Storm Boy (2019)

This realistic story is a blend of healing and compromise. The infusion of a conservation theme is quite different than typical films about animals, which tend to be preachy guilt trips. In this case, a fable bonds grandfather and granddaughter, who have more in common than she realizes, and serves as a bridge between past and present, which is a change of pace from the all-too-common use of random flashbacks to interject backstory. Furthermore, great pains were taken to respect indigenous culture, tradition and, appropriately, wildlife.

Grizzly Man (2005)

A fair & balanced tribute to a quirky guy obsessed with wildlife, especially bears. To some he was a troubled soul seeking purpose; to others he seemed inspirational. To a few he was simply a nuisance. No matter how you regard his passion, there’s no doubt he died doing what he loved: living like a Grizzly.

The Little Stranger (2018)

A fast- fading mansion with seemingly temperamental qualities is as much a character as the moody people that pass through its rooms. Both lend a consistently brooding tone without resorting to typical genre tropes (e.g. explanatory soliloquies or intrusive graphic flashbacks). The few instances of blood are preceded by obvious horror to the characters, who see it before the audience; the lack of shock value in such a familiar element serves to heighten the film’s uneasy tone. Periodic disclosure of important details keeps the story engaging, despite being enigmatic, and by the end manages to deliver a satisfying revelation.

Mortal Engines (2018)

How to describe such a unique fantastical premise…

Entire societies are mobile; each hierarchical city functions within its own feat of engineering (think interlocking collapsible compartments). These giant robotic apparatuses roam the globe vying for power, forcibly assimilating anyone who gets in their way. The plucky young heroes could easily have been in The Maze Runner!

Until now, such an imaginative book series couldn’t have been adapted for the screen. Fortunately, The Peter Jackson specializes in bringing fictional worlds to life via intricately detailed sets and props enhanced by state-of-the-art computer animation.

Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer (2018)

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” –John Adams (‘Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials,’ 1770)

This film is not simply based on a true story; there are documents, video footage, court transcripts, etc. from which the filmmakers drew. In fact, one of the leads mistakenly thought actual photos were pictures taken of the movie set. That is not to say it’s gory; on the contrary, the focus is the process of bringing the medical practice of a seemingly professional physician to trial.

“I didn’t help. I’m a reporter; I’m just interested in the truth. If the truth doesn’t match what I believe, I don’t change the truth.” –blogger, Molly Mullaney

While the situation is reenacted by Hollywood professionals, it is real. It is factually accurate. It is historic. May God have mercy on us for our complicity– whether through ignorance or ambivalence– in mass murder.

I Think We’re Alone Now (2018)

To pidgeon- hole this as a post- apocalyptic story would be too crass for such a nuanced satire that intimately explores the Human Experience; few films capture such a raw and visceral perspective.¬†One of its co-leads compared this to Harold and Maude, which is apt given its subtle dark humor. However, the isolation the characters […]

Maze Runner: the Scorch Trials (2015)

This sequel to The Maze Runner effectively plunges its characters deeper into increasingly dark and twisted places that help train them for the ultimate test to be faced in the final installment. The continued portrayal of relationships as mutually respectful and fiercely loyal– absent of any hormone- fueled delusions– more than make up for the […]

The Maze Runner (2014)

Unfortunately, I need to preface this by saying that, despite being both sophisticated and dark, this was supposed to be a kids’ movie. It’s a significant consideration because, for some reason, it seems to garner recurring criticism over the supposedly impossible group dynamic. If we’re going to split hairs, it’s only fair to point out […]

Hanna (2011)

CIA operatives have seen and experienced more disturbing things than we could ever know. Even the most patriotic has a limit to what he’s willing to support. Usually, I like a bit of mystery because it’s enthralling to let the details unfold. But in this case it was hard to know who to trust so […]

Temple Grandin (2010)

Millions of dollars have been lost by farmers and ranchers utilizing standard– and inhumane– livestock handling practices. The leading expert in the industry is Dr. Temple Grandin, a professor of animal science at Colorado state University, who just so happens to be a woman on the Autism spectrum. It’s remarkable that someone thought to be […]