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Monday - November 18, 2019

Archive for the ‘ Movies ’ Category

 

Eat The Rich

November 17th, 2019

“Someday, even the experts will figure out, that crime is not caused by rap music…or even my music, but by a power structure of self-absorbed property owners so brain dead and stupid they won’t even see that if you’re too goddamn greedy to pay taxes for schools and services, they’re not going to be any good anymore! And that uneducated time bombs are a very poor investment as a future workforce. And if you go on teaching people that life is cheap, and leave them to rot in ghettos and jails, they may one day feel justified in coming back to rob and kill you. Duh!” Jello... Read More

This Franchise is Terminated

November 10th, 2019

Sometimes it feels like franchises never end. There’s a bunch of films in the Fast and Furious series, the James Bond movies have been trucking along since 1962, and the MCU will end at roughly the same time that our sun goes supernova and wipes out all human life on our fragile planet. But franchises end. Consider the little-remembered Francis the Talking Mule series. Based on a 1946 novel, seven films were made during the 1950s about a mule in the Army that could talk. Presumably, they were profitable—for a while, anyway. As time went on, audiences either a) searched for new diversions in... Read More

A Comedy of Terrors

November 3rd, 2019

Anything can be funny, right? There are two schools of thought, there. The first is the theory that anything has the potential to be amusing. Comedy is all about puncturing bubbles of pretention, going after targets that deserve skewering. As long as the joke teller is punching up instead of punching down, the only limitation is their imagination. The other school of thought is that some subjects are too sacrosanct to be mocked and to even attempt them is, at best, in poor taste. We wouldn’t dream of making fun of the Nazis, right? Ah…as a matter of fact, we would! There’s a long and... Read More

For Those in Peril on the Sea

October 27th, 2019

The worst job I’ve ever held was working in an aluminum factory. I’d gone through a nasty divorce and needed a job immediately. The workers at the local aluminum factory were on strike, and the facility was hiring scabs. You didn’t need to be qualified, or even particularly intelligent. You just needed to be smart enough to not accidentally light yourself on fire. Being in a position of serious financial jeopardy, I immediately jettisoned my principles and crossed the picket line.* My job didn’t require much in the way of finesse or analysis. It was simple—I’d stand in front of a foundry... Read More

Remember the Rules

October 20th, 2019

If you went back in time and told the younger version of myself that a) there would be a gigantically popular TV series about the zombie apocalypse and b) that I would have tapped out on it after the third season, Younger Me would have immediately called 911 and had you arrested with extreme prejudice. Consider that The Walking Dead began as an independent comic book. Now, it’s getting started on its 10th season, has one current and one upcoming spinoff series, and there’s talk about releasing three connected theatrical films. To paraphrase a former Vice President, The Walking Dead is a big... Read More

Battle of Wills

October 13th, 2019

Some movies only require a script, actors, and a camera. A good and tragically underseen example of this is 2018’s The Standoff at Sparrow Creek, a thriller following an ex-cop investigating a police funeral and his suspicion that the shooter belongs to the same militia he does. It’s a great film that had an estimated budget of $450,000. Costs were kept low by keeping the locations modest. It also helped that the vast majority of scenes were essentially guys talking to each other in rooms. It’s a great film due to smart writing, efficient direction, and strong acting. Does the fact that it... Read More

I Started a Joke

October 6th, 2019

“So, when you find yourself locked onto an unpleasant train of thought, heading for the places in your head where the screaming is unbearable, remember there’s always madness. Madness is the emergency exit. You can just step outside and close the door on all those dreadful things that happened. You can lock them away…forever.” That dialogue is from The Killing Joke, alternately the best and worst story about The Joker ever written. On its face, the story is simple. The Clown Prince of Crime has kidnapped Commissioner Gordon, and his plan is to drive Gordon mad, proving to both him and... Read More

Rambo’s Gonna Rambo

September 29th, 2019

Rambo is worth taking seriously. Okay, stop. Please, please stop laughing. I’m serious! Well…kind of. I know that in the world of pop culture, Rambo occupies a very distinctive place. A place that’s viewed as anti-intellectual, overly aggressive, and more than a tad racist. Sylvester Stallone’s musclebound murderer has been featured in movies, books, video games, and even a Saturday morning cartoon. Maybe it’s not quite fair to put the ownership of Rambo entirely upon Stallone. The character was first introduced in David Morrell’s 1972 novel First Blood. It’s a lean and mean thriller... Read More

Beyond, or: Daddy! Issues! In! Space!

September 22nd, 2019

We can all agree that Stephen Hawking was a pretty bright guy. He took a look at what humanity had been up to and was quoted as saying, “I don’t think the human race will survive the next thousand years unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet.” If you’re in a pessimistic frame of mind, Hawking’s quote is easy to get behind. Due to pollution, environmental mismanagement, and climate change, bird populations in North America are plummeting. That’s only a single example of how our arrogance, selfishness, and ignorance damages the... Read More

Tonight’s Word is Inevitability

September 15th, 2019

There’s a threshold that everyone crosses between childhood and adulthood. For some people, stepping across that threshold is akin to getting a boost of rocket fuel. I’ve known people who met and exceeded all expectations. They excelled at prestigious universities and entered lucrative professions. One even spent time working in the White House.* Aided by family, friends, and a considerable amount of luck, the path through their threshold likely shone brightly. For most people, that threshold is covered in fog. You look across it and catch shadowy glimpses of possibilities. Years spent grappling... Read More

Can’t Sleep, Clown Will Eat Me

September 8th, 2019

Back in the day, liking horror was viewed as nothing to be proud of. It was a genre that was grimy, unseemly, positively dripping with bad thoughts and worse intentions. If you were into the scary stuff, why, it must mean you’re some kind of dangerous freak! Speaking from experience, telling someone during the first date that one of your favorite movies is The Exorcist is an excellent way to ensure there’s no second date. Then Stephen King came along, and it’s possible that he, moreso than anyone else in the last 40 years, dragged horror kicking and screaming into the mainstream. As of now,... Read More

An American Fable

September 1st, 2019

To say that Shia LaBeouf has had an unpredictable career would be an understatement. Consider that, at ten years old, he attempted to launch a stand-up comedy career. From there, he became a Disney Channel wunderkind, and younger audiences were the first ones to witness his talent. I can hear between guffaws, many of you saying, “Talent?! Pshaw! He was in the godawful Transformers movies! He was in the only terrible Indiana Jones film! He went crazy in public! Maybe lay off sniffing glue before you write your reviews, okay?” With the exception of the sniffing glue thing, all of that is true. Strip... Read More

Let the Games Begin

August 25th, 2019

Everyone should spend a little time working in either the food industry, retail, or customer service. More than any other profession, you’ll witness some of the best and worst aspects of human behavior. When your job is to serve food or handle phone calls, you’ll see moments of towering generosity, unimaginable pettiness, and everything in between. I’ve been there. I spent over ten years trapped in a cubicle, armed with nothing more than a phone, a disinterested managerial team, and a substandard personal computer. My job was to be an abuse sponge, soaking up invective from people who really... Read More

A Good Lie

August 11th, 2019

One of the most prominent sections of the American Cancer Society’s website is the Treatment and Support page. There, you’ll find a host of useful information regarding the feelings both patients and caregivers experience during and after treatment. Understandably, fear, depression, and anxiety are all cited as normal responses. What is a “normal” response to a cancer diagnosis in a loved one? To make things even trickier, what if the diagnosis is terminal? That’s a tough one. If you’re the patient, how are you supposed to come to terms with your mortality, say your good-byes, and face... Read More

The Middle Lane

August 4th, 2019

You know what my problem with romantic comedies has often been? They’re neither romantic enough nor comedic enough. Is the base problem simply that I’m a straight white guy, someone who gets his cinematic pleasures from seeing people shot in the face repeatedly? Do I simply need to accept that rom-coms are made by and for women, and shut my stupid face? Well…no, I wouldn’t put it quite like that. Remember the old cliché of a straight couple fighting over which movie to watch? The female half wins, naturally having chosen a rom-com, and as she sighs heartily at the onscreen shenanigans,... Read More

A Hollywood Fairy Tale

July 28th, 2019

When Quentin Tarantino’s debut feature Reservoir Dogs was released in 1992, the American film industry was in crisis. Cracks were appearing in the star system. Mainstream films were flopping at the box office. Audiences wanted something, anything new, and Hollywood didn’t know what to give them. For a moment, there was a window for Tarantino to pass through. Along with independent filmmakers like Steven Soderbergh, Paul Thomas Anderson and others, he irrevocably changed movies and culture. But 1992 was a long time ago. Sure, Tarantino was a big swinging dick—still is to a degree. He’s one... Read More

Punch with Your Foot

July 21st, 2019

We live in a misogynistic culture; no big surprise there. But where is toxic masculinity birthed from? Along with antiquated customs and some creepy religious dogma, media can be a big driver in how us guys view ourselves and conduct ourselves. Men are supposed to be assertive—just look at Harrison Ford! Men don’t cry, just look at Clint Eastwood!* That’s the bad news, but the good news is that we also seem to be in a period of flux. Among other concepts, long-held assumptions about gender identity are changing. How do we know that? One way is by looking at how movies portray masculinity... Read More

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