Reviews

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The Alamo (2004)

B+ | ***½ | -1| Teens & Up*

(Written by Jimmy Akin) This is the story of a civil war. Not the one you’re familiar with, but one that occurred a quarter century earlier. In this civil war, the North seceded from the South, and since the secessionists won, it’s not called a civil war but a revolution: the Texas Revolution. Read More >

Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

A | ***½ | +3| Kids & Up*

Viewed as a whole, “Jesus of Nazareth” may or may not be the best life of Jesus film ever made, but it remains in some ways the standard by which other Jesus films are judged. Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew and Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ may be better films, but no other Jesus film offers an interpretation of the gospel story as comprehensive and definitive as “Jesus of Nazareth”. Read More >

From the Manger to the Cross (1912)

A | ***½ | +3| Kids & Up

The art of cinema had advanced dramatically in the few years between the two films, and From the Manger to the Cross is far more sophisticated — though I actually find the earlier, more primitive Life and Passion more effective. Even so, both are worthwhile, and they make a good double bill. Read More >

The Face [Jesus in Art] (2001)

A | ***½ | +4| Kids & Up

The Face, a remarkable two-hour documentary produced in conjunction with the Catholic Communication Campaign, is a visually sumptuous and spiritually rewarding exploration of Christian art that surveys the history of how Jesus Christ has been portrayed, and how Christian teaching has been understood, interpreted, and given different emphases by the art of different times and places. Read More >

Hellboy (2004)

C+ | **½ | +1-2| Teens & Up*

The best thing about Hellboy is Hellboy. And he’s a demon. Read More >

Clifford’s Really Big Movie (2004)

C+ | **½ | +1| Kids & Up

Reviewed by Sarah E. Greydanus, age 9, and Steven D. Greydanus Read More >

The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ (1905)

A+ | **** | +4| Kids & Up

The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ is a remarkable relic from the very dawn of cinema. Read More >

Miracle (2004)

B+ | *** | +1| Kids & Up*

Miracle manages the neat trick of establishing this game as much more than a game without making it all about politics or turning the Soviet players into ideological bad guys. Like Seabiscuit, with its Depression-era tale of a scrappy underdog racehorse taking on the much-favored champion thoroughbreds, Miracle establishes its setting in a time when American spirit is at a low ebb and people are ready to rally behind an underdog hero who can help them believe in comebacks and David-and-Goliath upsets. Read More >

The Sound of Music (1965)

A | ***½ | +2| Kids & Up

Other than The Wizard of Oz, no Hollywood musical is as familiar, reassuring, and beloved of all ages as The Sound of Music. Read More >

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

B | *** | -2| Teens & Up*

Yet against all odds, T3 is a smart, rousing extension of Cameron’s paranoid fantasy that not only meshes seamlessly with the past and future continuities of the earlier films, but actually advances and develops the series’ apocalyptic mythology. Read More >

Diary of a Country Priest (1951)

A+ | **** | +4| Teens & Up

Faithfully adapting its source material, Catholic novelist Georges Bernanos’s fictional autobiography of a soul, the film profoundly contemplates the spiritual meaning of suffering and persecution, conversion and incorrigibility, and the dark night of the soul with a rigor and insight evocative of Augustine’s Confessions or Thérèse’s Story of a Soul. Read More >

Good Morning (1959)

A- | ***½ | +2| Kids & Up

Formality and courtesy attend adult interactions, but beneath the surface lurk petty misunderstandings, resentments, suspicions. A boy complains that adult conversation is bloated with meaningless, empty pleasantries, while his friends prefer to engage each other with an amusement that appears to be an Asian equivalent of “Pull my finger.” Read More >

Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)

A- | ***½ | +2| Kids & Up

Goodbye, Mr. Chips is the original inspirational-teacher story, and a beloved valentine to classical education, tradition, and the English public boarding schools of a bygone era. Read More >

Goodbye, Mr. Chips (2002)

A- | ***½ | +2| Kids & Up

Not a remake of the 1939 classic but a new adaptation of James Hilton’s sentimental novella, Masterpiece Theater’s engrossing Goodbye Mr. Chips couldn’t be more different from the 1939 film — and that’s all to the good. Read More >

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

B | ***½ | +2-2| Adults*

Obviously, a Kaufman film called Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind isn’t going to be as cheerful and wholesome as the title might suggest. Despair, isolation, and loneliness continue to hang like a fog across his world. Eternal Sunshine also resembles his other films in its characters’ milieu of general dissipation, casual sex, drug use, and so on. Read More >

The General (1927)

A+ | **** | +0| Kids & Up

Arguably the greatest of Buster Keaton’s silent comedies, The General begins with a single, brilliantly sustained premise and works it into an engaging story that combines edge-of-your-seat excitement, stunningly conceived stunts and sight gags, spectacular set pieces, touching sentiment, and a rousing finale. Read More >

Shattered Glass (2003)

A- | ***½ | +2| Teens & Up

With unsettling plausibility, first-time director Billy Ray depicts Glass’s uncanny ability to insinuate himself to his coworkers while ingeniously covering his tracks, mounting a deception on such a scale his peers and superiors can scarcely comprehend it even when he’s practically caught red-handed. Read More >

Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London (2004)

D | | +0| Kids & Up*

Unfortunately, while this sequel is the least morally problematic of Muniz’s three big-screen outings, it’s also far and away the lamest, lacking utterly its predecessors’ fitful humor and excitement. When the high point of your movie involves a Queen Elizabeth lookalike getting down to a youth-orchestra Euro-pop version of Edwin Starr’s "War," something has gone disastrously wrong. Read More >

Best in Show (2000)

C- | *** | -2| Adults*

The good news about Best in Show, the latest film from mockumentary veteran Christopher Guest (Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman), is that it’s funny — sometimes very funny. Guest is a sort of purist who creates the impromptu feel and immediacy of documentary by working from a short outline rather than a finished script; so his players really are ad-libbing to a significant degree. Read More >

My Architect (2004)

B | ***½ | -1| Teens & Up*

Nathaniel was 11 when his father died in 1974 at the age of 73. Nathaniel’s film, made nearly 30 years later, represents both an instrument and a chronicle of his efforts to explore who his father really was, what legacy he left behind, and what it might mean for his son. Part travelogue, part interview documentary, part home movie, My Architect surveys the elder Kahn’s most important buildings, from La Jolla’s Salk Institute to the Exeter Library to the Bangadeshi capital, along the way interviewing colleagues, peers, family members, even chance acquaintances — anyone who might have light to shed on the mystery of his father’s character and personality. Read More >

The Missing (2003)

D+ | ** | -2| Adults*

In place of Ford’s iconic but Indian-hating cowboy hero, Howard gives us two white protagonists who are each, in their own ways, the antitheses of the John Wayne character. Read More >

A Night at the Opera (1935)

A+ | **** | +0| Kids & Up

The fact is, A Night at the Opera is one of a kind, for which we can all be grateful. But it’s also something more. The most successful Marx Brothers film in their day both critically and popularly, A Night at the Opera is one of the two front-runners — along with Duck Soup, which was not successful at the time — for the best and funniest Marx Brothers feature ever. Opera was also reportedly Groucho’s favorite. Read More >

The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)

A- | ***½ | +2| Teens & Up

The brief story is as simple as it is tragic. Recent incidents of cattle rustling have a small Nevada town jumpy, and news that a popular local rancher has been murdered has the townsfolk up in arms. In the absence of the sheriff, a self-appointed posse forms under the leadership of an ambiguously disreputable ex-Confederate officer, despite the ineffectual protests of some, including the town judge. Read More >

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)

A- | ***½ | +2| Kids & Up*

Like director John Huston’s similarly themed The African Queen, the film finds conflict mixed with romantic tension in a tale of a demure religious woman thrown together with a rugged male loner. Here, though, the complicating factor is not fastidiousness on the part of the religious woman, but the woman’s vocation. Read More >

Spellbound (2003)

A- | ***½ | +1| Kids & Up

Spellbound, Jeffrey Blitz’s endearing, heartbreaking, deeply rewarding documentary about eight brainy middle-school kids competing with nearly 250 other spellers in front of the ESPN-watching world, is full of such unforgettable moments. Not just a documentary of a contest, Spellbound is a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of contestants of various regional and socioeconomic backgrounds whose only common bond is a facility with putting words together. Read More >

The Court Jester (1956)

A+ | **** | +0| Kids & Up

Not only does it terrifically succeed where movies like Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men in Tights miserably fail, The Court Jester also as merry, high-spirited, and wholesome as the adventures it parodies, with none of the cynical, anarchic spirit (or content issues) of the likes of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Read More >

Hulk (2003)

B+ | *** | +0| Teens & Up*

Not the best or most exciting of comic-book movies to date, but the most thoughtful and arguably one of the most interesting, Ang Lee’s Hulk offers a new look at Marvel Comics’s green-skinned Jekyll-and-Hyde pulp anti-hero through the director’s poetic, psychologically attuned sensibilities. Read More >

Microcosmos (1996)

A | **** | +0| Kids & Up

What Winged Migration did for birds and Atlantis did for life under the sea, Microcosmos does for the insect world. It’s an astonishingly up-close and personal look at an infinitesimal world as alien as anything captured by the Hubble telescope or the Mars rovers — but also a world of strange fascination and unexpected beauty. Read More >

Cyrano de Bergerac (1990)

A- | ***½ | +0| Teens & Up

Despite numerous cinematic adaptations — including Steve Martin’s cute romantic-comedy update Roxanne — the definitive Cyrano is probably Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s boisterous, full-blooded film, with France’s greatest actor, Gérard Depardieu, making the part forever his own. Read More >

Holiday (1938)

A+ | **** | +2| Kids & Up*

Why is The Philadelphia Story so well known, while the equally unforgettable Holiday, from the same director, writers, and leads, suffers comparative neglect? Read More >

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