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

‘Ready Player One’ Confuses Meaningful Nostalgia with Legalistic Knowledge

by Abby Olcese 04-02-2018

Image via Ready Player One trailer 

Unfortunately, that’s not a sentiment shared by the rest of the film. In their quest, Wade and his friends display their encyclopedic knowledge of vintage pop culture as badges to be worn, or tools to be used, rather than pieces of personal meaning. At one point, Sorrento meets with Wade to try and win him over, spouting references fed to him by a lackey in another room. Wade calls his bluff, telling his enemy, “A fanboy knows a hater.” But it’s hard to see much of a difference between the two characters in that moment. They’re both using rote, memorized facts, rather than actual connection, to fuel their conversation and get what they want. The only difference is that Wade had to do the research on his own, while Sorrento has a team doing it for him.

The Message of 'Love, Simon': We All Deserve a Great Love Story

by Abby Olcese 03-19-2018

Image via "Love, Simon"/Facebook

Robinson’s performance as Simon is worth noting in the way it adheres to and subverts teen movie characters we’ve seen before, with particular regard to the master of the genre, John Hughes. Robinson’s got all the charm, looks, and outward swagger of a Hughes leading man, with the inner confusion and insecurity of Molly Ringwald, all rolled into one. He’s the rare effortlessly cool movie teen who doesn’t have it all figured out. And his friends are honest about their own issues, too, providing a refreshing portrait of movie teenagers that hits closer to reality.

A Wrinkle in Time: A Beautiful, But Surface-Level, Film

by Abby Olcese 03-09-2018

Image via Wrinkle in Time Facebook 

A Wrinkle in Time is bright and colorful, not only applying broad imagination to its settings and costumes, but also daring to extend that same concept to its diverse cast. In addition to the multiracial identities of the three Mrs., Meg is biracial and the adopted Charles Wallace is asian. These choices clearly come from a very personal place for DuVernay, and it’s lovely to see that diversity communicated with earnestness and intention. A large part of the film’s message is self awareness and self-love and it’s important that this message comes to audiences through the experience of a young girl of color, addressing universal pre-teen feelings of awkwardness or self esteem issues through a character who relates to more than just a white audience.

Welcome to Wakanda

by Abby Olcese 02-16-2018

Image via Black Panther Movie/Facebook

Should we be building walls, or making it easier for people seeking a better life to enter our borders? Should we use our resources to exercise military might, or to fix a system rigged against people of color and people in poverty? Wakanda knows its answer. Perhaps Black Panther can help American audiences reconsider ours.

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Is an Advent Movie

by Abby Olcese 12-13-2017

Image via Star wars: The Last Jedi Trailer

In this sense, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is an Advent movie. Director Rian Johnson’s wildly fun and thoughtful entry into the Star Wars canon finds its heroes at a precarious turning point. The film makes its characters grapple with the flaws of their established order, consider whether any of it is worth saving, and move forward by embracing the hopeful qualities of the Force and the Resistance.

‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ Tackles the Good and Bad of Righteous Anger

by Abby Olcese 12-04-2017

Image via Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Facebook

Mildred rents the three billboards down the road from her house to cover with messages shaming the local police chief, Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) in hopes of galvanizing the department into action. She merely irritates the sympathetic Willoughby, but infuriates Dixon (Sam Rockwell), a dim officer with racist and homophobic tendencies and an anger management problem. As tensions escalate and anger begets violence (which begets more violence), Mildred and Dixon are each forced to address the deeper issues inside them that fuel their actions.

'Coco' Honors Family, Past and Present

by Abby Olcese 11-28-2017

Image via "Coco'/Facebook. 

'Coco' functions beautifully as a unifying reminder of the ways family and legacy influence us.

‘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.

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