Tuesday - May 22, 2018

Archive for the ‘ Movies ’ Category

 

Return of the Regenerating Degenerate

May 20th, 2018

To enjoy the character of Deadpool, you have to be able to get into his very particular rhythm. If not? Well, I’ll explain with a (thankfully) brief anecdote. My wife is an introvert. Sure, she can smile, make small talk, and have a genuine and warm conversation. She excels in pretending she likes the majority of people. We get home, though? She double locks the door, barricades the windows, and gives thanks to Jesus, Buddha, and Amen Ra that she only has to deal with a handful of people who aren’t wildly annoying. As a result, she barely sees movies with me. It was no surprise that in 2016,... Read More

This Mother’s Day, Give Her the Gift of Robbery

May 13th, 2018

All of us have movies that, through their cinematic magic, burn themselves into our memories. The “how am I funny” scene from Goodfellas. The graduate level screwball comedy of Clue. The wrenching third act of Avengers: Infinity War. Even if you’re not a film nerd like me, I’m willing to bet copious amounts of folding money that there’s a film out there that took root in your brain. Most movies aren’t like that, though. In 2016, over 700 films were released theatrically in American theaters. That number doesn’t take into consideration streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu that... Read More

It’s Hard Out Here For A Mom

May 6th, 2018

To my mind, one of the most annoying phrases floating around is, “We’re having a baby.” This line is frequently delivered by the soon-to-be dad. He often wears a chipper and confidently oblivious expression on his face. Upon hearing this, the soon-to-be mom usually grits her teeth a little, as if to say, “We are having a baby? We are doing no such thing.” She thinks a moment about punching her partner in his stupid face, but the moment passes. Usually. Parenthood, both pre and post-birth, is a parade of horrors. I say that as a parent who dearly loves his son who’s a precious miracle... Read More

A Group of Remarkable People

April 29th, 2018

When it comes to cinema, we’re living in an age of marvels. Take the long view for a moment, and consider that with theatrical releases and streaming platforms, we have access to a wider and deeper selection of films than at any point in human history. You can immerse yourself in independent films, catch up on old classics, watch virtually whatever you want whenever you want. To say that there are no good movies anymore is wildly inaccurate, you just have to work a little to find them. That concept also means that, increasingly, the theatrical experience is reserved for blockbusters. You know... Read More

The Boarding House Is Burning

April 22nd, 2018

Let’s take a moment to consider just how much it must suck to be an actor of Middle-Eastern ethnicity in Hollywood. You’ve spent a fortune on headshots, spent even more on acting classes, and you’re ready to tackle the big time. There’s just one problem, and I know you know what it is. Everybody wants you to play a terrorist. Maybe you’re apolitical, and you simply want to tackle some challenging material or star in a Marvel movie. Maybe you believe in representation, and you want to show that a person that originally has roots in the Middle East can play…well…anyone.* But... Read More

Once Upon A Prom Night

April 15th, 2018

I’m writing this from the great state of Colorado. During my life, I’ve spent time in Texas, Washington, Connecticut, Maryland, and traveled through most of the United States. While I’ve enjoyed a lot of America, I’m partial to Colorado. Can you blame me? Our climate is pleasant with lots of sunny days. We have a wide variety of culinary delights. Outdoorsy activities like skiing, hiking, and rock climbing are close by and plentiful. There’s not much to complain about.* You know what I’m particularly fond of? Our state government frequently does smart stuff. One of my favorites is a... Read More

STFU

April 8th, 2018

Too many movies take their time when they don’t really need to. For example, I read recently that the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War has a running time of two hours and thirty-six minutes. If you’re a fan of the MCU, that’s probably fine and dandy news. If you’re a casual filmgoer, nearly three hours of superhero shenanigans just might make you want to head for a desolate mountain cave and embrace a life as a hermit. I get it, a story is ultimately as long as it needs to be. Only that’s not always correct. I can think of a few movies I’ve seen over the last couple months that could... Read More

Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start

April 1st, 2018

On its face, nostalgia isn’t always a bad thing. It can be comforting, the dwelling on people, events, and things in the past, a mental bubble bath that we can slip into with a content smile. Some researchers even believe in the powerful psychological benefits of nostalgia. Hell, the foundation of the Trump campaign and presidency is based in the belief of a better* America of decades ago. Nostalgia has some nasty traps, too. The obvious one is that bygone eras are only great if you happen to be a straight, white guy. For literally everyone else, it sucks pretty hard. Worse yet is that nostalgia... Read More

A Comedy of Terror

March 25th, 2018

I’m writing this on Saturday, March 24. A day earlier, President Donald Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending package into law. He almost didn’t sign it, and as usual, a bunch of drama started with a tweet. After serious negotiations between Republicans and Democrats to avoid the third government shutdown this year, an omnibus spending bill was cobbled together. Nobody was entirely happy with it, which means it was a fair piece of legislation. The President was ready to sign it…until he wasn’t. He tweeted that he was considering a veto, which would have caused another shutdown. For... Read More

Young Indiana Croft

March 18th, 2018

Guys, I have some righteous science to lay on you. For some of you, this information will come as precisely no surprise whatsoever. For others, this will create feelings of anger, confusion, and a general feeling of chumpdom. I can’t help any of that, I can only report to you my findings based on literal seconds of research. You ready? Women like video games, too. I know! Here in the Brennan household, we’re mild gamers. While I occasionally enjoy wreaking vehicular havoc in Grand Theft Auto, my wife appreciates the more cerebral pleasures of Skyrim. My dear friend Gina and her husband Curtis... Read More

Big Hearted

March 11th, 2018

We need Fred Rogers these days, or someone very much like him. If you’re a younger reader, you can be forgiven for not knowing his work, since he’s more of a contemporary for those of us of a certain age. But his refreshing lack of cynicism is a warm and safe hug, something that effortlessly passes beyond a single generation. Rogers was the creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, a children’s program that ran for decades on public television. During each half hour episode, there were puppet shows, tours of factories and experiments, and Rogers himself. He would simply and honestly... Read More

The Ultimate Beer and Pretzels Game

March 4th, 2018

Has there been any movie genre more maligned recently than the studio comedy? Back in the day, movies with Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and others were guaranteed to open to enormous business. They would stick around for quite a while and, if you didn’t like the looks of a particular one, no big deal. Another comedy would open soon. Things changed, and there’s a ruthlessly unfunny reason for that. Major studios don’t think regionally or nationally any longer, they think globally. Movie attendance in America has been steadily dropping, but attendance is huge elsewhere. The most profitable... Read More

Cell Theory

February 25th, 2018

How do you solve a problem like Annihilation? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very good and very challenging film, and one that everyone should see as quickly as possible. Before we get into the specifics, let’s talk about the tragedy of its release, and why it bodes ill for intelligent art. Paramount Pictures ponied up $55 million to adapt the first book in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy. Alex Garland, the director of the superb Ex Machina, was hired to write the screenplay and direct. An impressive team of actors was hired. Things were a go. Upon the film’s completion, as always... Read More

The AristoCat

February 18th, 2018

My kid’s favorite superhero is the Black Panther. Not Spider-Man. Not Captain America. Not Batman. Not even Blue Beetle. He’s a gigantic fan of Marvel’s T’Challa, the ruler of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. But why is he a fan of that guy? Well, let’s hear it from the horse’s….ah….10-year-old’s mouth. “He’s smarter than Iron Man and Batman. He’s sneaky, He fights battles he knows he can’t win for honor and to help. He held the Infinity Gauntlet, for crying out loud! He must be a great hero!” Now, there are a couple of details you need to keep in mind. First,... Read More

The Safe Word Isn’t Working

February 11th, 2018

There’s a place for kink in the world, though you might not know that if you’re an American. Our great nation pays some pretty profound lip service to tolerance. John F. Kennedy was quoted as saying, “Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather, it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.” You could make the reasonable assumption that when Kennedy, a legendary enthusiast of boinking, spoke about tolerance, he echoed the larger beliefs of most Americans about sex, right? Um…no. For example, English author E. L. James released the novel Fifty Shades... Read More

You Winchester Some, You Lose Some

February 4th, 2018

Some buildings feel wrong. You set foot inside them and you feel uneasy, the hairs on your arms stand up, every instinct tells you to get the hell out of there with a quickness. Why does that happen, though? Is it an evolutionary throwback to when we mammals were tiny, bite-sized rodents? Is it because our minds are playing tricks on us? Or is it because the place is haunted? Go ahead and scoff. But somebody pretty smart once wrote, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” We humans only evolved about 200,000 years ago, and we’re arguing... Read More

Heat for Dummies

January 28th, 2018

There’s a very real conundrum at the heart of film criticism. On the one hand, most people don’t really understand exactly how hard it is to make a movie. First, you need a script that’s either a) good, b) marketable, or c) both. Then you need to figure out how much it’s all going to cost. Then you need to get your hands on the budget. Then you need to actually make the movie and deal with the million-and-one problems that accompany the filmmaking process. Finally, you need to get your movie in front of other people’s eyeballs, and pray to eight pound, six ounce, newborn baby Jesus that... Read More

Irritating Toast

January 21st, 2018

Everything ends. Sometimes it’s unplanned. Look at Terry Pratchett, the prolific English author. He wrote dozens of novels and gained a worldwide following due to his piercing intellect and cutting wit. He should have lived longer, written more, but on March 12, 2015, Alzheimer’s disease snuffed out his mighty brain at age 66.* Other times endings are planned. On June 20, 2017, Daniel Day-Lewis announced his retirement from acting. In an interview with W magazine, the 60-year-old icon explained that the making of his final film, Phantom Thread, left him “overwhelmed with sadness.” That... Read More

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