Thursday, January 18, 2018

Archive for the ‘ Movies ’ Category

An Essential Institution

January 14th, 2018

More than most countries, America runs on narrative. We call ourselves a shining city on a hill, lay claim to exceptionalism.* We brand ourselves as a nation of self-starters, rugged individualists, a place where a person from humble beginnings can rise all the way to the top through nothing more than determination and grit. Is it all true? Obviously, it’s better if it is true, but we have an almost singularly unique talent for lying to ourselves. We talk about our love of freedom, then take steps to disenfranchise people of color. We believe that anyone can become a success, then defend policies... Read More

The Ice Storm

January 7th, 2018

Very recently, I learned two interesting facts. First, if you’re a figure skater, the triple axel is a fiendishly difficult jump to perform. If you’re profoundly ignorant about skating like me, you might not understand why it’s so damned hard. Let’s break it down for a moment and go over exactly how it’s done: First, you approach the jump point on a right back outside edge. What on God’s green Earth does this mean? Well, the blade of a figure skate has two edges. The inside is toward your body, while the outside is away from it. The back is…well…the back of the skate.... Read More

She Hit a Stick

December 31st, 2017

If you’re a screenwriter in Hollywood, a successful one, after a while you start to get the itch to direct your own stuff. Sometimes it works out. Look at Christopher McQuarrie. Other times it doesn’t. Look at Dan Aykroyd. Aaron Sorkin has likely felt the same way, and he’s seized his opportunity with his latest film Molly’s Game. A well-respected writer and producer for decades, he’s made a career out of being clever. Understand, there’s nothing wrong with that. Sorkin’s career exploded by writing the screenplays for films like A Few Good Men and Charlie Wilson’s War, along with... Read More

Monstrous Romance

December 24th, 2017

Like all great romances, it began with a connection. He was raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, in an enthusiastically Catholic household. Was it the fixation on blood, death, and rebirth that steered his imagination in a certain direction? Perhaps, but who can say for sure? The only thing we do know is, starting from a very young age, Guillermo del Toro loved monsters. Looking at his filmography, it’s not hard to believe. Every film he’s made, from the vampire tale Cronos to the lush Pan’s Labyrinth to the mechs versus kaiju Pacific Rim, there’s been a focus of some kind on creatures. However,... Read More

A Rebellion Built On Hope

December 17th, 2017

I’m told that Star Wars  was the first movie I ever saw. My parents made the fairly questionable decision to take two-year-old me to a crowded theater, and my gut tells me it was probably my mother’s idea. At some point, Dad probably said, “It’s not like he’ll remember it.* What’s the point?” Mom probably insisted due to the principle of it, and now there’s a strain of George Lucas’ magnum opus winding its way through the DNA of my childhood. Hardly original, right? For most of us, that’s the reason Star Wars is inexorably tied up in feelings of nostalgia. The warm blanket.... Read More

Love And Patience

December 3rd, 2017

As film critics go, I’m incredibly lucky. The fine people that run the website you’re reading have, for good or ill, given me enormous flexibility. I can see whatever I want. I can, within reason, write whatever I want. The decision for every week’s topic rests in my hands, God help us all.* Some weeks, it’s a no-brainer. If there’s a gigantic blockbuster opening that’s dominating the weekend, I’ll see that. Other times, a few potentially interesting films open against each other, and I have to make a snap decision to only review one. Still other times, I’ll desperately want to... Read More

Fueled By Anger

November 26th, 2017

How useful is anger? It depends on the cause, the reasons, and how it’s channeled. We’re taught that nothing productive comes from getting mad. Instead, you need to take a breath, calm yourself, embrace forgiveness, and let go. That all might be true, but there’s a lot in the world that’s worth getting angry about. For example, a woman in Sherman, New York was shot and killed just this last Wednesday. Why? While walking her dogs at dusk, a neighbor mistook her for a deer, drew his pistol and pulled the trigger. No malice was meant by it; the shooting was just an accident. Regardless, Rosemary... Read More

Course Correction

November 19th, 2017

Movies make a promise. Good movies keep them. In one of the early scenes in John Wick, a dipstick gangster and his boys break into the home of a nobody. They beat the nobody, steal his car, and kill his dog. Just another day at the office, right? Not quite. The gangster’s father is a crime lord. He explains to his son that they just made an enemy of the most feared assassin alive. “John wasn’t exactly the boogeyman. He was the one you send to kill the f—ing boogeyman.” That scene sets up an expectation for the audience. It tells us: You just saw an absurdly cute... Read More

Probably The World’s Greatest Detective

November 12th, 2017

We’re coming to the end of 2017, and not a moment too soon, says I. In terms of reasonable behavior, this year has been an absolute horror show. Previously respected actors, artists, and other public figures have been revealed to be degenerates. The citizens of Alabama are seriously considering voting for an alleged child molester. Our very own President literally cannot go more than a week without saying or doing something insulting, vulgar, stupid, or all of the above. It makes one yearn for a more sophisticated time, a time where manners, taste, and class weren’t in woefully short... Read More

What The Hela?

November 5th, 2017

What happens when the title of a movie promises one thing but delivers something entirely different? That goes to the larger issue with moviegoing, I suppose. You see a trailer, spy a poster, even just hear a title, and an imaginary movie with a very particular look and feel starts playing in your head. If the movie in your head aligns with reality, even somewhat, you’re likely to be a happy camper. In 1994, audiences saw a trailer for When a Man Loves a Woman. It starred Meg Ryan, long considered to be the alpha and the omega of romantic comedy. What the trailer showed was a light romp,... Read More

Mister Movie Critic, You Could Have Saved The Audience

October 29th, 2017

  Imagine, if you will, a brand-new car by Tesla. The world’s top engineers have been brought in to create a vehicle with maximum acceleration and driving range and the apex of functionality. The world’s most creative designers have crafted butter-soft leather around the steering wheel, seats that are the height of ergonomic perfection without sacrificing comfort, and a control panel that’s intuitive and informative. During a press conference to unveil this automotive marvel to the world, Elon Musk invites the media to witness a test drive. The driver sits in the vehicle,... Read More

Prescott’s Bravest

October 22nd, 2017

Can you imagine it? It’s you, 17 of your brothers, and your supervisor. You see the fire coming at you. The word inferno simply doesn’t do it justice, with 70-foot flames and temperatures about 2,000 degrees. The fire is big, hot, and moving right for you at unbelievable speed. So you do what you’ve been trained to do. You clear a space for your fire shelter, a large foil pouch lined with silica-thread cloth. You lay flat on your belly, pull the fire shelter over you. Maybe you pray. You hope it will do some good. The Yarnell Hill Fire started on June 28, 2013, near Yarnell,... Read More

An Unconventional Life

October 15th, 2017

  My dear friend Devila and I recently saw the new film Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. As the credits rolled, she joked that a Snopes meter should be prominently displayed on the screen, providing the audience with a running measurement of cinematic accuracy. While I would gladly donate money for the creation of a gadget like that, her comment got me thinking. How much responsibility do filmmakers have to hard, cold reality when they’re making a biopic? In the end, how much does hewing to the truth really matter? Consider a film like Braveheart. It’s a sprawling historical... Read More

More Human Than Human

October 8th, 2017

We live in an age of miracles. It doesn’t always seem that way, though. When a maniac opens fire on a country music concert and the citizens of our country are locked in an ideological battle, it can feel like we’re hurtling toward the abyss. I don’t think we are. Not really, anyway. The miraculous surrounds us, we just have to remember to see it. When we think about the events of Las Vegas, we can’t help but be confronted by the numerous acts of heroism that inevitably overshadow the attack itself. When we consider politics, we have to remember that, as citizens, there’s... Read More

Backwards And In High Heels

October 1st, 2017

As a straight, white dude, I know I’ve got a lot to answer for. People that look a fair piece like yours truly have dropped atomic bombs, invaded the wrong countries, and generally behaved idiotically at best and abominably at worst. The shorter way to put it? Men kinda suck sometimes. That’s an entirely unsurprising concept, especially when viewed through the prism of the 2016 presidential election. For the briefest of moments, let’s zoom in and look at the debates. On the one hand, you had Hillary Clinton, a candidate who undeniably did her homework. She showed up and was able... Read More

Manners Maketh Man

September 24th, 2017

Hollywood is built on sequels. For decades, studios have ruthlessly focused on IP’s and searched for profitable films that can be milked for additional installments. For decades, critics have gnashed their teeth and bemoaned the lack of originality in filmmaking. For decades, audiences have complained about Hollywood never doing anything new and then subsequently flocked to the theaters to catch the latest Star Wars installment.* All of that must mean that sequels are bad, right? Well…not necessarily. They can be bad. Jaws 2 and onward are godawful. Speed 2: Cruise Control is... Read More

You Are Not Prepared

September 17th, 2017

If you’re anything close to a movie nerd, you’ve probably seen references to CinemaScore. Let’s talk about what that is before we get to the subject of today’s review. CinemaScore is a market research firm out of Las Vegas. They perform audience surveys to rate their experiences in 25 major cities around the United States. Essentially, you’re given a card and asked to rate the film on a scale from A to F, whether or not you would buy the film on DVD, and why you chose to see that particular film. Bear in mind that it’s not necessarily an indicator of quality.... Read More

We All Float Down Here

September 10th, 2017

I wonder if Stephen King likes being an institution, because he sure is one. The guy has been in the writing business for over 40 years, and he’s become a genre unto himself. You may be one of his Constant Readers, you may bemoan his influence on popular literature, or maybe you’ve just read a few of his books, but you regardless know who he is and what he’s about. Entire seconds worth of research shows me that, since 1976, there have been over 60 film and TV adaptations of his work. It goes without saying that they are of wildly different quality. Sure, you’ve got excellent... Read More

A Real Fake Life

September 3rd, 2017

Post a pic or it didn’t happen. As of last month, there were a hair over 2 billion active users of Facebook. Maybe you’re not old and uncool like me, and you have better things to do than dwell on Facebook. Cool, because there are over 700 million Instagram users as of April. Maybe you’d rather insult your favorite celebrity? You can do that on Twitter with 328 million of your closest friends.* Maybe you don’t like social media. The omnipresent need to overshare every moment of your life. The gradual chipping away of critical thinking skills. The creeping fear that you’ll... Read More

The Perfect Laundry Movie

August 27th, 2017

I know, I owe you an explanation. A laundry movie is a film that you can see in the theater, though you probably shouldn’t. Instead, it’s a film that plays in the background while you’re folding laundry, making out, checking social media, or doing essentially anything else. You can check out for a while, but upon hearing a quip or an explosion, your attention can return to the screen and you can easily pick the thread of the story back up. As long as there has been Hollywood, there have been laundry movies. Nobody means to make a laundry movie, it just kinda happens sometimes.... Read More

Translate »