Ending in the Middle Earth

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

There are many things I don’t understand: quantum mechanics, car commercials, who put the bomp in the bomb bah bomp bah bomp. But chief among the perplexing unsolvables to me remains how people who loved writer/director Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy don’t like the current Hobbit series. Better acted, more personal and possessed of better visuals and 100% more Evangeline Lilly, the...

entered on 12/19/14 at 09:12 AM | read more »



Worst. Children’s Book. Ever.

The Babadook

The horror genre is not my least favorite genre solely because white people keep making period costume dramas. At their worst, horror flicks revel in sadism and do so shoddily, with weak acting, sparse storytelling, frequent misogyny and amateurish cinematography. Writer/director Jennifer Kent ain’t about that life. Filled with layers of rich meaning, two spectacular performances and...

entered on 12/12/14 at 02:36 PM | read more »



Happy, Little Clouded

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Actual human beings made The Tale of Princess Kaguya, and you can tell. A water-colored rebuke of the robots who computer-generate most modern animation, every luscious scene is hand-crafted and flippin’ gorgeous. Sadly, the story is painted with obvious and familiar strokes, riffing on cliched fairy tale themes about independence and empowerment that fail the visual artistry. The result is a...

entered on 12/06/14 at 04:07 PM | read more »



No Big Bang

The Theory of Everything

In 1965, Stephen Hawking wrote his first ground-breaking thesis and wed Jane Wilde. His paper argued that if a star can collapse inwards to form a singularity, then a singularity can explode back outward. The Theory of Everything explores this same theory, only instead of stars, it's marriage. Which isn’t to say new “stars” aren’t formed; Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones both provide sensational...

entered on 11/30/14 at 12:25 PM | read more »



Leni Riefen-stalling

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

On the one hand, any film subtitled “Part 1” is a naked cash grab. On the other hand, shut up and take my money, Hunger Games. Mockingjay Part 1, like the rest of the franchise, is billed as “Young Adult” fare. Because what hormonal “young adult” doesn’t constantly think about the role of media-savvy propaganda in influencing dissidents to provoke regime change rallied around a hesitant...

entered on 11/21/14 at 09:21 AM | read more »



Oopsie Genius

Birdman

I know two things for sure: (1) Birdman aims to relentlessly drive home one singular point, one thoroughly expressed thesis about life and art. (2) It does not succeed. You would think that would make the work of writers Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo and writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu a total misfire. Not so fast, my fine-feathered friends. Despite its lack of...

entered on 11/14/14 at 11:44 AM | read more »



The Burden of Actual Christianity

The Overnighters

Most praise for writer/director Jesse Moss’s documentary, The Overnighters, has rightly been focused on its Steinbeckian nature and explosive revelations about struggling workers in North Dakota. That wasn’t the big takeaway for me. The big takeaway for me was how brutal the burden is for those who truly embrace the core conceits of the Christian faith and its insistence upon caring for any and...

entered on 11/14/14 at 10:41 AM | read more »


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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The epic conclusion to the most epic of epics.

GRADE
A-


The Babadook

A terrifying tale of an ooky pop-up book and motherly love.

GRADE
A


The Tale of Princess Kaguya

A water-colored take on a Japanese folktale that is prettier than it is interesting.

GRADE
B-


The Theory of Everything

"Out of this world" performances buoy a sub-par script.

GRADE
B+


Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Half of what promises to be an epic conclusion to a fabulous series.

GRADE
B+


Birdman

A delirously fun satirical send up of artistic pretension. 

GRADE
B+


The Overnighters

"The Grapes of Wrath" in documentary form set in North Dakota.

GRADE
A-


Interstellar

If this was humanity's last hope, give up.

GRADE
D


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