Thomas Hibbs
Thomas Hibbs
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review
 

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review of Her

January 11, 2014  •  National Review Online

Spike Jonze's new film, Her, is a love story about a man, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), and his futuristic Operating System, the self-named Samantha (voice by Scarlett Johansson). In a film that is more romantic comedy than science fiction, Jonze presents what might once have seemed an absurdly comic premise as a potentially natural outgrowth of current cultural conditions: the development of technology that serves our every need along with our increasing disconnection from one another. The result is a decent film, even at times a gently moving film, with fine performances by Phoenix and Johansson. But because its emotional range is narrow and its fascination more with the expansive capacities of technology than with the complexity of human nature, it fails to exploit the dramatic possibilities of its unusual plotline.

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review of The Wolf of Wall Street

December 27, 2013  •  National Review Online

In an early scene in Martin Scorsese's repulsive, if energetic, The Wolf of Wall Street, the film's main character, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), finds himself working amid Wall Street traders who make enthusiastic and pervasive use of expletives. Belfort finds that and so much more to his liking. For the viewer of this film, which clocks in at just under three hours, the endless repetition of frat-boy machismo dialogue becomes annoying while the relentlessly explicit sexuality is just cloying.

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review of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

December 21, 2013  •  National Review Online

Justin Chadwick's Long Walk to Freedom is the life story of Nelson Mandela, based on Mandela's autobiography of the same name, from his youth to his ascension to political power in South Africa, which marked the defeat of that country's regime of apartheid. Although Mandela is clearly the hero of the film, he is not treated with somber reverence. Idris Elba (The Wire and Prometheus) delivers a fine performance as Nelson, a performance matched by that of Naomie Harris in the role of Winnie Mandela. The film's pace is riveting, its depiction of human conflict (personal and political) compelling, and its portrayal of courage, forgiveness, and hope inspiring.

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The Exorcist at 40

October 31, 2013  •  National Review Online

Garnering a great deal of attention in this, its 40th-anniversary year, The Exorcist remains the most terrifying film ever made. Re-released in a Blu-ray edition with new commentary tracks and features showing screenwriter (and author of the original novel) William Peter Blatty and director William Friedkin revisiting the Georgetown locations of the film, The Exorcist holds up remarkably well nearly half a century later.

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review of 12 Years a Slave

October 19, 2013  •  National Review Online

In his treatment of slavery in the American South in Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville contrasts modern with ancient slavery. While ancient slavery, he wrote, typically aimed to constrain only the body — to force the enslaved into servile work – modern slavery aims to entrap the mind. It "overturns the order of nature," constituting what Tocqueville chillingly called "spiritualized despotism and violence." That thesis is amply illustrated in the compelling new film from the London-born black director Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave, which boasts an all-star cast and a gripping story based on a mid-19th-century autobiography by a free black man, Solomon Northrup, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.

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Books by Thomas Hibbs

Cover of Rouault-Fujimura: Soliloquies Cover of Arts of Darkness Cover of Aquinas, Ethics, and Philosophy of Religion Cover of Virtue's Splendor Cover of Shows About Nothing Cover of Dialectic Narrative In Aquinas

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