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Wednesday - July 17, 2019

Archive for the ‘ Movies ’ Category

 

Skräck

July 14th, 2019

Like comedy, horror is all about provoking a reaction. It’s the setup and the punchline, only horror traffics in chills rather than chortles. If a skilled filmmaker causes a viewer to react the way they want, that means the director knows their job. If the same filmmaker can play an audience like a violin, you know you have a major talent on your hands. That’s why I love seeing horror movies with a crowd. It’s the wide variety of reactions. Some people yelp, others shrink down in their seats with hands covering eyes, and still others mask their fear with bravado. Some horror movies, like... Read More

Does Whatever A Sequel Can

July 7th, 2019

This review will thoroughly spoil Avengers: Endgame. Proceed at your own risk.  Stan Lee used to talk about “the illusion of change.” It was a concept they used at Marvel Comics, and I imagine it’s still in use today. If you’re a comic book writer for one of the major publishers, you have a very fine line to walk. You need to make it seem as if the life of your character is changing, but have them remain essentially the same. For example, Peter Parker starts off as a geeky high school kid. He has trouble dating. He never has quite enough money to do much of anything. While big-time superheroes... Read More

I Am The Bad Script, Goo Goo G’Joob

June 30th, 2019

What do The Beatles mean? It’s a difficult question, one that I’m ill-equipped to answer. What we know for sure is that they cast a shadow that touches virtually every aspect of human life. Think of the music they made as the first domino in a vast and sprawling design. From pop to indie to rock to hip hop to punk and beyond, the DNA of the Fab Four winds through virtually all of it. Their reach stretches far beyond music. Their 1964 concert film/documentary/comedy A Hard Day’s Night is both massively influential and enormously entertaining in terms of film. They were pioneers in the development... Read More

They Stuck the Landing

June 23rd, 2019

It fascinates me how people respond to art in general, and movies in particular. If I had a beer with you right now, the odds are good we’d eventually talk movies. I’d pick your brain about them and try to get a handle on what you like, what you dislike, and why. One person views Forrest Gump as a sweet-natured fable, while a second person thinks of it as anti-liberal propaganda. That’s fine, as most films occupy some kind of a middle ground. What about the classics? What about the few films that stand among the elite? And what about the people who hate those classics? That’s why I adore... Read More

New Team, New Place, Same Flashy Thing

June 16th, 2019

Let’s say you get the idea stuck in your craw that you wanted to write or direct a summer blockbuster. To do that, you’ll want to study the best of the best. What you don’t want is something stupid, cynical, or pandering. Look, I get it. For many of us, the summer movie season is a nightmare. We’re ritually bludgeoned with special effects, broad humor, and cloying animation. Ask the average filmgoer, and they might tell you that summer movies aren’t even intended to be good. They exist to move a franchise forward or sell toys. The average filmgoer might even think that an entertaining... Read More

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me

June 9th, 2019

Hearing the right song at the right moment can be life-changing. It can put the love of your life into hyper-focus, pull you back from the abyss, and give you the confidence to stand up to someone twice your size. The right song can feel like it was written just for you, yet millions of people can relate to it. Those kinds of songs are not easy to create, much less perform in a way that feels heartfelt. Elton John has been in the business of creating precisely those kinds of songs for decades. Fine, maybe his stuff isn’t necessarily for you, but whether you like his music or not is almost irrelevant.... Read More

Straight A’s, Zero F’s

June 2nd, 2019

In our own ways, we all have power. From petitions, to marches, to your own creativity, everyone has the power to push the needle in a positive direction. Film has a power that’s mighty, and one of my favorite things is championing a film, getting absolutely blissed-out, and transforming into a cinematic evangelist. The right film can open eyes, change a life, and make the unbearable a little easier to bear. But what if you had the power to prevent a great film from becoming a train wreck? Office Space and Clue are some of the most beloved comedies ever made. They were also disasters at the box... Read More

We Need to Talk About Kal-El

May 26th, 2019

As a human being, I have the ability to hold two completely contradictory ideas in my noggin at the same time. The first idea is that I love superheroes. They’re part of a genre that’s remarkably malleable, and with a bit of creativity, you can tell virtually any kind of story with them. The second idea is that, if superheroes truly existed, they would be terrifying. Let’s talk about Batman, for example. In movies, comics, and other media, he’s a relentless crusader. A protector of the innocent. He’s a hero—one of the good guys. One of his defining attributes is that he always knows... Read More

A Man of Focus

May 19th, 2019

Let’s begin with something that’s indisputable. On April 1, 2009, Alfonso Hernandez and Michael Edmonds thought it would be funny to shoot a dog dead. Why? All cruelty has ever needed to flourish is an opportunity. In this case, Hernandez and Edmonds saw a yellow Labrador puppy outside a home. They shot the dog with a .357 Magnum pistol, then stood over her body, laughing. In addition to being evil, this was a seriously dumb move. The puppy’s name was Dasy. Her guardian was Marcus Luttrell, a SEAL team member awarded the Navy Cross for heroism in combat while serving in Afghanistan. He was... Read More

Detective Deadpool

May 12th, 2019
tim goodman

In order to understand Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, you need to understand a couple of startling facts. First, let’s explain what Pokémon actually is. Created in 1995, this Japanese franchise concerns itself with a world overflowing with what are known a   s pocket monsters. Folks known as trainers must capture different species of Pokémon, which are weird critters that have fantastic powers. From there, they do battle with other trainers to become a champion.* You probably know this, but Pokémon is massive. 807 distinct species of the titular beastie have been created so far, and they appear... Read More

When Everything Works

May 5th, 2019

I don’t know if you guys knew this, but Hollywood is kind of shallow. If you’re a woman, regardless of your talent, intelligence, or drive, an awful lot of people are going to base their first and last impressions of you on your looks and body type. How many wildly talented women never got their shot because they didn’t wear a size zero? Take Charlize Theron for example. Impossibly attractive, she was first noticed in 1996’s 2 Days in the Valley.* For several years, she appeared in a string of forgettable films. She took a risk in 2003 playing serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster. The... Read More

The End Is The Beginning

April 28th, 2019

“A thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts.” That quote comes from the under-loved Avengers: Age of Ultron. Upon its 2015 release, we were 11 films deep and there were two schools of thought about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a sprawling epic of interconnectivity. Eager nerds like myself were excited. Comic book creators and imagination machines like Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Steve Ditko used these characters, perhaps unwittingly, as a kind of modern mythology. There were lessons of tolerance, justice, decency. You could take something of real value away from the adventures of a bunch of... Read More

Hell No

April 21st, 2019

Some characters lend themselves to endless interpretations. Batman is one of them. Let’s say you’re planning to make a Batman movie, and by some miracle, you don’t have to attach it to an expanded universe or follow up on threads from a previous installment. Warner Brothers gives you a $90 million budget and sends you on your merry way. What kind of film should you make? Lucky you, because you have options! Just a few of them might be:   A goofy comedy that’s tonally similar to the 1966 Batman television series A horror movie where Batman is trapped within Arkham Asylum A procedural... Read More

The Cat Came Back

April 14th, 2019

Zana died early in the morning. She was an Abyssinian, a breed of cat known for their small bodies and hilariously large ears. Our family has had mostly good luck with long-lived pets, and Zana was no exception. She made it to 17 years old, and even in the last years of her life when she committed to being a cranky old lady, she would still frequently clamber into my lap and purr softly as I petted her. The morning she passed, she was in bed with my wife and me. It was early when she started meowing, loudly and urgently. I remember picking her up and taking her into the bathroom, then laying her... Read More

My Name Is

April 7th, 2019

Director Zack Snyder has thoughts. During a charity event screening of his films Dawn of the Dead, Watchmen, and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, he was asked about the depiction of Batman. Specifically, the depiction that the Caped Crusader was awfully, well…homicidal. During the film, Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight straight-up mows down crooks with cunningly hidden machine guns in the Batmobile and decimates goons in a brutal warehouse battle. It’s all a bit much. Snyder responded with the immortal quote, “Someone says to me: Batman killed a guy. I’m like, ‘F**k, really? Wake the... Read More

The Flap of a Hummingbird’s Wing

March 31st, 2019

Roger Ebert once wrote, “…for me, the movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams, and fears.” That quote is something I keep returning to throughout the years since empathy allows us to drop into the lives of people that aren’t necessarily likable, yet we can still find a connection with them. Empathizing with Captain America is easy. Empathizing with Hannibal Lecter, or Travis Bickle, or Annie Wilkes? That’s a little bit harder, and it requires some work on the part of the viewer. I know, the... Read More

I’m Right Behind Me

March 24th, 2019

Like all right-thinking people, I’m a gigantic fan of Key & Peele. If you’re reading this, the odds are that you are too. It’s possible, though, that maybe you aren’t familiar with their stuff. If so, that’s okay! I try to be mindful that not everyone comes to the same material at the same time.* Good art has a way of coming to people when they’re ready for it. Created by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, their sketch comedy show ran on Comedy Central from 2012 to 2015. Beyond getting truly goofy, Key and Peele genuinely had something to say, and they made their points with wit... Read More

Wannabe

March 17th, 2019

Do you know what drives me absolutely batty? When a movie doesn’t know what it wants to be. You’d think that would be reasonably easy to work out, right? Perhaps not, but let’s perform a thought experiment from a couple of angles. Imagine you’re a screenwriter. A major studio hires you to pen the latest installment of their box-office dominating franchise. To do that, you need to figure out genre and tone. With genre, are you making a superhero movie? An action flick? A comedy? Science fiction? If you want to blend the genres, great. The Cabin in the Woods is ultimately a horror movie that... Read More

Higher, Further, Faster

March 10th, 2019

Representation matters. It’s just as important to see some facsimile of yourself at age seven as it is at age 77. It’s a way of shaping your identity, a way of telling the world that you matter. Done right, representation can show you a higher path and provide you with a way to be better. As a kid, my morals were shaped more powerfully and acutely by comics than they ever were by church.* Spider-Man taught me doing the right thing can suck. It can be lonely and painful, but it’s no less the right thing to do. Superman taught me that consideration for others makes the world not only a better... Read More

 Maybe Not So Much With the New Friend

March 3rd, 2019

Big film genres stick around. As long as movies are a device for long-form storytelling, we’ll always have earnest dramas, goofy comedies, and movies where a guy walks away from an explosion without looking at it. But smaller sub-genres come and go, and we seem to be entering a resurgence of the Yuppies in Peril film. If it’s been a minute since you’ve seen one of these flicks; no worries—I’m here to help. Originally, Yuppies in Peril movies focused on a young, white, and affluent person, couple or family being psychologically and physically assaulted. For example, disc jockey Clint Eastwood... Read More