Quantcast
   
Tuesday - November 20, 2018

Archive for the ‘ Movies ’ Category

 

When They Go Low, We Go High*

November 18th, 2018

Movies are a drug for me, and there’s a certain type of movie that delivers a high that simply can’t be beaten. They don’t come around too often, but when they do, it’s like a blast of pleasure to the left and right hemispheres of my brain simultaneously. Take a moment and imagine there are really two kinds of movies. Low film and high film. Low films are, first and foremost, designed to entertain. That doesn’t mean they’re disreputable or of poor quality, though they can be. Transformers and Suicide Squad are low films that are also eau de garbage. Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Avengers... Read More

Thousand Year Soldiers – A Review on Overlord

November 11th, 2018

“That was better than it had any right to be.” A friend of mine said that after we departed the theater, having just seen the new film Overlord. He was quite right, but you might be reasonably asking yourself, “What’s up with the smug condescension? Aren’t you supposed to give each movie its day in court and approach it as a cinematic tabula rasa?”    Yeah, I know. You’re supposed to, but let’s be honest here. We all have our biases, especially when it comes to movies. Some people want to immediately take a suicide pill when they see a trailer for the latest Marvel movie. Others... Read More

Mercury Rising: Local Movie Reviewer Has Thoughts About Bohemian Rhapsody

November 4th, 2018

My neighbors Jennifer and Paul are absolutely delightful people. Our kids play together, and we’ve made it a point to hang out whenever possible. Paul is a ridiculously talented baker, and Jennifer quietly sabotages the Minnesota Nice caricature with her vicious sense of humor. They’re great…except for one teensy-weensy thing. A while back, we’re all having dinner together. As they’re from Minnesota, I’m asking questions about the state. Inevitably, the subject of Prince comes up. I mention to them that I’m a big fan of His Purple Majesty. With a sneer, Jennifer responds with,... Read More

The Night HE Came Back! – A Review on the 11th Installment of Halloween

October 28th, 2018

“I met him, 15 years ago. I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding in even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this…six-year-old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and…the blackest eyes — the Devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up, because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply…evil.” John Carpenter and Debra Hill wrote those words for the screenplay of 1978’s Halloween.... Read More

No Vacancy – Local Denverite Reviews Bad Times at the El Royale

October 21st, 2018

One of the worst clichés in the history of film is also one of the most accurate. I think you know it, and when I tell you what it is, your response will likely range between rolling your eyes indulgently and a desire to burn down your nearest movie theater and salt the earth. It’s when a filmmaker says, “I wanted New York/Gotham City/Oz to feel like a character.” I know, I know, I can hear your chortling from here. That still doesn’t change the fact that it’s a true statement, though! Places have character. They can feel very distinctive. We’ve all walked into a building or across... Read More

Symbi-Nope: Local Movie Reviewer Takes on Venom

October 14th, 2018

Folks, I’d like to apologize up front for this review of Venom. To put things into context, we’re going to have to make a deep dive into nerdery. I know! I can hear your eyes rolling from here. We’ll make this quick, I promise. In 1988, The Amazing Spider-Man #300 was published.* That comic book introduced Venom, an enemy of the wall-crawler. Built like a weightlifter and utterly vicious, he’s got the same powers as ya boi Spidey, along with extremely flexible morals. Totally unsurprisingly, the character was an instant hit, beloved by edgelords** before edgelords were a thing. But isn’t... Read More

Twelve Notes – Local Movie Reviewer Explores the New Remake “A Star is Born”

October 7th, 2018

One of the old Hollywood legends is about the genesis of 1937’s A Star Is Born. Allegedly, it was not-so-secretly about the relationship between Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Fay. While Fay was a success on Broadway, his film career fizzled. Stanwyck became a massive film star, and Fay worked out his resentment of her through alcoholism and physical abuse. For a while, that was the template for these remakes, that of the meteoric rise of the ingènue and the corresponding fall of the has-been. That tells us that, at the end of the day, there aren’t that many stories. In Christopher Booker’s... Read More

The Review With the Unnecessarily Long Title

September 30th, 2018

There’s this friend of mine — we’ll call her Polly — who absolutely despises horror movies. Can’t handle them. Not only does she see no artistic merit to them whatsoever, but she also doesn’t enjoy the cinematic experience of being scared. Those intense feelings toward horror cinema have been transferred to Polly’s oldest son. Not only does she refuse to let him watch scary movies, she won’t let him view content with even a hint of the macabre. Let’s be clear, I’m not suggesting she should gather the family around the TV for a double feature of The Exorcist and The Shining.... Read More

The Most Terrible Poverty is Loneliness – Local Movie Reviewer Takes on A Simple Favor

September 23rd, 2018

What’s the point of consistently stepping outside our comfort zones? It’s healthy to stretch yourself. Most of us have been encouraged/yelled at by our parents to try new experiences, eat new delicacies, go to new places. By doing that, we get smarter, more empathetic, more sophisticated. When filmmakers stretch themselves? That’s the good stuff. That’s when you have the chance to see something unique. Take Adam McKay for example. As a close friend of Will Ferrell’s, his directorial career began with films like Anchorman and Step Brothers, comedies that walked a fine line between surrealism... Read More

Why? Because They’re Dumb – Local Movie Reviewer Takes on Predator

September 16th, 2018

On the cinematic Venn diagram, there can be an awful lot of overlap between a great movie and an awesome movie. Before we go too much further, let me stake out what I mean by that. A great movie is one with impressive production design, acting, screenwriting, and direction — essentially all the ingredients have been baked in to give us a film of quality. Apollo 13 is a great movie, as is Monster and Deliverance. An awesome movie, on the other hand? That’s a movie that directly tickles our reptile brain, delivering a thrill, a joke, something purely designed to elicit an immediate response.... Read More

Horrible Selfish People

September 9th, 2018

Hollywood gets things wrong all the time. Possibly the most common error made by writers, directors, producers, and the studio executives overseeing the whole thing? It’s that audiences need the main characters to be likable. That’s not correct, because for a film to succeed, your main character doesn’t have to be someone you’d want to have a beer with. They need to be interesting. The problem comes down to confusing sympathy with empathy. Think of it like this; with sympathy, you’re having a positive emotional reaction to someone else’s situation. In that situation, you like the main... Read More

Mile Twenty Poo

August 26th, 2018

Can we take a moment to talk about Mark Wahlberg?* If you’re in the mood for some whiplash, mosey on over to the IMDB and take a look at Wahlberg’s filmography. There, you’ll see an absolutely baffling assortment of films. Some of them are very good, like Three Kings, The Departed, and Boogie Nights. Some of them, like Max Payne, Planet of the Apes, and Shooter are certified Not Good. There’s no rhyme or reason to the trajectory of his career. It’s like he randomly throws darts at a dartboard to pick projects. Sometimes he makes a filthy and fun comedy like Ted. Sometimes he makes a piece... Read More

Champagne As Film

August 19th, 2018

Am I really the right guy to be talking about representation? I know. I get it. In 2018, Mr. Straight White Dude is better off sitting down, shutting up, and passing the microphone to somebody who’s…well…not also a straight white dude. Still, I’m going to give it a shot, and let’s take a minute to talk about why real representation matters. As an aforementioned SWD, representation is 100% a non-issue for me. It never has been. I can see a movie, watch TV, or go online, and see hundreds of thousands of examples of SWD’s taking part of the vast tapestry of the human condition.... Read More

Infiltrate Hate

August 12th, 2018

Hate groups walk a very particular line, only they don’t know it. On the one hand, it wouldn’t be out of line to call members of the Ku Klux Klan and related organizations domestic terrorists. Entire seconds of research shows us a vast number of murders, lynchings, rapes, and attacks that are physical, emotional, and psychological in nature. On the other hand? There’s no other way to say it — they’re ridiculous. Grown-ass adults spending their time dressing up in sheets, using secret codes and goofball titles, and fervently believing the most nonsensical conspiracy theories possible.... Read More

Give These Women a Better Movie!

August 5th, 2018

As human beings, we’re all about categorization. That’s particularly true when it comes to how we view actors. Denzel Washington does righteousness. Bill Murray does sarcasm. Tom Cruise does focus. While we say we want something new from our film actors, what we often want is something that’s the same that feels new. It’s not fair, but there it is. So what happens when an actor isn’t easily categorized? Exhibit A is Mila Kunis. She’s been working steadily for several years, and while she’s mostly done comedy, she has an equal gift for drama. Her best films are probably Ted and Black... Read More

Done The Impossible

July 29th, 2018

You have an opinion on Tom Cruise. You might be an obsessive cineaste like me, or you might be a casual filmgoer. But I guarantee you that, when I bring up the man formerly known as Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, a person who’s coming up on 40 years in the movie business, you likely aren’t responding with a hearty “Meh.” For a while, a long while there, he was the biggest movie star in the world.* The 80’s and 90’s were his time. Go take a gander at his IMDB page, and I’m willing to bet that anyone can find a movie he’s in that they like. He racked up some well-deserved Academy Award... Read More

Dwayne Johnson Fights a Building

July 22nd, 2018

Die Hard is the greatest American action movie ever made. Released on July 12, 1988, there are an awful lot of reasons why it shouldn’t have worked. Casting the lead role of John McClane wasn’t easy. The studios really wanted either Al Pacino or Richard Gere, but neither was interested. Stallone passed on it. Schwarzenegger passed on it. Eastwood passed on it. Hell, even Frank Sinatra passed on it.* They had to settle for Bruce Willis, a motormouthed television actor. Weirder yet? Despite only being known for fairly obscure English TV, Alan Rickman landed the iconic role of archvillain Hans... Read More

Earth’s Tiniest Heroes

July 8th, 2018

What do superheroes mean? Everything means something, but they don’t always mean the same thing. Westerns are a nostalgic look back at a time of independence and exploration. They’re also about the subjugation of native peoples and a time of almost complete anarchy. Science fiction can be a hopeful look to the years ahead, and it can also be a reflection of our anxieties about the present. Most folks tend to read superheroes as adolescent power fantasies. We want to have the brains of Iron Man, the raw power of the Hulk, the morality of Captain America. That’s why it’s easy to understand... Read More

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

July 1st, 2018

These days, it seems like we Americans spend the majority of our time screaming at each other. There’s been a lot of talk about a lack of civility, a lack of respect. There’s a feeling of a yawning chasm that, every day, gets a little wider. There’s a feeling that we’ll eventually be swallowed by it. You know what? I’m part of the problem. I wish it weren’t so, but it is. Just this last May, President Donald Trump referred to some undocumented immigrants as “animals” who would be removed from the United States “at a rate that’s never happened before.” My first mistake? Deciding... Read More

A Disappointment 65 Million Years In The Making

June 24th, 2018
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

As a parent who loves movies, teaching my kid to be film literate has always been a priority. The trick is making it all age appropriate. It’s not like on his eleventh birthday, I’m going to pour him a big glass of lemonade and sit him down to watch Schindler’s List.* With kids, you need to watch what they watch, see how they react to it, and help them to put things in context. When he was younger, I’d try to curate the good stuff for him, films like The Iron Giant. Yet there  were always touchstone films that I chomped at the bit to show him. This week, one of those touchstones were... Read More