All-Stars: Steven D. Greydanus and 20+ years of extraordinary writing on film

Star-gazing again, I'm pointing to one of the brightest in the cosmos of criticism: Steven D. Greydanus. I'd be hard-pressed to think of a critic who has had a more consistently inspiring influence on me over the last 20 years of my engagement with film and with film essays.


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Sparks but no fireworks from My Father’s Dragon

The source material, a 1948 children's book by Ruth Stiles Gannett, is whimsical and funny, and has clearly influenced storytellers for generations, but it's a meandering and episodic tale that lacks a certain gravity. Can Cartoon Saloon storytellers revise it into something resonant?


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A loud recommendation for All Quiet on the Western Front

Do we need another epic war movie in 2022? Yes, if it serves to strip away any sense that battlefields are about heroes or glory. All Quiet has always been about telling the truth, and this new German-made adaptation on Netflix is no exception.


0 Comments15 Minutes

Stuck in the middle with Tár

Director Todd Field's return to the big screen is an unforgettable spectacle. And it is, almost inarguably, the greatest performance of Cate Blanchett's remarkable career. Some will call it a masterpiece. I'm not so sure.


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Looking Closer All-Stars: Sarah Welch-Larson on The Rings of Power

Star-gazing, I'm highlighting Sarah Welch-Larson as the first Looking Closer "all-star" — a writer whose wisdom and wit set her apart as exceptional in guiding us to the best in art and culture. Here, she finds her way to insight about why Amazon's The Rings of Power is such a fascinating and frustrating show.


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Sinead O’Connor was right all along

It has taken three decades — 30 years to the month! — for the truth to come into focus. In the early '90s, Sinead O'Connor risked her career to speak truth to power. She was condemned by Christians, by pop culture, by almost everyone. And now we've seen her laments justified, her prophecies coming true. Here, thank God, is a movie that loves her and grieves for her.


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Two new essays in one week: The Enlightened Replicant and the Liberated Marionette

New writing is heating up my laptop these days. I have two new essays — my first ever contribution to my favorite film-essay website, Bright Wall Dark Room, and the second in my new series on faith and fantasy at The Rabbit Room, a reflection on Disney's 1940 feature Pinocchio.


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Where Did My Community Go? Marcel the Shell Offers Insight at The Rabbit Room

After posting my initial review of Marcel the Shell With Shoes One here at Looking Closer, I've contributed a second consideration of the film (after seeing the film twice more) to the wonderful website hosted by my friends at The Rabbit Room.


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In Roger Michell’s final film*, Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren are in trouble with the law

Roger Michell's final film* is an endearing epilogue to an impressive career, but even the headliners Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren can't make this one memorable.


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Mrs. Harris goes to the land of pure imagination

The great Leslie Manville proves that she can make even a cloying crowdpleaser like this worth watching. You might find this "power of positive thinking" fairy tale a blessed relief it is from the punishing darkness and violence of almost everything else this summer. (Or, if you're like me, you might find it too sticky sweet for its own good.)


0 Comments14 Minutes