11 May 2004

X2: X-Men United (2003)

A Sequel that Celebrates the Best Sequels Ever You’ll think you’re watching a Star Trek film when X2:X-Men United opens. First, there are stars… and then the voice of a former Enterprise captain expounding upon mysteries and the future. I doubt the resemblance is accidental. Echoes of Trek resound throughout

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11 May 2004

The Perfect Storm (2000)

The Perfect Storm is a movie about some good fishermen who make inexplicably poor choices and end up in serious trouble during a storm. The movie itself is rather like its own story. Good actors showed poor judgment (this movie) and they ended up in serious trouble due to a

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11 May 2004

Welcome to the New Looking Closer Journal

Post Update (2012). Well, here it is: The original post of the Looking Closer blog. You’ve found it. There are posts on this blog that have earlier publication dates, but that’s because they were originally published on the Looking Closer website, which was a separate entity at the time. This

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11 May 2004

Enemy at the Gates (2001)

[This review was first published at the original Looking Closer website in March 2001.] – Ready to test your imagination? Picture Jude Law as a Russian shepherd-turned-sniper. Then imagine Ed Harris as a sinister German Nazi. Yeah, Enemy at the Gates, a new film by Jean-Jacques Annaud, asks you to

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11 May 2004

The Innocence Mission – Birds of My Neighborhood

April 2006 UPDATE: The new re-mastered version of The Innocence Mission’s Birds of My Neighborhood lets this masterful recording expand to fill a room, resonating in hardwood floors, giving the listener the freedom to move about in the spaces between Don Peris’s exquisite guitar stylings and the fragile beauty of

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11 May 2004

Over the Rhine's "Ohio": A Double Dose of Brilliance

“I want to do better, I want to try harder,” sings Karin Bergquist at the opening of Disc 2 in Over the Rhine’s monstrous, beautiful, country-laced double-album Ohio. The next line in the same lyric gets at the essence of the album: “I want to believe… down to the letter.”

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11 May 2004

Best in Show (2000)

[This review was first published at the original Looking Closer website in 2001.] • Sometimes humans are more beastly than their pets. Christopher Guest’s new “mockumentary” about dog shows, Best in Show, revels in that fact. The nine human beings that converge on Philadelphia for the Mayflower dog competition seem

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11 May 2004

Sam Phillips – A Boot and a Shoe

When no one’s listening I have so much to say… That’s a line from “How to Quit,” the first song on Sam Phillips’ A Boot and a Shoe. It’s a loaded line. She’s been a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter since her debut The Indescribable Wow in 1988. Her work has been

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11 May 2004

Bringing Out the Dead (1999)

2015 Note: This review was originally published at a church website called Green Lake Reflections in 1999, and was quoted in the very first installment of Christianity Today‘s Film Forum, which was hosted at that time by Steve Lansingh. • It sounded promising. The greatest American director working in his

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11 May 2004

Swimming Pool (2003)

This post includes two reviews here: My own and a guest review by Michael Leary. • The supremely talented French actress Charlotte Rampling and director François Ozon clearly enjoy working together. Rampling relishes psychologically complex roles. Ozon respects his leading ladies enough to give them challenges. In Ozon’s Under the

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