White Lies

White Lies

Directed by comedian Jordan Peele, the thriller Get Out is scarily satirical
Get Out is a feature-length version of the not-quite-joking sentiment among African Americans that the suburbs, with their overwhelming whiteness and cultural homogeneity, are eerie twilight zones for black people. Far from being a one-joke movie, however, Jordan Peele's directorial debut is a clever, consistently funny racial satire and horror film mocking white liberal cluelessness and finding humor in (without dismissing) black people's fears.

Tall, Dark and Tiresome

The Fifty Shades sequel delivers even more boring eroticism than the original
There's something liberating about reviewing a film that is bulletproof. This franchise of novels that has struck a chord with the populace — and a thankfully waning punch line for late-night talk show hosts riffing on jokes about your mom reading bondage porn — is doing just fine, thank you very much.

Alienation Building

A Cure for Wellness brings operatic craziness sure to irritate audiences
There's a temptation, for those who write about movies for a living, to anticipate the commercial prospects of movies before they are released. This is usually a fool's errand; anyone who believes they know exactly what will be a hit and what will be a flop should be in a far more lucrative career than film criticism.

The Dork Knight

A child's sense of goofy play reigns in The LEGO Batman Movie
In 2014, The LEGO Movie was the kind of experience which gives a film critic that elusive sense of home: Here was something that at first glance was simply a continuation of the movie industry's creatively bankrupt mining of familiar brand names and nostalgia, but instead turned out to be one of the year's best films. As written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the improbably delightful animated feature found a brilliant game plan for turning this particular toy into a story: combining a child's anarchic sense of play with a savvy adult's perspective on how goofy yet inspired that play can look from a distance.

The Evil Inside

The "final chapter" in a dying franchise that just won't die
Alas, there is not much I can tell you about this ultimate entry in the video-game movie franchise Resident Evil. I apologize.

Not Lost in Translation

The universality of an acclaimed Iranian director's latest work transcends cultural barriers
In 2012, acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for his magnificent divorce drama A Separation. He was invited to join the Academy, and it is believed that he accepted (though, because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences does not make its ranks public, this isn't certain).

Till Death Do We Start

Filmmaker Adam Harum on his short film and moviemaking in Spokane
"Stories begin at their end," says the late critic and writer John Berger in a 1983 episode of the British television program Voices, citing the deaths of Romeo and Juliet as an example and drawing a completed circle in the air with a finger. "That is when the story is given form."

The Beginning

Rich Cowan looks back at The Basket, a film that helped prove Spokane could make movies
It's been almost 18 years since Rich Cowan's directorial debut, The Basket, hit the big screen, but he still thinks about the movie often. He still has the movie poster in his office.

Eyes on the Prize

Filmmaker Justin Whiteman's documentary offers a nuanced portrait of Spokane boxing guru Rick Welliver
One day, an affable guy named Rick Welliver interrupted Justin Whiteman's cup of coffee, asking the filmmaker, "What's your story?"

Check it Out

A dozen films from this year's festival that caught our eye

Gilded Rage

Matthew McConaughey goes on a crazy, but sometimes boring, mining adventure in Gold
Do you enjoy watching men get excited about making lots of money? Have I got a movie for you!

Spiritual Conquest

Scorsese returns to the religious well with Silence
Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield), whose spiritual journey is the subject of Martin Scorsese's Silence, is certain that God hears the faithful's prayers, but wonders why the same God turns a deaf ear to their screams. These are the screams caused by physical torture, not the plaintive wail of everyday woes.

Mind the Gap

20th Century Women offers a compassionate take on generational shifts
If you were given just a thumbnail description of the plot of writer/director Mike Mills' 20th Century Women, you might think you'd know what to expect from the character of Dorothea Fields (Annette Bening). The 55-year-old single mother of a 15-year-old son, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann), in 1979 Santa Barbara, Dorothea struggles with the confidence that she can provide everything Jamie needs to grow up emotionally healthy.

Golden Arches

Michael Keaton gives us the story of McDonald's in the Founder
Few things are more American than McDonald's, which is what makes The Founder rather horrifying. I found myself scribbling that word — horrifying — a lot during my viewing of the film, which condemns with its conclusion that the American dream at its apex is nothing more than rapacious bullshit.

Print (and Reprint) the Legend

Jackie keeps repeating its intriguing ideas about turning people into icons
Before a single image appears on screen in Jackie, there is a deeply unsettling swell of strings from Mica Levi's score; something that begins triumphant, then dips into a kind of horror-movie dissonance. Soon, the haunted face of Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) appears — eyes red-rimmed as she walks on the Kennedy family property in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, just a week after the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy — the music continuing its eerie swing between glorious and terrifying.

Gangster's Bore

Ben Affleck directs and stars in Live by Night, but forgets to add some excitement
With his fourth film as director, Ben Affleck has finally produced a stinker. Live by Night fails because it commits the cardinal sin of cinema: it's boring.


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  • Eyes on the Prize

    Filmmaker Justin Whiteman's documentary offers a nuanced portrait of Spokane boxing guru Rick Welliver
    • Jan 26, 2017
  • Check it Out

    A dozen films from this year's festival that caught our eye
    • Jan 26, 2017
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