Thursday - January 27, 2022
 

A Regular Dude (Review: Vengeance Is Mine)

October 25th, 2021

There have been eleven movies made with the title Vengeance is Mine. The first of those films was made way back in 1912, proving that even in those sepia-hued days of the Titanic, massive dinner parties, and the birth of the Oreo, people also wanted to see movies where somebody who’s gotten screwed over achieves satisfaction. I’m perfectly fine with revenge movies. One of the greatest ever made is John Wick, where a thoughtless act of cruelty unleashes a storm of violence on a truly Biblical scale. For a revenge movie to work, three elements need to be firmly in place. They are: An interesting... Read More

Michael’s Game (Review: Halloween Kills)

October 18th, 2021

He was close. He thought he was ready, but at the last moment, he stepped away. Wait — let me back up and I’ll explain. To set the stage, last weekend I knew my upcoming review would be Halloween Kills, the latest entry in the extremely venerable franchise. The film picks up moments after the end of the 2018 Halloween, and as I had a little free time, rewatching Halloween felt like a good move. As my son Liam has gotten older, he’s been developing his own tastes when it comes to film. He has directors he likes* and films he’s been curious about.** The only genre he hasn’t leapt into is... Read More

Antisocial Worker (The Gateway)

October 11th, 2021

Movie stars are good. Serious Actors are better. Best of all are That Guys.* Even if you’re a casual film viewer, you likely have a favorite That Guy. In blockbusters, they’ll show up in supporting roles, often playing the same 2-3 kinds of roles. Michael Biehn, for example, is an excellent That Guy, and he carved out a pretty good niche playing steely-eyed military types and psychopaths.  Better yet is when That Guys get a chance in the spotlight. This almost always happens in smaller films, and to my mind, that’s a good thing. Those smaller films tend to be more interesting, riskier, more... Read More

A Vulgar Business (Review: Worth)

September 26th, 2021

We say that all lives have value. Do they? If so, what exactly is that value? To ponder a question like that is, at best, distasteful. At worst, it’s a monstrous concept that’s so big, it almost can’t be grappled with. But someone has to. Someone has to take the decisions and idiosyncrasies that live in each of our lives and break it all down into some kind of hard data. Consider the lives and deaths of two people on September 11, 2001. One of them worked in Windows on the World*, the restaurant that dwelled on the 106th and 107th floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Directly... Read More

Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu (Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings)

September 14th, 2021

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a trend-setter, and it’s kind of amazing considering the risks taken. Consider the lead of Iron Man was a troubled actor with a notable drug problem. Consider that the vast majority of people had no earthly idea who Iron Man even was. Consider that the idea of an interconnected multi-film franchise was looked at as, to be charitable, raging insanity. The irony is that, despite the huge chances taken by the MCU, Marvel Comics originally followed numerous trends instead of inspiring them. The creation of the Fantastic Four was a response to DC Comics’ creation... Read More

Bruja (Review: The Old Ways)

September 6th, 2021

I’m a genre nerd. While a thoughtful documentary or smart drama will capture my attention, nothing gets my nerd radar pinging faster than a film that Wikipedia defines as, “a stylistic or thematic category for motion pictures based on similarities either in the narrative elements, aesthetic approach, or the emotional response to the film.” Luckily, there’s an awful lot of room for filmmakers to operate in when it comes to genre. A war movie only has to feature…well, war. A vampire movie simply needs to have something within it that can be recognized as some sort of vampire. Science fiction... Read More

Uncaged (Review: Pig)

August 30th, 2021

Is it fair to call Nicolas Cage a film icon? Not in the religious sense of the word, but more the idea that an icon represents a concept.  Take a look at his filmography for a moment. You’ll first notice a fairly astonishing amount of good to great films he’s made. Red Rock West. Leaving Las Vegas. Lord of War. The Rock. Mandy. If any other actor had done just one of those films, they’d be looked at as an all-timer. The other thing you’ll notice on said filmography? A titanic amount of crap. Some of it was due to simply picking the wrong projects. Some of it was due to fallout from a high-profile... Read More

Signs and Portents (Review: The Green Knight)

August 24th, 2021

The past is a distant country. The further away we travel from it, the more strange the customs feel and the more unlike our own times it becomes. Consider the life you lead right now, the things you take for granted and consider to be normal. Now consider how jarring it would be to time travel back to, say, 1951. The clothing, technology, standards, everything would feel odd, and 1951 was only 70 years ago. Take that sense of disconnectedness and multiply it. You probably have something close to the chasm between how we think about the Middle Ages and the lived experience of Europeans. From the... Read More

The Do-Over (Review: The Suicide Squad)

August 17th, 2021

Once upon a time, there was a director who got royally screwed. His name was (and continues to be) David Ayer, and his upbringing in South Central Los Angeles informed him well. There are likely two reasons you’re familiar with Ayer. The first is his work as the talented screenwriter of Training Day and the director of very good films such as End of Watch and Fury. The second reason is that he’s the guy who made 2016’s Suicide Squad. Despite making nearly $750 million and winning the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyle, Suicide Squad was critically reviled. I read over my review*... Read More

Everything’s Fine (Review: No Sudden Move)

August 6th, 2021

No Sudden Move is streaming on HBO MAX I adore crime movies, though some flavors more than others. About half of Quentin Tarantino’s filmography focuses on crime, and Pulp Fiction alone birthed legions of imitators. For years, there were scores of films involving loquacious scumbags holding forth on pop culture and committing unexpected (but completely expected) acts of violence. Some of these movies were even good. Tarantino’s crime movies are like a cheeseburger ordered at the trendiest restaurant you can imagine, cooked by the biggest celebrity chef out there. You’ll enjoy that burger,... Read More

Budapest With An S.H. (Review: Black Widow)

July 20th, 2021

Black Widow is streaming on Disney+ Prequels are terrible. That is, until they aren’t. It used to be that the idea of checking out the earlier adventures of beloved characters was nothing more than a craven cash grab. You had the tomfoolery of Butch and Sundance: The Early Years, the nonsense of Hannibal Rising, and the blatant idiocy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Done well, a prequel can add texture and character to a franchise. It can fill in the blanks and even recontextualize the original work. Despite the clunky execution, mostly poor acting, and thunderingly obvious storytelling, George... Read More

Mommy Brain (Review: False Positive)

July 8th, 2021

False Positive is streaming on Hulu In 2016, the World Health Organization estimated that around 830 women die on a daily basis due to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. If you read that number and were floored by the lethal math on display, it’s probably because you’re a man. The fact of the matter is, the process of pregnancy has always been tied up with risk. Three hundred years ago, along with the distressingly normal dangers associated with birth, a pregnant woman had to contend with barbaric practices that barely met the definition of medical, as well as an insanely misogynistic... Read More

The Devil Went Down to Connecticut (Review: The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It)

June 14th, 2021

“The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” is streaming on HBO Max Much like life, franchises find a way. Sooner or later, they realize they can’t keep doing the same thing over and over, and they need to evolve. The Fast and the Furious began as a charmingly low rent ripoff of Point Break. With F9 being released a few weeks from now, we’ll see a series that took enormous chances and transformed into something entirely different. We’ve arrived at a point, not unlike the late 1960s, where studios don’t fully know what audiences want and are scared to death about it. Back then,... Read More

Sex Positive (Review: Plan B)

June 7th, 2021

“Plan B” is streaming on Hulu A while back, Toni Morrison said, “All good art is political.” I think that’s about right, yet I’d take it a step further and say that all art is political — full stop. Does that mean that every movie you see and every book you read has an overt political agenda? No. What I would say is that to quote an interesting article from the American Psychological Association, “Politics is personal.”* “But why do movies have to be political? Why do they have to be so woke” I see people whining. These folks conveniently forget that movies have always... Read More

Common Things (Review: The Dry)

May 31st, 2021

“The Dry” is streaming on Prime We all have secrets. From the smallest to the most squalid, everyone has a moment, a decision that they dearly wish the rest of the world would never discover. It’s part of being human, and the good news is that for the vast majority of us, our secrets don’t really matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. But here’s the thing about secrets — if you live in a big, bustling urban environment, you also live with a cloak of anonymity. You can be about your business with minimal worry of being discovered. Small towns, though? The kinds of... Read More

Understuffed (Review: Benny Loves You)

May 25th, 2021

“Benny Loves You” is streaming on Prime Back in the day, the vast majority of scary cinema didn’t exactly knock themselves out in terms of a smart script, committed actors, or innovative directors. The feeling was that audiences wanted gore, gratuitous nudity, and jump scares, so why bother casting pearls before swine? You know what? I get it. During my first couple years of college, many of my friends would spend their Friday nights going to a game, checking out a party, going on a date, and in some vanishingly rare circumstances, getting schoolwork done. Baby Tim didn’t do much... Read More

Skater Boy Meets World (Review: North Hollywood)

May 17th, 2021

“North Hollywood” is Streaming On Demand. A few years from now, my kid will graduate from high school. Before that happens, he’ll live in a world where his primary focus is getting good grades in school and spending enormous amounts of time online with his friends. The vast majority of decisions regarding his well-being are made by either his mother or me. Once graduation happens, he’ll enter a world that’s sometimes hostile and frequently irrational. He’ll have to take on the load of higher education, decide what his potential career path will be, juggle relationships, and... Read More

H Like A Bomb (Review: Wrath of Man)

May 10th, 2021

“Wrath of Man” is Streaming On Demand. There aren’t that many movies that kicked off an entire sub-genre. I’ll concede that, prior to 1995, an awful lot of crime movies existed. You had your action flicks, your mobster movies, and your heist cinema, for example. Jimmy Cagney’s career was built on crime movies, and Marlon Brando won Oscars for On the Waterfront and The Godfather, both of which have to do with the underworld. And then? Heat came along in 1995. At the time, all that was really advertised about the film was that it starred Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. That right... Read More

Into the Void (Review: Stowaway)

May 5th, 2021

“Stowaway” is streaming on Netflix Life is fragile. It’s easy to forget that on an average day. Last Thursday, for example, many of us were at work, spending time with kids, looking at cat pictures online, trying to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and wondering if it’s too late to order a pizza. For many of us, last Thursday was the last day of our lives. If regular life on our planet carries with it a certain sense of risk, then a life lived in the stars is insanely, ludicrously dangerous. I have a great deal of respect for people who choose to assume risk in order to protect others or... Read More

Erin Go AARGH! (Review: Boys From County Hell)

April 28th, 2021

Boys From County Hell is streaming on Shudder As I write this, we’re well into springtime in Colorado’s Front Range.* The sun sets later, flowers are beginning to bloom, and the promise of renewal is upon us. It’s a time for us to emerge from the snowy gloom of winter and embrace all that life and possibility have to offer. What’s the best way to do that? A good vampire movie. You don’t buy it either, huh? Bloodsuckers were around in the infancy of film, and even though most people haven’t seen the original Dracula, virtually everyone knows Bela Lugosi and his iconic performance.**... Read More