Articles related to Mike Parnell


'Mother!'
'Mother!'

By: Michael Parnell
As a movie reviewer, I go to movies so you don't have to. One such movie is "Mother!" It's weird, disturbing, gross and hard to stomach. I cannot recommend it. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

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'All Saints'
'All Saints'

By: Michael Parnell
"All Saints" excels where other films in the Christian and faith-based genre have not. It's a realistic depiction of what it's like trying to do church today - messy, confusing and many times frustrating. (Photo: Affirm Films)

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'Detroit'
'Detroit'

By: Michael Parnell
"Detroit" could not be a timelier movie. A gritty portrait of the 12th Street Riot of 1967, the film forces us to have a conversation about race - one that most of us don't want to have. (Photo: Annapurna Pictures)

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How Your Church May Be Like Comic-Con
How Your Church May Be Like Comic-Con

By: Michael Parnell
It takes a lot of volunteers to run a massive event like Comic-Con. Often, those volunteers are placed wherever a warm body is needed with no thought to their skills or gifts. Kind of like some churches.

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'War for the Planet of the Apes'
'War for the Planet of the Apes'

By: Michael Parnell
"War for the Planet of the Apes" closes out the modern-day trilogy with a climactic end, bringing the curtain down on the pre-history of the popular series of movies that began in the late 1960s. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

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'Spider-Man: Homecoming'
'Spider-Man: Homecoming'

By: Michael Parnell
Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man gets another cinematic reboot, and this time the producers have found the right formula for everyone's favorite wall-crawler. (Photo: Columbia Pictures)

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'Baby Driver'
'Baby Driver'

By: Michael Parnell
Today's blockbusters are CGI-laden spectaculars, but "Baby Driver" is a throwback to the time when movies had a guy with a fast car, his girl and a cool soundtrack. It's a perfect summer movie. (Photo: Sony Pictures)

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'Beatriz at Dinner'
'Beatriz at Dinner'

By: Michael Parnell
Although muddled in its execution, "Beatriz at Dinner" starring Salma Hayek offers a wonderful chance to talk about how we respond to the strangers in our lives. (Photo: Roadside Attractions)

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'It Comes at Night'
'It Comes at Night'

By: Michael Parnell
"It Comes at Night" may be marketed as a horror movie but it defies classification. It's a tale about what happens when trust erodes in a society, and we all stick to our tribes. (Photo: A24 Films)

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'Alien: Covenant'
'Alien: Covenant'

By: Michael Parnell
Ridley Scott directed a masterpiece in 1979 with "Alien." He followed that up with "Prometheus" and now "Alien: Covenant," a film that reveals creation comes with all manner of horror. (Photo: Twentieth Century Fox)

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'Colossal'
'Colossal'

By: Michael Parnell
We want to believe our choices don't affect anyone else, but even our smallest actions can have huge consequences for the world. That's the premise of the hard-to-categorize film, "Colossal." (Photo: Voltage Pictures)

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'The Lost City of Z'
'The Lost City of Z'

By: Michael Parnell
An early 20th-century explorer faces racism back home when he shares his discovery of a lost South American city built by people of color that rivaled any comparable city built by Europeans. (Photo: Bleecker Street)

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'The Case for Christ'
'The Case for Christ'

By: Michael Parnell
Based on the best-selling true story of Lee Strobel's journey to become a Christian, "The Case for Christ" commits a fatal flaw in its storytelling, making it a bad testimony about the nature of God. (Photo: Pure Flix)

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'Ghost In The Shell'
'Ghost In The Shell'

By: Michael Parnell
A movie should tell a compelling story and ask us to think. 'Ghost in the Shell' does not do that, even though it is a visually stunning film. And that is a shame. (Photo: Paramount)

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Profiles in Goodwill: Michael Parnell
Profiles in Goodwill: Michael Parnell

By: EthicsDaily Staff
Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He reviews movies on EthicsDaily.com.

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'The Shack'
'The Shack'

By: Michael Parnell
Don't get bogged down over theology when you watch "The Shack," based on the best-seller. It's a movie that speaks to the millions who struggle with unresolved grief. (Photo: Lionsgate)

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'The Founder'
'The Founder'

By: Michael Parnell
"The Founder" reveals an unflattering picture of the American success story. While we idolize folks who make big money, we never ask the hard question of how they made those millions. (Photo: The Weinstein Company)

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'Silence'
'Silence'

By: Michael Parnell
Martin Scorsese's 'Silence' may be the most Christian film ever made, but few will see it. The story of two priests in 16th-century Japan, the challenging film isn't for the faint of heart. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

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'Hidden Figures'
'Hidden Figures'

By: Michael Parnell
For a window into our nation's larger history and the role that three extraordinary African-American women played in the space program, "Hidden Figures" is stellar. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

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'Fences'
'Fences'

By: Michael Parnell
August Wilson's play, "Fences," is lovingly brought to the screen by actor and director Denzel Washington. This film features some of the best performances of the decade. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

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'La La Land'
'La La Land'

By: Michael Parnell
Writer and director Damien Chazelle reinvigorates the classic Hollywood musical with "La La Land," and his two stars, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, deliver Oscar-worthy performances. (Photo: Lionsgate)

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'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'
'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'

By: Michael Parnell
"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" tells the saga of what took place before that first Star Wars movie in 1977. It's a rousing film that takes its role seriously as part of a larger whole. (Photo: Disney / Lucasfilm)

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'Loving'
'Loving'

By: Michael Parnell
"Loving" tells the story of an interracial couple marrying in 1950s Virginia. Their union violates state law, and they take their battle to the Supreme Court. One of the year's best films. (Photo: Focus Features)

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'Doctor Strange'
'Doctor Strange'

By: Michael Parnell
The newest comic-book movie on the block, "Doctor Strange," introduces the topic of the spiritual into the Marvel Universe. While serviceable, it tries too hard to cram too much into the story. (Photo: Marvel)

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'The Birth of a Nation'
'The Birth of a Nation'

By: Michael Parnell
"The Birth of a Nation" may have its flaws, but it tells an important story about a preacher to the slave community who can no longer preach submission and calls his fellow slaves to rise up. (Photo: Fox Searchlight)

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'The Magnificent Seven'
'The Magnificent Seven'

By: Michael Parnell
Is 'The Magnificent Seven' a great movie? Not by a long shot, but it's not a bad movie either. And even a bad Western is generally better than most good movies. (Photo: MGM)

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Discovering Spiritual Messages in Secular Films
Discovering Spiritual Messages in Secular Films

By: Michael Parnell
Movies are an art form. There's much more going on than pretty pictures up on a screen. One church is connecting with its community by showing secular movies and discussing their spiritual messages.

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'Hell or High Water'
'Hell or High Water'

By: Michael Parnell
With payday lenders putting people into indentured servanthood, "Hell or High Water" follows two brothers doing wrong things for what seems to be the right reason. (Photo: CBS Films)

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Lessons Your Church Can Learn from Comic-Con
Lessons Your Church Can Learn from Comic-Con

By: Michael Parnell
San Diego's annual Comic-Con event is the largest gathering of pop culture in the world. Find out what one Baptist pastor discovered that this event could teach our churches.

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"42"
"42," the story of baseball's Jackie Robinson, may not win the best picture, but it will touch something deep within you. And that makes this picture a home run. (Photo: Warner Bros.)
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"Oz the Great and Powerful"
Sure, it has its shortcomings, but "Oz the Great and Powerful" tells the origin of The Wizard, a conman transported to a magical land where he soon becomes a messiah. (Photo: Disney)
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"The Impossible"
Based on a true story of a family that survived the tsunami that struck Thailand, "The Impossible" reminds us that we must be willing to share what we have to help others in need. (Photo: Summit Entertainment)
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"Zero Dark Thirty"
"Zero Dark Thirty," which chronicles the hunt for Osama bin Laden, asks us to consider when seeking justice crosses the line and turns into seeking revenge. (Photo: Columbia Pictures)
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"Les Miserables"
"Les Miserables" is one of the best illustrations of Christian redemption in recent times, yet the movie has lost the dramatic punch of the original stage musical. (Photo: Universal Pictures)
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"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
The journey in "The Hobbit" just begins when the movie ends, but its story of playing it safe versus seeking adventure is a message many churches need to hear. (Photo: Warner Bros.)
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"Life of Pi"
Directed by Ang Lee, "Life of Pi" fills the screen with images of depth and wonder. A rare filmmaking marvel in 3-D, it's the story about one man's faith journey. (Photo: Twentieth Century Fox)
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"Wreck-It Ralph"
Perhaps too intense for young children, "Wreck-It Ralph" has beautiful animation and an engaging story about a video-game villain who becomes a true game-changer. (Photo: Disney)
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"Flight"
Denzel Washington is at the top of his game in "Flight," an unflinching look into the life of a commercial airline pilot who will do or say anything to keep drinking. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
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"Argo"
How do you rescue U.S. citizens hiding in the Canadian embassy in Iran? Make a fake movie and put them on the film crew. Welcome to "Argo," a delightful film from Ben Affleck. (Photo: Warner Bros.)
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"Looper"
What would happen if the mob controlled time travel? "Looper" takes viewers on a roller-coaster ride when a hit man has to kill his future self who has traveled back in time. (Photo: Sony Pictures)
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"The Master"
"The Master" explores how a damaged man is presented with a religion that claims to be able to help him be whole. Look for it to be one of top Oscar nominees. (Photo: The Weinstein Company)
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"ParaNorman"
"ParaNorman," a stop-motion animated film, is about a boy who talks to the dead but has few friends among the living. It's a funny movie with a strong message about forgiveness. (Photo: Focus Features)
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"Beasts of the Southern Wild"
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" tells the story of a 6-year-old trying to survive in the days after Katrina. With a powerful performance from its young star, it's a magical movie. (Photo: Fox Searchlight)
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"The Dark Knight Rises"
"The Dark Knight Rises" is a wondrous, wild ride to close Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. The Oscar-worthy movie is about so much more than a comic-book hero. (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)
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"The Amazing Spider-Man"
Although the origin of Spider-Man was told in Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" only a decade ago, "The Amazing Spider-Man" works because it balances its action with a love story. (Photo: Columbia Pictures)
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"Brave"
"Brave," the new animated tale from Disney and Pixar, tells us that our families are important centers of learning, but the family's wishes do not have to define us. (Photo: Disney/Pixar)
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"Prometheus"
"Prometheus" is a wonderfully shot movie with a lot to say about faith. Still, it's a flawed effort with little character development. Maybe the director's cut will be better. (Photo: Twentieth Century Fox)
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"The Avengers"
"The Avengers" shows how people that do not trust each other overcome their differences, become a team and do a job – in this case, saving the world from an alien invasion. (Photo: Marvel)
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"The Three Stooges"
More than slaps and eye pokes, the original Three Stooges were subversives who revealed the world's hypocrisy. The new movie, however, is "a victim of soicumstance." (Photo: 20th Century Fox)
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"Dr. Seuss' The Lorax"
Turning "The Lorax" into a full-length movie required a lot of filler that doesn't do justice to Dr. Seuss' original masterpiece. It's another adaptation gone wrong. (Photo: Universal Pictures)
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"Chronicle"
Three teenagers gain telekinetic powers in "Chronicle," an entertaining film that examines what happens when a downtrodden soul has the power to strike back at those who bully him. (Photo: Twentieth Century Fox)
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What
What "The Artist" Can Teach Your Church
"The Artist" tells the tale of a silent movie star who refuses to change when talkies become all the rage. How many churches today are doomed to fail because they won't change?
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"Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol"
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to go to your nearest theater and see "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol," one of the best popcorn movies of 2011. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
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"Hugo"
Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," the story of an orphan trying to fix a mysterious automaton, is filled with beauty and grace, using 3-D in a remarkable and truly dimensional way. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
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"The Muppets"
"The Muppets" isn't a bad movie; it's just the same old shtick of song-and-dance numbers and celebrity cameos. It's a shame their comeback couldn't have been something fresh and new. (Photo: Disney)
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"Tower Heist"
Heist movies are known for their twists and turns, but "Tower Heist" offers no real surprises. And the scene-stealing star of the movie doesn't appear until the film's half over. (Photo: Universal Pictures)
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"Higher Ground"
"Higher Ground" tells the story of a woman's faith struggle as she yearns for something more than her strict fundamentalist faith community is willing to give her. (Photo: Sony Pictures Classic)
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"Real Steel"
"Real Steel" is not an original story but it has the stuff that entertains audiences: the underdog who gets the opportunity of a lifetime, and a father-son relationship with potential. (Photo: DreamWorks SKG)
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"Moneyball"
"Moneyball" is more than a movie about baseball and statistics. It's about what happens when someone tries to breathe life into an old institution and how some people resist that change. (Photo: Columbia TriStar)
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"The Debt"
Going back and forth between 1997 and the days after World War II, "The Debt" tells the tale of a trio pursuing a Nazi war criminal, but the muddled motivations of the characters make this film fall short. (Photo: Miramax)
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"The Help"
Based on the best-seller, "The Help," which examines the lives of African-American maids working for white families in the '60s, is a sugar-coated film that glosses over the real dangers of the time. (Photo: DreamWorks)
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"Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
While "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" doesn't follow the history laid out in the original films, it's a good summer movie that pulls you into its story through Caesar, an ape with remarkable abilities. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)
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"Captain America: The First Avenger"
"Captain America" is another rousing superhero story from the Marvel Comics universe and brings us one film closer to the cinematic debut of "The Avengers." (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
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"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
The Harry Potter film franchise comes to a satisfying end with "The Deathly Hallows: Part 2" as the "boy who lived" faces insurmountable evil with courage and love as his weapons. (Photo: Warner Bros.)
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"Cars 2"
While "Cars 2" may have missed the mark compared to Pixar's other superb movies, the animated sequel is still a fun summer flick that will appeal to all ages. (Photo: Disney/Pixar)
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"Green Lantern"
Ryan Reynolds tries hard to make us like his superhero character, but there's one thing this Green Lantern can't defeat – a bad script. (Photo: Warner Bros.)
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"Super 8"
Paying homage to the movies of Steven Spielberg, "Super 8" is a nostalgic trip back to the '70s about kids who are thrust into a government cover-up while making a zombie movie. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
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"X-Men: First Class"
"X Men: First Class," a prequel to the previous X-Men movies, follows two mutants, Professor X and Magneto, and their strikingly different views of humanity. It's a fine reboot to the franchise. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)
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"Kung Fu Panda 2"
Movie sequels are usually watered-down versions of the original, but not "Kung Fu Panda 2" – a movie that asks subtle questions about what it means to live a spiritual life. (Photo: DreamWorks Animation)
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"Thor"
The summer movie season launched with "Thor," another adaptation of a Marvel comic-book character. It's an above-average film that doesn't have a deeper message. It just entertains. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
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"Water for Elephants"
Who wouldn't love a tale about running away and joining the circus? Sadly, with weak characters and a miscast male lead, "Water for Elephants" evaporates into a pedestrian love story. (Photo: Twentieth Century Fox)
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"Win Win"
"Win Win" features Paul Giamatti as a cash-strapped lawyer who sees a way to make some easy money and break his wrestling team's losing streak. It's another win for director Thomas McCarthy. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)
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Hollywood Sacrifices Good Stories for Quick Profits
Hollywood Sacrifices Good Stories for Quick Profits
Hollywood's profit motive has intensified to the point of shredding good stories. Instead of speaking about the human condition, too many films pander to directorial hubris and mock and debase women.
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"Source Code"
The science-fiction offspring of "Groundhog Day," "Source Code" is a traditional Hollywood movie with a typical Hollywood ending – and that's its undoing. (Photo: Summit Entertainment)
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"Rango"
With "True Grit" and now the animated "Rango," the Western is alive and well in Hollywood. And this Western with desert critters is delightfully strange and filled with pop culture references. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
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"The Adjustment Bureau"
In "The Adjustment Bureau," Matt Damon discovers his life has been scripted to follow a carefully predetermined path. The movie is a nice attempt, but the script needed some adjustments. (Photo: Universal Pictures)
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"127 Hours"
With his right arm pinned down by a boulder in a Utah canyon for five days, James Franco's character in "127 Hours" must come to terms with the grim reality of loss as the path to his life's salvation. (Photo: Fox Searchlight)
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Which Film Will Take Home Oscar's Top Prize?
Which Film Will Take Home Oscar's Top Prize?
With the Academy Award nominees revealed on Jan. 25, the battle for best picture is a faceoff between "The King's Speech" and "The Social Network." But will "True Grit" ride in on a dark horse to steal the top Oscar?
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"The King's Speech"
"The King's Speech" is more than a costume drama about the royals. With a brilliant performance by Colin Firth, it's a film about finding the courage to overcome your fears. (Photo: The Weinstein Company)
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"True Grit"
The first "True Grit" focused on the legendary John Wayne. This new version by Joel and Ethan Coen focuses on a 14-year-old girl and what she'll do to make things right in a world of sin and loss. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
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Parnell's Picks: The 10 Best Movies of the Year
Parnell's Picks: The 10 Best Movies of the Year
Seeing all the movies is a challenge for a movie lover in a small town, but here are Mike Parnell's choices for his favorite movies in 2010. What film do you think made it to number one?
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"The Fighter"
Featuring a particularly powerful performance by Christian Bale, "The Fighter" is more than a boxing movie. It speaks to us about drug use and the pain it inflicts on families. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
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"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1"
The movie series based on J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books comes to an end with the first part of a two-part movie. It's a very mature beginning to the end of a wonderful story. (Photo: Warner Bros.)
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"Unstoppable"
"Unstoppable" tells the story of an unmanned freight train speeding into an urban area. It's a fine movie to see when you want to forget about the world and get lost for a time. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)
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"Megamind"
DreamWorks' latest animated feature, "Megamind," takes themes from the Superman mythos, puts them in a blender and hits puree. What comes out is unpalatable. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
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"Conviction"
"Conviction" is the story of a woman's sacrificial quest to exonerate her wrongfully convicted brother. Hilary Swank embodies this working-class woman, who gives all she has for her wayward sibling. (Photo: Fox Searchlight)
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"Hereafter"
Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter" weaves together three stories about death. While he resolves these stories with sensitivity and warmth, the larger picture of what he's trying to say remains elusive. (Photo: Warner Bros.)
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"Secretariat"
Walt Disney has made several sports-themed movies that have been popular box-office winners, but its latest offering, "Secretariat," doesn't win, place or even show. (Photo: Walt Disney Pictures)
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Why Does
Why Does "The Andy Griffith Show" Endure?
A half-century ago, "The Andy Griffith Show" premiered on the nation's TV sets. The show is revered as a classic today, but what's its appeal? As one person said, it's about man's humanity to man, and not man's inhumanity.
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"The Social Network"
"The Social Network" is a witty and poignant story about the creation of Facebook. Giving us the grand tour of how kids can become billionaires, the film is an early Oscar contender. (Photo: Columbia Pictures)
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"Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps"
You would think "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" would offer insight into the why and how of our economic collapse. Sadly, the sequel is a sad and weak reflection of its predecessor. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)
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"Get Low"
In "Get Low," the reclusive Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) decides he's going to attend his funeral – alive. The movie reminds us that those we dismiss are people with feelings, longings and truth. (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics)
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Graphic Novels Hold Mirror Up to Society
Graphic Novels Hold Mirror Up to Society
Comics aren't like the ones found on the spinner racks of our childhood drugstores. Rather than give us escapism, graphic novels dealing with life's issues hold up a mirror; they show us ugliness and sin.
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"Winter's Bone"
"Winter's Bone" is the story of a teen who gives up everything for the sake of two little ones and a mama who knows no better. It is film storytelling in one of its best incarnations. (Photo: Roadside Attractions)
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"Inception"
The twists and turns in "Inception" propel it to the finest movie of this summer. Director and writer Christopher Nolan gives us a complex story that has a real heart at its core. (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)
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"Despicable Me"
Movie villains are often more interesting than heroes. In "Despicable Me," the villain is the star. The bad guy, Gru, is determined to steal the moon and earn his mother's love. (Photo: Universal Pictures)
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"Toy Story 3"
"Toy Story 3" is a bit darker than the other two in the series. While children will love the movie, this is really a parent's film, reminding us that we all must let go. (Photo: Disney/Pixar)
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"The A-Team"
"The A-Team," a remake of the '80s TV series, combines explosive action and genuine humor to make a great popcorn flick, but the language makes it inappropriate for kids. (Photo: Twentieth Century-Fox)
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“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”
“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”
"Prince of Persia" isn't a bad movie. Based on the video game of the same name, it plays like a Western and is a rip-roaring good time, but then logic kicks in. (Photo: Walt Disney Studios)
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"Shrek Forever After"
"Shrek Forever After" lacks the subversive tone of the original, which turned the fairy tale paradigm on its head. The latest sequel is the last gasp of a once-fun movie series. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
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"Robin Hood"
The tale of Robin Hood has been told many times in film. This latest version is plagued by its attempt to update the legend. Sadly, an arrow pierced this story's heart. (Photo: Universal Pictures)
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"Iron Man 2"
"Iron Man 2" is good but not great. The action movie doesn't meet the original's standards and borders on campiness. However, more than anything else, it does shine because of its actors. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
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"Date Night"
A movie like "Date Night" doesn't enhance cinema greatness. It's not even a fantastic must-see movie. But what it does, it does well. You'll laugh and walk away entertained. (Photo: Twentieth Century Fox)
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"How to Train Your Dragon"
While the animated film "How to Train Your Dragon" is boilerplate storytelling, the film makes up for it with real characters, a sense of humor and a strong message about the pressures faced by teens. (Photo: DreamWorks SKG)
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"Shutter Island"
In "Shutter Island," director Martin Scorsese is at the top of his craft here. Delivering suspense and intrigue akin to Hitchcock, Scorsese gives us a vision not seen in movies for decades. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
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"Alice in Wonderland"
"Alice in Wonderland" is a wonderful story, but this latest take on Lewis Carroll's classic implies that the way to become fully woman is to behave like a man. In that respect, this film's a bad dream. (Photo: Walt Disney Pictures)
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"Blood Done Sign My Name"
"Blood Done Sign My Name" is a mildly disappointing story that's been told many times about a town torn apart by racism. It seems better suited as a TV miniseries rather than a feature film. (Photo: Paladin)
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"The Book of Eli"
What would a world devoid of faith and religion look like? "The Book of Eli" gives us a glimpse. As Eli, Denzel Washington is a man walking by faith in a post-apocalyptic land with the last Bible. (Photo: Warner Bros.)
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"Up in the Air"
In "Up in the Air," one of 2009's finest movies, George Clooney plays a corporate hired gun who's more comfortable flying from city to city than dealing with relationships on the ground. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
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"Avatar"
"Avatar" is a wondrous movie that's worth the extra price to see in 3-D. Director James Cameron immerses moviegoers in a new world in this tale of greed and unbridled desires. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)
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"A Serious Man"
Many people won't get "A Serious Man," the Coen brothers' latest film. Based on the story of Job, it's the tale of Larry Gopnik, who seeks answers as his life crashes down around him. (Photo: Focus Features)
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"Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire"
"Precious" takes us into a world that is not too far from where we live but we don't often see. It's an unrelenting film about an overweight pregnant teen trying to survive a living hell while craving to be loved. (Photo: Lionsgate)
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"A Christmas Carol"
Director Robert Zemeckis creates visual magic in the latest theatrical version of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." Once again, we see Ebenezer Scrooge learn that anyone can find redemption. (Photo: Disney Pictures)
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"Where the Wild Things Are"
Spike Jonze directs a movie about the foibles of family. It's an honest film about a boy trying to find his way in the world, longing for what should be but stuck with what is. (Photo: Warner Brothers Pictures)
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"The Invention of Lying"
Set in a world where no one tells a lie, "The Invention of Lying" is a comedy that works at times. However, its myopic observations about religion and personal faith are offensive. (Photo: Warner Brothers Pictures)
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'Whip It'
'Whip It'
"Whip It" offers something that's rare in Hollywood movies – strong, confident female characters. It's a nice movie about a young woman who finds her voice in the roller derby rink. (Photo: Fox Searchlight)
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"9"
"9" is an ambitious and beautiful movie. Its makers try to say something about humanity's flirtation with technology and the danger it presents. Sadly, the storytelling suffers. (Photo: Focus Features)
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'G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra'
'G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra'
"G.I. Joe" may be the victim of hyperbole with a claim that it's "the worst movie." Granted, it's clearly silly and not for kids under 10, but it has a theme about family. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
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'G-Force'
'G-Force'
"G-Force" is not a great movie. While the target audience of tweens will find it entertaining, too many plot holes exist for adult viewers. (Photo: Walt Disney Pictures)
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'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince'
'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince'
If you've not seen any of the Harry Potter movies so far, don't try to jump into the series with "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." You'll never get up to speed. (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)
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'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen'
'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen'
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" blows up real good – and that's about it. With plot holes large enough to drive Optimus Prime through, this sequel should be avoided at all costs. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
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'Land of the Lost'
'Land of the Lost'
"Land of the Lost" is a film adaptation of the cheesy children's television series by Sid and Marty Krofft. The movie attempts to capture some of that cheese, but it's not bad enough to be good. It is just bad. (Photo: Universal Pictures)
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'Up'
'Up'
Disney/Pixar's new movie, "Up," is an answer to the complaint that there's nothing good in the movies. People wonder why they just don't make an old-fashioned movie like they used to. "Up" is that movie. Don't miss it.
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'Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian' – Not Bad, Not Good
'Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian' – Not Bad, Not Good
"Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" isn't a bad movie, but it's not a good one either. Its high point is Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart, who brings a breath of fresh air to the staleness of the musty old museum air.
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'Angels and Demons'
'Angels and Demons'
In a good thriller, you have to help your audience buy into the story's premise. Although Ron Howard knows how to make a good thriller, "Angels and Demons" strains under the weight of too much narrative baggage. (Photo: Sony Pictures)
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'Star Trek'
'Star Trek'
"Star Trek" is a movie about the marking of family. It is the telling of how the iconic 1960s television characters James T. Kirk and Spock come to be friends and what the forces were behind that friendship. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
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Monsters vs. Aliens
Monsters vs. Aliens
“Monsters vs. Aliens” wants to recreate the vibe of Looney Tunes and the social consciousness of those ’50s science fiction/horror movies, but it misses. The jokes are not that funny and the gags are hackneyed.
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'Changeling'
Clint Eastwood is one of our great directors, but this is not one of his great movies. It's good, but not satisfying.
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'W.'
One can watch Oliver Stone's 'W.' and think that Stone is trying to tell a Greek tragedy. Much here sounds like Oedipus, but the story works from a different point of reference.
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'Slumdog Millionaire'
'Slumdog Millionaire'
Set in modern-day Mumbai, Jamal (Dev Patel) has answered all but the last question on the popular game show. He's now in the hands of the police, who torture him trying to find out how he cheated.
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‘Watchmen’
‘Watchmen’
“Watchmen,” based on a best-selling graphic novel, tells a story that is based in an alternate history, but with overtones in current events.
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‘Coraline’
‘Coraline’
“Coraline” is the most visually stimulating movie I have seen. It ranks with any that Pixar or Dreamworks have produced.
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‘The Reader’
‘The Reader’
Kate Winslett, nominated for Best Actress at this year’s Oscars, gives a remarkable performance. She is restrained emotionally in moments seemingly requiring emotion, but passionate in passionless moments.
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'The Wrestler'
'The Wrestler'
Mickey Rourke is nominated for a Best Actor Oscar this year. And well he should. No actor in recent memory shows more physicality and pathos. He is beaten down and you see the pain, but you also see the hope for redemption on his face.
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‘Milk’
‘Milk’
It is hard to watch “Milk” and not be struck by sinfulness. There is the sin of sexual promiscuity and drug use, but also the sin of intolerance.
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'Doubt'
'Doubt'
An earlier column at EthicsDaily.com spoke of this movie from a Catholic point of view. Phyllis Zagano believes this movie paints a caricature of the Catholic Church and that it speaks doubtfully about religion, the church and God. My opinion is much different.
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‘Frost/Nixon’
‘Frost/Nixon’
How important are lace-up shoes for men? According to Richard Nixon (Frank Langella), in Ron Howard’s “Frost/Nixon,” a man who doesn’t wear laces is less than a man. That small opinion is a big part of this movie.
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‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
Time does strange things to opinions as moments for deeper reflection can alter what one originally thought. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is a good example of how my opinion changed.
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'Ghost Town'
Not everyone is a "people person." Take Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais). He's a dentist, and he likes the fact that dental implements keep people from talking. With an office next to his apartment building, he merely moves a couple hundred feet and hardly sees a soul. But things change.
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'Henry Poole Is Here'
Henry Poole (Luke Wilson) is a man looking for a cocoon. He just wants to buy a house in his childhood neighborhood, get lots of alcohol and frozen pizza from the supermarket down the street, and hunker down to live out the remaining days of his life. Alone.
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'Henry Poole Is Here'
Henry Poole (Luke Wilson) is a man looking for a cocoon. He just wants to buy a house in his childhood neighborhood, get lots of alcohol and frozen pizza from the supermarket down the street, and hunker down to live out the remaining days of his life. Alone.
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'The Dark Knight'
It begins with a heist, but in the midst of it we see something of what is to be.
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'The Dark Knight'
It begins with a heist, but in the midst of it we see something of what is to be.
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'WALL-E'
A friend in ministry once remarked that when you are discouraged, you have to do the last thing God told you to do. You keep doing that thing until someone comes and tells you differently.
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'WALL-E'
A friend in ministry once remarked that when you are discouraged, you have to do the last thing God told you to do. You keep doing that thing until someone comes and tells you differently.
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'The Incredible Hulk'
Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) is a genius on the run. Where does a genius on the run hide? In a soft drink bottling plant in Brazil, of course, and it's there that "The Incredible Hulk" opens.
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'The Incredible Hulk'
Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) is a genius on the run. Where does a genius on the run hide? In a soft drink bottling plant in Brazil, of course, and it's there that "The Incredible Hulk" opens.
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'Kung Fu Panda'
Poor Po the Panda. He dreams of glory as he works in his father's noodle shop. The glory Po seeks is that of a great kung fu master, but he (Jack Black) is clumsy and unfocused.
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'Kung Fu Panda'
Poor Po the Panda. He dreams of glory as he works in his father's noodle shop. The glory Po seeks is that of a great kung fu master, but he (Jack Black) is clumsy and unfocused.
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'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull'
Indy aged, and so did the world. In the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise, Indy (Harrison Ford) is embroiled in the controversy of the day, Soviet Communism. It's 1957, and Indy is prisoner of a Soviet paranormal researcher named Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), who's snooping around Roswell, New Mexico.
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'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull'
Indy aged, and so did the world. In the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise, Indy (Harrison Ford) is embroiled in the controversy of the day, Soviet Communism. It's 1957, and Indy is prisoner of a Soviet paranormal researcher named Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), who's snooping around Roswell, New Mexico.
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'The Visitor'
A sign on the wall says it all: "Immigrants, America's strength." Of course, it's located inside a detention center where illegal immigrants are held in Thomas McCarthy's new movie, "The Visitor."
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'The Visitor'
A sign on the wall says it all: "Immigrants, America's strength." Of course, it's located inside a detention center where illegal immigrants are held in Thomas McCarthy's new movie, "The Visitor."
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'Iron Man'
Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) has the world by the tail. He is a billionaire with a genius IQ. Stark Industries, his company, is a top weapons producer for the Department of Defense. Women fall into his bed with ease. Life is good.
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'Iron Man'
Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) has the world by the tail. He is a billionaire with a genius IQ. Stark Industries, his company, is a top weapons producer for the Department of Defense. Women fall into his bed with ease. Life is good.
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'21'
Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) is a genius. At the top of his class at MIT, his mind can add, subtract, multiply and divide large numbers. He wants to attend Harvard Medical School, but there's a problem: money.
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'21'
Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) is a genius. At the top of his class at MIT, his mind can add, subtract, multiply and divide large numbers. He wants to attend Harvard Medical School, but there's a problem: money.
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'Leatherheads'
What makes a hero? Are heroic deeds more than actions? Can heroism be seen in a commitment to truth?
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'Leatherheads'
What makes a hero? Are heroic deeds more than actions? Can heroism be seen in a commitment to truth?
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'Stop-Loss'
"Stop-Loss" is an anti-war movie with a war hero at its center. Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe) is a decorated soldier who returns to his Texas hometown believing his days in the Army are over. But instead of being discharged as expected, he is told he is being shipped back to Iraq as a stop-loss: the way the Army holds on to soldiers who fulfilled their contracts, but are deemed too valuable to allow out of the service.
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'Stop-Loss'
"Stop-Loss" is an anti-war movie with a war hero at its center. Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe) is a decorated soldier who returns to his Texas hometown believing his days in the Army are over. But instead of being discharged as expected, he is told he is being shipped back to Iraq as a stop-loss: the way the Army holds on to soldiers who fulfilled their contracts, but are deemed too valuable to allow out of the service.
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'Atonement'
"Atonement" shows the power of a lie and how hard it is to undo a wrong done. It begins as a piece of fluff, during the days before World War II, on an English estate. Young writer-to-be Briony Tallis (Saorise Ronan) witnesses an act and misunderstands what she has seen, then tells a lie. That lie turns the world upside down for her sister, Cecilia (Keira Knightley), and Cecilia's lover, Robbie (James McAvovy).
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'Atonement'
"Atonement" shows the power of a lie and how hard it is to undo a wrong done. It begins as a piece of fluff, during the days before World War II, on an English estate. Young writer-to-be Briony Tallis (Saorise Ronan) witnesses an act and misunderstands what she has seen, then tells a lie. That lie turns the world upside down for her sister, Cecilia (Keira Knightley), and Cecilia's lover, Robbie (James McAvovy).
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'Juno'
"Juno" deals with the issue of teenage pregnancy, but it does so with a sense of pluck and humor. This is not an "after-school special" look at the issue. It has laughter and tears, which all pregnancies have. And it has as its central character one that provides the film with heart and direction.
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'Juno'
"Juno" deals with the issue of teenage pregnancy, but it does so with a sense of pluck and humor. This is not an "after-school special" look at the issue. It has laughter and tears, which all pregnancies have. And it has as its central character one that provides the film with heart and direction.
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'No Country for Old Men'
"No Country for Old Men" addresses an age-old problem: Why is it hard to do the right thing? A character from a forgotten movie once said: "Funny, ain't it, how it comes around. Right way's the hardest, wrong way's the easiest. Rule of nature, like water seeks the path of least resistance. So you get crooked rivers, crooked men."
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'No Country for Old Men'
"No Country for Old Men" addresses an age-old problem: Why is it hard to do the right thing? A character from a forgotten movie once said: "Funny, ain't it, how it comes around. Right way's the hardest, wrong way's the easiest. Rule of nature, like water seeks the path of least resistance. So you get crooked rivers, crooked men."
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'There Will Be Blood'
Daniel Day-Lewis gives a stellar performance as Daniel Plainview, a turn-of-the-20th-century robber baron in "There Will Be Blood." Paul Thomas Anderson ("Magnolia") wrote and directed this bleak picture on the intersection of money and religion.
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'There Will Be Blood'
Daniel Day-Lewis gives a stellar performance as Daniel Plainview, a turn-of-the-20th-century robber baron in "There Will Be Blood." Paul Thomas Anderson ("Magnolia") wrote and directed this bleak picture on the intersection of money and religion.
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'I Am Legend'
Naomi Levy, in her book To Begin Again, tells the story of a parishioner in her synagogue who survived a brutal attack on Yom Kippur. The victim asked: "Where was God? Was God so busy at the Yom Kippur service in synagogue that God forgot about me?"
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'The Golden Compass'
One of Garrison Keillor's stories drew large amounts of mail because it had no ending. He responded that many stories in his life have yet to end.
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'Beowulf'
Everyone who took 12th-grade English knows the story of Beowulf. When I entered my first class of English Literature, Mrs. Gane told the class, "Yes, I'm Grendel's mother." We had no idea who she meant, but by end of the first six weeks, we did.
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'The Simpsons Movie'
When was the last time a movie had the catalyst for its story set in church? The last one I remember is "The Blues Brothers" in 1980. "The Simpsons Movie," now playing, really begins its story in the midst of a church service, and what happens there sets up everything to follow.
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'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix'
"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the fifth movie in the series, sets the stage for the end of the franchise, which has only two more installments.
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'Spider-Man 3'
Movie franchises ebb and flow. Thinking about the "Star Wars" series, most people believe "The Empire Strikes Back" is the best movie of the lot, and the quality went downhill from there.
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'Homeland: The Illustrated History of the State of Israel'
"Homeland: The Illustrated History of the State of Israel" begins with Abraham and takes the reader through a tremendous graphic representation of what is called "Israel's world view."
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'Zodiac'
Sin, wrote Paul Tillich, is estrangement from God. He believed that estrangement reaches not only the relationship between the person and God, but the person and all other relationships. When a person is caught up in sin, that person gets disconnected from everyone.
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'Casino Royale'
The saying "familiarity breeds contempt" doesn't hold true for James Bond. With six different actors playing Bond across 21 films, it might seem that we would grow weary of 007. Not so in "Casino Royale," now playing.
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'Little Miss Sunshine'
'Little Miss Sunshine'
"Little Miss Sunshine" is a dysfunctional-family-on-a-road-trip movie. And there's more going on here than in the "National Lampoon's Vacation" movies. The story here is not about a vacation, but about trying to make a little girl's dream come true.
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'Lady in the Water'
"Lady in the Water," now in theaters, swings for the fences as writer-director M. Night Shyamalan stuffs his movie with a study of the creative process and a primer on purpose. Paul Giamatti plays maintenance man Cleveland Heep, a sad gentleman who stammers when he talks, but who also spends his life caring for the people of The Cove apartment complex.
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'American Virgin'
Adam Chamberlain is a young man who seems to have it all: a lovely fiancée, a best-selling book and regular appearances on television. For most 20-year-olds, that's the American Dream. But Adam has also done something that would seem practically un-American in this day and age: He has sworn off sex until marriage.
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'V for Vendetta'
In Romans 13, Paul wrote: "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."
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'King Kong'
As I child, I would stay up late on Saturday nights and watch "Shock Theater." It was a local show hosted by Paul Bearer, who screened old horror films. Yet one of those horror films was no horror at all: It was "King Kong," which told the story of a large ape that fell, literally, for a blonde.
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'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire'
Poor Harry Potter. In his latest adventure he faces fire-breathing dragons, an hour-long underwater swim and a maze that rises up to claim those who walk in it. And then it gets worse: He has to get a date for the Yule Ball.
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'Capote'
Joseph Fletcher put forth the tenets of "situational ethics," stating that each situation dictates proper action and that love ultimately guides the process of decision. What we see in "Capote," the new film biography of Truman Capote, is how the idea of situational ethics can be a slippery slope into self-destruction. When love for the sake of art is the motivation, there can be consequences.
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'A History of Violence'
Sometimes a film presents a tremendous vision, but it comes wrapped in images that obstruct the vision for many. We see descriptions of "graphic violence" and "strong sexual content" and decide the movie isn't for us.
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'Batman Begins'
If you go down to your local multiplex, you will probably find a movie based on a comic book. When these movies are good, they are good. When they are bad, they generally stink. Warner Bros., which is part of the media group that owns DC Comics, comes back to comic-based movies with "Batman Begins." And it is not just good; it is great.
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'Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith'
All is forgiven, George. We thought you had lost your way.
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'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy'
Growing up "born again," you heard sermons on all kinds of subjects—like "no dancing," because you can't witness on the dance floor. Or "no movies on Sunday," because the Rapture could happen and you didn't want Jesus to catch you in a theater.
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'The Interpreter'
Africa is a land of intrigue, partly because it has been victimized by colonialism. Once the European powers released their grip on the continent, many of Africa's countries were taken over by dictators who continued to rule with an iron fist.
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'Sin City'
"Sin City" reminds me of one of Billy Preston's songs, "Will It Go 'Round in Circles." "I got a story, ain't got no moral," go the lyrics. "Let the bad guy win every once in a while."
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'Million Dollar Baby'
Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) is a pastor's nightmare: He attends every service, pays attention to what is said, and asks questions about the faith so tough they can make a priest curse.
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'The Aviator'
Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest directors never to win an Oscar. He made "Raging Bull," considered by many to be the greatest movie of the 1980s, and "GoodFellas," which others consider the greatest movie of the 1990s. Still, he has not won an Oscar for best director.
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'Incredibles' Best Movie of 2004
EthicsDaily.com movie reviewer Mike Parnell offers his "Top Ten" movies from 2004.
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'Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events'
When a movie tells its story through voiceover narration, it's usually a bad sign.
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'Ocean's Twelve'
Rewatchability. Some movies have it, some don't. The 2001 remake of the Rat Pack classic "Ocean's Eleven" had—and has—it. Each time you watch it, you see something new. It's got rewatchability.
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"National Treasure"
"National Treasure" tells the story of Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicholas Cage), a self-proclaimed "treasure protector" in search of the treasure of the Knights Templar. He doesn't want the treasure for himself, but to keep it from falling into the hands of ruthless men. As such, he follows clues to the treasure's whereabouts left behind by America's forefathers.
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'The Incredibles'
If you love James Bond and Jonny Quest, you will love "The Incredibles." Brad Bird, who worked on "The Simpsons" and made one of the best sci-fi movies of all time, "The Iron Giant," creates a universe where superheroes have real-world problems but out-of-this-world adventures.
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'Ray'
Where is the line between the sacred and the secular? Does a clear line define when a person has moved into the area of the profane? What is the nature of religion?
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'The Forgotten'
The TV series "The Twilight Zone" is a classic show that never ages. Its shocks, jolts and twist endings still reverberate in this age of special-effect-driven entertainment.
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Chosen: Part Three
Chosen ends its three-issue run without delivering on the promise made by creator Mark Millar. In promoting this series, Millar said: "The story of Jesus Christ in the New Testament is over 2000 years old and so I just want to bring it to a whole new generation of readers."
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'Collateral'
Most matinee idols play the "good guy." They wear the white hat, end up with the girl and ride off into the sunset. But if you ask a matinee idol what role he wants to play, he'll say, "The bad guy."
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'Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy'
"Saturday Night Live" has spawned many stars. They break out from the cast and move off the stage and onto the screen. Chevy Chase began the exodus after the first season. He made lots of movies, most of which are forgettable, and since then there has been a revolving door from Rockefeller Center to Hollywood.
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'Spider-Man 2'
One of the themes of comics is the "POW!" and "BIFF!" of battles between a superhero and a supervillain. These battles overshadow almost every other aspect of the comic.
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"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"
My father used to say that even a blind hog would find an acorn every once and a while. In my recent review of "Shrek 2," I wrote that most sequels are nothing more than dumbed-down copies of the original. My father also used to say that you need to make your words sweet, because you might have to eat them.
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'Shrek 2'
"The Simpsons" offers a Halloween episode each year. In one of these episodes, Homer gets a magic hammock that allows him to clone himself. The only problem is that each clone is dumber than the already mentally challenged Homer. It seems that each copy gets a little worse than the original.
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'The Passion' Completes Cycle Begun by 'The Force'
It has become a cliché. The screen holds 10 simple words: "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…" Then the screen erupts with the familiar logo for "Star Wars." The music swells and up scrolls the message of what has taken place before our entry into this universe.
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'Van Helsing'
There was a time when most TV stations ran old monster movies. Usually on a Saturday night, kids would stay up late to see Bela Lugosi's Dracula, Boris Karloff's Frankenstein and Lon Chaney's Wolfman. These old movies had thrills and chills, and we all grew afraid of those creatures that went bump in the night.
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The Bible: Eden
If you have read the Bible, one fact is certain: It is not rated G. Many of its stories deal with very mature subjects.
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Chosen: Part Two
Why did the religious ruling elite dog Jesus' path? In the gospels, it seems this group attended all of Jesus' public events. Was it merely a clash over theology? Or could there have been something deeper and more personal involved?
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'Hellboy'
It seems like every other movie released has a comic book as inspiration. A message board on comics has a thread that asks the question: "Are there too many comic-based movies?" That looks to be a moot point; movies based on comics are here to stay.
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'My Faith in Frankie'
Some children grow up with imaginary friends as part of the process of psychosocial development. But Frankie Maxon is different. She grew up with a personal god.
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'The Ladykillers'
Joel and Ethan Coen make iconoclastic movies. Theirs is a strange world inhabited by Bikers from Hell, dumb kids who become executives, and erudite convicts on mythic journeys.
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'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'
Tony Campolo once said that parents' greatest desire is that their children be happy. Our culture is obsessed with wanting to be happy, and much of our unhappiness could be attributed to our bad experiences in relationships. Those that end abruptly seem to multiply the pain.
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'21 Grams'
In I Corinthians 13, Paul makes this statement: "We don't see things clearly. We are squinting in a fog, peering through a mist." It seems that no matter how sure we are, there are times in which the vision of God becomes like finding a needle in a haystack.
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'Starsky & Hutch'
If you were a male who grew up in the late 1970s, you probably wanted to drive either a red Grand Torino or an orange Dodge Charger. Hollywood has yet to make a movie version of "The Dukes of Hazzard," so those who want to see the General Lee in action will have to wait. But those who want to see the red Grand Torino can watch it tearing up the streets of Bay City in "Starsky & Hutch."
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Chosen: Part One
Most people who know of the story of Jesus wonder what he did between his birth and his baptism. The four Gospels of the New Testament give few hints. About the only story we get comes from Luke, who writes of a 12-year-old Jesus talking in the temple.
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'Miracle'
Langston Hughes wrote of what takes place when a dream is deferred. He used graphic terms, like rotten meat and running sores. But sometimes a dream deferred is a fire that burns in a person.
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'Lost in Translation'
Living away from a large urban area can be hard—especially hard when you are a movie buff. Many of the art house films do not come your way. When a movie comes out you cannot get to, you wait with bated breath for its DVD release.
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'Cold Mountain'
One of the great horrors of our national history—the Civil War—has been the backdrop of some wonderful stories. The most famous is "Gone With the Wind." The love triangle of Scarlet O'Hara, Rhett Butler and Ashley Wilkes is a part of American popular culture. Now, "Cold Mountain" joins the ranks of love stories etched in the wasteland of the Civil War.
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Samson: Judge of Israel
"With great power comes great responsibility." That is the famous line penned by Stan Lee in the origin of Spiderman. In comics, those with supernatural powers are faced with a choice: Use those powers for good or for evil. There is always a tension between using powers for self or for the greater good.
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'The Last Samurai'
The writer of Ecclesiastes was right. There is nothing new under the sun.
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'The Cat in the Hat'
Some great books become great films. "Forrest Gump" comes to mind, as does "To Kill a Mockingbird." These movies succeed because they bring to life characters that transfer easily from page to screen. It is now hard to read either book without thinking of Forrest and Atticus being fleshed out by Tom Hanks and Gregory Peck, respectively. These movies leave an indelible mark on the mind. That is the nature of movies; their images stay with us long after the movie is over.
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'Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World'
There was a time when Hollywood made big pictures. Wide panoramas filled large, curved screens. Those big screens held larger than life characters driven by ambitious ideals and values.
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'The Matrix Revolutions'
It started with a bang and ends with a whimper. "The Matrix" presented a universe wherein what we saw and inhabited was not real. Reality was unknown, but there was a man, Neo, with the ability to bring salvation to the millions caught in this Matrix.
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Testament
When most people think about comics, they think of superheroes clad in spandex, capes flying in the wind, going about their derring-do.
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'Intolerable Cruelty'
Joel and Ethan Coen make wonderful movies, many of which focus on love and marriage. One of their funniest movies, "Raising Arizona," deals with a couple's search for completeness through the kidnapping of a child. "O Brother Where Art Thou" takes Homer's Odyssey and turns it into a journey to win back Everett McGill's wife.
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'Matchstick Men'
A recent survey declared 1939 the greatest year for movies. That year W.C. Fields starred in "You Can't Cheat an Honest Man," one in a long line of con movies with flim-flam men, grifters and con men as protagonists.
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"Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl"
"Yo ho! Yo ho! A pirate's life for me!" If you have ever been to Walt Disney World in Florida or Disneyland in California, those words are probably welded into your brain. One of the best rides of the park is now a pretty good popcorn summer movie.
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"Hulk"
During my seminary days, I was required to take pastoral care, where the professor explained that all of us are messed up, and that our parents are the ones who did it to us. "Hulk" is a movie that attempts to deal with the ways that family messes us up.
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Ten Films to Stir the Spirit: Part 2
Several readers have asked EthicsDaily.com to recommend films to jumpstart spiritual discussions. EthicsDaily.com's three movie reviewers have each weighed in, offering 10 films apiece.
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"Finding Nemo"
"Toy Story" opened the door to a new kind of moviemaking by using computer-generated animation. Such film universes, created with pixels and high-profile celebrity voices, could become box-office hits.
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"The Matrix Reloaded"
"The Matrix Reloaded" roars on the screen like a juggernaut, with both the visual power to stun the senses and the philosophical underpinning to tantalize the intellect. It will be discussed for months to come in anticipation of the third Matrix film, "The Matrix Revolutions," due for release in November.
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"Daddy Day Care"
It's easy to find fault with Eddie Murphy. His recent movie track record is not good. He had what I called the trifecta of bad movies last year: "Pluto Nash," "Showtime" and "I Spy."
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"X2: X-Men United"
Moviegoers with only a passing knowledge of X-Men will probably not like this sequel to 2000's successful "X-Men" movie. This latest adaptation of the comic-book series will seem like an endless series of events with no correlation. But those who know the X-Men and the work of comics creator Chris Claremont will love it.
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"Bulletproof Monk"
"Bulletproof Monk" is another entry in the long line of comics-based movies. The problem with "Monk" is that it's like a Chinese dinner: You take one thing from column A, another from column B and yet another from column C to make a meal (or in this case, a movie.)
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"Anger Management"
Adam Sandler made one of the best movies of last year in "Punch Drunk Love." It helped many of us better understand the characters he has played in his other movies. It also gave him a wonderful opportunity to say goodbye to those characters and branch out into new roles.
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"Head of State"
If you hang around Hollywood long enough and your star power shines bright enough, you'll be given an opportunity to direct your own feature film. The old joke is that most people who act do so in hopes of one day being able to direct. "Head of State" is a vanity project for its star, Chris Rock.
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"Dreamcatcher"
Avoid "Dreamcatcher" like the plague spoken of in its story. It will rank as one of the 10 worst films for 2003.
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"Agent Cody Banks"
"Agent Cody Banks" isn't all that bad, but it's not all that good either. There is little imagination. It is a stock movie with some popular teenage stars drawing in kids.
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"Daredevil"
"Daredevil" is good, but not great. For comics fans, it will be hailed as a wonderful realization. But for others, it may seem to be just another guy in a leather suit beating people up.
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"Shanghai Knights"
Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson team up again—and follow the same formula—for "Shanghai Knights."
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Ten Worst Movies of 2002
A new year brings many "best of" lists, and there were indeed many noteworthy movies in 2002. But there were some bad ones too, so I sit at the keyboard to point out what I consider the 10 worst. So here it goes, in no particular order ...
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"Catch Me If You Can"
Spielberg has crafted a movie dealing with issues historically important to his films. The movie may look like just another crime caper, but it asks deep questions about family and relationships.
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"Star Trek: Nemesis"
Have you noticed that when you eat a piece of cake that is so good you have to have a second piece, that the second piece does not taste as good as the first? "Star Trek: Nemesis" is the about the fourth piece from this cake, and it is not as tasty as the other ones.
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"Solaris"
"Solaris" uses science fiction to explore the problems we have in relationships and our lack of understanding those we relate to.
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"Die Another Day"
Pierce Brosnan proves that he should have been Bond during that sad period when Timothy Dalton was 007. Brosnan is funny and frightening, and he has now placed his signature on the series with this movie.
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"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"
For older children still moved by metaphor and its magic, this is a wonderful movie. It shines in its story and its portrayal. It can help parents talk to their children about the nature of fame (which has become a national obsession) and its consequences.
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"The Santa Clause 2"
If these movies must be made, do with them what should be done. Put them on the Wonderful World of Disney the week before Christmas, not Nov. 1. All the latter does is make us think about Christmas when we have yet to give thanks on Nov. 28.
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"Punch-Drunk Love"
"Punch-Drunk Love" is a wonderful movie. Billed as a dark comedy, it really is a parable about what family can do to a person.
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"The Truth About Charlie"
It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When it comes to movie remakes, it can also be the source of bad movies that could have been much better. A good case in point is "The Truth About Charlie."
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"Sweet Home Alabama"
If you are looking for a good vision of the New South and the prodigal returning, don't look here.
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Fall Movie Preview
Studios traditionally roll out their "heavy gun" movies in the fall. We see the films that will vie for Best Picture and Best Acting Oscars. This fall, there are some unlikely actors giving unlikely performances.
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"Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams"
Robert Rodriguez is one of those young directors greatly influenced by the old movies on the racks at Blockbuster. We see those influences in his latest movie, "Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams."
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"Road to Perdition"
It is sad that this film has been compared to "The Godfather." "The Godfather" showed us the politics of the mob within the context of family. "Road to Perdition" shows us the context of family within the politics of the mob.
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"Men in Black II"
If you want something fresh, don't go see "Men in Black II." It's the same as the original. But if you want to laugh out loud, go see it. It's funny.
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"The Bourne Identity"
If you go to the movies often, you may notice that most of today's movies have one theme: the fish out of water. These movies place a character in a foreign setting and wait for sparks to fly.
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"About a Boy"
Lurking in the smaller theaters of your multiplex is an easily overlooked movie.
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"Lilo and Stitch"
There is an old formula used for movies. You find it in varied forms like "The Three Stooges" short, "Hoi Polloi" and the very funny Eddie Murphy movie, "Trading Places." It focuses on this idea: people are what they are. Nothing can change you because what you are is locked up in your DNA.
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"Scooby Doo"
Scooby Doo? Scooby don't.
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"The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood"
Based on the best-selling Rebecca Wells novel, "The Divine Secrets of Ya-Ya Sisterhood" is a southern tale of family life. It presents Sidda Lee Walker, an accomplished playwright whose play has finally hit Broadway. In an interview with Time magazine Sidda reveals her troubled childhood growing up in Louisiana.
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Spirit: How Two Reviewers See It
At a time when the preservation of wilderness country is a hotly debated political issue in our nation, there is nothing wrong with a reminder of how much we have already lost. "Spirit" is worth seeing just for the stunning animation and that environmental reminder.
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"Spider-Man"
The story goes that when Stan Lee wanted to produce the Spider-Man comic, the powers that be at Marvel Comics did not find a geeky teenager with superpowers enticing.
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Summer Features Smallbusters Too
Summer blockbusters, like "Spider-Man" and "Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones," are coming to a multiplex near you. These big, loud movies will be accompanied by Happy Meals, action figures and comic books. But movie-goers can look forward to summer's smallbusters too—those movies that sneak in under the radar but hold great promise.
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"Changing Lanes"
In John Ford's masterpiece, "The Grapes of Wrath," Casy, the preacher who lost the call, says, "So maybe there ain't no sin an' there ain't no virtue. It's just what people does. Some things folks do is nice and some ain't so nice. That's all any man's got a right to say."
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"Contact"
"Contact" (1997) examines the intersection of faith and science. It tells a great story and allows for meaningful interaction between characters without being too preachy.
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"Ice Age"
Animation has become a huge part of the movie industry. Years ago, animated pictures were "event" pictures because they were released infrequently. But Disney revived animation with "The Little Mermaid," and now most major studios are producing animated features.
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Oscars Overlook Some Star Performers
On Feb. 12, many in the movie community awoke with stars in their eyes. Others awoke with stunned looks on their faces. The Oscar race had begun. Some were glad, some sad, others had to be downright mad.
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"I Am Sam"
"I Am Sam" tells the story of Sam Dawson, a man who has not developed mentally past the age of seven. He fathers a child with a homeless woman who used his apartment as a flophouse. After the birth of their daughter, the mother disappears into the urban landscape, never to be seen again.
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"The Majestic"
"The Majestic" tells the story of an unwitting Moses who comes to a town in grief and leads it back from the banks of the river of denial.
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"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"
Director: Chris Columbus Cast: Daniel Radcliff (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), Richard Harris (Professor Dumbledore), Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall), Alan Rickman (Professor Snape).
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Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
"Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" introduces us to an alternate reality called Middle Earth, a place where "history becomes legend and legend becomes myth," according to the movie's opening voice-over.
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