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Thursday - February 29, 2024

Archive for the ‘ Movies ’ Category

 

The Passion of the Props

February 26th, 2024

Years ago, I had the opportunity to buy an Alien. By that I mean a xenomorph, one of the double jawed critters that have joyfully romped with Sigourney Weaver through multiple movies. In those movies, we’re led to believe there are a metric ton of them, so many that if you were to throw an M41A pulse rifle, you’d hit one. But next time you watch Aliens and marvel at Weaver, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton and others being terrorized by hordes of fiendish thingies, bear in mind that there were only twelve of them. Those twelve were cunningly shot by James Cameron to create the illusion of an unstoppable... Read More

Reality’s Mess

February 19th, 2024

These days, it’s hard to be nuanced. The United States is profoundly polarized, and we’re constantly encouraged to to self-sort, to live, work, and socialize with other like minded people. Why? It’s easier. We say we want unity, but that really means we just want people to think and agree with our positions. It’s still the early days of 2024, but we are in an election year, which means the polarization will only get worse. So how are you supposed to get past polarization? First, I think you don’t automatically assume the worst motives of others. It’s true there are people out there... Read More

Resurrection Nation

February 12th, 2024

American film is in sad shape. It’s true that Barbie and Oppenheimer made crazy amounts of money. It’s true that Top Gun: Maverick did the same, as well as Avengers: Endgame and Anyone But You.* I promise you that every year that movies are released, there will be a few American films that make all the money. American film is still in sad shape, because major studios don’t know what audiences want. For the most part, their decisions are reactive as opposed to proactive. I think we’ll see the rom-com come back in a big way because a) when times are stressful, audiences like pretty people... Read More

Socks Maketh Man

February 5th, 2024

You probably shouldn’t listen to me in general, and you really shouldn’t when it comes to movies. Consider the fact that I’m no expert. I’m not a director. I don’t have a degree in film studies. I’m just some guy who’s done some screenwriting and is extremely into movies. And bear in mind that this isn’t an impromptu pity party I’m throwing on my behalf. There’s something more to it. I used to think that some movies, and some tiers of filmmakers, were objectively good. Akira Kurosawa is a genius, and if you feel otherwise, that’s a you problem, not a Kurosawa problem. But... Read More

Avian Philosophy

January 29th, 2024

The movie industry is generally an unforgiving one for filmmakers, and it demands that each film made either be profitable or critically acclaimed.* As a result, incompetents, nepotists, and erratic people are usually weeded out sooner or later. The ones left standing decades later are the modern masters of the art form, and it’s important to check out their work. It’s also important to be honest with yourself on how you feel about those modern masters. Maybe Scorsese’s Raging Bull is too brutal for you. Totally cool! Maybe Kubrick leaves you cold. A valid perspective! The way you feel is... Read More

Schrodinger’s Deity

January 22nd, 2024

Is there a God? What’s more likely, that an omnipotent being has created us in His/Her/Its image, and subtly guides the universe like a puppeteer, or that it’s all chaos, that we’re on a puny world in some jerkwater part of the universe, and when our dust mote existence terminates, it’ll happen with the same fanfare we give to a dust mote? We can’t say, though we like to think we can with something approaching certainty. The question is too big and we’re too limited. I’ve had my own brushes with the divine. My grandmother, a devout Christian, was diagnosed with inoperable cancer,... Read More

The Wall of Life and Death

January 15th, 2024

It would have been easier if the Nazis were monsters. If we consider the atrocities committed in service of the Final Solution, if we peel back each layer of cruelty to expose another layer even worse, the enormity of it all is nearly too much to bear.  Monsters would do those things. Would human beings do those things to other human beings? The question is staggering, and it makes it easier for us to call them monsters. To be sure, there were psychopaths and sadists in the ranks of the Reich. Dehumanizing language from authoritarian leaders has always attracted those types. But the majority of... Read More

Tim’s Top 10 Films of 2023

January 8th, 2024

Well, that didn’t suck! I’m a big believer that, one way or another, every year is a good year for movies. The studios might crank out a bunch of crap, the indies might produce the kind of thing that only the most annoying cineastes appreciate, yet there are always diamonds in the rough. Every year that movies are released we will get good movies, we might just have to look a little harder for them. Some years, there is an embarrassment of riches. 1939. 1982. 1999. I feel comfortable adding 2023 to that list, because holy hell did we get some good stuff! Yes, the DC Extended Universe ended... Read More

American Life

January 1st, 2024

There are an awful lot of thankless jobs in Hollywood. The vast majority of movie watchers understand (and hopefully appreciate!) that the movie they love is made by more than the very pretty actors who appear on-screen. There are far more people involved than simply the very overworked director, and the utterly ignored screenwriter.  To me, one of the more fascinating heads of the cinematic hydra is the marketing department. In an extremely brief window of time, these folks need to explain what the general premise of the movie is, what the emotional tone of the movie is, and why you should see... Read More

Notes on Christmas Movies

December 25th, 2023

When I mentioned to my wife that I was thinking about reviewing the apocalyptic thriller and committed bummer Leave the World Behind, she was not entirely on board. “Really? You want people to read a review of that? On Christmas?” My son concurred. The idea of my tens of readers enjoying the bounty of December 25, then reading a review of a movie about the collapse of civilization was a yuletide bridge too far.  They suggested, nearly insisted, that I review a Christmas movie. I pushed back, it must be noted, for no good reason. But did I really want to bum everyone out on Christmas Day? Nah,... Read More

The Curse of the Von Erichs

December 18th, 2023

An interesting article* informs me of something that’s both surprising and unsurprising. If you’re a parent of a school-aged athlete, the odds of them being good enough to compete in the college level, much less the professional level, are vanishingly small. Impossible? No. Highly, highly unlikely? Absolutely. Those odds don’t stop parents from pushing, though. When my son was in elementary school, he spent a couple of years playing soccer. There were two things I could always count on when watching a game. The first was my son zipping up and down the field like an enthusiastic puppy and... Read More

The Lizard King

December 11th, 2023

I’m a Godzilla casual. An awful lot of movies take up mental real estate in my head, and it must be said, movies featuring Japan’s large reptilian son aren’t really among them. Nothing against the Big G! The first appearance of the iconic kaiju in 1954 is absolutely a classic. 2016’s Shin Godzilla is beloved by me since it merges giant monster action with a clever satire of inefficient bureaucracies. As for the rest? For the most part, my belief was that Godzilla movies were disposable fluff. In the old days, you’d stick people in uncomfortable rubber suits, have them stumble through... Read More

The Movies That Made Me

December 4th, 2023

We’re doing something a little different around these parts this week.  One of my mutuals on the social media site formerly/still known as Twitter mentioned recently that she was sad so few people discussed older films with her. Folks would chime in with hot takes over the latest MCU installment or indie darling, but by and large, they seemed to memory hole any movie made more than two years ago. I get that. Philosopher George Satayana famously wrote, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it,” and we Americans famously respond to that with, “Hold our beer.” We’re dumb... Read More

The Tall Short Man

November 27th, 2023

Not long ago, legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott told historians to shut the f–k up. It’s been my experience that one does not tell others to shut the f–k up in a vacuum, not usually. In this case, there was a pretty compelling reason. While promoting his new film Napoleon, Scott was asked in an interview* to respond to criticisms of historical inaccuracy in his work. Scott responded, “When I have issues with historians, I ask: ‘Excuse me, mate, were you there? No? Well, shut the f— up then.'” Does Scott have a point? I think he does, but we need to be clear... Read More

The Joy of Sex

November 20th, 2023

Is sex necessary in movies? UCLA’s Center for Scholars and Storytellers surveyed young people (God, it kills me to say that) aged 10-24 regarding the kinds of stories told through screens.* Respondents aged 13-24 were asked about sexual depiction in movies and television. Over half of them wanted stories with a stronger focus on friendships, and forty percent felt there needed to be greater depictions of asexual and non-romantic relationships. If we look at those numbers, they tell us that a chunk of younger viewers aren’t particularly interested in the fictional depiction of the beast with... Read More

Come For the Supers, Stay For the Flerkens

November 13th, 2023

Every so often, there’s a narrative around a narrative. Specifically, a movie. Whether it’s positive, negative, or simply strange, sometimes prior to a movie’s release, we start to hear things. Rumors, conjecture, a whisper campaign designed to break a project, lift up a filmmaker, or redirect attention entirely.  One of the most famous examples of this involves a movie about a big-ass boat. The conventional wisdom around Titanic, prior to its release, was that James Cameron was going to get hosed. He’d spent a (Haw!) boatload of money making a movie that a) had no stars, b) was about... Read More

Scumbag Rhapsody

November 6th, 2023

Movie critics are supposed to be impartial. That’s the common wisdom, anyway. They’re supposed to descend from their ivory towers, tuck themselves into their chinchilla-furred seats within a perfectly calibrated surround sound screening room, and receive each morsel of cinematic goodness with an equal degree of informed curiosity. That’s what’s supposed to happen. The reality is, if you follow any kind of critic or movie dork, there will inevitably be certain kinds of genres/filmmakers/actors that they…um…don’t care for! For example, a critic I read who writes for a major publication... Read More

Big Man With a Gun

October 30th, 2023

You want to know what scares me? It’s the man with the gun. That isn’t the fun fear of the Halloween season, the entertaining chills we get from ghosts, witches, and silent mask-wearing automatons. Believe me, for my last review of October, I wanted to get into a horror movie that’s clever, entertainingly stupid, fast-paced, deliberate, restrained, or gory as hell. They’re out there, to be sure, but none of them got their claws into me. Armed real life is what scares me. After I drop my son off at school, I wonder if I’ll be notified of an active shooter. When some knucklehead cuts me... Read More

Do You See The Wolves?

October 23rd, 2023

Mark my words, in the next week people are going to accuse Martin Scorsese and his film, Killers of the Flower Moon, of being racist. Sexist. Glorifying violence. Exploiting the experiences of Indigenous people. And most annoying of all, of being “woke.” This has happened to Scorsese for decades. He was accused of blasphemy with The Last Temptation of Christ,* accused of glorifying violence and the underworld with GoodFellas, and accused of glorifying violence/risky sex/drug use with The Wolf of Wall Street. The number of bad takes are seemingly endless. It’s okay if Scorsese’s work is... Read More

The Puppet Her and the Ice Him

October 16th, 2023

The endgame of most romantic comedies is to get the couple to “and they lived happily ever after.” Right? After all the meet-cutes, bouncy banter, misunderstandings that could have been easily resolved with a conversation, and tearful reconciliations, it all ends with a kiss and the assumption that the happy couple will walk into the sunset together. Okay, cool. But then what? Do they deal with the seven year itch? Have kids, then vaguely regret having kids? Slowly grow apart? Get into an expensive and time-consuming divorce? Make it all the way into their twilight years and then one of them... Read More