Armond White
Once again, filmmakers Epstein and Friedman distort cultural history to advance social-justice clichés.
(Review Source)
Christian Toto
linda rondstadt sound of my voice

The stunning and wildly unpredictable life and career of recording artist Linda Ronstadt is presented in a gripping new documentary.

“Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice” packs the expected concert

The post ‘Sound of My Voice’ Nails Ronstadt’s Voice, Grit appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

(Review Source)
VJ Morton
(”Linha de Passe” is briefly mentioned in this.)

Toronto 08 — Day 3 capsules

ZIFT (Javor Gardev, Bulgaria, 2008) — 5

Roommate Robert Parks talked me down a bit from my initial skepticism about this black-and-white film, which has weaknesses as plain as a Balkan s**t joke. It’s obviously overdone stylewise, it obviously takes the kitchen sink approach. But I don’t think a film this … accomplished, in its way, can be as easily dismissed as Michael Sicinski does. There’s more to ZIFT than post-Commie misogynist Guy-Ritchie posturing. For one thing, I’ve had friends from Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia tell me that broadness, extensive vulgarity and obsession with sex (sample: “instead of using your ass to think with, why not play a patriotic song with it”) is a feature of all Balkan humor — pre-, during- and post-Communism — as opposed to the drier Polish-Czech style of Commie-era humor. Also, Gardev is parodying two different things — film noir and Soviet kitsch — that are both hyperstylized, over the top and covers for brutishness. Soviet kitsch in particular was notorious for not leaving anything to the imagination or un-pounded-in. So surely bluntness is to be expected and even demanded. There’s ideas and ideals here — a kind of brutish pessimism that is in fact also the worldview of film noir — sometimes badly and always baldly done though they may be. For an example of what the film does right, look at the scene where the protagonist prostrates himself before the rebuilt Sofia, right after a confessional encounter in a church (it has the power of Winston Smith learning to love Big Brother). For an example of what the film does wrong, look at the intercutting of a sex scene between two humans and footage of preying-mantis sex, with a voiceover helpfully explaining the linkage. For an example of what the film apparently does wrong but which I can’t dismiss, consider the GILDA song ripoff scene, which features an actress in an identical black dress but who is neither singing nor acting in the sexual way Rita Hayworth was. But who is also singing a different-themed song — “put the blame on the moon” — to a much slower tempo and a different arrangement. Whatever else might be said of that scene, it is not a failed attempt to achieve what Charles Vidor and Rita Hayworth did.

LAST STOP 174 (Bruno Barreto, Brazil, 2008) — 8

I was prepared to dislike this movie as an unnecessary desecration in a world where the great BUS 174 already exists. I wouldn’t have seen it at all had a high-buzz title been playing at this hour. But to paraphrase Chris Berman — This. Is. Why. We. Watch. The. Films. LAST STOP 174 grabbed me and won at least my confidence right away with two crime scenes — one of a baby being stolen by a drug dealer from his junkie mother, the other being a boy finding his mother’s dead body in a restaurant robbery. Both scenes are taut, brutal and without a shred of sentiment. Though I still think BUS 174 is the better film, Barreto and (more importantly, I think) writer Braulio Mantovani find a way to give interest to a fictionalization of hijacker Sandro’s back story: via the Dickensian move of creating two characters named Sandro in the Rio slums and having their fates intersect. Mantovani also wrote CITY OF GOD and the upcoming ELITE SQUAD, making him apparently Brazilian Cinema MVP. And what those three films have in common (and BUS 174 too) and what was absent from LINHA DE PASSE and so many other social-realist slum-set movies, is that Mantovani-written films do not sentimentalize their criminal protagonists: one exhibit being the scene late in LINHA DE PASSE where the criminal brother hijacks a rich Brazilian’s SUV but neither takes the vehicle nor his goods, instead chasing him away (the wuss!!!) after making him answer “do you see me” (and then walking away himself). It’s crime as social protest, which is bovine scatology. Mantovani’s criminals (and policemen) are the product of a brutal world where morality is a vice, but they are also brutal in their own right and by their own choice. “Most criminals are deprived” and “most deprived people are not criminals” are both true statements, but only the first is guaranteed to be remembered in the typical liberal-leaning “poor criminal” movie. Sandro is both a victim and a victimizer — and mostly of people who are just as much victims as himself. My favorite scene in LAST STOP 174 has Sandro rob a minister (BTW: it’s intriguing that in both this fest’s Brazilian movies, religion plays a significant role, and in both cases, it’s evangelical Protestantism, not Catholicism). What this scene understands deep down, and dramatizes, is something that foreign-policy doves will never get — not merely that force works, but that force is a matter of will, not means. One who is not feared can never plausibly threaten. In all these ways, Mantovani, in LAST STOP 174 and elsewhere, gives us “both/and” rather than an uplift of liberal saccharin.

FLAME AND CITRON (Ole Christian Madsen, Denmark, 2008) — 4

Now to completely contradict myself — I think this film is a thinned-down rehash of BLACK BOOK, but one that manages to drag out and overstay its welcome. It goes on about 20 minutes too long, stringing out the set pieces and confrontations — was one thing about the last scene involving Citron believable?, was how they managed to escape a Danish police roundup believable? But the specifics surrounding Carice Van Houten’s performance and “insider” role at Gestapo HQ are set aside, FLAME AND CITRON centering instead on its eponymous central characters, both assassins for the Danish Resistance. But other than that, the elements are the same: compromised Resistance figures, not-so-bad Germans, botched or incompetent Resistance actions. It’s often effective, mind you. But the physical contrast between the two assassins comes across as too cutesy, like Mutt and Jeff, when it’s actually realized on the screen. One general point worth making about films today. During the post-film Q-and-A, Madsen said he doesn’t like “heroes unsprinkled” with flaws, and that he wanted to show heroes not acting heroically. Prescinding from the specific example of the WW2 resistance used here and in BLACK BOOK … is there anything more commonplace, easier, less brave and more cliche in this day and age than that sort of “sprinkling” of heroism, demythologizing the past, showing hero’s flaws, etc. It long since ceased to impress me, per se. “There’s no just or unjust any more, only war” is one line too many.

HUNGER (Steve McQueen, Britain, 2008) — 9

More than any other film here — good, bad or indifferent — I am curious how well this film will do on US screens. It’s a Northern Ireland “Troubles” movie, about the 1981 hunger strike by IRA terrorist Bobby Sands,  and that genre usually manages to pull them in. But HUNGER is also a stylistically eccentric movie, albeit a brilliant one. For one example, it starts with a prison guard for about 2-3 minutes, who brings us to one IRA prisoner whom HUNGER follows for about 3-5 minutes, who joins another IRA man for the movie to follow the two of them for the next 15 minutes or so. Then we get a scene involving a bunch of the terrorists, which, apparently incidentally, produces our first glimpse of Sands, perhaps 25-30 minutes into the movie. For another, the first act (and this film segments itself into three acts as clearly as anything not involving a curtain ever has) has very little dialogue, but then the second act is like a free-standing one-act play between two characters who sit at a table and talk, for what feels like 20-30 minutes. And then we get the third act, which is the hunger strike that is the film’s selling point (finally). It’s a constant pleasure, though it’s not a conventional one, to follow a movie that you can’t figure out and aren’t ten steps ahead of, even when you already know the basic story as I do. Visually, the film is simply astonishing and confident in ways few first-time directors are. A quick example from the very beginning: we see a man eat his breakfast, not from the usual POV but via a closeup of crumbs falling on his lap napkin, with the sound of toast crunching on the soundtrack. OK, that avoids cliche, but more importantly, by using such a low view early, it sets up and makes it not an affectation the “rat’s eye POV” for a scene a minute later where it’s absolutely essential psychologically. The sequence and juxtaposition, more than the angles per se, show McQueen has “seen” and “heard” his movie before he made it (his expressive use of sound is simply sensational throughout).

Other reasons I like HUNGER so much: (1) similar to my praise for LAST STOP 174, are that it neither pushes the easy-but-false Troubles-history buttons that never fail to aggravate me nor does it sentimentalize the IRA (the few scenes outside Maze prison should disabuse all the Irish pub bravado of North Americans); (2) the feces-smeared prison walls are made into works of abstract expressionism, which is both inherently visually arresting but also dramatically believable (what else can guys with nothing else to occupy them do once they’ve decided to desecrate the walls that way); (3) while it isn’t an apologia for rubber-hose tactics, HUNGER makes it quite clear how difficult they are to avoid, most particularly in a scene of barbering, when dealing with determinedly obstreperous prisoners (and thus how stupidly demagogic it is to show a picture and point); (4) the second act consists of a lengthy semi-debate between Sands and a priest-friend (we’ve already learned that these “Catholic” terrorists are hardly religious) that shows the priest giving as good as he gets while realizing at the end that some things are not in his hands. But at the same time, the scene shows McQueen (here’s that concept again) having the directorial confidence to turn this film over to his two actors, if that’s what is required, and not try to tart it up for the sake of showing off. And like the directorial choices above, it reinforces our confidence in him, that when he’s being showy, he’s not doing it to show off.

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Toronto 2012 capsules -- day 8In "TIFF2012"

TIFF -- Day OneIn "Nuri Bilge Ceylan"

September 8, 2008 - Posted by | Bruno Barreto, Javor Gardev, Ole Christian Madsen, Steve McQueen, TIFF 2008

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(Review Source)
VJ Morton

Toronto 08 — Day 2 capsules

THREE MONKEYS (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey, 2008) — 6

Ceylan’s films dance on the edge of my tolerance for narrative ellipsis and emotional lassitude. His formal mastery is evident from the very first shot of THREE MONKEYS, of a car driving in the dark that eventually becomes the equivalent of an iris shot without actually being an iris shot. The sound design is again incredible — both naturalistic and expressive (example: a knock at the door late in the film). Ceylan doesn’t simply blanche out the color and give us a succession of sepia-grayscaled images, as if actually filming in a thunderstorm, but he counterpoints it at key moments — splashes of red like the curtains at a key mother-son confrontation, and having the foreground be in the washed-out style while in the background is a window with a conventional picture-postcard color scheme. This film has GOT to be seen in the theater. In a review of CLIMATES now in the cyber-ether, I called Ceylan the Turkish Antonioni. (And as Antonioni did, though less radically than in L’AVVENTURA, Ceylan begins THREE MONKEYS with a character whose sole function is to lead us to another character.) But as with Antonioni at times, at the end you realize that all this style just hides the thinness of the story, the badness of the acting, and the fact that all the There there is another Come-Dressed As (Again) The Sick Soul of Europe movie. The actors are so glum and Ceylan lavishes so much on the enormous facial closeups of their dour solemnity that you just lose interest in this story — a love triangle with some filial anger and a political subtext that experts on Turkish politics will no doubt get more out of than I. And far too much of the events in THREE MONKEYS happens offscreen — most annoyingly a death, and a jail deal neither the end (did it come off — who knows?). Seemingly every significant event is seen only in its effects or only hinted at. It’s all re-action shots without any action. I’m giving this film a guarded recommendation because a great director so obviously made a great work for us to look at. But equally obviously a weak writer didn’t give us much to watch.

LINHA DE PASSE (Walter Salles, Brazil, 2008) — 3

Take ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS, transplant from Italy to Brazil, replace boxing with soccer, give us pointedly ambiguous endings (more on that in a minute), toss in symbolic details like clogged drains, and voila — Landmark-ready masterpiece. And I don’t even like the original ROCCO. Both films involved a matriarch and several children taken different paths in The Slums of the Big City. The things is (and this was true even of the 1961 Visconti film) Warner Brothers made this movie a half-dozen times in the 30s — with James Cagney, Pat O’Brien, Ralph Bellamy, and maybe another brother. But they did so with a lot more verve and energy than these symbolic ciphers. In LINHA DE PASSE, the brothers are defined by a single trait — criminal, religious guy, sports star, kid w/an absent-father complex. At the end, we’re intercutting between the endings of the five stories and my only thought is “DW Griffith was so awesome.” They’re all ostentatiously unresolved (labor pains have started in the pregnant matriarch, but she’s not even on her way to hospital). As for two of these endings — how can one take seriously any moral ambitions of a film that ends with a boy of about eight driving a bus around Sao Paolo and a robber chasing his carjack victim off having said “do you see me” and then walks away from the loot himself. The schematicism of LINHA DE PASSE would even be tolerable if it had a tighter narrative (CITY OF GOD looks better every year now, doesn’t it). Instead details and moments are tossed around like pinwheels and are scattered thus at the end — mom puts a picture of the father under a boy’s pillow, but does he see it?; mom leaves the kid at a neighbor’s to prevent him from riding on buses and skipping school, but our next view he is on a bus and we never see the neighbor again; the issue of the soccer player’s age and a fake ID keep him off one team, on the next team it’s never even brought up; the soccer player can only get on one team by offering a bribe, he promises to meet it, and then … Movie over.

35 RHUMS (Claire Denis, France, 2008) — 2

To heck with a black man winning a major-party presidential nomination. The real advance for civil rights this year is 35 RHUMS, where blacks prove they can be as dreary and boring in a Claire Denis movie as white people can. This has something to do with a mostly-black circle of friends centered around a father-daughter pair living together (he’s a train driver, though we first see him wasting a day trainspotting — about the last meaningless hobby I would think a train driver would have). Ceylan above at least makes it clear what we’re supposed to feel, though his success in making us do so is variable. But Denis is too uninflected (but not deadpan — that would risk being funny) to hold my interest. One measure of unspecificity: I never figured out or remember being told if these people were from West Africa, Equatorial Africa or the West Indies. Another: We get a dead body that I thought was a friend’s until I thought it wasn’t. J. Robert said I’m just not the target audience for the latest Denis exercise in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Only instead of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot happened, it’s more Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’s the point. It’s generally clear what happens, but I never could figure out what I was supposed to get out of it other than counting the rum shots, like in DROWNING BY NUMBERS, only Denis gives us (or me anyway) less emotional involvement than Greenaway did. I was sparked a little whenever the Tindersticks music accompanied the train barrelling through the tracks, viewed from the front of the first car. And the same during the Commodores song that accompanies an improvised party that plays like a short version of FRIDAY NIGHT — a pickup while stranded by traffic woes in Paris. In these moments, 35 RHUMS gets some gracefully seductive moments of the kind BEAU TRAVAIL consisted purely of. But then we’re in Germany for an explicable diversion having less to do with the paper-thin story, I suspect, than with Denis getting financing from the Hamburg regional government. The title comes, by the way, from a legend that at the beginning isn’t explained. At the end, when the lead character is asked about (the still unexplained) it, “did you invent it,” he says “maybe.” That’s it. How ooo-la-la French. How hollow.

THE BURNING PLAIN (Guillermo Arriaga, USA, 2008) — 6

Looking over my viewing notes, it’s clear my initial 7-grade was too generous, I still may be pretty much alone in liking this film at all (Mike walked out and Jeremy hated it), but dagnab it, it was such a relief to see a movie on this day with lots of events, where people behave like normal people and it isn’t so obviously sketched out. Or rather … BURNING PLAIN is sketched out (this is by the screenwriter of AMORES PERROS, 21 GRAMS and BABEL, after all) but the sketch isn’t what you think it is. Arriaga uses his reputation well, taking advantage of the fact we’re primed to expect stuff to come together at (say) one road junction and to search for parallels (which the film does offer). BURNING PLAIN really does work as a straightforward narrative — taut and tense. To speak vaguely — this latest Gotcha Twist fooled me completely while making everything “make sense” in retrospective. But it neither adds up to much nor seems like something that will gain richness on second viewing because what Arriaga did tends to collapse the two main stories into one pat point about a redemptive second chance. As for the performances, Claire Danes is brilliant, in the best-written role; Charlize Theron isn’t, in the most actressy role (resorting to haggardizing herself physically at key moments); and the fact Kim Basinger is credible in a non-sexpot role at all is remarkable.

DETROIT METAL CITY (Toshio Lee, Japan, 2008) — 9

Yeah … I was surprised too. But I busted my gut laughing harder at this movie than I think I ever have for a movie in a language other than English (i.e., one where stylish verbal humor is pretty much out the window). One word of warning, though: one must have a very high-tolerance for the sort of hyperactive acting and humor seen on those Japanese game-show highlight clips … which is an acquired taste. The comparisons with SPINAL TAP are easy, though DETROIT METAL CITY isn’t a mockumentary per se despite its being filled with pop-culture parody and absurd music lyrics (this is where you’d love to speak Japanese. You probably can’t translate “the bigger the cushion / the sweeter the pushin” into Japanese very well either).

Detroit Metal City is the name of Japan’s top death-metal band, but behind the makeup, lead singer Sir Krauser (sample dialog: “this is good practice for when you’re slashing men’s throats”) is a simpering dweeb who wants to make syrupy happy poppy love songs, called “trendy music” in this movie. Imagine Jerry Lewis’s NUTTY PROFESSOR character turning into Marilyn Manson for the general gist (indeed it occurred to me while watching DMC that Julius Kelp’s turning into Buddy Love is what made his childlike-simpleton not so annoying and thus the movie Lewis’s best Martin-less effort). Like SPINAL TAP, there’s lots of musical parody, and not just of death metal. DETROIT METAL CITY also has fun with the Japanese appropriation fetish, with fanboyism (implicitly) in all its forms, with other music genres like DJ-rap, bubble-gum “Tiger Beat” pop and grrrrl groups (the funniest non-DMC music is a feminist dis of DMC by such a group). Indeed, the ideal audience for this movie is someone generally knowledgeable about metal music but not a fan of it (e.g., me). Also like SPINAL TAP, this film has a great role for the manager, who stubs her cigarettes out on her mouth and who fruitily chews over every line, like the bad guys on Electra-Woman and Dyna-Girl or the 60s Batman TV show. Some of the other comic highlights: the explanation for a moptop haircut, “the devil is sending the worst punishment ever” and what makes you lucky at a death-metal concert.

One of the film’s surprising strengths is that it never runs out of comic ideas, even when it’s tying up plot strings. For example, the end of the second act is precisely defined and the film seems to have nowhere to go but to have Sir Krauser return to the Japanese small-town he came to Tokyo from. Once it arrives in the countryside, Lee finds a way to get new laughs with a new set of plot points that begin with … seeing an unlikely character wearing a DMC shirt (before we get the inevitable showdown with the Gene-Simmons-played American death-metal champion). But there’s also a maybe unintentional but actually quite profound undercurrent about Satanism, like Satan’s rebellion itself, being the sort of absurd pose about which CS Lewis (quoting Luther and St. Thomas More) said should be laughed at rather than obsessed over (and traditional religion, of a Japanese variety, plays a small role in the third act). If DETROIT METAL CITY can find American distribution, and it seems like an eminently “sellable” movie, there’s no reason it shouldn’t take a place alongside SPINAL TAP in the cult-comedy pantheon.

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Toronto 08 -- Day 2 gradesIn "TIFF 2008"

Toronto -- Day 2 GradesIn "TIFF 2006"

TIFF -- Day OneIn "Nuri Bilge Ceylan"

September 6, 2008 - Posted by | Claire Denis, Guillermo Arriaga, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, TIFF 2008, Toshio Lee, Walter Salles

4 Comments »

  1. Wow… an Electro-Woman and Dyna-Girl reference.

    Comment by Adam Villani | September 9, 2008 | Reply

  2. Electra-Woman, I guess.

    Comment by Adam Villani | September 9, 2008 | Reply

  3. bud did you see an alternate cut of THE BURNING PLAIN that featured Claire Danes. I did not spot her in this film.

    There was a twist in this film?

    Comment by Alex Fung | September 12, 2008 | Reply

  4. Jennifer Lawrence was so awesome that she not only convinced me she was Mariana and [spoiler elided], but she also convinced me she was Clare Danes.

    Comment by vjmorton | September 12, 2008 | Reply


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(Review Source)
VJ Morton
(”Linha de Passe” is briefly mentioned in this.)
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Toronto 08 — Day 2 grades

THREE MONKEYS (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey, 2008) — 6
LINHA DE PASSE (Walter Salles, Brazil, 2008) — 3
35 RHUMS (Claire Denis, France, 2008) — 2
THE BURNING PLAIN (Guillermo Arriaga, USA, 2008) — 7
DETROIT METAL CITY (Toshio Lee, Japan, 2008) — 9

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September 6, 2008 - Posted by | TIFF 2008

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(Review Source)
VJ Morton
(”Linha de Passe” is briefly mentioned in this.)
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Another TIFFing Mess

I’m now up in Canada, and in fear of being hauled before one of the Human Rights Commissions for all of my various thought crimes. Hopefully, nobody at Canuck Big Brother Central is reading this, because this is where I will be for the next two weeks. Warning to my film-geek buds: I’m ducking out at the first sight of the Thought Police.

Thu 4
* 630pm SOUL POWER (Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, USA)
* 900pm WALTZ WITH BASHIR (Ari Folman, Israel)
mid JCVD (Mabrouk El Mechri, France)

Fri 5
915am THREE MONKEYS (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey)
* 245pm LINHA DE PASSE (Walter Salles, Brazil)
630pm 35 RHUMS (Claire Denis, France)
830pm THE BURNING PLAIN (Guillermo Arriaga, USA)
mid DETROIT METAL CITY (Toshio Lee, Japan)

Sat 6
915am ZIFT (Javor Gardev, Bulgaria)
* 230pm LAST STOP 174 (Bruno Barreto, Brazil)
600pm FLAME AND CITRON (Ole Christian Madsen, Denmark)
930pm HUNGER (Steve McQueen, Britain)

Sun 7
115pm UNSPOKEN (Fien Troch, Belgium)
300pm YOUSSOU NDOUR: I BRING WHAT I LOVE (Chai Vaserelyi, USA)
600pm THE SILENCE OF LORNA (the Dardenne brothers, Belgium)
900pm GOMORRAH (Matteo Garonne, Italy)

Mon 8
900am THE OTHER MAN (Richard Eyre, Britain)
300pm ASHES OF TIME (Wong Kar-wai, Hong Kong)
615pm TERENCE DAVIES TRILOGY (Terence Davies, Britain)
915pm GOODBYE SOLO (Ramin Bahrani, USA)

Tue 9
945am THREE BLIND MICE (Matthew Newton, Australia)
1215pm KISSES (Lance Daly, Ireland)
400pm OF TIME AND THE CITY (Terence Davies, Britain)
530pm TOKYO SONATA (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan)
900pm THE BROTHERS BLOOM (Rian Johnson, USA)

Wed 10
900am HAPPY GO-LUCKY (Mike Leigh, Britain)
noon A CHRISTMAS TALE (Arnaud Desplechin, France)
315pm SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (Danny Boyle, Britain)
* 715pm LES PLAGES D’AGNES (Agnes Varda, France)
930pm SKIN (Anthony Fabian, Britain/South Africa)
mid MARTYRS (Pascal Laugier, France)

Thu 11
945am HOOKED (Adrian Sitaru, Romania)
* noon A WOMAN IN BERLIN (Max Farberbock, Germany)
315pm GIGANTIC (Matt Asselton, USA)
645pm CLOUD 9 (Andreas Dresen, Germany)
1015pm STILL WALKING (Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan)

Fri 12
900am CHE (Steven Soderbergh, USA/Spain)
245pm PRIDE AND GLORY (Gavin O’Connor, USA)
600pm CONTROL-ALT-DELETE (Cameron Labine, Canada)
800pm ACHILLES AND THE TORTOISE (Takeshi Kitano, Japan)
1030pm EASY VIRTUE (Stephan Elliott, Britain)

Sat 13
900am THE WRESTLER (Darren Aronovsky, USA)
115pm ADAM’S RESURRECTION (Paul Schrader, USA)
345pm EDEN LOG (Franck Vestiel, France)
545pm WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU (Brian Goodman, USA)
mid CHOCOLATE (Pracha Pinkaew, Thailand)

* Second choice film for that time slot.

There’s a lot of unknown quantities in this festival — 24 films, a majority of the 47, are director first-viewings for me. Another seven are by directors whose work I have seen but rarely or never liked (Salles, Barreto, Farberbock, Kurosawa, Denis, Desplechin, Kitano — though several of those cases are samples of 1 or 2). That’s almost the same as the number of directors (8) who have ever scored a Top 10 film for me (Ceylan, Leigh, the Dardennes, Boyle, Pinkaew, Wong, Kore-eda, and Soderbergh). By comparison the same figure of “ever having made a previous Top 10” for the 2007 fest was more than twice that, 17 — Ozon, Maddin, Rohmer, Bergman, Loach, Baumbach, Van Sant, Miike, Herzog, Ford, Greenaway, the Coens, Andersson, Olmi, Lee, Jordan, Argento. And that was “going into the fest,” thus not counting high-buzz titles like the Cannes-winning 4 MONTHS, SILENT LIGHT and ATONEMENT (3 of my 4 faves, as it turned out). As a result, this festival his mopre of a “unsure/discovery” feel than an “confirming the expected awesomeness” feeling that 2007 had.

Although there’s a lot of second choices in there, I’m not crushed by any of them. Of the missing first choices, only UNCERTAINTY (McGehee/Siegel) and the old film 32 SHORT FILMS ABOUT GLENN GOULD (Francois Girard, which I’ve never seen) disappoint me that much. And those two films were replaced by just about the two strongest-on-paper/-on-buzz second choices I had — LINHA DE PASSE (an Actress prizewinner at Cannes) and the latest Agnes Varda (LES PLAGES D’AGNES). I’m more disappointed by the excellent buzz surrounding HURT LOCKER, Kathryn Bigelow’s contribution to the Iraq War Genre, about which I’ve heard good word (or rather, bad word of the right sort from certain people), but which I just can’t fit in without ripping everything up and starting from scratch.

Also, I won’t be seeing a lot of the highest-profile films to the casual moviegoer — the Hollywood fall-prestige titles in the Gala Program (like the Coens’ BURN AFTER READING, Demme’s RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, THE DUCHESS, and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH). This was deliberate — they had no screenings (or just one in the last-named case) that passholders like myself could get into. I could (try to) buy a ticket for cash, but my reaction is “I’m already paying hundreds of dollars for the pass, so if you’re not gonna give me a chance to see this film, you must not want me to see it. There is NO way I’m paying you extra, you money-grubbing sunsuvvbi….

(Victor calms down)

Also, there is no way I will watch RELIGULOUS for compensation that does not involve four digits before the decimal point.

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September 4, 2008 - Posted by | TIFF 2008

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  1. Also, there is no way I will watch RELIGULOUS for compensation that does not involve four digits before the decimal point.

    Funny, I’m not religious at all and yet I feel the same way. Maybe Maher secretly is really trying to bring us all together.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Nah, he’s just a smarmy tool.

    Comment by Steve C. | September 4, 2008 | Reply


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(Review Source)
Linsanity
Plugged In
DocumentarySports We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.Movie ReviewAN AUDIO SNAPSHOT REVIEW His story is hardly over, but the movie Linsanity tells the saga thus far of NBA superstar Jeremy Lin and how he took the basketball world by storm just two short years ago. Jeremy's story is much different than say, those of Kobe, LeBron, Will, Larry, Michael or Shaq. Jeremy's is one of struggle and overcoming stereotypes, one that always seemed just a game away from obscurity. Linsanity shows what Jeremy himself believes was a miraculous happening—how an undrafted basketball player went from being cut by two NBA teams and sitting on the bench of a third, to a player in February 2012 who in his first five NBA starts scored more points than any other player in the modern era and created a legitimate public frenzy. This inspiring documentary takes viewers back in time to get a bit of perspective. For instance, during his senior year, Jeremy helped his Palo Alto high school team win the state basketball title in stellar fashion. And yet none of the major colleges came a courtin'. It was said Jeremy didn't fit the mold. So he took advantage of his one offer and went to Harvard, not exactly a school known for its hoops success. At Harvard, Jeremy's story should have ended if life had played out in typical fashion. Quite frankly, it almost did. Which may be the whole point of the movie. As Jeremy says repeatedly, "I know God orchestrated this whole thing." It's obvious that Jeremy's faith comes before basketball, and yet helps him find purpose in the sport as well. Linsanity's tagline reads, "Undrafted, unwanted, unwavering." Those three words sum up the flick well. How many of us face hopes that have been dashed, dreams that have gone by the wayside? All of us. Sometimes we just need to be reminded to persevere through adversity, to keep our faith alive and to look to God to show up miraculously. Linsanity does just that—providing an encouraging and inspiring take on a very relatable part of life.Positive ElementsSpiritual ContentSexual ContentViolent ContentCrude or Profane LanguageDrug and Alcohol ContentOther Negative ElementsConclusionPro-social ContentObjectionable ContentSummary AdvisoryPlot SummaryChristian BeliefsOther Belief SystemsAuthority RolesProfanity/ViolenceKissing/Sex/HomosexualityDiscussion TopicsAdditional Comments/NotesEpisode Reviews]]>
(Review Source)
Lion
Kyle Smith
(”Lion” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Mary Magdalene suffers from a miscast Joaquin Phoenix, drab visuals, and a muddled message.
(Review Source)
Society Reviews

It may be the editing, which isn’t perfect in the first half, but adequate. In the second half, elapsed time isn’t clearly defined, and some character introductions/relationships/reintroductions are a little clunky as a result. Chemistry between Patel and Rooney Mara is average. The scenes they share extensively together (not a ton) is when Lion becomes a tad clichéd and its pace compromised

But even with that, Lion does a lot more to be legitimately emotional than the average solely Oscar-centric movie. In simplicity, a moving tale is found.

Read more →

(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
Parenting Image via Common Sense Media Raising kids today in this world of technology is a lot different than it used to be, particularly when it comes to how easily they can be exposed to all of the new media. Everything from the hundreds of TV channels, millions of Internet sites, movies, video games, apps, books and more. What can parents do to ensure their children are not exposed to inappropriate material?I asked my son and daughter-in-law, who are raising two boys, age 8 and 12, what they do. They told me about an app and website they’ve been using for several years and raved about it. It’s called Common Sense Media. Unlike other sites that focus on one area of media or another, this product is a one-stop source for everything your kids will encounter, and it offers a comprehensive analysis of each.The company’s mission is to be “the leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. We empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.”There is no advertising, therefore there is no influence on their ratings and reviews. The app and web client rates over 25,000 movies, apps, games, websites and TV programs, with the goal of helping parents determine what to avoid and what to embrace. Each rating provides enough information to make an intelligent decision, including the level of violence, objectionable language, sex, and much more. Not only are there reviews from experts, but also additional reviews from kids and parents. Fisher-Price Releases Exercise Bike for Screen-Addicted Toddlers To try it out, I used the app to check out a terrific movie I recently saw. "Lion" is the story of a 5-year-old boy who became separated from his family in India after getting onto a train that took him 600 miles from home. Would this be suitable for my 12-year-old grandson? As I remembered the movie, I didn’t recall any violence, bad language, or nudity, but I thought I’d check out what Common Sense said about it.The site’s assessment listed the positive messages in the film, including the power of family bonds, and noted the positive themes of compassion, gratitude, and perseverance. It described the positive role models of the boy’s adoptive parents as being loving, generous, and supportive. But under violence, it also noted some of the disturbing scenes of endangered, homeless, and orphaned street children in India. It looked at the level of consumerism, and noted how the product, Google Earth, is featured prominently. And, finally, it notes under “Drinking drugs and smoking” that there is some cigarette smoking. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/parenting/2017/02/16/this-app-will-help-you-make-smart-media-choices-for-your-kids/ load more ]]>
(Review Source)
John Hanlon
(Review Source)
John Hanlon
Oscar Nominations 2017 Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land
Best motion picture of the year Arrival Fences Hacksaw Ridge Hell or High Water Hidden Figures La La Land Lion Manchester by the Sea Moonlight Achievement in directing Denis Villeneuve, case Arrival Mel Gibson, see Hacksaw Ridge Damien Chazelle, La La Land Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea Barry Jenkins, Moonlight Performance by an actor […]
(Review Source)
John Hanlon
Oscars 2017 Full List of Winners
The names in bold were the winners of this year’s Academy Awards. Best motion picture of the year Arrival Fences Hacksaw Ridge Hell or High Water Hidden Figures La La Land Lion Manchester by the Sea Moonlight Achievement in directing Denis Villeneuve, for sale Arrival Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge Damien Chazelle, La La Land Kenneth […]
(Review Source)
Crosswalk
Movies NAMED CROSSWALK'S #6 MOVIE OF 2016! With a riveting first half and probing questions about family, Lion's careful attention to life’s cruelty balanced with an inspiring tenderness and optimism make it a strong 4 out of 5.   Synopsis It’s tricky to tell a true story well, but director Garth Davis and screenwriter Luke Davies find great success in adapting the tale of Saroo Brierley from his book A Long Way Home. Saroo (the enchanting Sunny Pawar) is a five-year-old boy from a small Indian village whose big heart and humor outmatch his tiny frame. When he gets separated from his brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) at a train station, he mistakenly boards a train which takes him over a thousand kilometers from home. He doesn't speak the dominant language, nobody has heard of his hometown, and his surroundings are not friendly to lost children, but he manages to survive long enough to find his way to an orphanage. Eventually an adoption service places him with a loving Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham), but after many years, a grown-up Saroo (Dev Patel), unable to quiet his memories and regret, determines to track down his birthplace and family.   What Works? Almost everything about this film is handled with care and skill, but a few things stand out. First and foremost, Sunny Pawar as young Saroo (whose perspective carries the first half of the film) is an absolute gem; his embodiment of this wise and quick-thinking child makes for an immersive viewing experience. Davis' cinematic choices allow us to follow Saroo's (more innocent) perspective, while also exposing us to the terrible danger and fear that surround him. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-1'); }); As an American viewer, it was painful to watch hordes of people ignoring this lost child - to get a glimpse into a culture where there are, perhaps, too many lost children to notice just one. The film also breaks open the painful, dark side of international adoption - showing that a child's life never begins with "first-world family waiting for their new child with open arms." It makes the viewer ask painful questions about child abuse and mental health, the nature of wealth and poverty, and whether they might have been ignoring (or even complicit in) troubling systems.   What Doesn't? The second act of the film is not nearly as riveting at the first half, largely because Saroo's search for his family is done mostly from a computer. Additionally, because the film's arc spans 25 years, we don't really get a satisfying amount of development with his his adoptive parents, adopted brother, or girlfriend Lucy (played with emotional nuance by Rooney Mara). However, something about Patel's energy and sensitivity matches so well with his young counterpart Pawar that these elements feel more like byproducts of genre, rather than cinematic defect.   Christian Worldview Elements / Spiritual Themes The most explicitly religious moment is when a hungry little boy is shown folding his hands respectfully before a shrine before taking some of the offering (food) to eat for himself. However, many probing worldview questions run deep in this film: do our families (cultures, nations) truly treat children as fully human? If not, what would that look like? Are our efforts to be noble and generous ever motivated by naivete and self righteousness? What does family really mean? What defines us the most: our blood and DNA, our memories, or our relationships and choices?   CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers) MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material and some sensuality  Language/Profanity: "God" is used as an exclamation. Sexuality/Nudity: A couple is shown kissing/in bed a handful of times, in various states of undress, but no nudity is shown. A man is seen without a shirt. A man lies down on a bed next to a child in an uncomfortable way. Violence/Frightening/Intense: A boy is trapped on an empty train and screams to be let out and for passersby to "save him." Men chase abandoned children through the halls of a train station in an attempt to kidnap them (some succeed). We briefly meet a character and get the impression he might be a ringleader in some kind of child sex-trafficking operation. Later, in an orphanage, the guards release a terrified and protesting young boy into the custody of a few men who "promise to return him by morning." Several children appear to wrestle with mental illness, and we see no medical attention given to them. Drugs/Alcohol: People are shown smoking and drinking in a few scenes. One character is portrayed as a drug abuser/addict.   The Bottom Line RECOMMENDED FOR: Those who appreciate and notice food as a cultural connector and signifier. Lovers of landscape, cinematic scenery, and emotional scores. Those with a heart for children, or who love inspirational real-life stories. NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Those unimpressed by movies that run on the predictable side, or that adhere closely to real-life rather than purely compelling narrative. Lion, directed by Garth Davis, opened in limited theaters November 25, 2016, wider January 6, 2017; available for home viewing April 11, 2017. It runs 120 minutes and stars Sunny Pawar, Abhishek Bharate, Priyanka Bose, Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, and David Wenham. Watch the trailer for Lion here.   Debbie Holloway is a storyteller, creator, critic and advocate having adventures in Brooklyn, New York. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-2'); }); if (gptClientWidth >= 992 && gptClientWidth <= 1000000) googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-3'); }); Publication date: January 13, 2017 ]]>
(Review Source)
Crosswalk
(”Lion” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Movies Call 2016 many things, but on the entertainment front, be sure you recognize it as the year Andrew Garfield helped bring Christian characters back to the mainstream. The star of The Amazing Spider-Man and The Social Network carried two of Crosswalk's Top 4 movies in 2016, both times playing Christians with strong convictions, albeit from very different backgrounds and time periods. Word is that these experiences made 2016 something of a spiritual journey for the actor himself. Christian characters also show up in other spots on our list this year, from movies about culture-changing African-American female mathematicians to documentaries about Australian bands responsible for many of your favorite worship songs to a couple of our Honorable Mentions. We fell in love with all of them. You'll find timely themes of adoption, dreams, sacrifice, courage, hope, conviction, family, love, joy, communication and faith below, too. In a year of incivility and division, these movies that moved us did not shy away from such difficulties but helped light a way home in colorful, powerful, often tear-inducing ways. But here's the bottom line: every film on our list below resonated in some way with what the seven of us, as Christians, notice when we encounter a work of art that has something to say, and we deliberate long over our selections. We invite you, however, before seeing any film we recommend, to visit our full review (just click on the title or the image) for a list of cautions and objectionable content. And so, without further ado, our editorial staff and film critics proudly present CROSSWALKMOVIES.COM'S TOP 10 FILMS (plus seven Honorable Mentions) OF 2016... (Click here to view our video version instead!)   googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-1'); }); 10 FINDING DORY Ryan's nutshell review: "Finding Dory has all the laughter and tears we've come to expect from a Pixar film. With beautiful animation, lovable characters, and a touching story about the bonds of family, this sequel is one of the best movies you'll see this summer. 4.5 out of 5." Here because: It's no secret we have a soft spot for Pixar movies. Inside Out was our #1 last year, and seven films from the studio have made our annual list going back to 2006. Dory only barely swam onto our list, however, since, as you'll see below, several of our panelists championed other animated fare. In the end, though, the themes of finding family, creating paths for the lost to find their way home, and recognizing the strengths in our disabilities won us over in typical Dory fashion! ~Shawn McEvoy See Also: Did You Catch These Cool Parenting Tips in Finding Dory?   9 CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR Susan's nutshell review: "'I'm going, but I don't want to see "my friends" fight,' said my companion. The battles are epic and the quips keep coming, but this dark story opens a wound in Team Avengers that may never completely heal. By all means see it, but expect to come away a little heart-heavy. 4 out of 5." Here because: Can we prop up this film about Marvel superheroes fighting each other without putting down the one about DC superheroes fighting each other? Sure can! Civil War featured superior writing, including clear motivations from characters acting in ways and with beliefs true to how they have been portrayed for several films now in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Everyone was given time to shine, and whether you were on Team Tony or Team Cap, you could still understand the points the other side was desperate to make. Not many superhero movies offer fun and creative battles and a real-world context and post-movie talking points all while remembering to sweeten everything with humor. Civil War reminds us: you may be powerful and you may even be right, but if you aren't strong, smart, humble or forgiving enough to achieve unity, everyone loses. ~Shawn McEvoy See Also: Captain America: Civil War - Best Ensemble Super Hero Movie Ever?   8 HILLSONG: LET HOPE RISE Shawn's nutshell review: "Writing worship music is hard! So is serving the Lord at times. What's easy is sitting back for the experience of Hillsong: Let Hope Rise, where we're invited not only to praise Jesus, but to get an intimate view into what it looks like to be authentic, unapologetic, hopeful Christians in a world longing for God. 4.5 out of 5." Here because: I remember the noise I made when I first heard there was a documentary being made about a worship team. I remember making a similar noise when the film had trouble finding a distributor. And then when Let Hope Rise finally came to theaters, I remember afterwards standing at my kitchen counter and tearfully telling my family I hadn't done enough with my life. The testimonies are inspiring, the effort and difficulty in creating biblical worship are astounding, and the worship itself glorifies God right there in the theater. May all believers be the subject of such a documentary about living out their calling. ~Shawn McEvoy See Also: Hillsong: Let Hope Rise is a Theatrical Worship Experience   7 LOVING Susan's nutshell review: "When two simple people who simply want to live in peace find themselves in the middle of a landmark Supreme Court case, their story unfolds with quiet grace, highlighting their commitment. Loving is not just the name of the featured couple in this biopic, it perfectly describes their story. 4 out of 5." Here because: For a movie that goes out of its way not to be emotionally manipulative, it speaks volumes that in its final moments I could feel my heart pounding in my chest, and tears welling up in my eyes. Loving is based on a true story of an interracial couple in the late 1950s American South sentenced to prison for co-habitating as man and wife, despite having been legally married in Washington D.C. It's about their legal battle but even more so their romance, and a life of quiet nobility. Director Jeff Nichols strikes an understated tone, finding power in intimate moments, never grand ones. Loving is about the people who weren't Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and it's a landmark elegy to them. ~Jeffrey Huston   6 LION Debbie's nutshell review: "With a riveting first half and probing questions about family, Lion's careful attention to life’s cruelty balanced with an inspiring tenderness and optimism make it a strong 4 out of 5." Here because: Lion is a journey so captivating, a story so deftly told, you will hardly believe that it actually happened. Tell the average person there may be as many as 800,000 abandoned children living on the streets of India, and the enormity of the suffering can overwhelm the mind. Yet Lion humanizes that suffering with the profound true story of one of those children. Five-year-old Saroo falls asleep alone on a train and ends up hundreds of miles from home and living on the streets of Kolkata. He isn't old enough to tell anyone where he's from or even who he is. Yet he becomes one of the fortunate ones, ending up in an orphanage from which he's adopted by an Australian couple. 25 years later, Saroo is plagued with anxiety over the family he lost and begins a quest to find them, piecing together what little he can remember about his earliest years. As complex as this character is, Saroo (played brilliantly by Dev Patel and newcomer Sunny Pawar) shines as one of this year's most emotionally moving characters. ~Stephen McGarvey See also: A Lost Son Searches for Home in Lion   5 ARRIVAL Susan's nutshell review: "This thinking person's alien movie is less about creatures from space and more about how humans communicate. Arrival cleverly and unexpectedly takes what you think you know and turns it on its head. It may not touch your heart, but it will provide plenty of material for after-movie conversations. 3 out of 5." Here because: It's the sci-fi movie 2016 desperately needed. First, Arrival turned the "alien movie" genre upside-down by making the central plot not about fighting for survival, but about language and communication. The personal narrative of Louise Banks, played so beautifully by Amy Adams, is highlighted by tender and smart storytelling techniques, which we've come to expect from director Denis Villeneuve (whose Prisoners made #9 on our 2013 list). Perhaps most significantly, Arrival accomplishes what films of this genre always should: it offers a fresh exhortation to humanity's struggles and weakness, using the power of the otherwordly metaphor. Like classic sci-fi from the '50s and '60s, it reminds us that the greatest danger to humanity will always be our own inner capacity for evil. Arrival speaks to our current world, one with more capacity for communication than ever. Will we use our mighty resources with patience and perseverance? Or will we continue to talk at and past one another, setting down the pen as we reach for the sword? ~Debbie Holloway   4 HACKSAW RIDGE Christian's nutshell review: "Old-fashioned in the best sense of the word—focusing on duty and patriotism—the film also feels contemporary in its post-Saving Private Ryan approach to war footage. Those who can endure it will find that Hacksaw Ridge pays off handsomely. 5 out of 5." Here because: What if, a year ago, I'd told you that Hollywood pariah Mel Gibson would direct a drama about the horrors of World War II's Pacific theater with a hero who was all at once a real person, a conscientious objector, a non-weapon-carrying medic and a Bible-quoting Seventh-Day Adventist... and this film would receive standing ovations at secular film festivals and be praised by both pacifists and war hawks alike? How in the world was THAT pulled off? Much of the credit goes to Andrew Garfield for his nuanced portrayal of Desmond Doss, and to the admirable beauty of the real Doss's own convictions. ~Shawn McEvoy See also: Freedom of Conscience on Hacksaw Ridge: A Story for Our Times   3 HIDDEN FIGURES Christian's nutshell review: "This film never comes across as a lecture as it tells the story of three African-American women employed as 'human computers' by NASA during the 1960s overcoming sexism and racial prejudice. It's instead an example of formulaic filmmaking done right—inspirational, enjoyable and educational. 4 out of 5." Here because: Much like Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures is a movie that makes you genuinely wonder, "How have I never heard this story before?!" The best advancements civilizations make with their societal issues come when they are building toward something, in this case, the race for space. In such times where every hand is essential for pulling on the rope in one direction, we simply don't have time to get tied up in that rope due to ridiculous differences. The cream always rises in true meritocracies. But Hidden Figures isn't just about socieites or organizations learning to give their people - all their people - a chance to shine. It's about how these chances must be tirelessly fought for, sometimes loudly but always respectfully and often creatively, by incredible, courageous individuals. ~Shawn McEvoy See Also: Get the Girl to Do It: The Important Message of Hidden Figures   2 LA LA LAND Debbie's nutshell review: "Even more original and ambitious than it looked in the trailers, La La Land is a mixture of nostalgic musical numbers and compelling drama. While its leads have fantastic chemistry and the story draws us in, the song and dance numbers are occasionally jarring, landing the film at 3.5 out of 5." Here because: We think La La Land will and should win Best Picture; only a painfully-crafted, master work of faith could have bested it for our #1. This colorful, relatable, bittersweet film was everything we've been whining about not getting in film today. It's somehow both original and nostalgic as it chronicles the highs and lows of life, pondering what it is that makes dreams come true. Do we commit to dreams of art, or to love? Can we even hope to reach our artistic dreams without a lover to believe in and inspire us? Can we have it all, or do dreams require sacrifice? And how is that question answered when timing also has its part to play? The cinematography is inspired - at times light and color deliver punches, at times darkness becomes a soft blanket. The jazzy melodies that run and repeat through this film are pitch-perfect. La La Land has everything! Now, some do take aim at the ending; some complain it's not a true or complete musical, and some rightly note that Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are not Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly. But if you've ever performed at all... or dreamed, or loved, or wondered, you'll be thinking about (and humming the tunes from) La La Land for a very long time. Damien Chazelle is fast becoming one of our favorite directors for what he has done here and in Whiplash (Honorable Mention on our 2014 list) with extremely low budgets. See Hollywood? We audiences don't require so much after all. ~Shawn McEvoy See Also: Why So Many People Loved La La Land... or Not   1 SILENCE Debbie's nutshell review: "No bit of Silence is an accident or an afterthought. This Martin Scorsese adaptation of a Japanese novel by Shûsaku Endô is difficult, slow and lacking in a traditionally satisfying resolution, but its strength as an adaptation and the powerful filmmaking and performances warrant 4 out of 5." Here because: [SPOILERS AHEAD] The title is no misnomer; this soundtrack-less movie (it instead features an "ambient soundscape") breathes in the quiet landscapes of 17th-century Japan. The audience is similarly silent, pondering the tests of life when God is, likewise, silent. Silence is truly a tale of "faith in its rawest form. Christians have long been enamored with the idea of 'glorious martyrdom,' but Silence quickly disabuses its viewers of any such notions. Like [Andrew Garfield's Father] Rodrigues, or maybe Peter if you need a biblical example, many Christians believe they are ready to suffer and die for Christ. Yet, when the time came, both men apostatized. Stripped of their pride and dignity, both thought themselves beyond the reach of God, only to discover God was still there. He had not only foreseen their betrayals, he had died to forgive them. How many of us would have the courage to rebuild a broken faith? How many of us would have the strength to endure? That is the great and terrible message which haunts every moment of Silence" ("Does Scorsese's Silence Promote Gospel or Blasphemy?"), and which earns it a place as Crosswalk's #1 Movie for 2016. ~Ryan Duncan & Shawn McEvoy See also: Scorsese's Silence: Prepare to Wrestle with Some of the Deepest Questions of the Christian Faith   HONORABLE MENTIONS (in alphabetical order) Each panelist's Honorable Mention is a film that was highly-rated on his or her personal list which didn't end up making it into the overall Crosswalk Top 10. I expected FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS to be funny, and it was. I didn't expect it to be such a testament to the indomitable human spirit and the power of love. The fact that Florence (Meryl Streep) had no talent didn't stop her from doing what she loved. Meanwhile, her husband (Hugh Grant) and accompanist (Simon Helberg) loved Florence enough to make her dream come true, no matter what it cost them personally. It was hilarious and beautiful and sweet, filled with bravura performances and impressive keyboard skills. Florence's singing was off-key but her heart rang true and so does this delightful film. ~Susan Ellingburg JACKIE: A mesmerizing masterpiece of biopic risk-taking, director Pablo Larraín paints a psychological (rather than biographical) portrait of Jackie Kennedy in the days following JFK's assassination. It's a dramatization more pensive than narrative; expressionistic, not literal. Natalie Portman goes full Method in her transformation. Through her, Larraín's aesthetic comes alive, grieves, and resonates. Plus, these two refuse to peddle in sentimentality. Jackie is a singular immersion into the fragile yet resilient psyche of an iconic figure in the immediate aftermath of an American tragedy. ~Jeffrey Huston While not entirely emotionally satisfying, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is a stirring and cathartic ode to grief, family, loss, and Massachusetts. The enthralling classical score, heartfelt performances, and lovely landscapes (and seascapes) make this a film to remember, if not one to casually enjoy with friends on a Friday night. It contained some of the most poignant - and most tragic - cinematic moments of 2016, and it's hard to find many flaws in the filmmaking. ~Debbie Holloway I’ll admit MOANA is fairly formulaic; the film gives off a bit of the typical princess/hero vibe that Disney is known for. It's certainly not as memorable as the wildly successful Frozen, or the hopelessly endearing Tangled. And yet, despite the familiar tropes of a hero's quest, Moana is a delightful version of the typical contemporary princess tale, beautifully set in the mythologies of native Pacific Island traditions. The main character is one kids can look up to and the secondary characters are colorful and hilarious. The animation is so thrillingly and painstakingly rendered that it's practically impossible to tell the difference between some scenes and actual video footage of the gorgeous islands they represent. This current golden age of Disney films has given us so many brilliant throwbacks to the classic Disney movies we all loved as kids. The makers of Moana should be proud that their work can take an honored place in that respected hall of fame. ~Stephen McGarvey QUEEN OF KATWE: In a year of fiery, acclaimed documentaries about the African-American experience, Disney's gentle, based-on-actual-events story of an African girl (no America here, and what's more, no "white savior" character through whose eyes we might have seen the story) who becomes a chess champion was largely overlooked by audiences. That's a shame. Adding to the vibrant, visual delights and triumphant storyline of director Mira Nair's film is a Hollywood rarity: Christian characters depicted as gentle, kind and admirable. ~Christian Hamaker Some have called it "The Case for Christ, 33 A.D." or "CSI: Jerusalem," but such monickers are too easy. RISEN is the Resurrection story we all treasure witnessed from an imagined but acceptable point of view - that of a Roman tribune tasked by Pilate with making sure Yeshua's tomb stays sealed and the populace remains at peace. Ah, yes, Peace... and what of Peace? Is there any way to come to know it via our own ambition, for us or for Joseph Fiennes' Clavius? What does doggedly tracking down Jesus Christ and his disciples do to a man? How can anyone ever be the same at the end of such a trail? Like the Gospels from which it takes its cues, Risen holds up to repeat viewings; I've seen it five times and continue to find it captivating. ~Shawn McEvoy On the surface, ZOOTOPIA appears to be just another kid's movie about talking animals, but take a closer look, and you'll discover so much more. Zootopia is a funny, thoughtful film about prejudice, labeling and fear, and their consequences on a society, particularly when exploited. This may sound like a tall order for young audiences to handle, yet thanks to some clever storytelling, animated wit and spot-on voice casting, the movie never gets lost in the message. Plus, sloths? Working at the DMV? These jokes practically write themselves. ~Ryan Duncan   OUR PAST WINNERS 2015: 1 - Inside Out; 2 - Spotlight; 3 - Room 2014: 1 - Selma; 2 - Calvary; 3 - The Grand Budapest Hotel2013: 1 - 12 Years a Slave; 2 - Gravity; 3 - Frozen2012: 1 - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; 2 - Lincoln; 3 - Les Misérables2011: 1 - Hugo; 2 - The Help; 3 - Moneyball2010: 1 - Inception; 2 - True Grit; 3 - The King's Speech2009: 1 - Fantastic Mr. Fox; 2 - Up; 3 - Star Trek2008: 1 - Wall-E; 2 - The Dark Knight; 3 - Slumdog Millionaire2007: 1 - Ratatouille; 2 - Amazing Grace; 3 - The Bourne Ultimatum2006: 1 - The Pursuit of Happyness; 2 - The Nativity Story; 3 - United 93 / World Trade Center2005: 1 - Cinderella Man; 2 - Because of Winn-Dixie; 3 - Batman Begins   CRITIC'S CHOICE We also asked each of our panelists to name his or her selections for the various categories below. RYAN DUNCAN, Culture EditorBest Animated Film - MoanaBest Family Film - ZootopiaBest Date Movie - Kubo and the Two StringsBest Action Flick - DeadpoolBest Film with a Faith Theme - SilenceBest Faith-Based Film (i.e. 'Christian Movie') - Risen Favorite Male Performance - Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw RidgeFavorite Female Performance - Emma Stone, La La LandMost Disappointing - (tie) The Nice Guys & Captain FantasticMost Pleasant Surprise - ZootopiaI Laughed - Hail, Caesar!I Cried - Silence SUSAN ELLINGBURG, Film CriticBest Animated Film - Finding DoryBest Family Film - Finding DoryBest Date Movie - PassengersBest Action Flick - Star Trek: BeyondBest Film with a Faith Theme - Patriots DayBest Faith-Based Film (i.e. 'Christian Movie') - Risen Favorite Male Performance - Simon Helberg, Florence Foster JenkinsFavorite Female Performance - Meryl Streep, Florence Foster JenkinsMost Disappointing - The FounderMost Pleasant Surprise - Money MonsterI Laughed - Florence Foster JenkinsI Cried - Patriots Day CHRISTIAN HAMAKER, Film CriticBest Animated Film - Kubo and the Two StringsBest Family Film - LovingBest Date Movie - The Light Between OceansBest Action Flick - Hacksaw RidgeBest Film with a Faith Theme - Hacksaw RidgeBest Faith-Based Film (i.e. 'Christian Movie') - Last Days in the DesertFavorite Male Performance - Ewan McGregor, Last Days in the DesertFavorite Female Performance - Natalie Portman, JackieMost Disappointing - Rules Don't ApplyMost Pleasant Surprise - Finding DoryI Laughed - Central IntelligenceI Cried - Hidden Figures DEBBIE HOLLOWAY, Film CriticBest Animated Film - Kubo and the Two StringsBest Family Film - The Little PrinceBest Date Movie - La La LandBest Action Flick - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemBest Film with a Faith Theme - Queen of KatweBest Faith-Based Film (i.e. 'Christian Movie') - Silence Favorite Male Performance - Sunny Pawar, LionFavorite Female Performance - Michelle Williams, Manchester by the SeaMost Disappointing - My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2Most Pleasant Surprise - Keeping Up with the JonesesI Laughed - Bad MomsI Cried - Manchester by the Sea JEFFREY HUSTON, Film CriticBest Animated Film - MoanaBest Family Film - The BFGBest Date Movie - La La LandBest Action Flick - 13 HoursBest Film with a Faith Theme - SilenceBest Faith-Based Film (i.e. 'Christian Movie') - Miracles from Heaven Favorite Male Performance - Casey Affleck, Manchester by the SeaFavorite Female Performance - Amy Adams, ArrivalMost Disappointing - Suicide SquadMost Pleasant Surprise - Hidden FiguresI Laughed - TrollsI Cried - Loving SHAWN McEVOY, Managing EditorBest Animated Film - Kubo and the Two StringsBest Family Film - Hidden FiguresBest Date Movie - La La LandBest Action Flick - Captain America: Civil WarBest Film with a Faith Theme - SilenceBest Faith-Based Film (i.e. 'Christian Movie') - Risen Favorite Male Performance - Andrew Garfield, SilenceFavorite Female Performance - Emma Stone, La La LandMost Disappointing - SingMost Pleasant Surprise - Hillsong: Let Hope RiseI Laughed - Florence Foster JenkinsI Cried - Queen of Katwe STEPHEN McGARVEY, Editor-in-ChiefBest Animated Film - MoanaBest Family Film - Hidden FiguresBest Date Movie - La La LandBest Action Flick - Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryBest Film with a Faith Theme - SilenceBest Faith-Based Film (i.e. 'Christian Movie') - Hillsong: Let Hope Rise Favorite Male Performance - Andrew Garfield, SilenceFavorite Female Performance - Emma Stone, La La LandMost Disappointing - Batman v Superman: Dawn of JusticeMost Pleasant Surprise - 13 HoursI Laughed - TrollsI Cried - Lion   OUR MOST POPULAR REVIEWS OF 2016 The films you the audience wanted to know about  - and clicked on - the most. 12. The Light Between Oceans, by Christian Hamaker 11. Miracles from Heaven, by Susan Ellingburg 10. The Young Messiah, by Jeffrey Huston 9. Zootopia, by Ryan Duncan 8. 13 Hours, by Susan Ellingburg 7. Suicide Squad, by Jeffrey Huston 6. God's Not Dead 2, by Christian Hamaker 5. Ben-Hur, by Susan Ellingburg 4. Hillsong: Let Hope Rise, by Shawn McEvoy 3. Top Films of 2015, by Editorial Staff & Film Critics 2. Risen, by Ryan Duncan 1. Deadpool, by Christian Hamaker Finally, we'd like to thank you for your readership (and viewership of our video reviews) in 2016, especially as we kicked off our new format for text reviews, including star ratings and defined sections to make it easier for you to find what you need to know about any film. Speaking of which, three films in 2016 were given perfect 5-star ratings from our reviewers: Hacksaw Ridge (by Christian Hamaker), Florence Foster Jenkins (by Susan Ellingburg) and Moana (by Ryan Duncan), so it was good to see each of those films represented here! It was an excellent year at CrosswalkMovies.com, ChristianMovieReviews.com and the CMR Facebook page. If you enjoyed this article or our regular reviews, please be sure to share them with your friends and family! From one set of Christian movie fans to another, thanks for a great year, God bless, and let us hear your reviews of the films listed here! googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-2'); }); if (gptClientWidth >= 992 && gptClientWidth <= 1000000) googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-3'); }); Publication date: February 9, 2017 ]]>
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Michael Medved
http://www.michaelmedved.com/wp-content/uploads/LION-Final.mp3
(Review Source)
The American Conservative Staff
(”Lion” is briefly mentioned in this.)
“How can you not be for more diversity?” a friend recently asked me when I was explaining my opposition to the #OscarsSoWhite movement that exploded over the last two awards-season cycles in response to the lack of minority actors nominated for Academy Awards. Perhaps I am no longer on the side of liberal progress and no longer care about racial representation in film. Or perhaps it’s not an either/or dichotomy. I recognize the value of racial representation and I think that the #Oscarssowhite activism has been counterproductive to that cause. Why? Because the Twitter movement was simply counterfactual. In the 21st century, roughly 12 percent of acting nominees at the Oscars were black and the proportion of African-Americans relative to the rest of the population, according to the decennial census, is also 12.2 percent. If discrimination exists in Hollywood, I agree with African-American director Spike Lee (who received an honorary Oscar last year), who said it happens in casting rooms and at studios and to blame the Oscars is an act of misdirection. #Oscarssowhite slacktivism has largely damaged its credibility, by lacking nuance in its analysis, by going after the wrong targets, and by a lacking appreciation for the progress that has been made. This is an awards body that has helped jumpstart the careers of such minorities as Taraji P. Henson, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Terrence Howard, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Demian Bichir, Sophie Okonedo, and Jennifer Hudson by awarding them with honors when box-office receipts and other awards bodies weren’t. If you look at the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTAs) for example, out of all these actors only Jennifer Hudson was nominated. Consider also that Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman have been nominated 12 times by the Oscars and neither has been nominated once by the BAFTAs. Aside from the issue of the #Oscarssowhite activists drifting further and further away from the image of racism they claim exists, there’s also the issue of appearing to not acknowledge the accomplishments they have had. When Selma was nominated for Best Picture without a Best Director nomination for Ava DuVernay, it was enough to spark an outrage—but Selma was never a lock for best director or best actor. Ralph Fiennes was nominated for countless awards for The Grand Budapest Hotel and was widely acknowledged to have hit a high-water mark in an already distinguished career, but there wasn’t a school of advocates to rally around his exclusion with the political firepower of there was for Selma lead David Oyelowo. Similarly, Selma had as much buzz as Nightcrawler or Gone Girl, both of which were left out of the Best Picture fold. If the advocates of Selma felt so stiffed, would they have been willing to trade places with those two films and give up their Best Picture nomination entirely? Does it not appear ungrateful to complain about a Best Director snub when so many excellent films didn’t even get Best Picture? ♦♦♦ This past year resulted in a grand victory for this class of activists as seven actors of color were nominated for the Oscars. Moreover three of the nine nominees for Best Picture (Moonlight, Hidden Figures, and Fences) were largely “black stories” and one other (Lion) was a story set in the Third World. But to think that this will get sensible discourse about the state of movies and race back on track is naïve. The strange thing about the new brand of liberal activism is not just that it demands that films pass some liberal test but that it is considerably more picky and arbitrary when it comes to which films pass that muster. In the same year that Selma was championed as “the liberal choice,” the gay biopic The Imitation Game was dismissed as Oscar-bait (a term liberal film critic Mark Harris has rallied against for marginalizing films that are feminine) for being a “white biopic.” Keep in mind that “The Imitation Game” was so effective at depicting the struggle of mathematics pioneer Alan Turing that just two years after its release, the British government posthumously pardoned an entire generation of men and women who had been convicted under the criminalization of homosexual acts. And then there are those like Arab actor Amrou Al-Khadi, who wrote an article in the Independent threatening to quit acting if La La Land won best picture: Moonlight NEEDS to win Best Picture. Not only because it is a cinematic feat that is to La La Land what Frida Kahlo is to paint-by-numbers, but because it sends an urgent message. A message that we’re ready to empathise with any story, no matter how far away they are from us, and how much they defy our systemic misconceptions. Al-Khadi’s view of movie-awards season as an all-important cultural battleground is by no means an isolated one. TV and film criticism is now dominated by writers who view their role as policemen of diversity and expositors of social justice issues.  A recent AV Club episodic review of the TV show Black-ish in which Chris Brown got a guest starring role begins: “F**k Chris Brown. F**k. Chris. Brown. I know, we live in a world where Casey Affleck can win an Oscar and Sean Penn can beat Madonna and go on to have an illustrious career, so why shouldn’t Chris Brown be able to guest star in a sitcom as a rapper trying to expand his career with sponsorships? Well, because f**k Chris Brown. F**k Casey Affleck. F**k Sean Penn.” Reviewer Ashley Ray-Harris goes on to discuss the burden of a black show not to cast a serial domestic abuser, and it’s an interesting read. It should be noted, however, that nowhere in the text does Ray-Harris ever get around to reviewing the TV show. Fellow A.V. Club reviewer Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya’s review of the Documentary Now! parody of Spalding Gray’s Swimming to Cambodia includes a take on white First World privilege and her coverage of the second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt posits the chipper titular character as a PTSD victim and uses her word space to educate her readership about the coping process for trauma. While readers will respond with differing opinions about just how tenuous Upadhyaya’s connections are to the intent of the source material, it’s relatively clear that at one of the internet’s most trafficked websites for television criticism, using art as a means to preach about social justice is more the rule than the exception. It’s in this cultural climate that routine negative Oscar campaigning has turned into a new form of hit piece that judges a film by its progressive merits. La La Land was particularly vulnerable because it wasn’t a black film that came out in a year when the uproar for black representation was impossible to ignore. Washington Post critic Emily Yahr aptly pointed out that La La Land was getting backlash from all corners as a frontrunner, but it should be noted that some of the hits were intensely political. One of the criticisms was that Ryan Gosling’s character “whitesplained” jazz to Emma Stone, as if it is no longer acceptable for a person of any race to appreciate jazz and make it their life’s ambition to become a great jazz musician. In his Fusion piece “La La Land Might Win an Oscar but it has some Bizarre Racial Politics,” Jack Mirkinson writes: In one scene, he takes Mia to an empty jazz club where, in front of an all-black band, he explains the power of the music to her in mystical and rather torturously written terms. Beyond the male condescension inherent in the scene, the use of a white man as a portal into what is, unambiguously, a black art form lands with an uncomfortable thud. The actual black people playing the music in the scene are not asked to share their thoughts. These kinds of criticisms once again imagine that a filmmaker needs to create their art in such a way to safeguard against racial criticism. And although Mirkinson does an excellent job of portraying the nuance of the situation, being sure to note the film’s strengths alongside its weaknesses, the criticism gets much more severe in Geoff Nelson’s “The Unbearable Whiteness of La La Land,” which makes the absurd argument that the film is an abomination because it treads on “white nostalgia”: La La Land isn’t the escapism America needs right now, it’s a regressive effort at time travel with no sense of shame for America’s many historical sins. Chazelle engages in the most dangerous type of cultural production: to have an audience feel without thinking: If you are wondering what kind of extremely specific pedagogical value Nelson expects Chazelle to imbue in his film, Nelson clarifies: How many in a La La Land audience would be unable to vote, live in their neighborhood, marry their partner, work in their job, attend their school, if Chazelle’s film were successful in landing them in 1940s Los Angeles? Where do LA’s Zoot Suit Riots of 1943, when thousands of white folks organized themselves into street gangs to assault people of color, fit in Chazelle’s reverie? Or what of the historical record of housing discrimination, whereby 80 percent of 1940s Los Angeles real estate was off-limits to buyers or renters of color? When Gosling’s character wishes the public to remember the history of jazz rightly, it’s no wonder so much else must be redacted to suspend disbelief. To Nelson, failure to address these issues, regardless of narrative relevance, is synonymous with guilt, or at the very least “unbearable whiteness” judging by the title of his essay. For a film that never actually takes place in the past, calling it misguided historical fiction is an odd label, though it also opens the question of how restrictive Nelson would be of historical fiction that isn’t specifically about the civil-rights movement. In an essay for Vox last week, critic Jaime Weinman declared what many of us have already known for a while: Film criticism has entered a new era where it is now standard to assess a filmic work by its socio-political implications in addition to its merits. Weinman doesn’t pass judgment so much as state it as simple truth: “Whether it’s superficial or perceptive, today’s pop cultural criticism can’t seem to ignore social issues.” If cultural criticism has really reached a point of no return, it bears remembering that calling on films to be responsible also demands a higher level of responsibility from the critic in turn.   This involves being aware that complaints are really tacit demands. When a critic says “I’m disappointed that this film did X or Y,” they really mean “by the power vested in me as a critic, I demand Hollywood  should make efforts to X and Y.” Statements along these lines that don’t take into account the context and logistics that go into making a film amount to noise at best and propaganda at worst. The call for plurality in films is noble, but we also need to recognize that there are many ethnicities and classes that are underrepresented in a way that isn’t particularly proportional to the current level of critical outrage. Conversely, there are multiple ways to make a progressive or thought-provoking film outside the narrow definitions of right and wrong suggested by the new socially conscious era. Weinman’s excellently researched piece reaches a curious conclusion: And in a strange way, this new turn of criticism, this emphasis on the politics behind art, may be better for a work’s reputation than criticism that ignores politics. … If critics hate your favorite movie enough to call it a menace to society — well, at least they’re taking it seriously. In other words, Weinman argues that all discourse is good in the way that all publicity is good. The problem with this argument is that collective space in the zeitgeist is a zero-sum game when it comes to everyday consumers of art. Talking ad infinitum about the Oscars’ lack of diversity eliminates any chance for any other pertinent issues to claim headline space. The story of Moonlight winning at the Oscars could be so much more than the tired “black film”-beats-“white film” narrative. It’s worth noting that Moonlight director Barry Jenkins cites the 2000 indie film George Washington film as a direct inspiration for his debut film, and he didn’t even know David Gordon Green’s race when he saw it. Would a mutual appreciation of the contributions of both filmmakers be something that flies in today’s climate? I sure hope so.   Orrin Konheim is a freelance journalist and entertainment blogger in the Washington, D.C. and Richmond markets. His work can be found at http://sophomorecritic.blogspot.com. ]]>
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Drama We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.Movie ReviewHome is more than four walls and a roof. It's more than where you sleep, eat, wash your hair. There's something spiritual about home, something impossible to define yet impossible to replace. And even when you leave that home, a bit of it follows you wherever you go. For 5-year-old Saroo, home isn't so much a place as a collection of people. His mother. His older brother, Guddu. His tiny baby sister. They make up Saroo's whole life, part of everything he knows. Every day he and Guddu dive into a broader world beyond, that of rural India, stealing bits of coal to sell for bits of milk. Every night he comes home for a smile, a laugh, a bit of hurried dinner before his mother and brother dive back into the dark, working to provide for the family. One night, like most nights, Saroo begs his brother to let him come along. Guddu, like most nights, refuses. "You're too small to lift bales," "I can lift anything," Saroo protests. He hoists a bicycle off the ground to prove it, his tiny biceps straining at the effort. Guddu relents. "OK, fine," he says. And so they tromp off into the night. Before long, Guddu's carrying little Saroo in his arms, the little boy too tired to stay awake. When the two boys arrive at their town's small train depot, Guddu gently places the boy on a bench, realizing that it was a mistake to bring him along. Guddu will go on alone. "You wait here," Guddu tells Saroo, the little boy's eyelids weighted with sleep. "You don't go anywhere." Saroo sleeps. When he wakes up, it's the dead of night and the depot is deserted. "Guddu!" Saroo calls. He begins to wander. He slinks onto a train, where long years of poverty have taught him to hunt under seats for loose change, crusts of bread, anything that might be of use. But the work is tiring and tedious. Soon, Saroo slumps into another seat and dozes off again. When he wakes up, the little boy feels the train move and rock beneath him. He looks out the window, sees the green and brown of India zipping past. Panic. Terror. Saroo screams for Guddu, for Mum. They don't answer. No one does. The train is decommissioned, deserted. He's alone. And this huge, metallic snake slithers through the countryside, carrying him farther and farther away from home. Finally, the snake slides into Calcutta. Saroo's a thousand miles from where he started, though he can't know that. He begins asking for help. But when people ask him his mother's name, he only knows "Mum." When he tells them where he thinks he's from—Ganestalay—no one has ever heard of it. He doesn't even know what direction he came from, what train he took. Saroo is lost, hopelessly lost, in a land of strangers who care very little about the fate of a 5-year-old boy. Home is more than a place. It's people, and Saroo has lost all that home is. Positive ElementsSaroo may not be able to, as he brags, lift everything. But what he lacks in stature and toughness, he more than makes up in emotional durability. Saroo survives his first night in Calcutta … and many, many nights afterward. Along the way, he gets a bit of help to find a better place—first from a kindly man at a café, who notices the urchin mimicking his every move; then from a skilled care worker, who goes on to place Saroo with Australians John and Sue Brierley. The Brierleys adopt Saroo and give him a new home, one filled with televisions and refrigerators and even a boat. They care deeply for Saroo as well as their other adopted child, Mantosh. But While Mantosh is a troubled boy (who grows into a troubled man), Saroo returns his new family's love and becomes a source of constant pride. "From the moment you came into our lives, you were all that we could've hoped for," says Sue. But when a now-adult Saroo goes off to a multinational hotel management school, he begins to feel the insistent, unquenchable pull of his birth home—to find his mother and brother again. And given the circumstances in which he left them, Saroo's search is completely understandable. [Spoiler Warning] But Saroo keeps his search secret from his adoptive parents. He later says he hid it from them because he didn't want them to feel as though he was "ungrateful," or that he didn't love them as much as his birth family. But when he does eventually tell them, they're incredibly supportive. "I really hope she's there," Sue tells Saroo. "She needs to see how beautiful you are." Spiritual ContentIndia is a place of incredibly diverse spiritual beliefs. In Saroo's hometown, we hear what sounds like an Islamic call to prayer. In Calcutta, we see evidence of Hinduism. Little Saroo stumbles across a Hindu idol surrounded by offerings. He clasps his hands in front of the idol, as if asking for pre-emptive forgiveness, and takes a bit of food left before the idol. People pray in temples, and Saroo runs across what almost seems like a religiously tinged opium den, where men surrounded by candles seem to be either in a stupor or asleep. He's introduced to a man named Rama, who clarifies that he's "not the god." (Rama is revered as the seventh avatar, or incarnation, of the Hindu god Vishnu.) While the religious affiliation of the Brierleys is never explicitly detailed, there are occasional hints that Saroo's adoptive parents are Christians. Sue talks about how "blessed" their family has been. And she talks about a "vision" of seeing a "brown-skinned child" across a field when she was 12. "That was the first time in my life that I felt something good," she says. "I felt good. And I knew it was guiding me, and I knew it was going to be fine." A deceased Indian child is said to be "with God."Sexual ContentAs an adult, Saroo meets a fellow hotel-management student named Lucy, with whom he has a sexual relationship. They're shown kissing and in bed together, clearly in a prelude to sex. It's suggested that they're both unclothed in their bedtime interludes, though nothing critical is shown. Saroo and Lucy appear to live together for a time, and he takes her home to meet his parents. The disturbing threat of sexual trafficking lurks throughout Saroo's childhood. After he gets lost, he's seemingly befriended by a young woman who tells him she's going to introduce him to Rama. "He is a very good man," the woman assures him. "He helps everyone. He will help you, too." When Rama comes, he seems nice enough, even as he stares at the boy and asks him to lie down with him for a moment. "I want to take you to a really nice place," he promises, "And from there we're going to look for your Mum." But when he's alone with the woman, Rama says instead, "You've done well. He's exactly what they're looking for." Saroo becomes suspicious and runs away. In an orphanage later, a mentally ill boy, who's terrified, gets dragged away by guards in the middle of the night. Why? It's unclear, but the boy seems to know and fear what's coming, and I wonder whether perhaps his troubles stem from what happens during these midnight abductions.Recommended ResourceA Chicken's Guide to Talking Turkey With Your Kids About SexKevin LemanEven the bravest parents feel timid about discussing sex with their 8- to 14-year-olds! This resource offers reassuring, humorous, real-life anecdotes along with reliable information to help you with this challenging task.Buy NowViolent ContentWe sometimes see people, both adults and children, try to harm themselves, hitting their own heads against walls or on tables or with their own fists. Saroo's adoptive brother, Mantosh, throws a violent fit his first day with the Brierleys. And we get a sense that Mantosh's childhood was filled with similar tantrums, perhaps brought on by his own past demons. Street urchins are roughly rounded up by security guards. Saroo almost gets hit by a bus. We hear about a child who was struck by a train.Crude or Profane LanguageWe hear one misuse of God's name.Drug and Alcohol ContentMantosh appears to be a drug addict. Sue frets at one point that after finishing a temporary job, Mantosh will be "flush with cash" and "back on the hard stuff." People smoke cigarettes. Characters drink wine, champagne and beer in various scenes. We learn that Sue's father was an alcoholic.Other Negative ElementsLittle Saroo and Guddu steal to help feed their family. There are also some difficult, conflicting messages offered about the adoption of people like Saroo—messages that may bother some viewers. But those messages are used to illustrate the much more positive message that Lion eventually lands on, which I'll unpack more below.ConclusionWhat is home? What is family? These are questions that nearly tear Saroo apart. He loves his Australian parents, and he's deeply grateful for everything they've given him. But memories of his past—the mother and brother that he mistakenly, unwillingly left—pull at him incessantly. Saroo imagines the fear and horror they must've felt when he disappeared, the sadness that perhaps they experienced every day he wasn't with them. He wonders whether that home—the home he left in India—might be his real home after all. He wonders if Guddu, not the troubled Mantosh, is his real brother. And as much as he loves his Australian mother and father, as grateful he feels toward them for all they've given him, he wonders whether his relationship with them is simply a substitute for the bond Sue and John longed for with the biological children they didn't have. "I'm sorry you couldn't have your own kids," Saroo one day blurts. "What are you saying?" Sue asks, in disbelief and perhaps a hint of horror. "We weren't blank pages, were we?" Saroo says. "You weren't just adopting us, but our pasts as well. I feel like we're killing you." "I could've had kids," Sue reveals. "We chose not to have kids. … We wanted the two of you. That's what we wanted. We wanted the two of you in our lives." Saroo woefully, almost tragically, misunderstands the nature of adoption—the beautiful bond between mother and child, biological or adopted. Saroo thinks Sue and John saw him as a bargain-basement substitute for a "real" son. And for a while, he sees Sue and John as substitutes—gracious, wonderful substitutes, perhaps, but substitutes all the same—for his "real" mother. But the concept of home and family isn't something solely based on blood, Lion shows us. It's about care and memory and intentionality and, most of all, love. And love is something that the Brierelys shower upon Saroo—even though he doesn't fully comprehend their motive for doing so. Though the film doesn't connect the dots between the Brierleys' affection-filled adoption of Saroo and God, the jump isn't a big one to make. Whether parents are able to have their own children or not is beside the point: Adoption is never a backup plan. Rather, adoption is God's plan—a plan to bring people together in a sacred collection … a collection we call home. Lion is a gripping, moving, inspiring film that's high in heart and relatively low in content. While there are moments of sexuality, tension and sometimes troubling family relations, the movie's characters find themselves and each other. And, in so doing, they inspire those who watch their stories unfold—especially Saroo's lionhearted journey.Pro-social ContentObjectionable ContentSummary AdvisoryPlot SummaryChristian BeliefsOther Belief SystemsAuthority RolesProfanity/ViolenceKissing/Sex/HomosexualityDiscussion TopicsAdditional Comments/NotesEpisode Reviews]]>
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Plugged In
(”Lion” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Nominations for the 89th Academy Awards were rolled out early this morning. And for the next several days, the entertainment world will be wholly reactionary. Who got in? Who didn’t? Who got snubbed? Meryl Streep again?! We at Plugged In will be thinking and talking about the Oscars over the next month, too. But for now, here are some quick snapshot reactions. Family Friendly? Not Quite. But: Oscar loves its edgy, adult fare. Typically, the derby for Best Picture is dominated by R-rated movies. But this year, for the first time since 2012, PG and PG-13 films outnumber them. Hidden Figures is rated PG. Arrival, Fences, La La Land and Lion are all PG-13, joining the R-rated Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight. And it’s not just the MPAA ratings that make this crop of nominees encouraging. For the last couple of years, the most honored films have been rather grim. Last year, Spotlight (about the Catholic clergy sex-abuse scandal) and The Revenant (about a guy who was mauled by a bear) duked it out for Best Picture honors (Spotlight won, but both took home plenty of statues). The year before, the dark dramedy Birdman was the buzz of Tinseltown. The year before that? Well, no one’s going to mistake 12 Years a Slave for a fun crowd-pleaser. But this year, the light-but-layered musical confection La La Land leads all contenders. Indeed, its 14 nominations tie Titanic and All About Eve for the most noms ever. Down the ballot, Lion gives us a gripping, emotional and ultimately heartwarming story about a man’s search to find his birth mother after being accidentally separated from her 20 years before. Hidden Figures is a rousing inspirational flick, shining a spotlight on three unsung heroes of the U.S.’s early space program and illustrating how excellence and integrity can combat institutional racism. And if you read our reviews of even the R-rated films up for honors, you’ll find that they, too, have their merits. For instance, Hacksaw Ridge—Mel Gibson’s admittedly bloody return to directorial relevance—is a hard movie to watch, but its hero is a man of faith who, despite refusing to carry a gun in World War II, wins the Medal of Honor. No More #OscarsSoWhite: For two years running, the Academy has come under fire for honoring solely white nominees in its acting categories. Not so this year. Ruth Negga’s understated powerhouse performance in Loving propelled her to a well-deserved Best Actress nomination. Denzel Washington, always a perennial contender, scored his seventh Oscar nom for Fences. (He’s won twice, for Glory and Training Day). Heavy favorite Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) joins Dev Patel (Lion), a British actor of Indian descent, in the Best Supporting Actor category. A trio of African-American women are up for Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis for Fences, Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures and Naomie Harris for Moonlight. Oh, and here’s a little bit of trivia for you: Davis, who gave I think the performance of the year in Fences, became the first black actress to score three Oscar noms. Perhaps this is the year she’ll win one. No Pixar? If the acting nominees were fairly diverse, the same could be said in the animated feature category. Disney subsidiary Pixar has long dominated this category whenever it’s had a major film in contention, and make no mistake: Finding Dory was a major film, earning more than $1 billion worldwide. But it was shut out of Oscar’s animation derby. Instead, two films from Disney proper—Zootopia and Moana—joined Focus Features’ Kubo and the Two Strings, the dreamy Japanese fable The Red Turtle (a film completely without dialogue) and the French-made My Life as a Zucchini. I’ve argued for years that animated films are as good as they’ve ever been. And while I still say that Pixar sets the standard by which all others are judged, perhaps this is a sign that the rest of the entertainment world has caught up to the studio. Academy Voters and Film Fans Still Don’t Live in the Same Universe. Sure, some big-budget blockbusters snagged technical kudos from the Academy this year. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the year’s biggest movie, was nominated for two awards, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Doctor Strange and even Suicide Squad scored a technical category nom or two. But when it comes to Oscar’s biggest categories, you’ll not see a blockbuster in the running at all. Arrival, a clever science fiction tale starring Amy Adams, is as close as it comes among Best Picture honorees, earning $95.7 million during its run thus far. La La Land is next with $89.8 mil. While these films will surely see their grosses grow in the wake of the nominations, this year’s Oscars won’t go down as an example of cinematic populism. ]]>
(Review Source)
Plugged In
(”Lion” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Those Oscar voters have it made. To choose the best of the best based on sheer aesthetics—the writing, the acting, the cinematography—feels easy compared to the task set before us. In this category, we have to factor in ethics, morality and worldview, too. Sure, maybe a given film looks amazing. But what does it actually say? And how, exactly, does it say it? How do you balance a fantastic message with troubling content? No wonder this category is often our most controversial. And this year, even though all five of our picks were also on the Academy Awards short list for Best Picture, promises to be no different. Be sure to check out our full reviews before seeing any of these films. Because this category inherently fosters plenty of discussion, we’re eager to know what you think. Vote for your favorites, or tell us what you think we missed. We’ll tally up your votes. And on Feb. 24, we’ll let you know what you chose, as well was what our official top pick is. Arrival: The aliens have touched down. In 12 gigantic ships they hover just above the ground at strategic points around the globe. And every 18 hours, a doorway opens at each craft’s bottommost point to let curious government officials and scientists in for a face-to-face meeting. But what do these mysterious creatures want, as they glide in a hazy mist behind a transparent wall? Where do they come from? And how do they even communicate? If you’re looking for Independence Day-like bim-bam-boom, you won’t find it here. This is a more thoughtful alien “invasion” pic. It’s well written and compelling, and it prompts viewers to think less about the faraway stars and more about the things we value deep within. This is smart sci-fi, with a few moments of peril and one unfortunate f-bomb to mar its puzzle-it-out impact. Hacksaw Ridge: What? An R-rated movie on a Plugged In list? Indeed, Hacksaw Ridge is one of the year’s most graphically violent movies. But the violence underlines just how heroic Desmond Doss actually is. Doss signs up to “fight” in World War II despite the fact that he refuses to carry a gun. Deeply devout and scarred by violent moments from his past, he’s vowed to never hurt another human if he can help it—even when he’s an active participant in one of the war’s bloodiest conflicts. Hacksaw Ridge marks director Mel Gibson’s return to relevance, and it packs in as many overtly spiritual themes as some of the Christian films we’ll be talking about tomorrow. Hacksaw Ridge blends both outlandish courage and amazing piety in an unbelievable true-to-life story. It’s not a film for everyone, of course. But for those who watch, it has something powerful to say.  Hidden Figures: There’s a reason why Star Trek called space the “final frontier”: It’s really, really hard to get there. And no one would’ve made it into space if it hadn’t been for a lot of really smart, dedicated men and women whose feet never left the ground. Hidden Figures chronicles the stories of three of them—African-American women who had their own special obstacles to overcome. Working for NASA in the still segregated state of Virginia, Katherine Goble, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson must deal with blacks-only bathrooms, whites-only coffee pots and a thousand other forms of constant, corruptive prejudice. But instead of taking to the streets, these women engage in a gentler but no-less-effective fight for equality—one in which equality is earned one gracious step at a time. Language is the biggest drawback in this PG movie, but the message it offers is an important one. “There’s more than one way to achieve something,” Mary tells her husband, and it’s true. This story reminds us all that change—real, viable, important change—can sometimes be achieved just like our parents always said it could: Through hard work, patience and a tireless pursuit of justice. La La Land: Ah, Tinseltown. A mythic place of big dreams … and bigger disappointments. Mia and Sebastian know about both. She’s an aspiring actress. He’s an aspiring jazz pianist. Both harbor huge hopes. Both have known little but artistic frustration. So what happens when they find each other? And what happens when they get a taste of the success that’s been so elusive? Can they have it all—their career dreams and romance? This lovely, old-fashioned musical (nominated for a record-tying 14 Oscars) hits a few content bumps along its Hollywood freeway, namely a smattering of profanity (including a lone f-word) and some mild sensuality. But for the most part, it steers clear of severe, film-wrecking gratuity, and it’s hard not to kind of fall in love with Mia and Sebastian as they fall in love with each other. Lion: When Saroo was just 5 years old, he was accidentally swept away from everything he knew and loved. He fell asleep on a deserted train. And, when he woke up, he was more than a thousand miles from home. In the midst of that tragedy, the boy was lucky: Adopted (eventually) by loving Australian parents Sue and John Brierley, Saroo found a new home. Twenty years later, Saroo—now a young, thoughtful man—finds his thoughts returning back home, his first home, and the mother and brother whom he left behind. Lion is a gripping, ultimately heartwarming story of a man who goes in search of family and finds more than he ever expected. The film comes with its share of cautions: Saroo and his girlfriend have a sexual relationship (though we don’t see anything explicit), and as a young child, Saroo narrowly escapes a human trafficking ring. But it’s a beautiful movie nevertheless. It tackles adoption in a complex, realistic and affirming way and speaks to the longing we all have: the desire to be loved and to have a place that we can call home. Movie synopses by Paul Asay, Adam Holz and Bob Hoose. ]]>
(Review Source)
Plugged In
(”Lion” is briefly mentioned in this.)
The Oscars are nearly here. And we all know it wouldn’t be the Oscars without some Oscar-centric controversy. The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag has been replaced, according to some, with #OscarsSoMale. A recent study by USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found that of the 109 films released in 2014, women received fewer than 29% of the speaking roles. “That breaks down to 2.5 male roles per female role,” notes ABC News reporter Joi-Marie McKenzie. Now, this discrepancy is real, and I’d love to see more and meatier female roles on the big screen. But it’s interesting that folks are talking about this controversy now. Looking at this year’s Best Picture nominees, strong women sit at the heart of the majority of them. And as we’ll see, they don’t need to have the most lines to be at the center of the story. We’ll start with Arrival, the deep-thinking sci-fi thriller starring Amy Adams. When a bevy of aliens comes to earth with unknown intentions, it’s up to Adams’ brilliant linguist Louise Banks to figure out what they want. I think Adams’ should’ve received an Oscar nom for her multidimensional work here, playing not just a committed language expert, but a loving, sacrificial mom, too. Fences did spawn an acting nom (and likely award) for Viola Davis, who plays Rose Maxson, longsuffering wife of Denzel Washington’s problematic protagonist, Troy. While Fences is Troy’s story—his internal battle with his own soul and the toll it takes on the ones he loves—Rose is its moral core, the character with whom we, as an audience, must sympathize. Near the middle of the movie, Troy tries to justify why he stepped out on Rose. “It’s not easy for me to admit that I been standing in the same place for 18 years,” he says. “I been standing with you!” Rose thunders back. “I been right here with you, Troy! I got a life too. I gave 18 years of my life to stand in the same spot with you!” Blistering. Rose might’ve stood in the shadow of Troy’s oversized ego and insecurities, but this is no weak woman. Hidden Figures gives us not one, but three strong women (played by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe). These unsung heroes of the early space program worked in a place and age where racism was an overt, everyday reality for virtually all people of color. But through grace, perseverance and flat-out talent, they eventually received a measure of the recognition they deserved. Like Arrival, the heroines in Hidden Figures are wives and moms. And while the story doesn’t devote as much screen time to home life, it does take the opportunity to show us how important their families are to them. The love story La La Land, meanwhile, focuses on a girl and boy, both big dreamers who fall in love. Male protagonist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) receives plenty of screen time, but La La Land really feels like the story of Emma Stone’s Mia and her quest to be a movie star. And she’s the one who eventually faces with the movie’s central choice: whether to pursue her acting dream wholeheartedly or give it up for a chance at love. Next, both Lion and Moonlight have unquestionably male protagonists, but women shape them into who they are and, in many ways, push the story along. In Moonlight, Chiron’s lifelong template is set, in large part, by his drug-doing mother, Paula. We see the character (played by Naomie Harris) slowly fall deeper and deeper into the clutches of crack cocaine. She’s abusive and neglectful, and Chiron—who has plenty of other issues—suffers the life-changing wounds of that relationship. The fact that he makes it to adulthood at all may be thanks to Teresa (Janelle Monáe again), a mom-like figure who steps it up just at the right time. Finally, Lion is all about motherhood—and one young man’s quest to find his own mom. Saroo was accidentally whisked away from his biological family in India as a little boy after falling asleep on a deserted train that carried him more than 1,000 miles from home. He had a happy childhood, thanks to his adoptive parents, John and Sue Brierley (David Wenham and Nicole Kidman). But his desire to find his birth mother again powers the story … and leads to some wonderful revelations about the power of family and the beauty of adoption. Now, all these films have problems, and some have significant ones. I don’t want to minimize those. Nor do I want to minimize the apparent gender inequality in the movies generally being made. But from what I can see from this year’s crop of Best Picture nominees, the message is clear: This year, at the Oscars at least, women rule. ]]>
(Review Source)
Kyle Smith
Another indication that the Harvey Weinstein scandal isn't going away: namesake firm The Weinstein Company (TWC) has been issued a subpoena by New York's attorney general Eric Schneiderman. Schneiderman, reported Deadline.com, wants information on "settlements, complaints, investigations and pretty much everything else inappropriate that TWC knew about or participated in." (That sounds awfully broad, but Schneiderman isn't known for his subtlety.) "If sexual harassment or discrimination is pervasive at a company, we want to know,” Schneiderman said. Police in New York, Los Angeles and London are also investigating the company after several women stepped forward to say they had been
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(Review Source)
Debbie Schlussel
Blog Posts Movie Reviews Sing – PG: This animated movie is funny, cute, entertaining, and enjoyable for families, as well as adults. It’s a lot of fun and manages to fit in snippets of a lot of current, recent, and much in the past songs and hits. It features a charming world in which all of the characters are animals and they assume the characteristics and emotions of humans. My one reservation with this was the tired, stale, old caricature of a father and husband as an uncaring, lazy oaf and out-of-touch idiot. That’s the last kind of sexism still allowed in Hollywood. Matthew McConaughey is Buster Moon, the koala bear owner of a glamorous old-time theater. Times are tough for him. People don’t want to see the kind of entertainment–bands and other fare of yesteryear–that he books and presents on his stage. As a result, his checks are bouncing, the bank is calling, and he’s desperate to do something to get some money and survive. He must keep things going at the theater, for which his father washed cars with his own fur in order that his son, Buster, would be able to live a better life. So Buster comes up with the idea of having an American-Idol-style talent competition for a $1,000 prize. However, his absent-minded, klutzy, old lizard (with a glass eye) assistant accidentally makes some typos, and fliers go out all over town for auditions and the chance to win a $100,000 prize. Soon, a bunch of various talented animals from different walks of life are at the Moon Theater, singing their hearts out. There is a gorilla, who badly wants to be a singer and pianist, but his father and family members are robbers and thieves in a gang, and they look down on his legit aspirations. Then, there is a pig who is the mother to many piglets and the wife of an oafish, bumbling, insensitive, unappreciative husband (that’s the tired, sexist, anti-male Hollywood narrative I referred to earlier). And there’s a female porcupine punk rocker who wants to break away from her doubting boyfriend’s shadow. There’s also a shy elephant (whose mother and grandfather have Black accents and are voiced by Black actors, but she has a White one and is voiced by a White actress). Don’t forget the mouse who does a mean Frank Sinatra impression. And there are others. As Buster auditions and then rehearses these various characters for the talent show, he gets caught up in a web of lies and problems, like the electricity going out, and the water, too. He also has to avoid Russian mobsters after one of the other characters. Very cool is the “squid lighting system.” As I noted, the movie is charming and a lot of fun to watch. Other big names (such as Reese Witherspoon) also voice the characters. Great holiday entertainment that will actually entertain the whole family, including the adults. THREE REAGANS ]]>
(Review Source)
Crosswalk
(”Lion” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Movies The Oscars are the most prestigious and highly watched award show in entertainment right now. Whether you love Hollywood or hate it, there’s no denying the night draws a large crowd, and creates platforms on which artists proudly speak. In the past, many Christians have chosen to forego the awards for personal or political reasons. However, all that may change now that the official nominations have been revealed. Not only do the proposed films speak to the high level of tension facing our society today, but many have crossed the threshold into spiritual territory, asking new questions about God, faith, and human purpose. Here are a few thoughts on the 2017 Oscar Nominations,   Best Picture Nominees Arrival Hell or High Water Lion Manchester by the Sea Moonlight Hacksaw Ridge La La Land Hidden Figures Fences googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-1'); }); What should particularly interest Christian viewers about this year’s Best Picture nominations is that one film centers on the life of a Christian soldier. Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of Desmond Doss, a devout Christian who refused to fire a gun in WWII but nonetheless saved countless lives as a medic. Though the film was hailed by critics, it faces stiff competition against La La Land, which appears to be the favorite to win. Other notable entries include Hidden Figures and Fences, both of which explore the effects of poverty and racism in America society.          Best Actor Nominees Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea Ryan Gosling – La La Land Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic Andrew Garfield - Hacksaw Ridge Denzel Washington - Fences As with Best Picture, Hacksaw Ridge makes itself know with a nomination for Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss. Ironically, this is the second time Garfield has played a persecuted believer this year, as he also starred as a Portuguese monk in Martin Scorsese’s historical drama, Silence. Denzel Washington also snagged a nomination for his performance in Fences, which is encouraging news as Washington has never been shy on speaking about his faith.   Best Actress Nominees Isabelle Huppert – Elle Ruth Negga – Loving Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins Emma Stone – La La Land Natalie Portman – Jackie Meryl Streep caused quite a stir during this year’s Golden Globes when she delivered a speech calling Donald Trump to accountability.    “Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence, and when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.” Though many hailed her speech as the highlight of the night, some Christians felt Streep should not have used her spotlight to engage in political rhetoric. Regardless, Streep earned herself another Best Actress nomination for her performance in Florence Foster Jenkins, one of the earliest movies to receive rave reviews in 2016. Still, she’ll have to beat out hopefuls Emma Stone and Natalie Portman for their roles in La La Land and Jackie respectively.   Best Animated Movie Nominees Zootopia Moana Kubo and the Two StringsMy Life as a Zucchini The Red Turtle Though often seen as a throwaway category by most critics, this year’s nominations for Best Animated Feature have demonstrated a surprising amount of depth and commentary. Per usual, Disney leads the charge with box office hits Zootopia and Moana.The first, tells the story ofa rabbit police officer trying to solve a case of missing mammals, and tests its audience with questions about race, profiling, and police culture. The second, taking on the studio’s familiar princess tropes, follows the journeys of a young Polynesian girl while challenging the viewer to ponder the consequences of greed and forgiveness. Last, but certainly not least, is Kubo and the Two Strings the new stop-motion film from Laika studios which hopes to break Disney’s stranglehold on the award. To view a full list of this year’s Academy Award nominees and categories, simply follow this link!   What movies do you believe should have been included in these categories? Be sure to leave your comments in the space below! googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-2'); }); if (gptClientWidth >= 992 && gptClientWidth <= 1000000) googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-3'); }); *Published 1/24/2017 ]]>
(Review Source)
Crosswalk
(”Lion” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Movies It's Oscar season and Crosswalk's Shawn and Steve talk about their favorite films from 2016. We've just released our own Top 10 list - go to CrosswalkMovies.com to check it out.]]>
(Review Source)
Crosswalk
(”Lion” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Movies Just in time for Oscar weekend, Shawn and Steve from CrosswalkMovies.com explain why each of these 10 fabulous movies from 2016 has something to offer the Christian audience. Let us know your favorite, and what you think should have made the cut! Click here for the full text version]]>
(Review Source)
Armond White
(”Lions for Lambs” is briefly mentioned in this.)
What’s wrong with TCM’s month-long celebration of fake news
(Review Source)
Christian Toto
(”Lions for Lambs” is briefly mentioned in this.)
an acceptable loss review curtis sumpter

Hollywood raged against both President George W. Bush and the Iraq War for years until studios realized no one wanted to see more movies on the subject.

Think commercial duds

The post Is ‘Acceptable Loss’ More Cheney Obsessed than ‘Vice?’ appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

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VJ Morton
(”Lions for Lambs” is briefly mentioned in this.)
coensposter.jpg

Oscar surprises

The Oscar nominations were announced earlier today. And here’s my quick reactions.

Kudos:

● Three of the 5 Best Picture nominees are among my 10 Best for the year, and 1 of the 2 that aren’t heads my list of runners-up. Four of 11 — NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, ATONEMENT and THERE WILL BE BLOOD, plus JUNO. And of the other 7 favorites of 2007, 3 are foreign films that one cannot expect to be top dogs at the US industry honors (which is what the Oscars are). And while I don’t think the fifth nominated film (MICHAEL CLAYTON) is that good (5 grade), it’s no CRASH and I don’t think it’s considered widely to be a front-runner to win anyway. So I am almost guaranteed to be reasonably happy on Oscar night — the Best Picture winner is near-certain to be a worthy film.

That. Does. Not. Happen.

My tastes are not the Academy’s and I don’t discriminate against comic clowning (see the film at #2 this year), small-studio/indy films and foreign films. In fact, this has never happened. I did a quick glance over the Best Picture nominees for the last 20 years earlier today, and found that that never in the entire period where I can say I have followed movies closely had 3 of my Top 10 been nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.¹ In most of those 20 years prior to today, it’s been 0 or 1. Depending on how you slice my lists, the 100 films nominated for Best Picture Oscar, just 22 (or 24 … see footnote) have grabbed one of the 200 available slots on my 10 Best list — an average of barely 1 per year.

So I congratulate the Academy on my tastes. I hope it’s simply that the best English-language films of the year so clearly declared themselves, that there was no denying them. But undoubtedly part of the reason is that some of the fall prestige or semi-blockbuster films that might have looked like potential Oscar-Baition™, fizzled at the box office and/or generated poor or little critical buzz. After all, it’s not as if the Coen Brothers and PT Anderson have been big AMPAS locks in the past (this is only Wright and Reitman’s second films). I’m thinking most of THE GOLDEN COMPASS and the ELIZABETH sequel, and to a lesser extent SWEENEY TODD and BEOWULF, plus such potential breakout films as BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD and all the anti-war films, from RENDITION and LIONS FOR LAMBS to REDACTED and GRACE IS GONE.

● PERSEPOLIS received ample compensation for its snub in the Foreign-Film race (more on that below) by getting a nomination for Best Animated Film. It’ll lose to RATATOUILLE, of course (not that I’m saying that would be a travesty of judgment). But the nomination at this moment will help PERSEPOLIS, since it was released just a couple of weeks ago in the top few cities and is now spreading around the country. I hope Sony Classics has gold-statue emblazoned posters ready. This is a case of the principal reason the Oscars matter to me … as a way of raising the public profile of small films (even small English-language films) that are good enough and accessible enough to satisfy a broader audience than the one that habitually keeps abreast of such movies. PERSEPOLIS is such a film.

● I probably shouldn’t be surprised that Amy Ryan got a deserved Supporting Actress nomination for GONE BABY GONE — she won a bunch of critics awards and was nominated by the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild. But Ben Affleck’s film, good though it was, flamed out at the box office, and, Ryan aside, was pretty much overlooked by critics and award-givers. But I feared a surprise snub (though playing a trashy tramp always helps an actress).

● Though I was obviously disappointed that neither of ATONEMENT’s two leading actors were nominated, I was happy that the actual best performance in the film was — Saoirse Ronan as the pre-teen Briony in the film’s first section, who commits the sin that originates the film’s moral universe, like Adam and Eve in the Garden. She exudes childish willfulness — that toxic mixture of precociousness, thinking she’s an adult while not having the experience of an adult, and preciousness, a spoiled certainty that one is in the right come what may, especially when others have to bear what comes. The person with whom I saw the film the second time could hardly restrain his hatred for Briony throughout the second act, audibly talking to himself — a testament to her creation in the first act.

Raspberries:

● This was known a week ago, but the foreign-films nominations are a scandal, not in terms of what was nominated (of which I cannot speak since I’ve seen none of them, and I certainly hope they’re worthy), but in terms on what was not nominated. Look … I well understand that Mexico’s SILENT LIGHT and Sweden’s YOU THE LIVING were no-hopers with the Academy. Both films are great but so stylistically eccentric that I can’t really be surprised. Just being submitted by their country is all the victory they could expect. But wth happened with several films that looked far more in line with Academy tastes but didn’t even make the “semi-final” cut of nine films from which the five nominees are chosen. This article in the Washington Post by Ann Hornaday centers most of its (justified) outrage on the snubs of France (PERSEPOLIS) and Romania (4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS), to which I would add Germany (THE EDGE OF HEAVEN) and South Korea (SECRET SUNSHINE). All four films, in my opinion, were worthy and the right kind of film to win some props. And these films were completely passed over even for the semi-finals in favor of films about which I’ve heard little critical buzz except from fellow TIFFgoer and Academy member Ken Rudolph. But Ken had the good taste to recognize the awesomeness of the right films (except Andersson) … though he does make the Polish finalist KATYN and Serbian semi-finalist THE TRAP sound appetizing and, to a lesser extent (to me), does the same for the Israeli and Austrian finalists, BEAUFORT and THE COUNTERFEITERS. Still, the bright spot is noted in Hornaday’s article:

Whatever the reasons, [chairman Mark] Johnson avers, the process is clearly in need of tinkering. He intends to approach the Academy’s Board of Governors, which oversees rule changes, soon after the awards ceremony on Feb. 24. “I think we have to do some kind of radical change and hopefully we can come up with a system that works better,” Johnson said.

● I’ve not seen NORBIT, but I still feel confident saying it was one of the worst films of the year. A defensible film doesn’t score 9 percent at Rotten Tomatoes (the same score as LEONARD PART 6 and lower than CATWOMAN). But now … this phrase is accurate: “Academy-Award Nominee NORBIT.” Yes. The makeup people voted for it. I can understand somewhat … the stills make it clear that this was a big makeup job … but does quality of the film have NO role? Shouldn’t technical people take enough pride in their work to hate to see such herculean efforts and creativity wasted on a widely-reviled punchline and all-time turkey? Were there no other films with impressive makeup that did honor to it (there were only three nominees to fill out after all)? What about SWEENEY TODD for eccentric transformations of actors; GRINDHOUSE for the prosthetic gore; I’M NOT THERE or even WALK HARD for all the various “Dylan looks” or “Dewey looks” without (in the former case) simply replicating the actors’ natural looks; HAIRSPRAY if you want to honor fat suits; or ZODIAC or TALK TO ME for people aging over the years? Did Viggo’s tattoos in EASTERN PROMISES count as makeup? Is this worse than “Academy-Award Nominee MANNEQUIN” and (speaking of Eddie Murphy) “Academy-Award Nominee BEVERLY HILLS COP 2” (in the same year and category, no less)?

● The snub of Jonny Greenwood for THERE WILL BE BLOOD, which is simply the most memorable and certainly eclectic dramatic score (i.e., no songs, not a musical) that I can recall in the past several years. Academy rules kept him out as ineligible because the score was too unoriginal. (The late timing of the announcement was crap, regardless.) I understand the problem of dramatic scores competing against song scores or the known-reaction quantities of existing music. So there have to be rules about what’s an original score. But surely it’s relevant to the spirit of the law that a large part of the pre-existing score was (1) Greenwood’s own previous work and (2) hadn’t been used in a movie. As one of the commentators at Variety noted: “And by this standard, Santaollalla’s score for Babel was eligible how, exactly?” And, similar to the makeup folly (and the original songs noted there too), technical awards can’t rationally ignore completely the function they play in the movie. After all, they’re not technically honoring music per se (that’s what the Grammys and similar awards are for), but the use of music in motion pictures. Regardless of anything else about the not-written-for-the-film music … only a deaf man could avoid the insight that Anderson and Greenwood’s use of the music is original to the film and not simply borrowed majesty.

● I understand that Javier Bardem’s got the “showy” role in the Coens’ NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. He’s the Supporting Actor front-runner and deserves to be. But can a guy get nominated for … well … a naturalistic performance that actually carries the film from moment to moment as its principal audience identification figure. Being a corrupted innocent playing in waters too rough for him but believing he can get away with his relatively-minor sin and escape judgment with enough guile (i.e., all of us, in some sense). Sorry, Josh Brolin … apparently not.

● Why was anybody impressed by the Cuisinart editing of THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM? “Most editing” I could get behind … gawdknows the editor cuts, cuts, cuts away like Sweeney Todd with ADD. ULTIMATUM is a perfect example of a film edited to death. Or as I wrote here, in surprisingly substantial agreement with Atkinson (his political asides aside):

is some supposed anti-Bush subtext about gov’t surveillance and secret skullduggery supposed to hide the fact that you literally cannot make head nor tail of what is happening. … No coherent space emerges for any of the three main set pieces — Waterloo Station, Tangier foot chase and New York car chase. And so all we see is large metal objects crashing into one another, fists flying somewhere (where was Tony Jaa when you need him), all manipulated by characters that are complete robots despite being made of too-too-solid flesh … this isn’t a movie; this is a big-screen video game, with cutaways to the players “onstage.”

—————————————
¹ For the stat geek, these are the number of Best Picture nominees on my Ten Best list for that year: 2006-0; 2005-0/1; 2004-1; 2003-1; 2002-2*; 2001-1; 2000-1; 1999-0; 1998-2; 1997-0; 1996-2; 1995-2; 1994-1; 1993-1*; 1992-2; 1991-2; 1990-1/2; 1989-2*; 1988-0; 1987-1*.
The asterisked years are those in which one of my 10 Best also won Best Picture (CHICAGO, SCHINDLER’S LIST, DRIVING MISS DAISY and THE LAST EMPEROR).
The multiple figures for 1990 and 2005 reflect a film among my Top 10 on Oscar night but not on it now (THE GODFATHER 3 and BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN). In both cases, it was not a demotion of that film, but the promotion of other movies either seen later or growing from repeat viewings and edging it down to #11 or #12 (METROPOLITAN and MAY FOOLS in the first instance, and SARABAND and MILLIONS in the latter).

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January 22, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

3 Comments »

  1. Josh Brolin was insane. INSANE in that film. Insanely good, I mean. I am willing to forget the domestic battery charge with Diane Lane for his role in this film. And speaking as a native Texan, this is high praise indeed. Johnny Depp needs to go far away for a couple of years before I rip his goatee off in hatred.

    Comment by Lindsey | January 23, 2008 | Reply

  2. You’re from the British Isles, and I don’t know any Irishmen… how does one pronounce “Saoirse?”

    Comment by Adam Villani | January 24, 2008 | Reply

  3. Does the quality of a film factor into its Oscar prospects in the technical categories? Of course. But in principle, why should it? The category is not “Best Achievement in Makeup for a Non-Disgraceful Motion Picture”. Similarly, a composer really can’t do much if his kick-ass score winds up melodically supporting a steaming pile.

    Comment by Alex | February 12, 2008 | Reply


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(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
(”Lions for Lambs” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Ed Driscoll var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'PJTV: September 11th, 2009', 'videoType': 'Original' }); "Post-9/11, the film industry covered itself in shame." -- At his PJM column, Andrew Klavan flashes back to the article he wrote last year for City Journal:Hollywood’s lockstep leftist filmmakers have long busied themselves with a range of shameful enterprises. They have peddled and celebrated a wholly distorted and negative vision of American manners in dishonest films epitomized by American Beauty (1999). They have sold the self-contradicting nonsense of moral relativism in films such as The Reader (2008). They have routinely depicted the U.S. government and U.S. corporations as bad actors in world events, as in The Bourne Ultimatum. And—in what some observers consider a conscious scheme by a likeminded filmland clique—they have maintained a small but steady effort to normalize the sexual abuse of children in films like Little Children, The Woodsman, Towelhead, and more.But when it comes to sheer shamefulness, the conformist “radicals” of Hollywood outdid themselves in the years after the Islamofascist attacks on 9/11. When the United States responded to these atrocities by attempting to destroy the terrorist staging grounds in Afghanistan and establish a beachhead of Middle Eastern democracy in Iraq, Hollywood reacted by churning out propaganda movies that could only demoralize our allies and bolster our low and savage enemies: Syriana, In the Valley of Elah, Rendition, Redacted, Lions for Lambs, Green Zone, Body of Lies, Stop Loss, and on and on. Many of these films portrayed our soldiers and intelligence officers as rapists, murderers, torturers, or noble fools manipulated by conniving Republicans. Not one of them (including the excellent HBO film Taking Chance and the flawed but powerful Hurt Locker, which at least showed our troops in a positive light) depicted the wars themselves as good or noble endeavors. Besides Chance and Locker, these films were bad and they were bombs, showing that ideology, not art or commerce, dictated their content. It was the dark mirror image of Hollywood’s patriotic response to Pearl Harbor in the 1940s, a living diagram of what the Left has wrought in our cultural lives since then.Political correctness has robbed Hollywood of much of its story-telling vocubulary; which is why it seemingly can do little more these days except churn-out comic book, sci-fi, and fantasy movies, which helps to explain this recent headline at Reuters: "Movies suffer worst box-office slump in a decade."Ironically, my wife and I watched more movies in the theater this year than we have in ages -- but with the exception of the latest Batman movie, they were films from previous decades that happened to be playing the revival circuit, such as:North by NorthwestA Clockwork OrangeCabaretA BBC look at the making of The Who's 1974-album Quadrophenia, which debuted on the big screen this summer.The Imax release of Raiders of the Lost ArkMark Steyn once wrote:“Popular culture” is more accurately a “present-tense culture”: You’re celebrating the millennium but you can barely conceive of anything before the mid-1960s. We’re at school longer than any society in human history, entering kindergarten at four or five and leaving college the best part of a quarter-century later—or thirty years later in Germany. Yet in all those decades we exist in the din of the present. A classical education considers society as a kind of iceberg, and teaches you the seven-eighths below the surface. Today, we live on the top eighth bobbing around in the flotsam and jetsam of the here and now. And, without the seven-eighths under the water, what’s left on the surface gets thinner and thinner.Between PC and the related phenomenon of "black armband history," I wonder if Hollywood realizes how much of its past legacy is similarly underwater and no longer accessible? class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2012/9/11/when-hollywood-hit-rock-bottom/ ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
(”Lions for Lambs” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Klavan On The Culture The good folks at City Journal have reposted a piece I wrote about Hollywood's reaction to 9/11 - When Hollywood Hit Rock Bottom:"When it comes to sheer shamefulness, the conformist “radicals” of Hollywood outdid themselves in the years after the Islamofascist attacks on 9/11. When the United States responded to these atrocities by attempting to destroy the terrorist staging grounds in Afghanistan and establish a beachhead of Middle Eastern democracy in Iraq, Hollywood reacted by churning out propaganda movies that could only demoralize our allies and bolster our low and savage enemies: Syriana, In the Valley of Elah, Rendition, Redacted, Lions for Lambs, Green Zone,Body of Lies, Stop Loss, and on and on. Many of these films portrayed our soldiers and intelligence officers as rapists, murderers, torturers, or noble fools manipulated by conniving Republicans. Not one of them (including the excellent HBO film Taking Chance and the flawed but powerful Hurt Locker, which at least showed our troops in a positive light) depicted the wars themselves as good or noble endeavors. BesidesChance and Locker, these films were bad and they were bombs, showing that ideology, not art or commerce, dictated their content. It was the dark mirror image of Hollywood’s patriotic response to Pearl Harbor in the 1940s, a living diagram of what the Left has wrought in our cultural lives since then."Read the whole thing here. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/andrewklavan/2012/9/11/911/ ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
(”Lions for Lambs” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Lifestyle Even in Hollywood, you have to deliver results if you want to remain employed. Every year stars fall off the A-list -- ask circa 2009 Nicolas Cage about that -- and find themselves in a shame spiral of B-movies, supporting roles, and eventually television (sorry, Robin Williams, who will be appearing in the CBS sitcom The Crazy Ones, and as the dad, no less). Who is about to fall off the top of the perch? var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Magnolia - Trailer', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); 1. Tom CruiseThe success of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol less than two years ago gave his stock a bump, but apparently it was the stunts that were the star of that movie. In the three consecutive flops he’s made since -- Rock of Ages, Jack Reacher and the aptly-named Oblivion -- audiences didn’t even show up on opening weekend out of curiosity. Before Protocol, don’t forget, no one showed up for Knight and Day, Valkyrie or Lions for Lambs, either. Cruise is 51 years old, his boyish charm is finally gone, and he isn’t an action hero anymore. Audiences see him as their weird dad. He should give up on trying to rule the multiplex and start nosing around for more interesting roles like the one he had in Magnolia. Not that he’s fond of Paul Thomas Anderson anymore after Anderson made fun of scientology in The Master.Next up: Fighting aliens next summer in All You Need Is Kill. Sure. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2013/7/12/5-movie-stars-whose-careers-are-in-trouble/ previous Page 1 of 5 next   ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
(”Lions for Lambs” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Klavan On The Culture In a surprise to liberal media outlets and no one else, the film Lone Survivor is cleaning up at the box office. This is a surprise to media lefties because, as the New York Times put it with near radiant gormlessness, "Moviegoers have stubbornly refused to care about war movies set in Afghanistan." It apparently never occurred to the Times that stubborn moviegoers just didn't want to see war movies like Lions for Lambs in which America was falsely made out to be the villain!But the folks are showing up for this baby, even despite the occasional Pajama Boy critic whining into his cocoa about having to watch American heroes being heroic in the battle against Islamist bad guys. Reality makes their tartan singlets itchy, I guess.Even PJBs who, like the Times' A.O. Scott, made sure to hint in their reviews at their ever-so-nuanced disapproval of patriotism, heroism and fighting bad guys have been forced to admit the movie's central battle scene is powerful and effective. It's a well-directed, gripping, intense tribute to the men who keep America safe for the movie critics who complain about them.The picture, as you no doubt know, is director Peter Berg's version of Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell's memoir of a good mission gone bad in Afghanistan. Luttrell and his fellow SEALs were sent out to kill a high-profile Islamist terrorist but were unfortunately spotted by two goatherds and a small boy. The Americans made the merciful but unwise decision to spare the civilians, who proceeded to betray their position to the Taliban. The title tells you what happened. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/andrewklavan/2014/1/14/lone-survivor-is-intense-but-read-the-book/ previous Page 1 of 2 next   ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
(”Lions for Lambs” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Lifestyle  Even in Hollywood, you have to deliver results if you want to remain employed. Every year stars fall off the A-list -- ask circa 2009 Nicolas Cage about that -- and find themselves in a shame spiral of B-movies, supporting roles, and eventually television (sorry, Robin Williams, who will be appearing in the CBS sitcom The Crazy Ones, and as the dad, no less). Who is about to fall off the top of the perch? var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Magnolia - Trailer', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); 1. Tom CruiseThe success of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol less than two years ago gave his stock a bump, but apparently it was the stunts that were the star of that movie. In the three consecutive flops he’s made since -- Rock of Ages, Jack Reacher and the aptly-named Oblivion -- audiences didn’t even show up on opening weekend out of curiosity. Before Protocol, don’t forget, no one showed up for Knight and Day, Valkyrie or Lions for Lambs, either. Cruise is 51 years old, his boyish charm is finally gone, and he isn’t an action hero anymore. Audiences see him as their weird dad. He should give up on trying to rule the multiplex and start nosing around for more interesting roles like the one he had in Magnolia. Not that he’s fond of Paul Thomas Anderson anymore after Anderson made fun of scientology in The Master.Next up: Fighting aliens next summer in All You Need Is Kill. Sure. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/4/5/5-actors-with-careers-that-are-collapsing/ previous Page 1 of 5 next   ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
Ed Driscoll It will happen this way. You may be walking. Maybe the first sunny day of the spring. And an IRS staff car will slow beside you, and a door will open, and someone you know, maybe even trust, someone like Lois Lerner, will get out of the car. And she will smile, a becoming smile. But she will leave open the door of the car and offer to give you a lift.—Frequent Hot Air commenter "Bishop," in the comments thread for Mary Katharine Ham's post, "Robert Redford sues to get his $1.6 million back from the Fair Share pot in NY."And huh -- veteran leftie Robert Redford's paranoia about Big Government -- as seen in many of his films such as All the President's Men, Three Days of the Condor, Sneakers, Lions for Lambs, and The Company You Keep finally is proven right, as one of the best-known limousine leftists in the world gets mugged by big, out of control government. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2014/8/7/three-days-of-the-schadenfreude/ ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
PJ Media Watching "All the President's Men" today is more than a trip back to that edgy brand of '70s-era filmmaking.It's a reminder how Hollywood could once nail a politically charged story without resorting to partisan cheap shots and other dishonest tactics. That's something modern films like "Lions for Lambs" and "Green Zone" couldn't manage."Men," available today for the first time in Blu-ray format, also made me wonder how the public would assess a Watergate-style investigation handled by today's Washington Post. The newspaper's own ombudsman admitted its coverage of the 2008 presidential election favored the Democratic ticket, and the 2006 "macaca" incident showed what happens when the Post's ideology trumps common news judgment.The Nixon White House tried to paint the Post's Watergate investigation as partisan politics, but failed. A future GOP administration would have a far better argument involving a future scandal no matter the facts behind the case. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/blog/political-movies-then-and-now/ ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
(”Lions for Lambs” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Klavan On The Culture On  April 20th, 40-year-old photo-journalist Tim Hetherington was killed by shrapnel while covering the war in Libya.   If you want to understand what a loss this is to our increasingly incompetent and dishonest journalistic community, watch the 2010 documentary Restrepo as I did for the first time this past weekend.  Co-Directed by Hetherington and Perfect Storm author Sebastian Junger, Restrepo covers one year with a platoon of US Soldiers in the hyper-violent Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan of 2008.   No matter what you think of the war, no matter what your politics, this is a terrific doc, exactly the sort of coverage our military deserves.  It gives the clearest picture of the men who fight of any film I’ve seen and makes you understand why the words we trot out on Memorial Day --  words like “hero,” “sacrifice,” “courage” and so on -- simply aren’t enough to capture the living reality of what these guys do and who they are.Too many Hollywood filmmakers did the villainous work of making preening, self-aggrandizing anti-war films while our soldiers were at risk and in the field and too many of our mainstream journalists showered those hateful films with praise.  Pictures like In the Valley of Elah, Redacted, Rendition and Lions for Lambs depicted our defenders as rapists, murderers, thugs, bigots or fools – even while those real life defenders were right in the midst of the fight.  It was an unprecedented bad act by our show business and journalistic elite.  It burdened the morale of our troops and supplied propaganda material to our vicious enemies.  The guilt of it is on the heads of each and every one of the filmmakers involved and the journalists who praised them.I wrote several articles of protest at the time, many of them for City Journal.  Restrepo comes closer than any film I’ve seen to accurately depicting the kind of men I met while researching those pieces at Fort Bragg and at FOB Kalagush in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province.   It reignited the anger I felt for the recklessness and vanity of our spoiled, unpatriotic and ignorant creative class.  Good for Hetherington and Junger for showing the simple truth about our military without injecting their political opinions either way.May Hetherington rest in peace.  He lived a life worthwhile. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/andrewklavan/2011/6/29/dvd-restrepo/ ]]>
(Review Source)
PJ Media Staff
Lifestyle What if they made a pro-Palestinian movie so biased it alienated audiences AND liberal film critics alike?Miral, out this week on Blu-ray and DVD, attracted dozens of movie patrons earlier this year en route to a $373,420 haul, according to boxofficemojo.com. Even by indie film standards that tally is embarrassing.Audiences had little interest in the story of how a beautiful Palestinian woman (played by Slumdog Millionaire stunner Freida Pinto) learned to stop worrying and love the Intifada. But even movie critics, an almost uniformly liberal clan, decried the film's bias and shoddy storytelling. The movie scored a pathetic 18 percent "fresh" rating at RottenTomatoes.com, one of the Web's biggest review aggregator sites."How can you appeal to both sides when you tell only one side's story?" asks Newark Star-Ledger critic Stephen Witty.Miral does feature some haunting imagery, but it stuffs speeches into the mouths of its characters and can't bother to mention any reason why Israelis would need military force to protect its own citizens.The film industry in recent years has made it a habit of forcing unappealing films down the public's throats. The anti-war screed Lions for Lambs tanked? Brian DePalma's Redacted was seen by less than 10,000 people during its theatrical run? Let's make Fair Game and Green Zone.So maybe we'll see a Miral 2: Bombs Away in 2012. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2011/7/15/a-movie-too-liberal-for-liberal-film-critics/ ]]>
(Review Source)
Kelly Jane Torrance
(”Lions for Lambs” is briefly mentioned in this.)

Move over, Judd Apatow. There's a new master of R-rated comedy in town, one who doesn't feel the need to pander to a mass audience by leavening the raunch with parables of love and friendship and heartwarming endings. Published April 10, 2009

(Review Source)
Kelly Jane Torrance
(”Lions for Lambs” is briefly mentioned in this.)

Sleeping Beauy: 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition (Disney, $29.99 for DVD, $35.99 for Blu-ray) - High definition isn't just for cool car chases and breathtaking vistas. Disney is banking on the format to bring a classic to life as well. Published October 10, 2008

(Review Source)
Kelly Jane Torrance

The fall movie season always has more serious fare than the summer. Studios like to release the films that have the best shot at awards just before the deadline so judges have them fresh in mind when it comes time to vote. Published September 11, 2008

(Review Source)
Kelly Jane Torrance
(”Lions for Lambs” is briefly mentioned in this.)

"Boy A" is one of those ripped-from-the-headlines films that, depending on the execution, can end up a maudlin movie-of-the week or an incisive but moving commentary. Published August 8, 2008

(Review Source)
Christian Toto
Showcasing the best of the U.S. military.
(Review Source)
Christian Toto
american-sniper

I was attending a Christmas party over the holidays and, in the course of conversation, made the following statement:

“I can’t watch very many war movies anymore.”

My sister in-law,

The post Decorated Soldier Picks the Best, and Worst, War Movies appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

(Review Source)
Kyle Smith
My Sunday column: THE ART OF BORE Normally Hollywood stars are like goldfish – content to be stared at as they swim through their little castles and contemplate their treasure chests. Ooh, looky! Fresh new gravel! But when major news floats above their heads, up on the surface where the real world begins, Hollywood can’t restrain itself. Loooook . . . delicious little flakes of Importance. Surely I can nibble safely on this stuff? Mmm, tasty. Can I have another bite? And another? And another? Goldfish don’t know when to stop eating, and neither do Hollywood stars. This fall Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Cruise, Robert Redford, Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron are going belly up at the box office after gobbling up too much reality about the Iraq War. “Rendition” and “In the Valley of Elah” are already dead in the water, while surveys show that “Lions for Lambs,” which opens Friday, is arousing about the same level of interest as you’d expect from “Charles in Charge: The Imax Experience.” Meryl Streep stars in two of these movies, in an act of uncontrolled cinematic gorging unseen since “Super Size Me.” Not that you’d notice, because you’re going to see “Bee Movie” and “American Gangster” instead. The sages say this is because the Iraq Pack movies are downers, or because the public prefers entertaining to provocative, or because they’re sick of yammering about Iraq. Conservatives point out that Americans don’t like going to anti-American movies any more than new mothers with baby pictures like being told their kids are ugly. All true. But here’s what’s even more true: these movies are awful. Hollywood in the 1970s waited until years after the Vietnam War to tell the story. Those films were also far more thought-out. They weren’t op-eds; they were works of art. Tell me, where is the “Apocalypse Now” of 2007? Movies like “Rendition” and “Lions for Lambs” are ripped off from the headlines. “Lions for Lambs,” the “My Dinner with Andre” of war movies, consists almost entirely of two conversations about the war and civic duty that are so banal they could have been improvised by the actors as the cameras rolled. “In the Valley of Elah,” about a soldier’s father searching for answers after the younger man is killed at his base shortly after returning from Iraq, doesn’t lead to a vast conspiracy and a truth we can’t handle. The murder turns out to be an act of Saturday-night hooliganism that has little to do with politics. That doesn’t stop Tommy Lee Jones from hoisting an upside-down American flag at the end to proclaim something the movie hasn’t come close to showing: the entire country is in severe distress. The damp earnestness of the Iraq Pack can’t match the explosive irony deployed in the Vietnam movies. In the “Ride of the Valkyries” sequence in “Apocalypse Now,” you could find yourself simultaneously exhilarated and revolted by the horrible splendor of war, laughing at Col. Kilgore’s assessment of Charlie’s surfing ability and weeping at defenseless Vietnamese villagers getting napalmed – then angered when the villagers rush to uncover their machine gun nests. “The Deer Hunter” ends with a quietly devastating scene in which Pennsylvanians sing “God Bless America” – after their community has been ripped apart by Vietnam. Possibly they forgive the country its mistakes; possibly they’re clinging to empty idols in the absence of anything left to believe in. Should they be feeling pride, anger or shame? Are they stupid or brave? Viewers are left to argue. Compare it to “Rendition,” which contains all the surprise and excitement of a sixth-grade filmstrip from an Iranian school (“Straight Talk About the Great Satan and You”). A few minutes into the movie, Reese Witherspoon starts asking people, “Where’s my husband?” Forty-five minutes later, she’s demanding, “Where’s my HUSBAND?” An hour after that, she’s screaming, “WHEEERE’S MY HUSBAAAAND?” (Answer: he, a resident alien, is busy being tuned up by the CIA about his possible connection with a terrorist attack while agency man Jake Gyllenhaal tries to look thoughtful and chew gum at the same time.) “Rendition” ‘s symbol of the Bush administration – an official played by Streep – is so coldly evil that she might as well be wearing a coat made of Dalmatian puppy fur. The next time Streep makes a movie about life in wartime, she should study the work of someone who knew how to give a subtly layered performance – the Meryl Streep of “The Deer Hunter,” a movie for which she received her first Oscar nomination.]]>
(Review Source)
Kyle Smith
Kyle Smith Review of “Fred Claus” 115 minutes. Rated PG (mild crude humor) 0.5 stars out of 4 “Fred Claus” is not like a lump of coal in your stocking. Coal is useful; you can burn it. This movie is more like a lump of something Blitzen left behind after eating a lot of Mexican food. In a reverse “Elf,” Vince Vaughn – who looks like he slept on or perhaps under a bus – plays Santa’s schlub brother, who inexplicably works as a repo man in Chicago. Needing bail money, he calls his despised brother St. Nicholas (Paul Giamatti) for help, at which point he is inexplicably invited to visit the North Pole just before Christmas. Fred has an inexplicable girlfriend (how many gorgeous British meter maids have you met in Chicago? Why did Oscar winner Rachel Weisz take this gig as the standard “little woman”?). He has an inexplicable best friend – a small black child he keeps in his apartment as a kind of pet or unpaid sidekick. He teaches the kid not to believe in Santa. Bad Fred! Forty minutes into a movie that seems to last as long as winter, after Vaughn goes to the North Pole and does some elf shtick that works about as well as turpentine-flavored eggnog (he can’t fit into their tiny beds and is beaten up by elf-ninjas), a plot finally kicks in. A clipboard-wielding efficiency consultant (Kevin Spacey) threatens to shut down Santa’s operation if he breaks any three regulations. Since when does giving stuff away make you have to answer to anyone? Plus, because the consultant merely fabricates foul-ups whenever he wants, there’s no reason to get interested in whether he can catch Fred doing something wrong. There is more plot in the average Geico commercial, so the movie pads itself with detours into sketch ideas that don’t develop past the basic concept. A support group for brothers of celebs? OK. But nothing funny happens. Roger Clinton shows up, but Roger doesn’t share his brother’s main gift – for acting. The interplay of innocence and cynicism that made “Elf” a classic is mangled by “Wedding Crashers” director David Dobkin, who can’t keep his characters straight. Santa is alternately an above-it-all saint and a harried middle-manager (who tries to run over Fred with his snowmobile). Dobkin delivers shtick that makes no sense. Why would Mrs. Santa read “Gingerbread for Dummies”? Wouldn’t she be the world expert on that? When Fred’s girlfriend discovers that Santa really exists, she doesn’t seem shocked – even though this is the kind of worlds-colliding stuff the movie should be feasting on. Like a starlet who crashes into a tree while leaving rehab, the movie turns into a rip-off of the equally rancid “Santa Clause” series when the Spacey character fires Santa and shuts down his workshop. At this point, Fred decides to take action. He jumps on the sleigh and gets the elves to mass-produce, at the last minute, the simplest possible items for every kid – a baseball bat for boys and a hula hoop for girls. A baseball bat? For every boy in the world? What is little Jacques or Heinrich supposed to do with that? And doing the bare minimum to get by counts as celebrating the spirit of Christmas in only one place – the multiplex. Vaughn, who seems to be improvising his own lines, works on the theory that anything is funny if you say it fast. He never told his girlfriend he had a brother, for instance, but when he has to admit it, he jabbers, “TechnicallyIhaveabrotherwehavethesamemotherandfatherbutIneverfeltlikeIhadabrother.” The more desperately he lunges for laughs, the less amusing he is. He’s not just pathetic but actively anti-funny, like dengue fever or bacterial meningitis or Andy Rooney. ———— Kyle Smith review of “Lions for Lambs” 1.5 stars out of 4 Running time: 88 minutes. Rated R (profanity, war violence). I went to a wartime thriller, but then a Poli Sci 101 seminar broke out. The last time I was stuck in a political science class, listening to a beardy guy of about 32 tell me that racists could never be free because they were imprisoned by their prejudices – News I can use! – hearing liberal fantasies was costing me (OK, the ROTC program that was paying my scholarship) about $800 a minute. So an $11 ticket to “Lions for Lambs” is a relative bargain. On the other hand, if you want to be bored by pompous-assery, “Meet the Press” is free. Directed by Robert Redford, the movie intercuts among three pairs: A liberal journalist (Meryl Streep) interviews a hawkish Republican senator (Tom Cruise) in D.C.; a hip California professor (Redford) urges a student to take action in the world; and two soldiers, ex-students of the prof, are stranded on a snowy mountaintop in Afghanistan because of the senator’s idiotic policy shift. The soldiers don’t get much to do – they’re injured and can’t move, so they’re waiting to be either shot by the “Tallies” in the hills or rescued. Their story takes up but a few minutes. The lion’s share of the screen time goes to the boring baaing in California and D.C. The Streep-Cruise discussion scales new heights on Mount Banal; apparently Hollywood is so dumb it thinks it can be called incisive simply by having two people hit the talking points we’ve all seen on every TV news roundtable for the last four years. Streep makes liberal arguments so routine that Streep herself could have written her lines (Iraq never attacked us, we armed Saddam in the first place, the people who planned the war had no combat experience). Sen. Cruise, who was first in his class at West Point, is meant to be seductive with his spiel (it’s a war for civilization, we’ve made mistakes in the past but we’ve got a better plan this time, we can’t let our enemies claim victory, Iran’s ambitions must be thwarted), but the two of them essentially talk past each other. (Hint to the senator: When she implies you’re a soft touch because you weren’t in the infantry when you served in the military, now is the time to mention that Lincoln, Wilson and FDR weren’t combat vets either, or that three-war veteran Doug MacArthur would have made a lousy president.) The only thing maintaining the viewer’s interest is a sort of meta-suspense: Which side will the screenwriter inform us has won? (Hint: The senator has pictures of himself posing with Crueleezza Rice and BeelzeBush.) Meanwhile, the movie gives as much time to the prof and the student in California as it does to the D.C. scene, as if we cared what these two airbags had to say. The Redford character, who senses that his young charge is brilliant but lazy, tries to save him with what the movie thinks is a fresh new idea: Hey, son – work for the government! Redford approves of the ex-students who enlisted and wound up in A-stan because they had cooked up some fuzzy Clintonian scheme to save the world by dragooning all high school juniors into serving their country for a year, in uniform or not. If Redford’s supposedly precocious student actually were the free thinker he’s meant to be, he might reply that, far from being “ignored” by the country, the poorest parts of America are the ones with the largest government footprint: The housing and hospitals tend to be state-owned, many residents have government jobs, and others subsist on government handouts. Clinton did do a lot for poor Americans – by limiting welfare, not by his dippy “AmeriCorps” Eurail pass/résumé polisher for the overprivileged. “Lions for Lambs” is proud of its fast talk and its big words, but these merely put the script at the level of any barroom conversation between informed adults. It thinks it has a radically different take because it tells us to love the patriotic and duty-bound soldiers (the lions) but hate the empty suits in D.C. (the lambs). That idea actually makes the film less brave, not more. What could be less controversial than to say I support the troops but despise the ninnies on Capitol Hill? ——— Kyle Smith review of “P2” 1 star out of 4 Running time: 98 minutes. Rated R (graphic violence, profanity). Stay away from level “P 2” of the deserted parking garage on Christmas Eve, where lurks a sketchy attendant (Wes Bentley) with a thing for a blond Manhattan office worker (Rachel Nichols). He seems surprised when – after he kidnaps and drugs her – she doesn’t want to sit down for a nice dinner and drinks. In standard imperiled-chick fashion, the girl spends the movie running and shrieking while the psycho lazily gives chase. (At one point, he takes a break to sing along to an Elvis record.) Though he could simply do whatever he’s going to do to her immediately, the movie stretches itself with one predictable development after another. This is one of those thrillers where the person on-screen is often the only person in the theater who can’t guess what’ll happen next. Lots of laughable moments provide camp value, though, and Bentley (“American Beauty”) makes for a charismatic creep. ———– Kyle Smith review of “Holly” 1.5 stars out of 4 In Vietnamese, Khmer and English with subtitles.Running time: 113 minutes. Rated R (sex involving children, profanity). A dissolute American (Ron Livingston) living in Cambodia strikes up an unlikely friendship with a 12-year-old girl sold as a sex slave in “Holly,” a dreary message movie about the general wrongness of child prostitution. As the American gets to know the girl, he decides to buy her freedom – but finds that rescuing her is going to be more complicated than he thought. Despite a strong performance by Livingston, the film is sunk by sluggish pacing (about a third of the movie seems to consist of dramatic pauses), straight-ahead plotting and an unresolved ending – not to mention its inability to convince us that anything much can be done about sexual slavery. “Holly” has been gathering dust for so long that one co-star, Chris Penn, has been dead nearly two years.]]>
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Kyle Smith
Variety picks over the bloody carcass of the Tom Cruise-Robert Redford-Meryl Streep improvised exploding device “Lions for Lambs,” which self-detonated upon release and is on track to earn less than $20 million domestically. No Tom Cruise film has done that since “Legend,” in 1986. On the bright side, say investors, the film only cost $35 million. $35 million? To film the “My Dinner with Andre” of war movies? They could have filmed the average freshman PoliSci class at SUNY Binghamton for nothing. The movie is set to lose $25 million when you factor in prints and marketing costs.]]>
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Kyle Smith
(”Lions for Lambs” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Roger Simon has an interesting post that points out a big difference between anti-Vietnam movies and anti-Iraq war movies; this time around, no reasonable person can possibly want the other side to win. This problem is particularly true for Hollywood because the evils of Islamofascism notably extreme misogyny and homophobia are justifiably big no-nos to people in the Industry. In fact, they are close to the biggest no-nos of all for them in their daily lives. Who is worse than a sexist pig? Only a violent, murderous sexist pig who wants to take over the world. It then becomes a complex balancing act indeed to make a movie that ignores or downplays this in order to criticize the US as the larger villain. No one has been able to come close to pulling off this balancing act in a film. In fact, it may well be impossible because it is fundamentally dishonest. Well said. Simon also says the Iraq Pack movies lack passion in their filmmaking. True, for the drippy “Rendition,” the mopey “In the Valley of Elah,” the bleating “Lions for Lambs.” But I don’t see how Simon can call Brian De Palma’s “Redacted” lacking in passion. It’s a flaming piece of agitprop. It lacks some things, but passion is not one of them. I was just talking to a liberal critic tonight, and even he is totally sick of anti-Iraq war movies. I trust that after Kimberly Peirce’s upcoming “Stop-Loss” flops, we won’t be seeing many more of them.]]>
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Kyle Smith
The great WWII film “Mrs. Miniver,” set in England during the Blitz, was well underway as the United States was weighing whether to join the war. The film, which would go on to sweep the 1943 Oscars, was conceived as propaganda to arouse sympathy for the plight of the British and inspire Americans to fight....
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Little
Christian Toto
little review marsai martin

The “Big”/”Vice Versa”/”17 Again”/”13 Going on 30” shtick never gets old.

Heck, the latest superhero film clings to the template like Glad Wrap. Just say, “Shazam” and a feisty foster

The post ‘Little’ Offers Tiny Pleasures for the Younger Set appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

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Michael Medved

Star Rating: 1.5 Stars
Cast: Regina Hall, Issa Rae, Marsai Martin
Release Date: Friday, April 12, 2019
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Brought to you by www.michaelmedved.com
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Society Reviews
The nostalgia critic has a saying he does at the beginning of every video: "I remember it so you don't have to". Well, I just created a new saying "I'm reviewing it so I don't have to see it" 
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