Mark Judge

Mark Judge is a journalist and filmmaker whose writings have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Daily Caller.

Split and the Snowflake Generation

Film Review Split

Horror movies don’t get the respect of dramas, comedies, or even superhero movies, but in some ways they are the most daring kind of storytelling. Unlike romantic comedies or action movies, horror films are allowed to be unpredictable. Characters we’ve come to like bite the dust. Everybody knows that Spider-Man is not going to go down but in The Exorcist (1973), the leading character, a priest, does. In Drag Me to Hell (2009), a young woman who was heartless to a poor old woman gets sucked into the netherworld by demons. In Sinister (2012), one of my favorites, a writer played by Ethan Hawke realizes too late that his fascination with watching grisly movies he found in the attic of a new home is letting a sinister force into his house. That sort of thing won’t happen to Captain America.

Read More

Would You Like Fries with that Sturm und Drang?

Founder2

Is it possible for a film’s musical score to undermine the film it supposedly serves? In the case of The Founder, the answer is yes.

The Founder stars Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, the Chicagoan who took a small hamburger stop called McDonald’s and turned it into a billion-dollar global brand. The film depicts Kroc as an unstoppable force of nature but also a ruthless and dishonest businessman. Keaton’s portrayal is fantastic, his character at once a spry, hyper-focused visionary and a heartless SOB.

Read More

The Dark Night of Silence

silence

It’s just a formality, really. Very easy to do. Easier than walking.

These are the quiet solicitations of the Inquisitor, a character in Martin Scorsese’s new drama Silence. The Inquisitor, played by Issey Ogata, is in charge of persecuting Christians in 17th century Japan. Japan’s Edict of Expulsion of 1614 attempted to eradicate Christianity from its islands. The Inquisitor tortures and kills Christians, but also cajoles with cold ruthlessness. Presenting believers with a plaque with either Jesus or Mary on it, he places it on the ground and tells them: step on it to renounce your faith. It’s a very simple motion, he says. Just one step. Nothing to it.

Read More

Camelot’s Punitive Liberalism

Jackie

Jackie, which tells the story of Jacqueline Kennedy and the immediate aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination, is a moving and socially important film. It’s about grief, but also about how a pliant press allowed a grieving widow to create a powerful myth that was related to reality, but only tenuously. It’s about the media willingly succumbing to manipulation.

Read More

Time Present and Time Past

ArrivalShip

Arrival is a near-flawless film. Although billed as a science fiction movie, it is a deeply spiritual and humanistic meditation on life, death, love, and time.

Read More

In the Moonlight

moonlight

Get ready to hear a lot about a new film called Moonlight. Written and directed by Barry Jenkins (2008’s Medicine for Melancholy), it is a beautifully directed and brilliantly acted portrait of a boy struggling to find his identity in a milieu of poverty, violence, and drugs. The reviews have been rapturous: a “masterpiece”; “even better than you’ve heard”; a “gem,” and “one of the best films of the year.”

Read More

Liberate the Captives

birth of a nation

The Birth of a Nation has been called a classic revenge movie—Braveheart set in antebellum America—and it’s a largely accurate assessment. This is a biopic of Nat Turner, a slave who led a rebellion in 1831 of slaves and free blacks in Southampton County, Virginia, that resulted in the deaths of some 55 to 65 white people. In retaliation, white militias and mobs killed more than 200 black people before hanging Turner.

Something crucial has been left out of that assessment, though.

Read More

The Conscience and The Light Between Oceans

the_light_between_oceans

The Light Between Oceans is fascinating and even important film. Directed by Derek Cianfrance and based on the novel by M.L. Stedman, it’s a gorgeous if overly long examination of mercy, passion, and the slow working of the conscience.

Read More

Did They Crucify It?

ben hur

Ben-Hur is basically three films in one. The first is an action-adventure tale. The second is a family drama. And the third is a story of the redemptive power of the love of Christ. It’s an absorbing adaptation of the novel that a former general of the Union army, Lew Wallace, published in 1880, called Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

Read More

A Tyranny Film Festival

jp2

Summer is the time for big dumb action movies, but fans of intelligent and compelling filmmaking also have alternatives to superheroes, gross-out comedies, and Jason Bourne. Two newly released documentaries—Liberating a Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism, and also Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief—are expertly crafted and explore the deepest questions about human belief and the nature of truth.

Read More