Monday, November 20, 2017

Archive for the ‘ Movies ’ Category

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

Ocean’s 7-11

August 20th, 2017

A friend of mine once confidently declared that she only watched movies to relax. Needless to say, I was horrified. I was baffled. I couldn’t let it go. “Let me get this straight. You’re not interested in watching great art.” “No.” “You don’t want to see an amazing performance, an incredible script, or peerless filmmaking.” “Nope.” “You have zero interest in becoming more film literate, more cultured, and learning something profound about the human condition.” “Not at all. I work constantly, so when I have the... Read More

This Movie Has Forgotten The Face Of Its Father

August 13th, 2017

You already know that making a good movie is hard. The alchemy is peculiar, and it requires combining the skill of a craftsman with the soul of a poet to create something uniquely itself. If you think that’s tough, try adapting a novel into a movie. Sometimes the filmmaker can be faithful, too faithful to the source material, and suck the life out of it. That’s when you get works like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone or Watchmen.* Other times the filmmaker taps into the story and themes with great precision, and you have situations like Jaws or The Godfather, where... Read More

The Algiers Lives On

August 6th, 2017

I’m a father to a ten-year-old boy. Part of my job is to teach him to be a decent human being, to be kind to others, help whenever possible, and try to make things suck just a little bit less. I’m also white. My wife is white, so that makes our kid white. That whiteness gives us advantages, ones that we often take for granted but are nevertheless enormous. Here’s an example. Last weekend, my wife got busted for speeding. Was she really speeding, or was she targeted due to her race or gender? Oh, I guarantee she was legitimately speeding. She told me later that the entire interaction... Read More

Hit Like A Girl

July 30th, 2017

Are we entering an action movie Rennaissance? Maybe, because God knows we need it. Whether we like it or not, things have changed. As much as I’m a shill for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s a fact that superhero movies have largely taken the place of action movies. They’re still around, but these days theaters are filled with spandex, Avengers, and surly mutants. We’ll still see the occasional Mission Impossible, but those tend to be the exception more than the rule. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe the relative drought forces us to appreciate it when a particularly... Read More

Gorilla Warfare

July 23rd, 2017

I need to make a couple of confessions to y’all. First, I am scared to death of chimpanzees. Absolutely terrified. You might respond to that admission with, “What’s the problem with chimps, Mr. Scaredy-cat-wussy-pants? They are adorable, and they have a genetic profile that’s 98% similar to humans.” Fine, I’ll give you that. I’ll also mention that they have five times the arm strength of humans, possess canine teeth that are absolutely alarming and have a fun habit of ripping people’s faces off. Second, until now, I had never seen any of the proper Planet... Read More

Living Your Own Rom-Com

July 16th, 2017

“So how did you guys meet?” If you’re in a relationship with someone, odds are you and your significant other have been asked that. To me, that anecdote is endlessly fascinating. The twists, turns, and seemingly random occurrences that bring two people* together can seem fated in retrospect, or like an enormous cosmic joke, depending on how things turn out. I love hearing those stories. Why? Maybe it’s because as I’m getting older, I find myself becoming more sentimental. As a cynical twentysomething, I would have scoffed at the idea of romance, rolled my eyes so... Read More

Big Time Super Hero

July 9th, 2017

It’s hard to make a good movie. It’s even harder to make a good superhero movie, and Marvel Studios makes it look so easy. Through intelligence, wit, and sheer perseverance, not unlike their flagship character, they have become the gold standard in popular film entertainment. The Marvel movies stand above every other franchise, even the Star Wars series, in terms of (mostly) quality films. Consider that they didn’t have an easy time of it. Due to bankruptcy issues in the 1990’s, Marvel Entertainment Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. To dig themselves out of their... Read More

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