I have reviewed many movies here, but I rarely mention whether a movie has nudity, sexually explicit scenes, or other offensive content. I figure if that is primarily what a Christian movie critic is offering the public, it is not worth the effort. Pagans will act like pagans, even when they make movies; we shouldn’t be surprised. I try to overlook it and focus on the themes, messages, and entertainment value of the movie. After all, movies are supposed to be a form of entertainment.
A movie’s biggest sin then, is when it fails to entertain. When it does so after 2o minutes of resorting to every shocking image the most perverted pagan can conceive, from a grossly obese man enjoying a golden shower to a midget on a pogo stick made into a giant penis spraying its pretend semen all over the audience, you know you have a monumental loser on your hands.
In fact, the most fitting metaphor of this movie was the elephant in the first scene defecating all over the man transporting it to a Hollywood party. Call it foreshadowing. After twenty minutes of this movie, I felt like that man, and the only thing I could think to do was look for the exit and the nearest shower. It was perhaps the single worst, most banal and offensive, boring excuse for a movie ever put on film.
I have been a fan of Damien Chazelle’s movies in the past, particularly Whiplash and La La Land, but I seriously doubt his judgment after seeing this one. Chazelle should give back whatever he was paid to write and direct this movie. In fact, he should pay me back. After seeing this abstract-excrement-on-celluloid-excuse for a movie, I feel like I have been robbed at gunpoint and felt-up at the same time.
Save your money. Don’t waste your time. Get a root canal, a colonoscopy. Anything is better than being subjected to 189 minutes of this. GS
It’s that time of year again, and in preparation for it, I provided a kingdom-based framework for evaluating movies. No, it was not determined by how much sex or profanity were in the movie but in light of the purpose for which movies exist in the Kingdom.
With that three-prong framework in mind, here are my rankings of the 2022 nominees for Best Picture, starting with the best and ending with the … err…less best.
1. CODA. I haven’t cried watching a movie in years, but that’s not the only reason I rated this movie at the top of this year’s nominees. CODA is entertaining and engaging. You care about the characters and their stories. The movie has an excellent message about family, responsibility, and the life of the deaf. If you watch only one movie on this list, it should be this one.
2. King Richard. A very entertaining movie about the tension between family and success. If you are torn between praising and cursing Richard Williams in this movie, you get it. The movie was engaging and the message honest.
3. Don’t Look Up. I love dark comedies, which is probably why I have this movie in the third spot. I love serious messages presented tongue-in-cheek. The message in this movie couldn’t be more timely, particularly if you are an evangelical, stop-the-steal, covid-denying, Trumper.
4. West Side Story. This was the last of the nominees The Wife and I saw, and for good reason: I didn’t expect much from the sequel. But we were very pleasantly surprised. Great music and great message. Don’t miss this one, even if you saw the original.
5. Nightmare Alley. Fascinating movie with an ending that hits you like a sledgehammer. The message: it doesn’t matter how much you try to bury your past, wherever you go, there you are.
The Wife and I watched the movie, Red Notice, tonight. It’s not going to win any Academy Awards, but within the genre of brain candy, it was entertaining enough. What inspired this post was not the movie per se but a scene that is representative of a trend becoming more apparent in movies today. It’s a trend too silly to take seriously but not too insignificant to ignore.
The movie stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot as . . . (spoiler alert) . . . three art thieves in search of a 2,000 year-old decorative egg that Marc Antony (the Roman not the singer) gave Cleopatra and was later was lost to history. I long ago grew bored with thinly veiled plots designed to support two-hour chase scenes. But this movie’s action scenes, twists, and turns, succeeded in holding my interest, even if it didn’t engage my intellect.
What I found most interesting though was one scene in which Gadot physically defeats the 6′ 5″ 260 lb Johnson and 6′ 2″ 190 lb Reynolds in a knock-down drag-out. Now, of course, Hollywood tried to made it all look realistic enough so viewers don’t call “B—S—“. But I am more interested in the message than the creative sleight-of-hand.
I get that most of the chase scenes and stunts portrayed in movies aren’t really possible. They stretch the possible while trying not to break it, knowing that excitement camps out on the border between reality and our imagination. Got it. But there was an obvious message in this scene, and it’s the effort to eradicate gender inequality by suggesting this woman could physically overpower these two men.
As I said, it’s silly. And when it’s exposed for what it is, even the most progressive, gender sensitive, post-modern will admit it’s silly. It is significant though because it shows where the gender-confusion of our generation is headed. In short, if we fail to recognize gender differences, we will be led into the land of make-believe, and we will all become fools.
Some movies are intended for consumption; others are intended to consume. The Mauritanian is of the latter sort. It will consume your thoughts long after the movie ends. The issue is torture, and more specifically the use of enhanced interrogation at Guantanamo Bay in the years following 9/11.
I’ve written before about torture, and why it is an issue that requires a more nuanced ethical approach than simple absolutism offers. The Mauritanian takes up the issue of the real life story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a man picked up in North Africa in the months following 9/11 for his alleged association with Osama Bin Ladin. He was taken to Jordan and then to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he was held by the U.S. Government for 14 years (through both the Bush and Obama administrations) without charges ever being brought against him.
When I began watching this movie, I fully expected a strong helping of the typical Hollywood hubris combined with twisted facts to support a hard-left premise. What I got was something more honest and penetrating. The Bush and Obama administrations must have both thought Slahi guilty, but if they did, why not indict him and put him to trial? The suggestion offered by the movie is probably accurate: the evidence was merely circumstantial or inadmissible. And without spoiling the movie, I can say that the best evidence against Slahi was certainly and rightly inadmissible.
It had been so long since I had seen a really good movie, the thought crossed my mind that perhaps I had reached that age where I would stop liking movies. You ever wonder why your parents don’t go to the movies anymore? I’ve never heard a good explanation, but there must be a reason, right?
Well, the good news is that if there is such an age, apparently I have not reached it yet. After a long drought, I can honestly say that the last five movies I’ve watched were excellent, and all but one had a good message, and by “good” I mean one that was either consistent with Truth, promoted virtue, or asked the right questions.