I’m going to start this off with a pretty controversial statement, Frozen is the best Disney movie. I grew up with the Lion King, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, etc.—but none of those can beat a movie that centers sisterly, familial rather than romantic love, features Idina Menzel’s amazing voice, and arguably is an apology for queerness. Given Frozen’s indisputable G.O.A.T. status, I was excited to see Frozen II recently, though admittedly it took me far too
Jordan Peele’s latest movie, Us, is an intense horror film that confronts issues of duality, identity, sameness, otherness, sin, and judgment, just to name a few. Part of what makes Us so rich is not just its carefully crafted storytelling, but its strategy of navigating weighty topics from different approaches: philosophical, social, psychological, and theological. This makes Us an excellent resource for theological reflection, with theological claims that are as bold as they are relevant.
Note: This review does not spoil key plot points. The Florida Project was the best film of 2017. I have been waiting for some time to write my review; the gravity of this film’s message demanded both multiple viewings and careful reflection. I can now say that Sean Baker has put together a magnificent and enduring work of art. The Florida Project is a gritty take on the elusivity and hollowness of the American dream.
Introduction Early in The Dark Knight, Alfred describes the Joker in perhaps the most memorable lines of the film: Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn. The Joker is characterized as someone who is beyond reason: crazy, deranged, out of his mind. His ostensibly pointless acts of violence and mayhem appear to reinforce this assessment.
Most “Bible movies” fall into two categories. On the one hand are saccharine, unchallenging films that cater to audiences’ predetermined tastes (anyone who’s ever browsed a megachurch library will immediately recognize the type). On the other are more daring secular takes that inevitably end up sparking some controversy or another (I’m reminded of Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” and Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings”). But every year or so, I revisit DreamWorks’ 1998 animated masterpiece “The
Last week, Guillermo del Toro’s masterful film “The Shape of Water” won big at the Oscars. The movie took home not only the Academy Award for Best Picture, but also awards for Best Director, Best Original Score, and Best Production Design. As a longtime admirer of del Toro’s work—his 2006 historical fantasy “Pan’s Labyrinth” is my all-time favorite film—I was naturally delighted to see him receive the accolades he deserves. Make no mistake, “Shape” is
As far as I’m concerned, Darren Aronofsky is the best film director working today. The auteur behind movies as diverse as “Pi,” “Requiem for a Dream,” “The Fountain,” “The Wrestler,” “Black Swan,” and “Noah,” Aronofsky creates works that blend surreal imagery, wrenching performances, and complex spiritual motifs. “Mother!,” his latest, is no exception—as Ben Winter recently noted. Indeed, it might be Aronofsky’s most ambitious work yet—and will undoubtedly be the most controversial. It’s impossible to
From director Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club), HBO’s Big Little Lies is a slow burn drama that rewards careful viewing. Set in idyllic Monterey, California, the story centers on the world of wealthy wives and their children. Yet unlike many star-studded portrayals of Hollywood glamour, the opulence of Big Little Lies unveils, rather than obscures, the common humanity of its protagonists. [Spoilers Ahead] Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley) is an outsider to the Monterey community. The
Over the past year, in the lead up to its five-hundredth anniversary, Protestants across the globe have been reminiscing and debating over the implications and ramifications of the Reformation. But another, more recent phenomenon has been receiving similar attention, at least in Reformed circles. Last September marked ten years since Collin Hansen published his now famous article, “Young, Restless, Reformed”, which chronicled the rise of so-called “new Calvinism.” Christian Century dubbed the phenomenon “Calvin’s Comeback.”
(This review is spoiler-free.) Blade Runner 2049 is an adult film, but not because of sex scenes or violence. The sci-fi action would probably earn a PG 13. Nudity of “replicants” (the film’s word for androids) abounds, as does nudity in digital advertisements. Yet it does so in a manner that should repulse rather than titillate. Running almost 3 hours long at a fairly slow pace, Blade Runner 2049 immerses audiences in urgent questions about
Review of Mother! (dir. Darren Aronofsky, 2017) My Rating: 9/10 Recommended viewing, provided you have the stomach for psychological horror. Note: This review first appeared on Theology + Movies. Note: Do not read this review if you are planning to see the film (spoilers). But come back and read/comment afterwards, because you’ll want to talk about it! =) Prologue On a rare night out with a friend, I experienced the film Mother!, directed by Darren Aronofsky.
This movie is not as bad as you may have heard. It is much, much worse. This is the kind of movie that a fourteen-year-old, who thinks they’re “edgy” after just discovering Nine Inch Nails and Richard Dawkins, would make in stop-motion with their old action figures. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” was supposed to be the movie that launched D.C. Comics’ own competitor to Marvel’s Avengers juggernaut. And while I’ve had a few
I watched this movie, first and foremost, because I promised the filmmakers on Twitter that I would, back when they were trying to get it greenlit. (Never let it be said that I don’t put my social media slacktivism into practice!) Clearly, an R-rated superhero black comedy was a hard sell to the studio–and indeed, Deadpool isn’t exactly a member of Marvel’s A-list squad. While “Deadpool” exists within the same satirical tradition that gave viewers
The marketing materials for “The Revenant” have pitched the movie as a Canadian-wilderness revenge drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio, who gets smashed around by a gigantic bear. And while that’s all entirely accurate, “The Revenant” aspires to be something more – a haunting glimpse of alien northern landscapes untouched by human hands, within which a lone survivor must come to terms with both his own mortality and his own insignificance. In the capable hands of director
For many today, the observation that “football causes concussions” is such an intuitive proposition that it borders on the redundant. The precise link between professional football and severe neurological damage, however, hadn’t been identified until recently – via a controversial series of events that sparked multimillion-dollar litigation. Inspired by an outstanding GQ article, “Concussion” recounts the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu’s discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), an neurodegenerative condition found in NFL players as
Journalists – particularly those covering highly sensitive events – are often the targets of well-deserved critique (consider, for instance, the grotesque spectacle of the past week that witnessed live news crews rooting through the apartment of deceased mass shooters). Yet often it is journalists who do the legwork required to properly expose hidden evil to public scrutiny, igniting the sparks of major change. “Spotlight” is the story of one such exposure: namely, the revelation that
“Spectre” is a frustrating film to review: in its attempt to provide a resolution to the last several films, it has one hand in the best of modern James Bond (“Casino Royale,” “Skyfall”) and one in the worst (“Quantum of Solace”). Here, Bond (Daniel Craig) continues his journey into the modern era: MI6 is planning to launch a giant global surveillance program, while villainous organization Spectre (headed by an enigmatic figure allegedly from Bond’s past)
Having dabbled in entry-level rock climbing in my preprofessional life, I’m fascinated by movies exploring the subject. I was nowhere near proficient: just hiking up Colorado’s 14,000-foot Mount Elbert was an unforgettably grueling experience. Needless to say, I have great admiration for those who face the savage physical test that is Mount Everest. Such a feat, however, carries with it extreme risks to life and limb. “Everest” depicts the 1996 disaster that claimed the lives
The latest confoundingly creative masterpiece from veteran Pixar director Pete Docter (“Up”) is a magnificent achievement. It’s by far the best film Pixar has made since “Toy Story 3”: for the sheer scope of its vision and the genius of its execution, “Inside Out” is unmatched in Pixar’s pantheon. Ostensibly centered on 11-year-old girl Riley Anderson’s psychological turmoil after moving from Minnesota to San Francisco, “Inside Out” emphasizes the reciprocal relationships between her anthropomorphized emotions.
You can keep your “Avengers” sequels: aside from the forthcoming “Star Wars” reboot, this was far-and-away my most anticipated film of the year. (For reference, I watch the original “Jurassic Park” at least twice a year and saw it in 3D during the 20th anniversary rerelease). That said, it is a truth universally acknowledged that “The Lost World” was a bit of a letdown and that “Jurassic Park III” was an outright debacle. So does