James Bowman

James Bowman, our movie and culture critic, is a resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He is the author of Honor: A History and Media Madness: The Corruption of Our Political Culture, both published by Encounter Books.

What Makes Mel Gibson’s ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ an Excellent War Movie

 

It’s depressing that all the reviews, pro or con, of Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge seem to have felt constrained to mention Mr. Gibson’s various offenses against political correctness and common decency — which these days are becoming one and the same thing — of 10 or a dozen years ago. I don’t see any need […]

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The Banality of ‘American Pastoral’

 

One of the running gags in The Simpsons has to do with Homer’s mother, who left Abe Simpson when Homer was a child to become a Weatherman-type terrorist. She has been on the run from the police ever since blowing up the Montgomery Burns institute for research into biological warfare back in the 1960s, and […]

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‘Sully’ Sullied?

 

Whatever else it does or doesn’t do, Clint Eastwood’s Sully makes an interesting case study for those of us who think a lot about the relationship between movies, or popular culture in general, and real life. Because the whole story of “the Miracle on the Hudson” on January 15, 2009 took only seconds to unfold, […]

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Come On, ‘Hell or High Water’

 

The headline to the Los Angeles Times review of Hell or High Water reads as follows: “When the banks steal from you, is it OK to rob them?” Pretty clearly, to ask the question is to answer it. Why would you not rob them, if you had the chance? This kind of moral illiteracy is […]

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‘Florence Foster Jenkins,’ A Great Movie of Our Times

 

One of the more subtle bits of humor in Stephen Frears’s Florence Foster Jenkins, based with reasonable fidelity on a true story, has to do with Hugh Grant’s rather modest conceit of himself as an actor — or is it that of his character, St. Clair Bayfield? Here is a very successful actor playing a […]

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Hillary’s America — and Dinesh D’Souza’s

 

Dinesh D’Souza’s latest documentary, Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, suffers from the same drawback as his earlier films, 2016: Obama’s America (2012) and America: Imagine the World Without Her (2014) — namely, an attempt to do too much. Only this time it is much too much. Instead of limiting himself to […]

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Captain Not So Fantastic

 

It seems to me entirely appropriate that the title of Captain Fantastic, otherwise far from clear in meaning, makes Matt Ross’s movie sound like yet another super-hero flick. His hero, Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen), a militant hippie living in the picturesque forests of the Pacific Northwest with his wife and six children, is every bit […]

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‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ Delights

 

But nowadays juvenility is no longer limited to the young, which may be why Mr. Waititi has to extend his casting reach all the way to 69-year-old Sam Neill to find an adult who is adult enough to take Ricky in hand and at least start the process of turning him into a man.

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The Lobster: Not for the Lover in You

 

When you must you can’t; when you can’t, you must. This view of falling in love could be the “message” of Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster, which he directed and co-wrote with Efthymis Filippou. Or not. For there’s something about this quasi-surrealist fantasy which seems inconsistent with messages, morals, or any kind of serious thought about […]

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‘Me Before You’ — They Did It Their Way

 

One of the most depressing statistics I have ever read came out of a survey of British funeral directors a few years ago which asked them what, in their experience, was the most popular musical request to serenade the passage of the deceased to the next world. Top of the death pops, it found, was […]

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