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Wednesday - October 17, 2018

Articles Written By TimBrennan

 

Symbi-Nope: Local Movie Reviewer Takes on Venom

October 14th, 2018

Folks, I’d like to apologize up front for this review of Venom. To put things into context, we’re going to have to make a deep dive into nerdery. I know! I can hear your eyes rolling from here. We’ll make this quick, I promise. In 1988, The Amazing Spider-Man #300 was published.* That comic book introduced Venom, an enemy of the wall-crawler. Built like a weightlifter and utterly vicious, he’s got the same powers as ya boi Spidey, along with extremely flexible morals. Totally unsurprisingly, the character was an instant hit, beloved by edgelords** before edgelords were a thing. But isn’t... Read More

Twelve Notes – Local Movie Reviewer Explores the New Remake “A Star is Born”

October 7th, 2018

One of the old Hollywood legends is about the genesis of 1937’s A Star Is Born. Allegedly, it was not-so-secretly about the relationship between Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Fay. While Fay was a success on Broadway, his film career fizzled. Stanwyck became a massive film star, and Fay worked out his resentment of her through alcoholism and physical abuse. For a while, that was the template for these remakes, that of the meteoric rise of the ingènue and the corresponding fall of the has-been. That tells us that, at the end of the day, there aren’t that many stories. In Christopher Booker’s... Read More

The Review With the Unnecessarily Long Title

September 30th, 2018

There’s this friend of mine — we’ll call her Polly — who absolutely despises horror movies. Can’t handle them. Not only does she see no artistic merit to them whatsoever, but she also doesn’t enjoy the cinematic experience of being scared. Those intense feelings toward horror cinema have been transferred to Polly’s oldest son. Not only does she refuse to let him watch scary movies, she won’t let him view content with even a hint of the macabre. Let’s be clear, I’m not suggesting she should gather the family around the TV for a double feature of The Exorcist and The Shining.... Read More

The Most Terrible Poverty is Loneliness – Local Movie Reviewer Takes on A Simple Favor

September 23rd, 2018

What’s the point of consistently stepping outside our comfort zones? It’s healthy to stretch yourself. Most of us have been encouraged/yelled at by our parents to try new experiences, eat new delicacies, go to new places. By doing that, we get smarter, more empathetic, more sophisticated. When filmmakers stretch themselves? That’s the good stuff. That’s when you have the chance to see something unique. Take Adam McKay for example. As a close friend of Will Ferrell’s, his directorial career began with films like Anchorman and Step Brothers, comedies that walked a fine line between surrealism... Read More

Why? Because They’re Dumb – Local Movie Reviewer Takes on Predator

September 16th, 2018

On the cinematic Venn diagram, there can be an awful lot of overlap between a great movie and an awesome movie. Before we go too much further, let me stake out what I mean by that. A great movie is one with impressive production design, acting, screenwriting, and direction — essentially all the ingredients have been baked in to give us a film of quality. Apollo 13 is a great movie, as is Monster and Deliverance. An awesome movie, on the other hand? That’s a movie that directly tickles our reptile brain, delivering a thrill, a joke, something purely designed to elicit an immediate response.... Read More

Horrible Selfish People

September 9th, 2018

Hollywood gets things wrong all the time. Possibly the most common error made by writers, directors, producers, and the studio executives overseeing the whole thing? It’s that audiences need the main characters to be likable. That’s not correct, because for a film to succeed, your main character doesn’t have to be someone you’d want to have a beer with. They need to be interesting. The problem comes down to confusing sympathy with empathy. Think of it like this; with sympathy, you’re having a positive emotional reaction to someone else’s situation. In that situation, you like the main... Read More

Mile Twenty Poo

August 26th, 2018

Can we take a moment to talk about Mark Wahlberg?* If you’re in the mood for some whiplash, mosey on over to the IMDB and take a look at Wahlberg’s filmography. There, you’ll see an absolutely baffling assortment of films. Some of them are very good, like Three Kings, The Departed, and Boogie Nights. Some of them, like Max Payne, Planet of the Apes, and Shooter are certified Not Good. There’s no rhyme or reason to the trajectory of his career. It’s like he randomly throws darts at a dartboard to pick projects. Sometimes he makes a filthy and fun comedy like Ted. Sometimes he makes a piece... Read More

Champagne As Film

August 19th, 2018

Am I really the right guy to be talking about representation? I know. I get it. In 2018, Mr. Straight White Dude is better off sitting down, shutting up, and passing the microphone to somebody who’s…well…not also a straight white dude. Still, I’m going to give it a shot, and let’s take a minute to talk about why real representation matters. As an aforementioned SWD, representation is 100% a non-issue for me. It never has been. I can see a movie, watch TV, or go online, and see hundreds of thousands of examples of SWD’s taking part of the vast tapestry of the human condition.... Read More

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