Thursday - August 16, 2018

Articles Written By TimBrennan

 

Infiltrate Hate

August 12th, 2018

Hate groups walk a very particular line, only they don’t know it. On the one hand, it wouldn’t be out of line to call members of the Ku Klux Klan and related organizations domestic terrorists. Entire seconds of research shows us a vast number of murders, lynchings, rapes, and attacks that are physical, emotional, and psychological in nature. On the other hand? There’s no other way to say it — they’re ridiculous. Grown-ass adults spending their time dressing up in sheets, using secret codes and goofball titles, and fervently believing the most nonsensical conspiracy theories possible.... Read More

Give These Women a Better Movie!

August 5th, 2018

As human beings, we’re all about categorization. That’s particularly true when it comes to how we view actors. Denzel Washington does righteousness. Bill Murray does sarcasm. Tom Cruise does focus. While we say we want something new from our film actors, what we often want is something that’s the same that feels new. It’s not fair, but there it is. So what happens when an actor isn’t easily categorized? Exhibit A is Mila Kunis. She’s been working steadily for several years, and while she’s mostly done comedy, she has an equal gift for drama. Her best films are probably Ted and Black... Read More

Done The Impossible

July 29th, 2018

You have an opinion on Tom Cruise. You might be an obsessive cineaste like me, or you might be a casual filmgoer. But I guarantee you that, when I bring up the man formerly known as Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, a person who’s coming up on 40 years in the movie business, you likely aren’t responding with a hearty “Meh.” For a while, a long while there, he was the biggest movie star in the world.* The 80’s and 90’s were his time. Go take a gander at his IMDB page, and I’m willing to bet that anyone can find a movie he’s in that they like. He racked up some well-deserved Academy Award... Read More

Dwayne Johnson Fights a Building

July 22nd, 2018

Die Hard is the greatest American action movie ever made. Released on July 12, 1988, there are an awful lot of reasons why it shouldn’t have worked. Casting the lead role of John McClane wasn’t easy. The studios really wanted either Al Pacino or Richard Gere, but neither was interested. Stallone passed on it. Schwarzenegger passed on it. Eastwood passed on it. Hell, even Frank Sinatra passed on it.* They had to settle for Bruce Willis, a motormouthed television actor. Weirder yet? Despite only being known for fairly obscure English TV, Alan Rickman landed the iconic role of archvillain Hans... Read More

The Top Tier of Telemarketers

July 15th, 2018

“Pictures were made to entertain. If you want to send a message, try Western Union.” That quote was originally attributed to film mogul Samuel Goldwyn.* It proves that, ever since the dawn of the motion picture business, studio heads usually didn’t give a damn about making an artistic statement. They are, as a great American philosopher once said, all about the benjamins. Sometimes that’s cool! Sometimes we just want pure entertainment for a couple of hours, a way to escape from a chaotic and hostile world. We don’t want to think of movies as Art, because we think Art is work. I think... Read More

Earth’s Tiniest Heroes

July 8th, 2018

What do superheroes mean? Everything means something, but they don’t always mean the same thing. Westerns are a nostalgic look back at a time of independence and exploration. They’re also about the subjugation of native peoples and a time of almost complete anarchy. Science fiction can be a hopeful look to the years ahead, and it can also be a reflection of our anxieties about the present. Most folks tend to read superheroes as adolescent power fantasies. We want to have the brains of Iron Man, the raw power of the Hulk, the morality of Captain America. That’s why it’s easy to understand... Read More

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

July 1st, 2018

These days, it seems like we Americans spend the majority of our time screaming at each other. There’s been a lot of talk about a lack of civility, a lack of respect. There’s a feeling of a yawning chasm that, every day, gets a little wider. There’s a feeling that we’ll eventually be swallowed by it. You know what? I’m part of the problem. I wish it weren’t so, but it is. Just this last May, President Donald Trump referred to some undocumented immigrants as “animals” who would be removed from the United States “at a rate that’s never happened before.” My first mistake? Deciding... Read More

A Disappointment 65 Million Years In The Making

June 24th, 2018
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

As a parent who loves movies, teaching my kid to be film literate has always been a priority. The trick is making it all age appropriate. It’s not like on his eleventh birthday, I’m going to pour him a big glass of lemonade and sit him down to watch Schindler’s List.* With kids, you need to watch what they watch, see how they react to it, and help them to put things in context. When he was younger, I’d try to curate the good stuff for him, films like The Iron Giant. Yet there  were always touchstone films that I chomped at the bit to show him. This week, one of those touchstones were... Read More

Superhero Fatigue? Pshaw!

June 17th, 2018
Incredibles 2

I’ve seen Avengers: Infinity War three times. While the fandom of some folks leans toward Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars, I’ve always been a Marvel Zombie. As a small child, I partially learned to read from the comics, and the characters helped me develop what passes for a moral code. But there’s one thing that’s nagged at me ever since Iron Man was released — do these films absolutely have to be live action? Consider the aforementioned Infinity War. According to the Wall Street Journal, the most recent installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe had a production budget... Read More

The Atrocity Exhibition

June 10th, 2018
Hereditary

When Rick* and his wife Lisa checked the voicemail, there was nothing, only silence. Rick thought nothing of it, until getting a phone call later from his father-in-law. He said to Lisa, “I want you to talk to your mother.” Her mother had slurred speech, and she had no idea what day it was. They rushed over, and took Lisa’s mother to the ER. The tentative diagnosis was that she’d had a stroke. While she recovered, Rick and Lisa took it upon themselves to clean up their parents’ home. They found evidence of sizable hoarding. A couch covered with junkmail. Stacks of VHS tapes. Empty bottles,... Read More

A B Minus B-Movie

June 3rd, 2018
Upgrade

B-movies aren’t really a thing, any longer. On the other hand, they’re absolutely a thing. Back in the day, a b-movie was the second movie on a double bill. They generally were mid to low-budget and didn’t have stars, but generally did have copious amounts of gore, nudity, violence, or all of the above. Also, b-movies were usually genre fare, so you’d see them in the sci-fi, action, horror, western, exploitation, or crime areas of the movie world. The trap that people fall into sometimes is assuming that a b-movie is either: Made incompetently, like the work of Ed Wood Made with an eye... Read More

I Have a Moderately Good Feeling About This

May 27th, 2018

Just when I thought I was done with Star Wars, The Last Jedi pulled me back in. As a kid, Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back were right on my wavelength — or I was on theirs. Then, I saw Return of the Jedi, and in one of the first times as a neophyte filmgoer, I had to grapple with disappointment. That was when I started to move away from the Force. Years go by. George Lucas makes the first of his infamous Prequels and, like a jackass, I stood in line in Seattle to see The Phantom Menace. Did I walk out of the theater and boldly proclaim that it sucked? I did not. I made excuses for it, for... Read More

Return of the Regenerating Degenerate

May 20th, 2018

To enjoy the character of Deadpool, you have to be able to get into his very particular rhythm. If not? Well, I’ll explain with a (thankfully) brief anecdote. My wife is an introvert. Sure, she can smile, make small talk, and have a genuine and warm conversation. She excels in pretending she likes the majority of people. We get home, though? She double locks the door, barricades the windows, and gives thanks to Jesus, Buddha, and Amen Ra that she only has to deal with a handful of people who aren’t wildly annoying. As a result, she barely sees movies with me. It was no surprise that in 2016,... Read More

This Mother’s Day, Give Her the Gift of Robbery

May 13th, 2018

All of us have movies that, through their cinematic magic, burn themselves into our memories. The “how am I funny” scene from Goodfellas. The graduate level screwball comedy of Clue. The wrenching third act of Avengers: Infinity War. Even if you’re not a film nerd like me, I’m willing to bet copious amounts of folding money that there’s a film out there that took root in your brain. Most movies aren’t like that, though. In 2016, over 700 films were released theatrically in American theaters. That number doesn’t take into consideration streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu that... Read More

It’s Hard Out Here For A Mom

May 6th, 2018

To my mind, one of the most annoying phrases floating around is, “We’re having a baby.” This line is frequently delivered by the soon-to-be dad. He often wears a chipper and confidently oblivious expression on his face. Upon hearing this, the soon-to-be mom usually grits her teeth a little, as if to say, “We are having a baby? We are doing no such thing.” She thinks a moment about punching her partner in his stupid face, but the moment passes. Usually. Parenthood, both pre and post-birth, is a parade of horrors. I say that as a parent who dearly loves his son who’s a precious miracle... Read More

A Group of Remarkable People

April 29th, 2018

When it comes to cinema, we’re living in an age of marvels. Take the long view for a moment, and consider that with theatrical releases and streaming platforms, we have access to a wider and deeper selection of films than at any point in human history. You can immerse yourself in independent films, catch up on old classics, watch virtually whatever you want whenever you want. To say that there are no good movies anymore is wildly inaccurate, you just have to work a little to find them. That concept also means that, increasingly, the theatrical experience is reserved for blockbusters. You know... Read More

The Boarding House Is Burning

April 22nd, 2018

Let’s take a moment to consider just how much it must suck to be an actor of Middle-Eastern ethnicity in Hollywood. You’ve spent a fortune on headshots, spent even more on acting classes, and you’re ready to tackle the big time. There’s just one problem, and I know you know what it is. Everybody wants you to play a terrorist. Maybe you’re apolitical, and you simply want to tackle some challenging material or star in a Marvel movie. Maybe you believe in representation, and you want to show that a person that originally has roots in the Middle East can play…well…anyone.* But... Read More

Once Upon A Prom Night

April 15th, 2018

I’m writing this from the great state of Colorado. During my life, I’ve spent time in Texas, Washington, Connecticut, Maryland, and traveled through most of the United States. While I’ve enjoyed a lot of America, I’m partial to Colorado. Can you blame me? Our climate is pleasant with lots of sunny days. We have a wide variety of culinary delights. Outdoorsy activities like skiing, hiking, and rock climbing are close by and plentiful. There’s not much to complain about.* You know what I’m particularly fond of? Our state government frequently does smart stuff. One of my favorites is a... Read More

STFU

April 8th, 2018

Too many movies take their time when they don’t really need to. For example, I read recently that the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War has a running time of two hours and thirty-six minutes. If you’re a fan of the MCU, that’s probably fine and dandy news. If you’re a casual filmgoer, nearly three hours of superhero shenanigans just might make you want to head for a desolate mountain cave and embrace a life as a hermit. I get it, a story is ultimately as long as it needs to be. Only that’s not always correct. I can think of a few movies I’ve seen over the last couple months that could... Read More

Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start

April 1st, 2018

On its face, nostalgia isn’t always a bad thing. It can be comforting, the dwelling on people, events, and things in the past, a mental bubble bath that we can slip into with a content smile. Some researchers even believe in the powerful psychological benefits of nostalgia. Hell, the foundation of the Trump campaign and presidency is based in the belief of a better* America of decades ago. Nostalgia has some nasty traps, too. The obvious one is that bygone eras are only great if you happen to be a straight, white guy. For literally everyone else, it sucks pretty hard. Worse yet is that nostalgia... Read More