30 Jun 2018

Ahead of the Curve: A Reflection on the Joker’s Terrible Insight

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.

Guest Author 0
23 Apr 2018

Why “The Prince of Egypt” Is the Bible Movie Viewers Deserve

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

John Ehrett 0
12 Mar 2018

A Vigorous Defense of “The Shape of Water”

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

John Ehrett 0
15 Jan 2018

“Mother!” Of God?

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

John Ehrett 0
08 Jan 2018

Review: Big Little Lies (HBO)

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

Benjamin Winter 0
17 Nov 2017

Movie Review: Calvinist

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.”

Timon Cline 3
19 Oct 2017

Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049

(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

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28 Sep 2017

Mother’s Matter (Film Review)

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.

Benjamin Winter 0
28 Mar 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice | Movie Review

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

John Ehrett 0
22 Feb 2016

Deadpool | Movie Review

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

John Ehrett 0
11 Jan 2016

The Revenant | Movie Review

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

John Ehrett 0
07 Jan 2016

Concussion | Movie Review

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

John Ehrett 0
14 Dec 2015

Spotlight | Movie Review

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

John Ehrett 0
16 Nov 2015

Spectre | Movie Review

“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)

John Ehrett 0
07 Oct 2015

Everest | Movie Review

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

John Ehrett 0
22 Jun 2015

Inside Out | Movie Review

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.

John Ehrett 1
15 Jun 2015

Jurassic World | Movie Review

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

John Ehrett 1
10 Jun 2015

The Anthropology of The Avengers: Age of Ultron

This article is not so much a film critique as it is an attempt to extract some ultimate meaning from this popular flick.  I do not attend the theatre as often as I would like or can afford, but when I do I find myself constantly trying to perceive applicability to real life from what I see on screen.  I am fascinated and beguiled by the world of visual narrative, and I believe we are

Joseph Green 2
05 Jun 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road | Movie Review

I have never seen a film quite like this: a hyperkinetic, utterly relentless aural and visual onslaught that somehow never runs out of gas. George Miller’s postapocalyptic action spectacle is a thrilling summer movie if ever there was one, and demands to be viewed on the largest screen possible (if it’s between this and “Age of Ultron,” see “Fury Road”). The aesthetic is almost indescribable: a grungy ultra-saturated color palette coupled with outlandishly stylized dieselpunk

John Ehrett 2
14 May 2015

Ex Machina | Movie Review

Artificial intelligence is clearly the menace of the cinematic hour. The old menace posed by the Skynet of the “Terminator” franchise has taken on additional credibility in the era of “big data,” which offers the possibility of algorithmic analysis on a heretofore undreamt-of scale. Alex Garland’s recent thriller “Ex Machina,” however, trades guns for words and explosions for psychological turbulence, raising fundamental questions within a deeply intimate context. “Ex Machina” opens as Caleb Smith (Domhnall

John Ehrett 0