Wow, what an eventful 2014 we’ve had so far here at Looking Closer. And we’ve only just arrived at November.

Historically, November and December are the busiest months of the year on my blog, because it’s time to start reviewing the most impressive music, movies, and more.

But before we get caught up in all of that excitement, I need to stop, glance back over my shoulder, and appreciate just how much your readership and support have enabled me to do… in spite of the fact that I’ve been working full-time in an office job, and chasing challenging deadlines for my MFA in Creative Writing graduate studies.

Did you miss any of these highlights? Don’t worry. They’re not going anywhere.

So here we go: An enormous “Thank you!” to those who contributed this year, making many of these posts possible. You’re invited to contribute to the coming months and 2014 by donating to Looking Closer. $2.50 – $200 … any amount will help me cover films, music, conferences, and more.

Let’s review…

Much to my surprise, this is the most popular film review I’ve ever published…

The LEGO Movie

I would have preferred to show up in The New Yorker because of my novels or my film reviews, but instead…

… I was featured in The New Yorker for shining a light on the flawed ideals that drive Ted Baehr, Movieguide, and The Christian Film and Television Commission’s “Christian Oscars” event.

By the request of InTouch Magazine, I presented 12 steps to more rewarding moviegoing…

Viewer Discussion Advised

Invited by Christianity Today to share thoughts on how I’ve changed my mind about a movie, I wrote about…

“How I Got Dead Poet’s Society Wrong — and How a Great Professor Changed My Mind”

Invited by Fuller Seminary to reflect on Pacific Northwest politics and the film Battle in Seattle, I wrote…

“A Personal Reflection on the Pros and Cons of Protest”

When a reader asked me to recommend some good movies for her kids, I suggested My Neighbor Totoro, for one…

30 Must-See Movies for Kids

Invited by Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine editor to comment on films that the Academy Awards overlooked, I wrote about Frances Ha, for one …

Seven Films That Oscar Forgot

In a year of great losses to the world of film and theatre: R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman

The Actor, The Philosopher, The Master, The Wrestler

And R.I.P. Robin Williams

“Who Among Us is Thirsty?”: A Reflection on the Loss of Robin Williams

Quite a bit of discussion and debate surrounded Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, so I weighed in with this two-part revew…

Part One

Part Two

… with a survey of powerful insights from other reviewers …

A commentary and a variety of notable reviews of Noah by some of my favorite film-lovers.

… and with this Kindlings Muse podcast Discussion of Noah

featuring Dr. Jeff Keuss, Dr. Christine Chaney, Jenny Spohr… and me.

This was a year full of poorly made, dismayingly narrow-minded, even hostile “Christian movies” that presened an ugly, arrogant, deeply-flawed version of the gospel…

God’s Not Dead, But Is He Shaking His Head?

Speaking such misguided movies, I looked closer at the reviews of Left Behind

So, how is it? According to film reviewers — Christian or otherwise — it’s pretty much a disaster.

And I reminded readers that well-made movies won’t be . . . Left Behind

The official Facebook page for Left Behind is giving a forum to Christians who call down all kinds of hellfire and brimstone on those — including their fellow Christians — who have issues with the movie. Ah, what a moving portrait of the Gospel at work. Meanwhile, well-made films that take Christianity seriously continue to draw praise from critics, no matter their worldview.

Responding to Alissa Wilkinson’s comments on Gone Girl and Christian perspective, I wrote…

The Christian Message of Gone Girl … (Not Really)

I asked: What are your favorite examples of great music transforming great images at the movies?

You shared your favorites.

When somebody told me that the gap between critics’ views and moviegoers’ first-impressions shows that critics are out of touch, I responded…

Whom Should We Trust: Critics’ Reviews or Audiences’ First Impressions?

I noticed with some admiration that Aragorn has a few things to say about his favorite Peter Jackson movie:

(It Isn’t The Return of the King)

It seemed like a good time to remind people that comedy and faith are not exclusive…

Part One

Part Two

I pointed out, not for the first time, that the Oscars don’t mean much to me… 

Not Gonna Bow: Notes on the Oscars

And then there are the reviews and commentaries on film, television, and music…




If you appreciate this post and enjoy Jeffrey’s work exploring the territory where art, faith, and culture intersect, you’re invited to “Put Your Name in the Credits.” Cast your vote for “Keep Looking Closer Alive.” Make a donation. Offer whatever you feel moved to contribute. All donations will be applied directly to that materials, events, and experiences that make the blog happen. That’s a Looking Closer promise.