Friday - April 16, 2021
Categories of Reviews
 

Giant Animal Smashy-Smashy (Review: Godzilla vs. Kong)

April 8th, 2021

Godzilla vs. Kong is streaming on HBO Max There are those of you who might scoff at the idea of intentionally watching a Godzilla movie. I’m not implying that you’re the stereotypical snob, one reclined in a leather wingback chair, sipping a mug of Earl Grey and desperate to return to leafing through the pages of Ulysses for the seventh time. What I am saying is that you might think you have something, literally anything, better to do than that. Want to take the idea of a giant lizard stomping on people seriously for a moment? There’s a precedent. First, watch the OG Godzilla from 1954. It’s... Read More

Gods Among Us (Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League)

March 26th, 2021

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is streaming on HBO Max Second chances don’t come around too often. That’s just as true in the movie business as it is anywhere else.* For filmmaker Zack Snyder, his 2017 film Justice League seemed to be firmly in the rear view mirror. Can you blame him? The Marvel Cinematic Universe had producer Kevin Feige coordinating everything. The MCU made money — lots of it. Warner Bros. very quickly realized that a) they owned the rights to the DC comics characters and b) they also loved money. In short order, they rushed to create the competing DC Extended Universe.... Read More

Shoot, Stab, Repeat (Review: Boss Level)

March 19th, 2021

Boss Level is streaming on Hulu In the world of Hollywood, it can take time for a genre to emerge. That’s mostly due to the overwhelming cowardice lurking throughout the entertainment industry. If you have a novel idea for a movie, say, an action flick where the hero is scared and tired, or a series of films that create an interconnected cinematic universe, the vast number of executives will pass on it before you can finish your first sentence. It took a minute for time loop movies to catch on. Groundhog Day wasn’t the first. As best as I can figure, the first time loop movie was The Girl... Read More

Down The Road (Review: Nomadland)

March 3rd, 2021

Nomadland is streaming on Hulu The nature of the world is to change. It’s always been so, despite our best efforts to push back against it. Some of us, one percent or so, have the financial means to handle anything. If the economy tanks or they have a health crisis, their limitless coffers allow them to bob gently on the surface of the water. Meanwhile, people like me, and possibly you, live a different kind of existence. Right now, my family is comfortable-ish. We can pay our bills, occasionally order takeout, sometimes feed the needs of our charmingly avaricious son, and even put a little... Read More

Details, Details (Review: The Little Things)

February 17th, 2021

The Little Things is streaming on HBOMax Hey, you! You, the person who just dropped a few hundred bucks on screenwriting software and who bought a veritable library of books on how to write a winning script. You, the person who was struck by a (potentially misguided) bolt of motivation to roll up your sleeves and bang out a screenplay about a serial killer. Maybe…don’t? Look, don’t get me wrong, pretty much as long as there have been movies, there have been movies about disturbing maniacs who prey on the innocent. Fritz Lang’s M had to do with a child murderer in Berlin, and it was... Read More

Nice Guys (Review: Promising Young Woman)

February 16th, 2021

Promising Young Woman is streaming on Prime They said he came from a respectable family. Regarding his character, they said he was kind, loving, and respectful. By all accounts, he had a bright future ahead of him in the medical field, and a spot on the U.S. Olympic Swim Team beckoned. On January 17, 2015, the vast majority of people would have thought that Brock Turner was going places. A promising young man, indeed. Twenty-four hours later, he was under arrest. Not long after that, he was facing two charges of rape, two charges of felony sexual assault, and one charge of attempted rape. There... Read More

In the Company of Wolves (Movie Review: Hunted)

February 2nd, 2021

Hunted is streaming on Shudder She didn’t want to go. It would mean leaving the safety of the village, leaving behind a world of predictability and order. Yet, there was no choice, not when the matter concerned her grandmother, whom she loved. The old woman lived in a cottage nestled far in the woods. The old woman was sick and was in desperate need of food and medicine. What choice did her granddaughter have? So, she wrapped her red cloak around herself tightly and took the first tentative steps into the forest. I bet that sounds familiar. You know all about Red Riding Hood, the old folk tale... Read More

Last Man (Review: The Midnight Sky)

January 18th, 2021

My kid Liam is around six months into his thirteenth year. He’s kind, smart, funny, and I can already see that he’ll go much further in life than I ever will. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Also, since he’s taking his first coltish steps in being a teenager, he has Opinions. Many, many opinions about many, many subjects. Which is also how it’s supposed to be. For example, here’s me camped out in my chair, watching George Clooney’s newest film, The Midnight Sky. Maybe 45 minutes into it, Liam comes in and announces he’s done with school. He asks what I’m watching and what I... Read More

Life On Earth

January 8th, 2021

If you’re reading this, you’re alive and you survived 2020. Trust me when I tell you, that’s good! We had an insanely acrimonious presidential election, a pandemic that almost completely caught the world unawares, and an economy that’s currently curled in the fetal position. Selfishness and willful ignorance swept the land. There was serious talk of secession. The whole thing sucked. And then? Then, we passed across that hazy and insubstantial border to 2021. A new year. An opportunity to, if you’re a cynic, make laughable public promises to change your life and fail to do so. Years of... Read More

Age of Wonder

December 29th, 2020

Wonder Woman 1984 is Streaming on HBO Max To one degree or another, superheroes are all about symbolism. Despite having been originally designed as characters for children, they have become our modern mythology. When used correctly, they can simultaneously deliver surface-level thrills while also having something legitimate to say. If Batman is about dealing with trauma and Superman is about the desire to help, then Wonder Woman is ultimately about hope.* Hope with a clear-eyed and flinty view of things as they are and not as we’d like them to be. Consider that, while she has the Lasso of Truth,... Read More

Christmas Goosed

December 22nd, 2020

Let’s get a few things out of the way first. First, I do not hate Christmas. Take away the rampant commercialization and repugnant consumerism, and you still have a time of year to be thankful, to be hopeful, and to push yourself to be just a little more decent. Yes, even in 2020. It’s Christmas movies I don’t like. Specifically, the Hallmark Christmas movie sub-genre. If you don’t know these kinds of films, trust me when I tell you, you know them. A person from the bustling big city is sent to a charming and almost completely white small town. They meet a person of the opposite sex* who... Read More

The Self-Made Myth

December 4th, 2020

Hillbilly Elegy is streaming on Netflix There’s a story many of us tell ourselves about poverty.* Poor people are poor due to their own actions or inactions. They just want a handout from the government. They’re lazy. They’re not very intelligent or motivated, and when they do utilize a kind of low cunning, it’s to figure out ways to game the system and screw over virtuous taxpayers like “us.” I remember being told that story when I was very young. We had a house in Rockville, Maryland, and while my mother stayed indoors to protect the fragile health that would eventually fail her,... Read More

Dying Is Easy

November 30th, 2020

All Joking Aside is streaming on Prime When it comes to the arts, there’s nothing harder than stand-up comedy. Don’t get me wrong; to play principal cello for the Boston Pops is an undeniable achievement. To create a magnificent sculpture is a feat that most people will never accomplish. Hell, writing a novel or screenplay is still a pretty big deal, considering the legions of people who talk about it but never do it. Stand-up is different for a few reasons. First, most people aren’t consistently funny. Your mom or co-worker might drop a wicked bon mot from time to time. Doing that for a... Read More

Disorder In the Court

November 20th, 2020

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is streaming on Netflix There’s a long and semi-proud tradition in Hollywood of the courtroom movie. Some of them, such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Verdict, and 12 Angry Men stand the test of time.* They have something particular to say about the law, about justice, and how we either uphold our ideals or abandon them altogether. Here’s the thing about making a courtroom movie…they’re hard. The first problem before you is the script. Ever read legal transcripts? If not, they’re a very effective substitution for valium. Your first challenge is to hack through... Read More

Second Verse, A Little Different Than the First

November 5th, 2020

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is streaming on Prime How does he do it? He must have the luck of Loki or some other trickster god on his side, considering the pranks he’s pulled have edged out of the realm of the audacious and into the realm of the openly suicidal. How is it possible that Sacha Baron Cohen hasn’t been tarred and feathered, shot out of a cannon, or drawn and quartered yet? Of all the genres out there, comedy is the one that takes the most courage. It’s not just about putting yourself out there. You have to be willing to step into the spotlight, act like a ding-dong, and run the... Read More

Miss Mystery

October 23rd, 2020

Enola Holmes is streaming on Netflix Perhaps the best part of a movie, for me, is the first couple of seconds. By that point, I have a broad idea of the premise. I’ve poured myself a drink. My brain is prepared. When the first production company logo appears onscreen, we’re in a Schrodinger’s Movie scenario. Anything is possible, and even if the premise is ill-advised, there’s a chance of getting something amazing.* Add to that the excitement you get from hearing a strong concept. A secret organization protects Earth from alien threats? Sold. A rag-tag group of scientists opens a business... Read More

That Old Time Religion

October 6th, 2020

The Devil All the Time is streaming on Netflix I’ve been to the South, but I’ve never been to The South. To clarify, years ago my wife and I took a week off for a road trip. We were on the East Coast then, and with the exception of a couple of trips to Florida, I had never spent any appreciable time further South than Maryland. I was intensely curious about what I would find. Honestly, I loved it. In particular, I fell deeply in love with Charleston, the elegantly crumbling South Carolina city. The food? Incredible. The sights? Marvelous. The people? Delightful.* In particular was a couple... Read More

Tempest in a Teapot

September 21st, 2020

Cuties is streaming on Netflix Take a seat. Better yet, make a nice, hot cup of tea, pull up your nearest fainting couch, and get ready for some information that is sure to blow your mind. Ready? You sure? Okay…here goes. *takes a deep breath* Americans are really, really stupid when it comes to both art and nuance. An example is the kerfuffle that sprang up regarding The Last Temptation of Christ. It all began with the 1955 novel written by Nikos Kazantzakis that examined the life of Jesus. Specifically, it posited the concept of Jesus briefly succumbing to temptation while on the cross and... Read More

Be Excellent To Each Other

September 14th, 2020

Bill & Ted Face the Music is streaming on Prime Let’s talk about trilogies. Specifically, how unbelievably hard they are to pull off. It’s difficult enough to pull off a good movie, considering you need a strong script, solid direction, and competent actors. To pull off a decent sequel, you need to build on the world you first established and go in a new direction yet one that’s not so new it undoes the first film. To do all of that, and add a third film wrapping up everything? It’s easier to climb up Mount Everest blindfolded and naked. Even the most prestigious and profitable franchises... Read More

A Gorilla Never Forgets

August 31st, 2020

The One and Only Ivan is streaming on Disney+. Once upon a time, there was a mall, located in a faraway land known as Tacoma. This mall wasn’t the sort of mall you might have hung out at as an incorrigible youth. It didn’t have a food court. It didn’t have an Apple store. It didn’t have a mall security guard. It was not a gleaming bastion to capitalism. Instead, this mall was…different. Instead of chains, it was a haven of small businesses. Some of them were the kind of places that sold incredible art or wonderful used books. Other were the kind of places that would sell throwing... Read More