: Episode III – False Family Ties

Our Theology of Star Wars series also includes essays on Episode I, Episode II, Epidsode IV, Episode V and Episode VI. A free eBook version of the entire series is available here. Emperor Palpatine is a snake. As Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith begins, he has successfully taken over the Galactic Senate and amassed his own army of clone troopers. Soon he manages to abolish the democratic…  [more]

Star Wars: Episode II - He Who Lives by the Lightsaber…

Our Theology of Star Wars series also includes essays on Episode I, Episode III, Episode IV, Episode V and Episode VI. A free eBook version of the entire series is available here. Pity the storyteller who – having sketched the faint outlines of a quasi-Buddhist guild that also once served as a sort of pan-galactic Ministry of Defense – subsequently resolves to depict in detail how such a thing could…  [more]

Mockingjay’s Syrian refugees

Although The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 brings an otherwise excellent sci-fi franchise to an underwhelming conclusion, one provocative scene particularly resonates this week in the aftermath of recent terrorist attacks in Paris and the subsequent, polarizing conversation surrounding refugees. At this point in the Hunger Games narrative, ambivalent heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has snuck…  [more]

Star Wars: Episode I – Making Sense of Midi-chlorians

Our Theology of Star Wars series also includes essays on Episode II, Episode III, Episode IV, Episode V and Episode VI. A free eBook version of the entire series is available here. If there was a Spectrum of Awesomeness for Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, it would run from Darth Maul on one end (awesome) to Jar Jar Binks on the other (crime against humanity). Most fans would put midi-chlorians - the…  [more]

Star Wars: Episode VI – Can Anything Good Come from Endor?

Our Theology of Star Wars series also includes essays on Episode I, Episode II, Episode III, Episode IV and Episode V. A free eBook version of the entire series is available here. Poor Return of the Jedi. Somehow it has become the Rodney Dangerfield of the original trilogy (“no respect!”), routinely ranked by fans as the least favored installment. On lists that include the prequels, it…  [more]

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