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A Breath of New Life, by Reed Lackey

6 Mar

Filmmakers in the faith-based genre have rarely even attempted a thriller, let alone an overt horror film. However, making a noteworthy attempt to marry religious concepts with metaphorical monsters is the recent film from writer/director Matt Long called The Red Resurrection. The film cleverly layers its Christian metaphors into its plot while remaining remarkably even-handed, although it can’t quite overcome the obvious stylistic restraints of a limited budget and a first time filmmaker.

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The Old Familiar Magic, by Reed Lackey

3 Mar

After more than two decades of storytelling, Pixar’s formula is fairly well set in stone. Each of their films introduces a unique world and its characters, after which shortly follows a problem – or a need – which initiates a quest into an uncertain and uncharted landscape. Eventually revelations occur, most frequently of the relational variety, where our characters experience epiphanies about themselves and those closest to them before likely returning home with a renewed understanding or a refreshed sense of purpose.

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Sound and Fury, by Reed Lackey

10 Jan

For a film to effectively evoke 19th century gothic, literary horror, it must be unified visually and tonally. The Sonata, the debut feature film by director Andrew Desmond, also manages to evoke the narrative sensibilities and structure as well.

Rose Fisher, a prodigy violinist, successful but unfulfilled, inherits the estate of her late father, who was also a world-renowned musician. Her relation to the legendary composer had been intentionally kept a secret, even from her displaced and curious agent, until his passing prompts a reclusive retreat for her to spend time figuring out what she wants from her future. What she doesn’t know (at least at first) is that her father killed himself rather violently and that he left behind a strange sonata, which would surely ignite the composing world but may also bring about the literal antichrist.

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Over Pressure, by Reed Lackey

22 Oct

In the realm of faith-based films, perhaps the least likely of sub-genres to encounter (second only to out-right horror) is the suspense thriller. The challenges in developing a compelling narrative while still making the film accessible to families are numerous. Tackling those challenges in his most recent film, Thy Neighbor, is director George A. Johnson, who has managed to craft a compelling and provocative suspense film, even if it does still succumb to some of the usual difficulties of both the suspense and faith-based genres.

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All Good Things, by Reed Lackey

24 Apr

What Marvel Studios has done in cinema is unprecedented: 10 years, 22 films, and a shared universe that spans multiple franchises, each and all cross-linked and overlapped. This grand enterprise sees its culmination (for now) in Avengers: Endgame, a film which is a direct continuation of the events in Avengers: Infinity War, but also presumes to be the grand finale of the first movement of this expansive storytelling landscape. The sheer anticipation surrounding this film is staggering, and the expectations would be monumental for any film to meet in any context.

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Just as Rehearsed, by Reed Lackey

28 Mar

The recent emergence of classic Disney animated features remade into live action films has yielded varied, but mostly positive, results. One of the biggest hurdles the respective filmmakers face is how to retain what made the classic animated feature so beloved while still justifying the existence of a renewed feature. Perhaps of all the possible choices, the biggest opportunity for reimagining and refreshing was the 1941 classic, Dumbo, which finally sees a new vision come to life.

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A Year with Hitchcock: The Manxman, by Reed Lackey

7 Feb

The last of Alfred Hitchcock’s silent films is also arguably the best (although The Lodger remains the most significant). With strong, well-defined characters, a poignant and emotional narrative, and sturdy, focused direction, The Manxman is a solid entry in the filmmaker’s early catalogue.

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A Year with Hitchcock: Champagne, by Reed Lackey

4 Feb

Sometimes films aren’t trying to be anything complex or deep or rich or thought-provoking. But they at least need to not be boring. Champagne isn’t trying to be anything but a silly farce. But when the director of said farce is Alfred Hitchcock (albeit while his legacy was still in its infancy) it’s nearly impossible to divorce the expectations from the end result.

Ultimately, Champagne doesn’t amount to much of anything. It’s silly. At times, it’s even chuckle-worthy. But mostly, from both a narrative and thematic standpoint, it’s little more than a hollow waste of time.

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A Year with Hitchcock: Easy Virtue, by Reed Lackey

1 Feb

There is a discrepancy with when Easy Virtue was made in Hitchcock’s filmography. Truffaut’s definitive study of Alfred Hitchcock places this film as directly preceding The Ring, while most other records has it two films later. Regardless of when it was made, this one is quite fascinating, even if it isn’t very good. It contains very few of Hitchcock’s reputational trademarks, and yet somehow still makes sense when considered among his other early films.

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A Year with Hitchcock: The Farmer’s Wife, by Reed Lackey

28 Jan

Of all the things you’d expect from an Alfred Hitchcock film, straight-forward comedy would probably be last on the list.

Enter this early little gem — which would never rank among the comedic greatness of Keaton, Chaplin, or Lloyd (or even the funniest of Hitch’s work) — but is disarmingly funny nonetheless. The premise is very simple: a widower farmer decides to seek a wife. He seeks out a new bride in an almost mathematical fashion, frequently with highly comedic rejections. I chuckled several times during this film as each new rejection increased in absurd over-dramatics. It doesn’t ever quite rise to the status of screwball gold, but there are genuinely humorous moments.

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