Film Review: Loving

Loving

Loving written and directed by Jeff Nichols (Raindog Films, Big Beach Films, PG-13, 123 min) Starring Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton, Terri Abney, Alano Miller, Bill Camp, Nick Kroll, Jon Bass, and Michael Shannon. Brick by Brick A bricklayer carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. Before a craftsman home presents itself as a livable entity, the bricklayer kneels with cement in the wheelbarrow, brick after brick mortaring together into a cohesive whole. The bricklayer must work steadily and with an eye toward future gains. The daily monotony of such toil demands a worker with special patience. Repetition toward a belief in something greater, something meaningful, something worthwhile. The bricklayer works toward an imagined end, realized long after the… Read More →

Film Review: American Honey

American Honey

American Honey written and directed by Andrea Arnold (A24, Parts and Labor, British Film Institute, Film4, R, 163 min) Starring Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough, McCaul Lombardi, Arielle Holmes, Crystal Ice, Veronica Ezell, Chad Cox, Garry Howell, Kenneth Kory Tucker, Raymond Coalson, Isaiah Stone, and Dakota Powers. A Suburbanite’s Dance with Poverty My closest dance with poverty waltzed through my life in my early twenties. Mind you, poverty in the most white, suburbanized approach to the word. Even during my lowest earning periods, parents possessed a knack for encouraging currency toward my empty coffers, let alone the fail-safe of an exhibit-quality room waiting for me were I ever to require lodging again (I did). As such, the suburban white… Read More →

Film Review: Moonlight

Moonlight

Moonlight written by Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, directed by Barry Jenkins (A24, PASTEL, Plan B Entertainment, R, 111 min) Starring Mahershala Ali, Alex R. Hibbert, Janelle Monáe, Naomie Harris, Jaden Piner, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Trevante Rhodes, and André Holland. Life-As-It-Is vs. Life-As-It-Should-Be As a father, I often think about my son and the life I want him to lead. I constantly fret over what will make him happy and how my parenting can facilitate a path toward flourishing within family, friends, and community. Looking back the foundations of my upbringing, specifically around my church community, I see the tension between my innate personality and the idealized view of what a person ought to be given the faith… Read More →

Film Review: Beware the Slenderman

Beware the Slenderman

Beware the Slenderman written and directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky (HBO Documentary Films, Vermilion Films, TV-14, 114 min) Starring Morgan Geyser, Anissa Weier, Angie Geyser, and Bill Weier. It Happened on Today For a season, my family’s morning routine included the headlines from the Today show. I recognize this program is about as middle-middle one can find in the mainstream and it certainly wasn’t consumed in a hard-hitting manner. Instead, the 7 a.m. headlines offered a general barometer about the events of the world before we all commenced our daily activities. Most days, these headlines go in one ear and out the other. Someone shot someone else. This politician messed up. Weather gonna weather. Yet when I rethink that Today… Read More →

Film Review: Casting JonBenét

Casting JonBenet

Casting JonBenét written and directed by Kitty Green (Netflix, Forensic Films, Symbolic Exchange, Meridian Entertainment) Starring lots of people. Life in the Shoes of Someone Else Empathy, I would argue, represents a key characteristic of the human condition. Outside of the rare sociopath in the bunch—stop being sociopaths people—we seek to understand the people around us. Granted, some have more empathy than others. But overall, I contend it isn’t too difficult to consider what life might be like in someone else’s shoes. In fact, this consideration represents a core element of acting. What is acting but the full embodiment of another human being? In Casting JonBenét, Kitty Green sets aside the normal narrative beats of a docudrama for something completely… Read More →

Film Review: The Lobster

The Lobster

The Lobster written and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (A24, Film4, Irish Film Board, Eurimages, R, 119 min) Starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Jessica Barden, Olivia Coleman, Ashley Jensen, Ariane Labed, Angeliki Papoulia, John C. Reilly, Léa Seydoux, Michael Smiley, and Ben Whishaw. Seeing the World through Black Mirror Having recently finished the utterly creepy anthologized series, Black Mirror, I’ve begun to see the world through its nihilistic lens. Facebook is not a platform by which people can remain connected worldwide, but rather a data collection agency hellbent on swaying opinion to the highest bidder. A smart phone does not provide ubiquitous access to every possible thing someone might need on any given day, but rather a slot machine engineered to… Read More →

Film Review: The Witch

The Witch

The Witch written and directed by Robert Eggers (Parts and Labor, RT Features, Rooks Nest Entertainment, R, 92 min) Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, and Lucas Dawson. Real-Life Horror: The Salem Witch Trails 1600s New England provides fertile ground for the horror genre. Ever since grade-school lessons of early American history, the perilous nature of settlement coupled with the puritanical views of the earliest European immigrants equal paranoia and poorly weighted justice. Mention witchcraft in conjunction with early Americana and the Salem witch trails come to mind. Ask the average person about this historical event and the likely response would link to innocent people (mostly women) paying the ultimate price when a paranoid community… Read More →

Film Review: Spotlight

Spotlight

Spotlight written and directed by Tom McCarthy (Participant Media, First Look Media, Anonymous Content, R, 128 min) Starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slatterly, Brian d’Arcy James, and Stanley Tucci. In Defense of Procedure When one hears the term “procedural,” the tendency is to associate it with the detective genre. The murders begin; the police follow a rigorous process to uncover clues about the killer. A procedural implies a process or procedure enacted toward a specific end. Procedures exist in various elements of our lives. The doctor operates a procedure on a patient. A parent follows a procedure before a child’s bedtime (e.g., pajamas, brush teeth, story time, eyes closed). A college student better follow a… Read More →

Film Review: Minimalism

Minimalism: A Documentary About Important Things directed by Matt D’Avella (Catalyst, NR, 79 min) Starring Dan Harris and Joshua Becker. The Pursuit of Happyness What makes you happy? This enigmatic pursuit devours everyone who tries to crack the code. In philosophical ethics, the hedonist’s paradox provides an odd truism for the fleeting pursuit of happiness. In essence, the hedonist’s paradox suggests that the hedonist, a person pursuing pleasure as his or her ultimate end, will never find it. Story after story narrates this fruitless endeavor. The more a person pursues happiness, the unhappier she gets. And yet, when she stops trying to discover happiness, it serendipitously arrives. Thus, the only path toward happiness is to not look for happiness. Yea… Read More →

Film Review: La La Land

La La Land

La La Land written and directed by Damien Chazelle (Black Label Media, Gilbert Films, Impostor Pictures, PG-13, 128 min) Starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Make Hollywood Great Again We live in an era of nostalgia. The largest television phenomenon of 2016 focused on 1980s synths, hairstyles, and sci-fi horror. Beyond cultural nostalgia, we saw an election where a clear motivation at the polls focused on policies pushing America toward the past, toward a time where the nation was considered “great,” at least for a certain kind of American. Trends ebb and flow. Beliefs move in and out of season as if they are fashion chic. While many rightly criticize much of the policies bringing fear to certain groups of… Read More →