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Archive for the ‘ Movies ’ Category

 

The Feel Bad Movie of The Year

February 23rd, 2020

Not long ago on my birthday, I decided to do something for myself. To celebrate my inevitable march toward old age and the grave, a drive in the mountains was just the thing. I fired up the trusty Prius, put my iPhone music on shuffle,* and off I went into the majesty of Colorado’s iconic Front Range. I stopped at Flagstaff Lookout Point. The road to the top was closed due to snow, and I figured a little stroll would do me good. After a few minutes of picking my way through the recently fallen snow, I became acutely aware of two things. First, as far as I could tell, I was the only one up there.... Read More

Objects in Motion

February 16th, 2020

Who can say how we’ll react during a crisis? We all want to believe that, when the moment comes, we’ll step up. We’ll perform admirably and be a credit to our friends, family, and ourselves. Some people dream of a situation* where they’re the only one who knows what to do and saves the day. More often, things just happen. For example, back in January of 2014, Lauren Prezioso and her family took a day to relax at their local beach in Coffs Harbour, Australia. She heard screams. A mother was panicking and yelling for help as her two boys were being swept out by the tide. Lauren was among... Read More

Feathering the Nest

February 9th, 2020

I like it when something cool comes from something damaged and terrible. For example, the DC Extended Universe. Initially, they were not off to a great start. They had a Superman who was mopey, grumpy, and seemed to save people not because he was compelled to help, but because he was afraid of being written up by his manager. They had a Batman who was not so much obsessed with punishing crime as he was having a psychotic break.* They also had a Harley Quinn trapped in a movie that didn’t deserve her. Perhaps you recall 2016’s Suicide Squad. It was a damn good concept for a movie, with the idea... Read More

Drop the Beat

February 2nd, 2020

A common belief is that movie critics love to trash movies. It’s thought that we critical types, after emerging from coffins buried in consecrated ground, stalk film festivals and multiplexes looking for weaker prey. We fire up our laptops to crush innocent filmmakers, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentations of their producers. I mean, that’s what we do, right? Not so much. See, every movie is an opportunity. The very best part of a film for me is the moment after the previews have finished and there’s a half-second or so where the screen is black. That moment is all about potential,... Read More

England’s Greenery

January 26th, 2020

When it comes to directors, there are usually two kinds. The first is the artist. When you watch a film by Spielberg, Scorsese, or Tarantino, you’ll know within minutes that they directed it. Shot choices, casting, and even their thematic obsessions will clue you in, allowing you to calibrate your enjoyment appropriately.* You’ll always know you’re watching a film by Brian De Palma, just like you’ll always know you’re watching a film by Kevin Smith. The second category is the artisans. These are filmmakers that usually don’t have a directorial signature. They get in there, do the job,... Read More

Almost, But Not Quite, The Abyss

January 19th, 2020

If you’re a regular viewer of movies, you know you can track the seasons by the kinds of movies playing. Are the theaters jam-packed with big, loud blockbusters? You’re in summer. Do you have a wide variety of Oscar bait to choose from? Congratulations, you’ve arrived safely in the fall. The depths of winter are when studios give up. They already released the films built to either make an assload of money or attract awards. What’s left is the cinematic equivalent of the island of misfit toys, and production companies frequently throw these redheaded stepchildren into theaters with a hasty... Read More

The Endless Trench

January 12th, 2020

We never really reckoned with World War I, not in any meaningful sense. For a while there it was called The War to End All Wars, despite the fact that its aftermath both caused and led into World War II. Like all wars, its horror recedes in memory. A little over a century later, most of us barely understand why the war happened in the first place. That continues to be shocking, as the casualties of World War I were so high that battles frequently resembled a meat grinder in terms of the staggering numbers of men both sides threw at each other. When you put the numbers into context, it’s literally... Read More

Shifting The Lens

January 5th, 2020

There are two incontrovertible facts: the first is that Louisa May Alcott was a fascinating human being. Her parents were Transcendentalists. She took lessons from Henry David Thoreau. She wrote a play for the Boston Theater and subsequently burned it due to infighting between her actors. Alcott briefly served as a nurse during the Civil War, survived typhoid fever, was a feminist, and was active in the abolitionist movement. To put it plainly, she was a baller. Oh, also? She wrote Little Women. That brings us to the second incontrovertible fact, which is that up until very recently, I was almost... Read More

Pressure Drop

December 29th, 2019

As many of us do, the arrival of the year’s end is a time for me to look back. If I were to sum it up, 2019 was all about surprise. Putting aside the absolute insanity of our politics, the year in film has been wild as hell. We saw both the Star Wars and MCU franchises come to a temporary end. We saw films about cathartic cults, flicks involving doppelgangers, and a number of movies examining class warfare. Perhaps strangest of all, we saw one of the best performances of the year delivered by Adam Sandler. Maybe it’s not so strange, though! I’ll grant you that a cursory look through Sandler’s... Read More

The Force Ricochets

December 22nd, 2019

In the beginning, there was the Word…or a bunch of words, anyway. They began with, “It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.” Once seen, it was impossible to forget. Film historians will tell you the first blockbuster was Steven Spielberg’s Jaws in 1975. That’s true, but there’s a galaxy’s worth of difference between a blockbuster and a frickin’ phenomenon. On May 25, 1977, Star Wars changed everything. The brainchild of George Lucas erupted from theaters and soon laid claim to... Read More