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Sunday - November 27, 2022

Articles Written By TimBrennan

 

The Best-Case Worst-Case

November 21st, 2022

The act of making a movie is the act of solving an escalating series of fiendishly difficult problems. If there’s a story problem the dumbass screenwriter missed, you have to fix it. If your lead actor can’t perform the role the way you need, you need to handle it. If you run out of money three-quarters of the way through filming, you must find a way to work the problem. Ryan Coogler understands this concept intimately. He broke in as a filmmaker with the independent film Fruitvale Station. He invigorated the way past dead Rocky franchise with Creed. Most notably, he made one of the most intelligent... Read More

Edge of Adulthood

November 14th, 2022

Empathy is in short supply these days. It seems that way, anyway. Horrifyingly large numbers of so-called Christians not only allow bullying but embrace it and cheer it on. People who claim to have an evolved outlook on…well, everything, also lean hard into being judgmental and positively flee from the concept of forgiveness. It’s all quite dispiriting. Though perhaps it’s not as bad as all that? Consider that, as I write this, an election that was supposed to be a red wave turned into a purplish puddle. It wasn’t long ago that the idea of two men being married — legally! — would have... Read More

The Last Round

November 7th, 2022

A wee bit of Googling tells me that some of the leading causes of death here in the good old U.S. of A. are heart disease,  COVID-19,* kidney disease, strokes, and cancer. Sure, accidental death cracked the top 10, but the majority are medical issues that tend to take us out slowly but surely. That means for most of us, we’ll see the end of life coming., at least this iteration of it. So how do we deal with it? Most of us tend to deal with the inescapable fact of our mortality by not dealing with it. I get it, and I hate to be a killjoy, but we’re all going to die. Someday, and with luck,... Read More

Best Friends For Never

October 31st, 2022

Some friendships are lifelong. Those people who will tolerate your foibles if you’re lucky enough to connect with them. They’ll have your back. You’ll have a real and genuine bond with them, the kind of bond that can weather years and endure drama. I have a few people like that in my life and I figure that makes me luckier than I deserve. In my experience, those friendships tend to be the exception and not the rule. Most friendships are temporary. Those people you hung out with in high school? The smart money says that inside of ten years, you won’t be in touch with them beyond the occasional... Read More

Michael Myers in the Multiverse of Madness

October 24th, 2022

Over time, audiences have been trained to regard franchises a certain way. The understanding is that everything is connected, and a plot point or character that’s introduced will be paid off in a later installment. Look at the MCU. When a person or concept is brought up, those in the know smile and think, “They’re really going to do something cool with that two to six years down the road!” It wasn’t always that way. Studios got into the habit of treating sequels as “the same, but more” as the original. Die Hard II is basically the same movie as Die Hard, only not as good. If they... Read More

There Was a Crooked Man

October 17th, 2022

If you had told me years ago that I’d fall in love with Vienna, I would have laughed in your face. What country is it in, again? Germany? Poland? Oh, yeah, Austria. And Vienna is famous for what, exactly? You guessed it, I was a cretinous and incurious American who, for a while anyway, reveled in his own ignorance. As so often happens, I fell in love with Vienna because my wife kicked my ass in that direction. We were planning the details of our honeymoon. We’re not Puerto Vallarta or Honolulu-type vacationers, and Europe was on our minds. After offers, counteroffers, and counter-counteroffers,... Read More

Arms Up to Heaven

October 10th, 2022

I need to give you a little bit of background about how we do things around these parts. I’m privileged because the site I write for allows me to write about anything I want. Nobody has ever said, “Hey, how about not so much of this MCU nonsense?” Nobody has ever DMd me and proclaimed, “You will no longer write about horror movies if you know what’s good for you.” I’m grateful for that.  Despite having free reign to cover whatever strikes my fancy, I think it’s important to have some variety. It’s not only the spice of life, it’s the spice of film criticism. You don’t need... Read More

Norma Jeane

October 3rd, 2022

The point of a biopic is to understand its subject. Isn’t it? I think so, though, for a long time, biopics seemed to exist to portray every significant moment in a person’s life, then sum it all up.* The best ones, however, examine a period of time or series of moments, then focus on behavior to tell us who someone is. The Social Network and Steve Jobs are just a few of the better offerings we’ve seen in the last few years. But what happens when a biopic fundamentally doesn’t get its subject? An excellent example of this is 1989’s Wired, which focused on John Belushi. It was based on... Read More

Revenge Is Like a River

September 26th, 2022

I’ve seen enough American movies to know what they look and feel like. Odds are you’re the same way. Whether you’ve seen an A24 horror film, an entry in the MCU, or a prestige Oscar contender, you have a pretty good sense of the expected beats. That doesn’t mean that every film released in this country is predictable, but what it does mean is that American movies are generally made with American sensibilities in mind. There’s a vast and fascinating world of cinema beyond our borders, and one of the most fun aspects is to gauge how those foreign sensibilities are both different and similar... Read More

A Journalist of Some Repute

September 19th, 2022

I’m fond, perhaps too much, of saying that two things can be true at the same time. The first thing is that attempting to reboot a long-dormant franchise is foolish. Nobody is clamoring for a revival of Francis the Talking Mule. Millions of people online aren’t pestering studio bigwigs for an updated Ma and Pa Kettle. Some things, once cinematically dead, should stay dead. So it was for the Fletch franchise. At least, I thought so. Long, long ago, Chevy Chase was one of the world’s biggest stars. 1987’s Fletch was a solid hit for him, and understandably so. It’s Chase’s favorite film... Read More

Actionable History

September 12th, 2022

As recently as 2019,* an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal trotted out that hoary old chestnut about women in the military. You’ve heard this before, the idea that women aren’t as strong as men, are injured far more often, and that by reducing the physical standards of recruits, the lethality of the military will be reduced and the odds of invasion by our hated enemy, Canada, will only increase. Plus there’s the concern that a coed military means a sexually active military, and we certainly can’t have that!** The fact that this lame old argument keeps being made says to me that the people... Read More

Family Ties

September 5th, 2022

Perhaps more than any other genre, crime films are my jam. Everyone who’s into film has that one genre they prefer just a bit more than the others. Even snooty old film critics will give a pass to their beloved “elevated horror” films or to historical dramas. It’s never been about bias, just personal preference. A film that focuses on scumbags up to assorted scumbaggery? Great, sign me up! I can hang with the sweeping L.A. crime saga of Heat, the chilly nihilism of No Country for Old Men, the jittery panic of Training Day; the list goes on. While I’m not sure the crime genre has quite... Read More

The Bracelet

August 29th, 2022

Independent film exists because studios exist. Show business, particularly these days, has an almost sociopathic focus on the “business” side. Due to the coming merger of streaming behemoths HBO Max and Discovery+, nearly completed films were shelved and declared to be tax write-offs. TV programs that were deemed to be not profitable enough were canceled and/or removed entirely from the streaming library. In the end, money rules all with the studios. No big surprise there, and the reason that Marvel Studios is the name in four-quadrant popular cinematic entertainment is that the movies make... Read More

Her Impossible

August 22nd, 2022

If a genie offered you three wishes, what would you wish for? You’ve probably had that conversation. Whether you were baked out of your mind, sitting around a campfire, or chatting with a close friend or lover, that question has passed through your mind. You could make that one person fall in love with you. You could become as rich as Croesus. Hell, you could eat as many tacos as you want and never gain weight. The conversation about wishes is one that matters, one that’s always mattered. That’s because it’s ultimately about stories. As humans, we make sense of the world through narratives.... Read More

Fight Or Flight

August 15th, 2022

Imagine you’re a filmmaker. You have an idea. It feels like a good one, a very good one. You start writing, and after multiple screenplay drafts, you think you’re in good shape. Then, after assembling a cast and crew, you begin the Sisyphean task of making the movie. Amazingly, you finish without having too many nervous breakdowns. Then, you oversee the editing. After all that, your creation is released into the world, and…people love it! Your movie becomes both beloved and profitable. What happens next? Everybody wants a sequel. Your success is the good news, but the bad news is that sequels... Read More

Train Go Fast

August 8th, 2022

It’s been said that the era of the movie star is dead. I’m not sure I’d say it’s dead, per se, but it’s definitely in a medically induced coma. For example, take a look at the highest grossing films of 2022 thus far. A few of them are: Top Gun: Maverick Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Jurassic World: Dominion The Batman Minions: The Rise of Gru All of those films are intellectual property. All of them are part of a franchise, to some degree. With one exception, their success isn’t based on who the star is. Rather, their success is based on a filmgoer’s comfort level... Read More

Background Noise

July 25th, 2022

Not every film actor is a chameleon. Sure, the Meryl Streeps and Daniel Day-Lewises of the world can vanish into roles and become a hundred different people with protean speed. They tend to be the exception to the rule. When we go to the movies, most of the names up on the screen tend to play the same kinds of roles over and over. Is it fair? Are myopic filmmakers, rapacious executives, and cowardly producers robbing actors of the chance to flex their creative muscles? Maybe, but them’s the breaks. If I’m being fair, there are more reasons than that. Sometimes an actor is less interested in... Read More

One Thing, Then Another

July 18th, 2022

If you had to break it down, and we’re going to do just that, there are really two kinds of spy movies. The first are action movies with spies.* If you were in the mood to see Matt Damon whip seventeen kinds of ass, Colin Firth slaughter an entire church, or Charlize Theron kick a guy down a flight of stairs, movies like The Bourne Identity, Kingsman, and Atomic Blonde would fit the bill nicely. Perhaps you’re in the mood for something more cerebral. That brings us to the second kind of spy movie, which are the films that take the craft of espionage seriously. Movies like Spy Game or Tinker,... Read More

The Big Ka-Boom

July 11th, 2022

One of my favorite ways to while away a few minutes is to read one-star product reviews. But not just for anything, oh, no. The only ones that will do are the classics, the unimpeachable works that virtually everybody adores. I like to find those works, then look up the people that hate them. For the most part, it’s like seeing who’s going for the gold in the Bad Take Olympics. A negative review for Schindler’s List was one of my favorites, which sadly seems to have been removed. The writer acknowledged the importance of memorializing the Holocaust. Their objection, however, was all the... Read More

The (Telephone) Ring

July 4th, 2022

A good premise is powerful. It’s the kind of thing that Hollywood executives fantasize over, and the kind of thing producers worry about screwing up. It can be a license to print money and a way for a movie to guarantee immortality. You know it because as soon as you’re introduced to the premise, you think, “I have to see that.” I’m not talking about sequels, though. Top Gun: Maverick has made all the money, and deservedly so. But nobody saw it based on the concept, “An over-the-hill fighter pilot must train a group of rookies to undertake a dangerous bombing run.” Instead, audiences... Read More