Film Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri written and directed by Martin McDonagh (Blueprint Pictures, Film 4, Fox Searchlight Pictures, R, 115 min) Starring Frances McDormand, Caleb Landry Jones, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, and Peter Dinklage. On Magnetism The term magnetic paints an evocative picture about a personality. From a young age, magnetism draws puerile fascination. Magnets make scientists out of us all. We place them farther and farther apart hoping to see where the magical pull finally loses its sway. We change dimension, trying to understand how a magnet can pull against gravity as an equal and opposite force. We add velocity to magnets, hoping to understand whether inertia holds more influence than the force clamping the magnets together…. Read More →

Film Review: Icarus

Icarus

Icarus written by Bryan Fogel and Jon Bertain and directed by Bryan Fogel (Netflix, Alex Productions, Chicago Media Project, Diamond Docs, TV-MA, 121 min) Starring Bryan Fogel and Grigory Rodchenkov. Let the Story Lead You An old adage in writing is to let the story takes you where it takes you. When you write “hot” as Ray Bradbury famously states, the story leads you, not the other way around. Such an approach makes the creative process exceedingly messy. Work operates in a non-linear fashion, one idea here, another idea there. Some ideas wither, a fragment unconnected like a comet hurtling through space. Other ideas come out of nowhere, hijack the outline of what was to come, making the story something… Read More →

Film Review: The Florida Project

The Florida Project

The Florida Project written by Sean Baker and Chris Bergoch and directed by Sean Baker (A24, Cre Film, Freestyle Picture Company, June Pictures, R, 111 min) Starring Brooklynn Prince, Christopher Rivera, Aiden Milk, Josie Olivio, Valeria Cotto, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe, and Mela Murder. The Innocence of Childhood vs. The Horrors of Being Poor I think my son gets bored some weekends. Whether it’s too hot or too cold, raining, or what-not, we don’t always make it outside, or even if we do, not to the extent my son might wish. In these times of boredom, his imagination runs wild, which can be fun to watch. But I bet he’d likely want to do something more interesting. Between safety and… Read More →

Film Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi written and directed by Rian Johnson (Walt Disney Pictures, Lucasfilm, Ram Bergman Productions, PG-12, 152 min) Starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Gwendoline Christie, and Benicio Del Toro. Workshopping as Strategy In my old consulting gig, we would often find clients asking if our planned interview time would act as a brainstorming session for the company’s all-up mission, vision, and values. Doesn’t it make sense on the surface to ask such a question? The employees know the company culture best. Shouldn’t they hold the power to cobble together a mission and vision one word at… Read More →

Film Review: Coco

Coco

Coco written by Lee Unkrich and Jason Katz, directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina (Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios, PG, 105 min) Starring Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Jaime Camil, Herbert Siguenza. Life Transportation My favorite thing about reading fiction? The ability to transport into the life of another human being. There’s something special about a novel’s internalized point of view that builds empathy for people too often labeled as “other.” Visual storytelling is a little more difficult. Humans inherently read their unconscious biases into what they see. No matter how pious, virtuous, or philanthropical someone might be, too often a viewer can’t move beyond a skin tone. This sad reality, from… Read More →

Film Review: The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner written by Anita Doron and Deborah Ellis and directed by Nora Twomey (Aircraft Pictures, Cartoon Saloon, Mélusine Productions, PG-13, 94 min) Starring Saara Chaudry, Soma Chhaya, Noorin Gulamgaus, Laara Sadiq, Shaista Latif, Ali Badshah, and Ali Kazmi. A Hypothetical Nightmare Imagine for a second a hypothetical nightmare. You, by your appearance alone, are unable to enter the public sphere. The marketplace, the agora where locals buy and sell goods is off limits. What would you do, especially if the government does little to support the marginalized and the least of these? Would you risk punishment or death to find food? Or would you wither away at home, hoping for charity? Fortunately, many people in America never need to… Read More →

Film Review: A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story written and directed by David Lowery (A24, Sailor Bear, Zero Trans Fats Productions, Ideaman Studios, R, 92 min) Starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. I Will Follow You into the Dark Reflections on the afterlife can leave unsettling inferences unsaid. If heaven is more than just a place on earth, then what will we do? With whom will we spend time? How does a consciousness known only in the linear encounter and operate in the infinite? In my younger years, I always feared the afterlife my faith tradition composed. The notion of sitting in God’s glory and worshipping forever seems utterly dull. But, compared to eternal damnation, I guess a boring existence is an upgrade? The ghost… Read More →

Film Review: Paterson

Paterson

Paterson written and directed by Jim Jarmusch (Amazon Studios, K5 International, Inkjet Productions, R, 118 min) Starring Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Rizwan Manji, Barry Shabaka Henley, Chasten Harmon, and William Jackson Harper. On the Quotidian Collectively, we need to reappraise the quotidian. In our pursuit of the next titillating meme, status update, or app notification, the simple pleasures of life seem to disintegrate like salt upon contact with boiling water. It’s ok to be bored. No. I’ll suggest a stronger statement. BOREDOM IS A VIRTUE. Now, a mind left in idle should never be the only aim. That said, the mundanity of life expands the subconscious atmosphere, opening our minds to creative juices left dormant when we’re always plugged in…. Read More →

Film Review: Silence

Silence

Silence written by Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese, directed by Martin Scorsese (Paramount Pictures, Cappa DeFina Productions, CatchPlay, EFO Films, R, 161 min) Starring Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano, Ciarán Hinds, Issei Ogata, Shin’ya Tsukamoto, Yoshi Oida, and Yôsuke Kubozuka. Searching for Rootedness Is there a way for a tree to find roots in a swamp? And if not, is there a way to discover meaning and life without the particular landscaping strategy that includes this tree? Martin Scorsese raises this question in his divine masterwork, Silence. The central challenge to the Christian faith emerges in its application, like an arborist planting trees everywhere. If Christianity is true, should it not apply to all people and all… Read More →

Film Review: The Big Sick

The Big Sick

The Big Sick written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani and directed by Michael Showalter (Amazon Studios, Apatow Productions, FilmNation Entertainment, Story Ink, R, 120 min) Starring Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, and Ray Romano. In Consideration of Social Pressures What will they think? Why are social pressures so demanding of our thoughts and actions? Isn’t it odd how human beings avoid decisions with clearly pleasurable results if only because the inner life of another might disapprove? Have you ever stopped to consider how many experiences and relationships have been lost to the hypothetical judgment of a friend or relative? Why do we do it? Why, for all that is good and holy, does it ever matter what… Read More →