Archive for the 'Commentaries' Category

Order of the Phoenix Redux
Why, J.K., Oh Why?

Series scribe Steve Kloves has his own voice and favorite character—Hermione, in this case—and will take license with the material in a way that makes the most sense to him. The brilliance of giving Hermione some of the best lines in the books and making her a focal point of the actor’s ensemble is that she is a leader and Harry and Ron are not. (In a book, there is time to develop this characteristic. In a movie, time is an enemy that must be manipulated.) By making Hermione the flame to which the rest of the cast is drawn, Harry and Ron are strengthened into implementers—doers, if you will—who accomplish the movement of the plot and successfully achieve hero status for Harry who is, after all, the main character. Newcomer Michael Goldenberg should have done his homework much better and studied the first four movies.

A Hard Look at Jindabyne
Guilty Until Proven Innocent

What happens when the first of a serial killer’s victims is found—before anyone knows that more murders will likely follow? Callousness is pretty universal in Jindabyne. Everyone feels that they have been violated yet forgets that others have feelings and traditions to work through. Insensitivity prevents anyone from healing, or discovering who or what may actually be the killer. Along the way, the nonchalant reaction of four guys on a fishing trip over the body of the killer’s victim becomes almost understandable. The logic of their argument is, “She was already dead, we couldn’t help her. This fishing trip is important to us.” You can almost sympathize with them—almost.

A Hard Look at The Hip Hop Project
Taking It To The Streets—And Back

The Hip Hop Project reminds us that “the criminal mind is a creative mind. It all depends where you put your energies.” As much as this movie is about music, and the power of art in broken communities, it is also about reconciliation as former street kid Kazi Rolle travels back to the Bahamas to meet up with his foster mom, and finally with his biological mom who abandoned him at birth. This is one of those movies to think about and dialogue with—let its ethos penetrate an often lugubrious existence. And by the way—100% of the net profits from this film are being donated to organizations working with youth.

A Hard Look at Land of Women
A Chick Flick, Sure: But Far More Than That

It seems rare lately that I have been able to find any true spiritual content in the films I have reviewed. In the Land of Women breaks that trend, but not in an overt manner. In fact, neither faith nor religion are ever mentioned or even hinted at in the movie; but as a Christian, I can draw an honest correlation because of the primary subject—relationships. I believe that people were created to be relational. It is how we survive. It is how we live. Whether with God, people, pets, ourselves, or all of these, relationships are what we spend the most time seeking. When our relationships are not whole, we are not all we are meant to be.

A Hard Look at Year of the Dog
When Passion Goes Too Far... And Then Comes Back

It wasn’t until after this rather weird movie was over, and I could talk it over with my husband, that I came to the conclusion that the plotline of Year of the Dog itself may not have been the point of the story. In more general terms, the story is of a young woman who, after an identity-shattering loss, goes a bit off the deep end before returning to some semblance of sanity, while staying true to her new convictions. But, after thinking about it, I think that writer/director Mike White is really making a larger statement, in a way that is non-threatening and accessible to a wide audience.

Movies, Morality, and Ratings
A Hard Look at Our Opinion of Films

One home run is pretty much like another; but put that home run in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded, two outs, and the home team down by three, and you’ve got something else entirely. Put that home run in a game that clinches a playoff birth, and it’s even more meaningful. And if it’s the seventh game of the World Series, well…
And yet we seem to ask that each film be the artistic and moral equivalent of that World Series-winning homer. It’s unrealistic. Is the sacrifice fly back in the second inning of Game 2 of the ALCS any less significant? How about a throw to first from the knees back in June?

Safeguarding America from Christianity
Puritanism, Proselytism, and the MPAA

Earlier this summer, the MPAA slapped the independently-produced, Christian-themed film Facing the Giants with a PG rating. Spokeswoman Joan Graves initially told producers that the film’s overtly evangelistic tone—which the film’s pastor-oriented publicity materials openly trumpets—was partly to blame. The resulting furor, fanned by a Focus on the Family CitizenLink alert, even got congress involved. “This incident raises the disquieting possibility that [the] MPAA considers exposure to Christian themes more dangerous for children than exposure to gratuitous sex and mindless violence,” commented Missouri’s Republican congressman Roy Blunt. So broadcasters, studios, and exhibitors all seem to agree: religious content, Christianity included, has the potential to offend people.

The Udder Mystery of Barnyard
A PTP Commentary

Like so many movies I’ve seen this summer, Barnyard left me completely baffled. In fact, I was so befuddled by this film that I really have no idea if I enjoyed it or not. If have absolutely no clue if it’s good cinema or B-grade summer popcorn fodder at best. I do know that if […]

What’s Really Scary About Monster House
A PTP Commentary

Monster House scared me. No, really—I was profoundly disturbed by the film. While the production values are generally better than average, and I did laugh out loud on one occasion, the climax of the movie left me with a slight facial tic and a prominent question-bent head-tilt toward the right.
Before I spoil the movie, […]

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