Abby Olcese

Abby Olcese (@indieabby88) has been many things — a campus ministry leader at the University of Kansas, an English teacher in Prague, and an advertising assistant at Sojourners. These days, she’s a freelance writer based in Kansas.

Raised on a diet of Narnia, Bob Dylan records and Terry Gilliam movies, Abby is drawn to the weird, the nerdy, and the profoundly artsy corners of popular culture. She loves sharing this knowledge with others by writing about interesting new releases as well as lesser-known gems.

Abby is also passionate about the intersection of faith, social responsibility, and culture. She believes in the power of art to spark important conversations, inspire social change, and help people to better understand life in the kingdom of God.

When she’s not watching movies or writing things down, you can usually find Abby reading comic books or perusing the selection at her local record store.

Posts By This Author

‘The Square’ Is a Bitingly Funny Satire About Human Selfishness

by Abby Olcese 11-13-2017

Image via The Square Trailer

But help is something Christian, and everyone around him, has trouble giving to those who really need it. The Square is full of characters asking for help from unwilling people, including homeless people, charity workers, and women being attacked. Even Christian, an attractive upper-class white guy, can’t get help when his wallet and phone are stolen on the street.

‘Murder on the Orient Express’ Shows How Revenge Doesn’t Mean Justice

by Abby Olcese 11-10-2017

Image via the Murder on the Orient Express movie trailer 

Kenneth Branagh’s new big-screen adaptation of Christie’s novel is a diverting, gorgeous-looking film that struggles a little at showing the humbling effect that dilemma has on the great detective. However, it does a good job of portraying the pain at the center of this story, and how it metastasizes in its characters.

'Thor: Ragnarok' Is an Intergalactic Superhero Party and Everyone's Invited

by Abby Olcese 11-03-2017

Image via Thor/Facebook.

Much like Thor, many white Americans are only now reconciling with the idea that the narrative we’ve grown up believing cuts out huge chunks of the country’s history. It’s especially pertinent that this perspective comes to us from an Indigenous filmmaker (Waititi is Maori, from New Zealand), whose country has its own long history of racism, and who championed cultural representation on his set.

Clooney’s ‘Suburbicon’ a Needed, but Weak Response to MAGA

by Abby Olcese 10-30-2017

Image via Suburbicon trailer 

George Clooney’s new film Suburbicon is very obviously a response to the MAGA line of thinking. The film uses two parallel stories to explore both the hidden nastiness of the archetypal white, suburban family, and the day-to-day racism faced by an African American family trying to achieve their own American dream. It’s a setup ripe with allegorical potential, but while Suburbicon is built on good bones, it’s an unfocused mess that wastes its opportunity.

‘Blade Runner 2049’ Paints an All-White Future. Again.

by Abby Olcese 10-05-2017

Image via Blade Runner 2049 trailer 

Nearly all of the characters K encounters (human and replicant alike) are white. This is in stark contrast to the globalized aesthetic of the city, carried over from the original movie. It could be argued that in a world where a white man like Leto’s Niander Wallace is the one person creating a sizable chunk of the population, it’s not surprising that the creations themselves lack diversity. However, the reality for the film’s casting decisions is likely less about artistic interpretation, and more just plain laziness.

The Troubling View of Communion in ‘mother!’

by Abby Olcese 09-26-2017

Image via "mother!" trailer.

mother!'s grotesquely literal take on the Eucharist also fundamentally misses what communion means.

From Ferguson, an Intimate Look at a Movement

by Abby Olcese 09-18-2017

As filmmaking, Whose Streets is dramatic and powerful. As a historical document, it holds even more weight. 

‘Step’ Is Inspirational But Could Be More

by Abby Olcese 08-17-2017

Image via Step Facebook page

It’s a powerful setup, and the girls’ (and their team’s) journeys are inspiring. But it’s hard to shake the feeling that Lipitz is more concerned with crafting a tidy, three-act narrative than with taking an honest look at who these girls are, and the issues they face.

Finding God in the Dark

by Abby Olcese 07-31-2017
Movies are Prayers: How Films Voice Our Deepest Longings, by Josh Larsen. IVP Books.

AS A TEENAGER growing up in a church setting that discouraged engaging with movies, books, or music deemed a “bad influence,” I remember frequently being confused about pop culture, particularly when it came to what films I was “allowed” to watch. Was I wrong for wanting to see Taxi Driver ? For identifying with Saved? Was it a sin to watch The Last Temptation of Christ?

The answer to all these questions, of course, is “no,” but the sentiment behind them is understandable. The easiest metric for Christians to judge a film’s quality is the measure of its “objectionable” content, regardless of what that content says about the filmmaker’s intent, or the political or cultural attitudes under which it was conceived. The truth, however, is that all art—whether spiritual or secular in origin—has something to express about the world: joy in its beauty, anger at its injustice, a whole spectrum of emotions and ideas that reflect the human experience.

Why ‘The Big Sick’ Is the Romantic Comedy You Need Right Now

by Abby Olcese 07-12-2017

Image via The Big Sick trailer 

But really, the best performance in the film belongs to Nanjiani —no surprise, since it’s partly his own story. The affection he feels for his parents makes him afraid to upset them, but to really come into his own as a person, and as a comedian, he has to be honest with them about what he wants for his life.

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