Quantcast
   
Saturday - May 28, 2022

Articles Written By TimBrennan

 

Epilepticon

May 23rd, 2022

There are films that tell you a story. Could be a love story about a guy planning to drink himself to death and unexpectedly falling in love. Could be a thriller about a woman trying to find her place in the FBI while tracking down a very unsavory individual. Those kinds of films primarily concern themselves with narrative, and that’s great because as social animals, we figure out the world through stories. Then, there are films that are more of a ride. You know those times where you want to see two pretty people kiss, or John Wick shooting fifteen people in the face? Your week has been absolute... Read More

Flyboy

May 16th, 2022

The first time I saw Top Gun, I hated it. As a wee lad, I remember seeing it in a packed theater in 1986. I remember the whooshing of the jets, the omnipresent soundtrack, and the unnerving intensity of Tom Cruise. I remember the buzz of the audience walking out. People adored it, and I remember looking around and thinking, “What movie did you guys just see because that sucked.” Is it still that bad, though?* Of course not, and it’s yet another example where the movie isn’t the problem; I’m the problem. I should like it. Consider that, despite what you might think of his personal life,... Read More

Strange Tales

May 9th, 2022

Within stories, the idea of continuity is powerful. It’s like the lure of history, the pull to understand events or character through the study of a chain of events. That’s why we dive into literary series, why we’ll binge-watch a show on Netflix, and why we’ll carry around decades of plot points regarding comic books.  Author Douglas Wolk recently released his book All of the Marvels. He wrote about his experience reading every comic book published by Marvel Comics.* When I say “every comic book,” I mean that Wolk read over twenty-seven thousand published works, attempted to make... Read More

A Pretty Good Neighbor

May 2nd, 2022

What makes the ideal family movie? First, let’s define what I’m not talking about. I don’t mean an animated feature that’s geared toward kids but has a few pop-cultural references thrown in for the olds. I don’t mean an entry in the MCU, as older viewers might be turned off by the comic-booky violence and the serialized nature of each installment. I also don’t mean a treacly drama with an inspirational message.* An ideal family movie (IFM) should ideally feature the following aspects: Jokes, but not too many Likable characters Emotion, but nothing too intense Violence that’s not... Read More

Ambulance Chaser

April 25th, 2022

For a while there, Michael Bay was arguably the biggest action director in the world. In the mid-90s, he directed Bad Boys, The Rock, and Armageddon. All three films made money — a lot of money. His style could be described as a kind of “golden hour on more than a little cocaine” kind of feel. It was kinetic. Brash. Kinda sleazy. For a while there, most people loved what he was doing. Things change. Bay got deep into the Transformers franchise. They made money but were never beloved. He made the mean little crime satire Pain & Gain, and the Benghazi quasi-hagiography 13 Hours. Bay’s... Read More

Berserker

April 18th, 2022

It’s days like this that remind me of just how little I really know about movies. You see, I’m here to talk about The Northman, the gore-drenched film directed by Robert Eggers concerning the revenge of a Viking prince. As I was turning the movie over in my head, I began wondering, “Are Viking films numerous enough to be considered a genre?” As it turns out, they kind of are! We don’t quite have a time in cinema where Viking films reigned supreme at the box office. While gangster movies were very much a thing in the 1930s to 1940s, and westerns were the dominant genre for close to three... Read More

Fangs for the Memories

April 11th, 2022

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the greatest television shows in the history of the medium. Despite being the brainchild of a known abuser, it’s a series that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, and The Wire. Buffy used humor, drama, horror, and so, so much more to tell a story about how high school is hell and how adulthood is worse. Despite some issues that would earn it a couple of side-eyed glances,* Buffy continues to have an enormous amount to say and to inspire new viewers. Along similar lines, Let the Right One In is one of the greatest vampire... Read More

Synchronicity

April 4th, 2022

From the moment you started reading this sentence, you’ve already made a number of decisions. Did you skip breakfast? Check your email first? Call out sick even though you feel fine? For every choice you made, there might be another universe where you made the opposite choice.* How does that choice change what you do, where you go, and who you are? We’re living in a time of multiverses now, a science-fiction concept that might have been too mindbendingly weird for the masses only a few years ago. If you’re not familiar with it, the idea is there are an infinite number of universes existing... Read More

Echoes

March 28th, 2022

In specificity comes universality. I know that’s pretentious, but if you take away the pointlessly flowery prose, the point still stands. When someone makes a piece of art and does so with a focused perspective, it acts as an open door for the audience. Theoretically, it allows anyone from any walk of life to view a place, a time, or a way of life that might be utterly foreign to them and engender empathy. “Theoretically” is the key word, however. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last six years or so, it’s by and large, we suck at empathy. Why is that? While there is a myriad... Read More

The Over-Overstuffed Sandwich

March 21st, 2022

Like criminals, screenwriters can be a superstitious and cowardly lot. Can you blame them? They’re trying to break into an industry that has very few clear guidelines on how to do so, constantly shifting professional requirements, and an almost sociopathic sense of entitlement. It is, and I am not exaggerating, easier to get into the NFL than it is to become a professional screenwriter. Let’s say, against all odds, a screenwriter makes it. They a) sell a script and b) the check clears. It’s all peaches and cream from there, no? No, because the indignities just get worse. They can be forced... Read More

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

March 14th, 2022

As a college kid, even more so than now, I was deeply unlikable. That’s normal and it’s always been normal. After getting booted out of high school, we all take our first trembling steps toward adulthood. We all make stupid mistakes that, in retrospect, were easily avoided. We all want the adults around us to be very aware that we, too, are adults. To some degree or another, at that time of life, we’re all kind of annoying. That’s also the time when we figure out who we are and try on personas the way that others try on shoes. My persona for a moment was the cynical artiste, the one who’s... Read More

Weird Creature of the Night

March 7th, 2022

There aren’t many fictional characters that have as many character facets as Batman. You could go in a number of different directions beyond horror if your story involved Dracula — comedy, romance, action for starters. I think the same could be said for Sherlock Holmes. If you compare just Robert Downey Jr’s action-oriented take with the more cerebral approach of Benedict Cumberbatch you’ll see that the character of Holmes provides storytellers with a good amount of flexibility. The nature of superheroes, however, is to be iconic, and that iconography can be limiting. Superman is an icon... Read More

Karma Bites

February 28th, 2022

Wither the werewolf revolution?  For a while there, vampires were all the rage. If you wanted bloodsuckers, you had oodles of choices. The painfully emo creatures of the night in Interview With the Vampire, the rampaging hell-beasts in From Dusk Til Dawn, the Swedish nosferatu in Let the Right One In and so many more. They were an effective metaphor for fear of the AIDS crisis, otherness, and so, so many other interpretations. Then it shifted to zombies. The spectacularly humorless The Walking Dead became one of the most consequential TV shows ever. Zack Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead was... Read More

The Ride

February 21st, 2022

It takes a minute to find your rhythm on the bike, but it happens. It’s not something you think about consciously, but a number of tiny adjustments take place. After you adjust your hands, after your breathing normalizes, you don’t think about how you need to shift your weight on the upcoming turn. You just do, and once you do, it’s as if the world melts away and all that’s left is you, the bike, and the road.  That rhythm is what Dave Ohlmuller yearned for. Four to six hours a day on the bike allowed him to outpace the horror, the anger, and the fear. For a while, anyway. At twelve years... Read More

Get Thee Behind Me, Movie!

February 14th, 2022

When done right, gimmick movies can be really cool. These are movies that futz around with either how a story is told or where a story is told. For example, Memento is a gimmick movie in that it tells the story backward, yet it does so in a coherent manner. Beyond the gimmick, it’s an excellent film that has a lot to say about grief, memory, and how we perceive time. We don’t see too many gimmick movies that take place in real-time.* That’s because a seriously skilled filmmaker needs to be at the helm in order to prevent the run time from being superfluous. Do we need to see a moment in Die... Read More

Movie Review ~ SOLD OUT ~ The Right Note

February 7th, 2022

As you read this, somebody is working a soulless customer service job. They’re getting screamed at by a customer with an almost sociopathic lack of empathy. They’re trying their best to help while getting paid a shamefully low wage. They have a head full of chaos, but there’s a part of them that the disposable job can’t touch. That’s the part that dreams. That’s the part that creates art. There are untold numbers of people with frustrated dreams. A budding rapper who puts their beats aside for a stable job in city government. A wannabe singer who croons in the car between shifts as... Read More

Off The Pace

January 31st, 2022

It’s hard to be a jockey. On its face, you might think to yourself, “It’s a job where you ride a horse. How difficult could it possibly be?” Well…let’s talk about that. To start off, jockeys need to be light. On average, they usually weigh between 108-118 pounds, and maintaining that weight is critical. If they’re too light, they can get flung off a horse in motion. If they’re too heavy, they can slow down their mount. That intense focus on weight means that eating disorders are tragically common for jockeys. Along with being light, a jockey needs to be strong and have a high degree... Read More

Coming Of Age in Isolation

January 17th, 2022

Every coming-of-age story is the same story, even though it’s always a different story. If you’re reading this, you’ve either transitioned into adulthood or you’re going to transition into adulthood. You’re going to take the first tentative steps into a world that, at least from the outside, appears to be filled with sophisticated and intelligent people who have all the answers. You’ll fall on your face. You’ll learn that those same sophisticated and intelligent people often don’t know what in the hell they’re doing. But it’s always different. A few weeks back, I watched The... Read More

Life Does Not Agree

January 10th, 2022

Most of the time in movies, people enter the criminal underworld because they’re evil. John Doe in Seven is a gimlet-eyed psychopath who kills people to satisfy a twisted moral code. While Neil McCauley in Heat isn’t a gibbering madman, he’s still evil, just more low-key about it. As much as he goes on about professionalism, he’ll still put innocents at risk in a gunfight. Hell, there are no shades of gray to the Russian gangsters who foolishly antagonize one John Wick. They’re straight-up Bad Guys, and we’re into it when Super Storm Keanu comes for them. Most of the time in life, people... Read More

Planet-Killing Asteroid for President

January 3rd, 2022

There’s a private joke I have when I get into my car. On the screen, the words “Depress brake pedal and push power button to start” always come up. Those words are a challenge, one I’ll always accept. If I’m in a lighthearted kind of mood, I’ll say, “Brake pedal, Transformers: Age of Extinction was the only movie to make a billion dollars in 2014.”  If I’m a little moodier, I might mention, “Brake pedal, millions of Americans believe the 2020 election was stolen and would happily sacrifice democracy for gas at $1.59 a gallon.” On bad days I’ll mutter, “Brake pedal, climate... Read More