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Wednesday - September 30, 2020

Articles Written By TimBrennan

 

Choose Trust

September 29th, 2020

IRL is streaming on Prime I’ve been involved in a few long-distance relationships. Despite taking place about a million years ago, I still remember them. Chiefly, I remember them being not entirely awesome. While everyone else went on dates or prowled bars or parties for ill-advised hookups, I waited by the phone. In between calls and letters, there was a delightful chasm of insecurity to navigate. As much as dating sucked, long-distance dating was a horror show. That’s not the case for everyone. Long-distance relationships can work. For them to survive and thrive, they depend on trust. They... Read More

Tempest in a Teapot

September 21st, 2020

Cuties is streaming on Netflix  Take a seat. Better yet, make a nice, hot cup of tea, pull up your nearest fainting couch, and get ready for some information that is sure to blow your mind. Ready? You sure? Okay…here goes. *takes a deep breath* Americans are really, really stupid when it comes to both art and nuance. An example is the kerfuffle that sprang up regarding The Last Temptation of Christ. It all began with the 1955 novel written by Nikos Kazantzakis that examined the life of Jesus. Specifically, it posited the concept of Jesus briefly succumbing to temptation while on the cross and... Read More

Time Is Like a Cold Wind

September 14th, 2020

I’m Thinking of Ending Things is streaming on Netflix The movie isn’t the problem. I’m the problem. Nobody ever said art was easy, right? Making art can be something that goes beyond difficult. It can go to a place that feels like self-flagellation, as if you’re hurling your entire body against a brick wall. All in service for…what, exactly? The slim possibility that your artwork manages to escape into the wild, a viewer sees it and thinks, “Ah, I see what you’re doing. Good work.” Art is a two-way street. It requires both an artist and a viewer of the art.* I get it, and I’m... Read More

Be Excellent To Each Other

September 8th, 2020

Bill & Ted Face the Music is streaming on Prime Let’s talk about trilogies. Specifically, how unbelievably hard they are to pull off. It’s difficult enough to pull off a good movie, considering you need a strong script, solid direction, and competent actors. To pull off a decent sequel, you need to build on the world you first established and go in a new direction yet one that’s not so new it undoes the first film. To do all of that, and add a third film wrapping up everything? It’s easier to climb up Mount Everest blindfolded and naked. Even the most prestigious and profitable franchises... Read More

A King Has Gone to His Rest

September 3rd, 2020

“In African cultures, we often refer to loved ones that have passed on as ancestors. Sometimes you are genetically related. Sometimes you are not. I had the privilege of directing scenes of Chad’s character, T’Challa, communicating with the ancestors of Wakanda. We were in Atlanta, in an abandoned warehouse, with bluescreens, and massive movie lights, but Chad’s performance made it feel real. I think it was because, from the time that I met him, the ancestors spoke through him. It’s no secret to me now how he was able to skillfully portray some of our most notable ones. I had no doubt... Read More

A Gorilla Never Forgets

August 30th, 2020

The One and Only Ivan is streaming on Disney+. Once upon a time, there was a mall, located in a faraway land known as Tacoma. This mall wasn’t the sort of mall you might have hung out at as an incorrigible youth. It didn’t have a food court. It didn’t have an Apple store. It didn’t have a mall security guard. It was not a gleaming bastion to capitalism. Instead, this mall was…different. Instead of chains, it was a haven of small businesses. Some of them were the kind of places that sold incredible art or wonderful used books. Other were the kind of places that would sell throwing... Read More

Superheavy

August 23rd, 2020

Project Power is streaming on Netflix Next to westerns, there’s no other genre that has the flexibility that superheroes have in terms of storytelling. You might think that your options are limited to an MCU snarkfest or the Snyder cut of Justice League, truly an edgelord’s delight. But there’s more to superheroes than that. A hell of a lot more. Consider Wild Cards. Originally a series of anthology novels, the premise focused on an alien virus released over the skies of New York City. 90 percent of those infected died. Nine percent lived and were known as Jokers, people afflicted with crippling... Read More

Headspace

August 16th, 2020

7500 is streaming on Amazon Prime Americans are not good at empathy. We like to think we are, but the hard truth is, we suck at it. Why? Because empathy is a skill. It takes a great deal of time, effort, and imagination to try to put yourself into the place of someone different than yourself. Some people are better at it than others. Some people don’t see the value of attempting empathy in the first place. For example, since the murder of George Floyd, a great deal of white people have taken a hard look at their biases and privilege. They have had to reckon with the concept of systemic racism,... Read More

What A Croc

August 9th, 2020

The Pool is streaming on Shudder. There aren’t too many animals that genuinely scare me. Sure, I know that my place on the food chain isn’t anywhere near as high as I’d like to think. During a visit to the Denver Zoo a year or so back, I was spending time at the lion exhibit. A male lion padded up close to the barrier, sat down, then gave me a long look. That look was similar to the look I used to give the Taco Bell menu in college. As a middle-aged man with white beginning to speckle my beard, there are still a few critters that freak me out. One is chimpanzees, and as adorably cute as they... Read More

Love, Die, Repeat

August 2nd, 2020

Sometimes, the best-case scenario is to be wrong. We all have our blind spots, right? I was wrong about Andy Samberg. Wrong as hell. For a while there, I had him pegged as a second-tier Saturday Night Live alum. I figured his comic persona was just like Jimmy Fallon, where he was all about being cute and non-threatening. He would probably get a talk show or a sitcom, and that would be that. Turns out Samberg did get a sitcom, the very funny and very sharp Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He’s also part of the comedy troupe The Lonely Island, and he starred in the criminally unappreciated Popstar: Never Stop... Read More

Blast From the Past

July 26th, 2020

The Old Guard is streaming on Netflix   So there I was, in the midst of a bout of pandemic depression. The old ways of coping were gone for the moment. I couldn’t schlep to my local movie theater. I couldn’t take my kid to a ball game. Up until recently, the zoo and local museums were closed. Sure, there are plenty of trails close by, but even my dog seems to be getting burned out by the constant walks. I’ll pick up his leash and say, “Ready to go for an adventure?” His eyes get wide as if to say, “Jesus, again?” You know what that’s like. Nobody wants to socially distance.... Read More

No Beach For You

July 19th, 2020

The Beach House is streaming on Shudder. We’re in a period of change. Six months ago, most of us didn’t think we’d be where we are now. Six months from now, the smart money says that life will be just as unpredictable. Is it because of the pandemic? Partially, yet there’s more to it than that. After decades of neglect, people are rising up against systemic racism. Our economy is in flux. Our President is a driver of change, though not in the way he thinks or wants. The way we view movies is changing, as well. I don’t just mean the continued closure of theaters and the improbable resurrection... Read More

Their Performance Is an Adventure

July 14th, 2020

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is streaming on Netflix I like to think I’m a relatively knowledgeable guy. I read a number of reputable news outlets daily, including The Washington Post and The Atlantic. I’m able to speak quasi-intelligently on a fairly wide range of topics. While I might not be a dazzling sophisticate like some of you, I’m not some drooling bumpkin. Yet up until a few weeks ago, I’d never heard of the Eurovision Song Contest. I know, typical American. If you’re an ignorant savage like me, get ready for some righteous science. The Eurovision Song Contest... Read More

Critic & Son – MCU Edition

July 5th, 2020

I’m writing this on the morning of July 2. By now, we should have been a couple of months deep into the summer movie season. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t miss it. Facts are facts, though. We’ve got one heck of a nasty virus wreaking havoc on the country, and one of the casualties is the modern moviegoing experience. At this point, the only way I’d set foot in a theater is if I could be enclosed in a human-sized hamster ball. What is a summer movie, anyway? Well, it’s complicated.* Jaws is the first summer blockbuster, proving to studios that audiences would flock to theaters... Read More

Brothers

June 28th, 2020

Da 5 Bloods is streaming on Netflix I’ve never served in the military. At the tail end of high school, recruiters from the Army bombarded my phone, trying to convince me to sign up for officer training school. What they didn’t realize, and what I only dimly knew at the time, was that I would have been an absolutely horrible soldier. There’s a host of reasons, but the main might be that I ask too many questions, and when you’re part of a chain of command, asking too many questions at the wrong time can get people killed. I’ve also never been Black. For God’s sake, have you seen me? If... Read More

Girl Kills World

June 21st, 2020

Everyone who’s into movies has a thing. A thing that is endlessly fascinating and that can be refracted through a thousand different lenses. One friend of mine has a deep and abiding love of schlocky horror movies. Loves ‘em, can’t get enough of ‘em. They’re his happy place, and whenever he’s having a tough day, a small scotch and a viewing of Motel Hell will perk him right up. My thing is comedians playing villains. However, let me be clear. If a comedian or comedic actor is playing a comedic villain, that doesn’t scratch the itch. Instead, when a funnyman plays a real nasty piece... Read More

Ain’t Love Grand?

June 14th, 2020

The Lovebirds is streaming on Netflix If you’re like me, you could use some quiet time. There’s something to be said for bringing back naps and giving us adults a scheduled block with which we can reflect and recharge. Why? Oh, only because the country is literally on fire and going foo-foo nutty. Let’s take a moment to review, shall we? In the past few weeks alone, we’ve been treated to:   Police brutality Police brutality in response to the aforementioned police brutality Numerous riots Peaceful protests that dwarf the riots The President orders the teargassing of peaceful protesters... Read More

Fight the Power

June 7th, 2020

Why did Mookie throw the trash can? You can see the crowd watching the murder of Radio Raheem at the hands of white cops, their shared looks of horror. Mookie shares the same look, then runs his hands down his face. He’s come to a decision. With deliberate purpose, he walks to a battered trash can, tosses away the lid and the garbage, then lifts up the can.  You can see Mookie break into a run and heave the trash can. It smashes through the window of Sal’s Famous Pizzeria. The look on his face isn’t one of triumph or exultation. It’s exhaustion. 1989 was the year that put Spike Lee on... Read More

Amateurs

May 31st, 2020

Time to Hunt is streaming on Netflix We should be in the summer movie season right now. We should be bombarded by entertainment options: a little Marvel, a Pixar movie, a studio comedy—you know, the usual. We should be escaping the increasingly oppressive heat, complaining about ding-dongs on their smartphones, and praying that nobody spilled anything in or around our seats. All of that should be going on. But it isn’t, and it’s increasingly looking like the 2020 summer movie season simply isn’t going to happen. How are we supposed to deal with it, particularly when it’s one of a host... Read More

Critic & Son – Star Wars Edition

May 24th, 2020

You shouldn’t expect your kids to be into the same things you are. It certainly wasn’t the case with my father and me. Bill was a World War II veteran, a lover of big band music, and a guy with the kind of effortless charisma that made him likable to everyone he came across.* He was also a casual moviegoer. I remember him laughing himself into a mild asthma attack during The Naked Gun, and I remember us seeing both Goodfellas and The Silence of the Lambs theatrically. However, I should emphasize he was a casual moviegoer. Did he care about the works of Altman and Kurosawa? Nope. Not even a... Read More