Category: Movies

The practical salvation of The Martian

The Martian is nothing if not practical. As it tells the story of astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon), who has been abandoned on Mars, the movie spends little effort wondering “what it all means.” Watney doesn’t waste time pondering life and death or his place in the universe. Rather, as he says, “You can either accept that (death) or you can get to work.” The Martian watches him work.…  [more]

Traversing towers of Babel

When Philippe Petit strung a wire between the Twin Towers on Aug. 7, 1974, and walked across it some 1,300 feet above the ground, two questions immediately followed: How? Why? The Walk, a dramatization of Petit’s feat from director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump), ably answers the first question, with the help of IMAX and 3-D technology. (Acrophobiacs should stay away.) But the answer to the second question…  [more]

Community vs. Cult of Personality (or 3 days at TIFF)

I met Sharon Jones at the Toronto International Film Festival last week. Well, at least I met her through Miss Sharon Jones!, a documentary about the contemporary soul/funk singer, with whom I had been woefully unfamiliar. Jones is a force. Like her hero James Brown, she has indomitable energy as a singer, dancer and band leader, especially in her live performances with her backup musicians, The Dap Kings. The…  [more]

Wes Craven, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and a Christian defense of horror

With the death of Wes Craven over the weekend – very likely the only Wheaton College alum to ever go on to direct a horror masterpiece – I’ve noticed a familiar question bubbling up once again in some circles: should Christians watch horror films? I somewhat agree with the affirmative answers others have given: that by focusing on the darkness, there is opportunity to shine a light; that many…  [more]

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]

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