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The Mystery in Materials

By Jeffrey OverstreetMay 26, 2011

Last week, I witnessed the Big Bang. More specifically—I enjoyed a sneak preview of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. The film’s publicity company will chop off my hands if I publish a review before opening day. But I’ll tell you this: Malick’s movie did more than catapult me back in time to witness the…

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Something That I’m Supposed to Be, Part 2

By Jeffrey OverstreetMay 9, 2011

In my last post I remembered how The Muppet Movie begins. Kermit the Frog leaves the swamp to follow his dream. As American dreams go, Kermit’s is unselfish. He hopes for singing, dancing, creativity, laughter in order to bring people happiness. He welcomes a parade of colorful, kindred spirits: A bear who fancies himself a…

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Something That I’m Supposed to Be, Part 1

By Jeffrey OverstreetMay 6, 2011

Plunk-ah PLUNK-AH PLUNK-AH Plunk-ah PLUNNG! It may be the simplest pop-song hook I’ve ever heard. I can hum Bach concertos, Beethoven anthems, and every melody Bono ever sang. I recognize almost any hook the Beatles and the Stones ever threw down. But that little string of banjo notes is the most evocative line of music…

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Pillars of the Community

By Jeffrey OverstreetApril 19, 2011

You probably know these people. You may even be these people. The Flahertys and the Hepples. Mike and Jackie, and Tom and Gerri. Two couples, happily married. They own their homes. They’ve got good reputations in the community. They love their kids. And if misfortune knocks, they open the door. The Flahertys live in New…

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Dawn Treader: Off Course and Adrift

By Jeffrey OverstreetDecember 14, 2010

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader—Walden Media’s third Narnia movie—portrays one of the fiercest battles you’re ever likely to see at the movies. I’m not talking about blades and arrows (although even C. S. Lewis would be alarmed at how much violence occurs in big-screen Narnia). No, I’m talking about wars…

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Trash Transformed

By Jeffrey OverstreetNovember 30, 2010

In Rio de Janiero, there’s a saying that even Jesus turns his back on the poor. In a way it’s true. Early in Lucy Walker’s documentary Waste Land, a helicopter carries us around Christ the Redeemer, a white statue towering over Rio, arms outstretched embracing the wealthy of Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon. Behind it, we…

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Throwing the First Stone

By Jeffrey OverstreetNovember 5, 2010

Early in director John Curran’s film Stone, parole officer Jack Mabry (Robert DeNiro) sits behind his desk and listens to longtime prisoner Gerald “Stone” Creeson (Edward Norton) plead for parole. The corn-rowed Stone, doing time for a crime that caused his grandparents’ death, dares to tell Jack, “I’m clean as you.” “Maybe, maybe not,” growls…

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Everybody Wants to Rule the World

By Jeffrey OverstreetOctober 20, 2010

If I speak in HTML, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of social networking, master Facebook’s privacy settings, and accept 5,000 friend requests, but have not love, I am nothing.                                                         —1 Corinthians 13:1 (paraphrase) In the prologue of David Fincher’s film…

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Winter’s Bone: A More Human Hero

By Jeffrey OverstreetSeptember 8, 2010

When was the last time you saw a big-screen hero kill, gut, and cook a squirrel? Be prepared for that if you see Winter’s Bone. I wasn’t. Let’s not even talk about the chainsaw, which figures prominently at the end of the film. Let’s focus on Ree Dolly, the seventeen year-old girl “bred and buttered”…

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Revealing The Secret of Kells, Part 2

By Jeffrey OverstreetJune 21, 2010

Part One of my Conversation with film critic Steven Greydanus about the film The Secret of Kells was published in a Good Letters post on Friday. Here is the conclusion of that conversation: Jeffrey to Steven, #4 In your review, you wrote, “It must be admitted that The Secret of Kells somewhat short-changes Brendan’s Christian…

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