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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11 May 2004

Gangs of New York: a Looking Closer Film Forum

This edition of Film Forum was originally published at Christianity Today on December 19, 2002. • Gangs of New York is director Martin Scorsese’s much-anticipated film about an uprising of Irish immigrants against a gang called “Nativists” who seek to drive them out of Civil-War-era New York City. Leonardo Dicaprio

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11 May 2004

Coming Home to Ohio: Linford Detweiler on OTR’s double album

[This interview was originally published July 30, 2003, at the original Looking Closer website.] – On August 19th, 2003, Over the Rhine will celebrate the release of their tenth album by making it a double. Ohio boasts two full-length discs of new material. And that most astonishing thing is that,

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11 May 2004

Radio (2003)

An earlier version of this review was originally published in a Film Forum column at Christianity Today. • Radio is another sport-oriented true-life drama from writer Mike Rich, who wrote The Rookie. Like that film, which was one of 2002’s most rewarding and surprising releases, Radio focuses on the way

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11 May 2004

Making Songs Out of Stories: Over the Rhine's Linford Detweiler on 10 Years of Songwriting

[This interview was originally published at the website for a non-profit arts organization called Promontory Artists Association in February 2000.] • Linford Detweiler has learned to take it easy. It’s a Saturday afternoon in Seattle, unusually sunny for late February, and he joins my wife Anne and me for coffee

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11 May 2004

Monster’s Ball (2001)

[This review was first published on the original Looking Closer website on May 12, 2002.] – In Monster’s Ball, Billy Bob Thornton plays Hank, a corrections officer carrying intense racial prejudice in one hand and a sidearm in the other. Hank’s aging father Buck (Peter Doyle) constantly reinforces the family’s

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