Movie Review

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Was Network prescient?

Was Network prescient?

When it was released in 1976, the movie Network was publicized as an “outrageous” comedy, a satire that imagined a worst case dystopia of the near future, based on the dismal precedents being set in the horrid ‘70s. It’s a sign of how far past mere movie satire we’ve gone that it’s been turned into a musical on the London stage, starring Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame. The film ... (Continue reading)

Dunkirk highlights today’s social divisions

Dunkirk highlights today’s social divisions

In a summer of box office disappointments, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk was an unexpected hit, since nobody thought that an epic film about the evacuation of British troops from Europe in the early days of World War II would be much more than a money-losing Oscar contender, meant to open deep in autumn. This would be the popular image of what was known as the “miracle of Dunkirk,” where the line between soldiers and citizens was erased just before the nation would ... (Continue reading)

1975 summer blockbuster about corrupt man, not nature

1975 summer blockbuster about corrupt man, not nature

The arrival of the first warm days brings with it the summer blockbuster, a seasonal indicator as venerable as crowded cottage weekends, sandy beach towels, the chemical cocktail of bug spray and sunscreen and the smell of gas generator exhaust and cotton candy at a fairground. The summer blockbuster has been declining with the general fortunes of Hollywood lately – this summer is predicted to be down by at least 10 per cent, thanks to early flops like King Arthur ... (Continue reading)

Close encounters with first-contact movies

Close encounters with first-contact movies

I have always been a sucker for the “first-contact” subgenre of sci-fi movies – films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Contact, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, District 9 and, at the very genesis of the genre, The Day The Earth Stood Still. Distinct from the usual sort of sci-fi that re-imagines westerns or war movies with ray guns and space ships, these films try to imagine how ... (Continue reading)

Appreciating Whit Stillman’s comedies of manners

Appreciating Whit Stillman’s comedies of manners

Whit Stillman, New York City August 1990. My youngest daughter is fond of asking unanswerable questions like “what’s your favorite food?” or “who’s your favorite band?” I usually answer that I’m too old to have favorite anythings anymore, but she hasn’t asked me “who’s your favorite living movie director?” yet, and that would be easy to answer: Whit Stillman. Stillman is an American who burst ... (Continue reading)

They don’t make Christmas movies like they used to

They don’t make Christmas movies like they used to

They still make Christmas movies, as far as I can tell, but we’re a long way from Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney singing Irving Berlin tunes for a war-weary generation. This Christmas, for instance, we have the very wry Bill Murray spoofing the holiday TV special in A Very Murray Christmas, and The Night Before, a seasonal buddy film where Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Antony Mackie binge their ... (Continue reading)

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Three movies for families

Three movies for families

Perhaps it’s a quirk of our family, but sitting down together for a movie regularly has always been as important as sitting down for a meal. I have spent 30 years, on and off, writing about movies and other entertainment, so I’ve always wanted to be there for those moments I remember so well from my own childhood, when something I saw in a theatre or on TV exploded ... (Continue reading)

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Trainwreck an unusual rom-com

Trainwreck an unusual rom-com

It’s generally accepted that the romantic comedy went into decline at some point in the ‘90s and hasn’t quite been itself since its final heyday, with films like When Harry Met Sally and Working Girl. If the genre has any life left in it, its saviour has come in the shape of writer/director Judd Apatow, whose innovation was to scour away most of the “chick flick” conventions – sassy girlfriends, ... (Continue reading)

The pornification of Hollywood

The pornification of Hollywood

When Fifty Shades of Grey made the transition from best-selling novel to box office smash movie – on Valentine’s Day, no less – we were given another opportunity to watch the border between the mainstream movie industry and its pornographic cousin evaporate into further irrelevance. For anyone living in blissful isolation for the last couple of years, Fifty Shades began life as the first part of a trilogy written by ... (Continue reading)

Social dysfunction

Social dysfunction

No one’s really sure who coined the term “social media,” but there’s a loose consensus that it came about almost 20 years ago, in and around AOL and the small but vital nexus of tech companies that were busy birthing the internet as we know it today. What no one seems to dispute is the idea that, with social media, something wholly new had been brought into the world, ... (Continue reading)

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Boyhood cannot escape the emotional facts

Boyhood cannot escape the emotional facts

I was sitting on a midway ride recently, waiting for the lights to start flashing and the machinery to start hurling us around when I realized that my life might not actually get better than this moment. I was with my family, near the end of a lovely day at the end of our summer vacation, and it felt like a line was drawing itself around the moment to ... (Continue reading)

A thoroughly modern Noah

A thoroughly modern Noah

We are apparently in the middle of another surge of religious films, which is a sure way of telling that Hollywood is losing money and running scared and desperate to pull in the audience they do their best to ignore when times aren’t so lean. Forgive me for sounding cynical, but if you think I’m being bleak, I dare you to name one masterpiece of religious filmmaking made since ... (Continue reading)

Movies focusing on despair

One of the most profound aspects of Christian teaching is the idea of the sin of despair. It might seem either abstract or inapplicable for many people either too commonsensical or faithful than myself, but once the idea behind it became clear to me, it was like a bright, pitiless light came on in my mind, casting light where I had never had the wit or strength to shine ... (Continue reading)

The wonderful middlebrow of Monuments Men

The wonderful middlebrow of Monuments Men

Maybe it’s a good thing, but war movies aren’t anywhere near as popular as they used to be. There is, to be sure, no shortage of violent films doing decent box office, many set amidst vast wars fought in space, or in some wild reimagining of the distant, even mythological past. But dramas set during wars happening in recent memory are thin on the ground; on a scale of ... (Continue reading)

A hell of a documentary

A hell of a documentary

In a world where serious books sell poorly and newsmagazines are a shadow of their former selves – if they’re published at all – the documentary film has taken up much of the burden of bringing topical issues and debate in front of the public. While feature films have stagnated, pooling into either numbing blockbusters or a host of increasingly spiritless genres, documentary production has undergone a renaissance, either ... (Continue reading)

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