Wednesday - September 23, 2020
 

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

Superheavy

August 28th, 2020

Project Power is streaming on Netflix Next to westerns, there’s no other genre that has the flexibility that superheroes have in terms of storytelling. You might think that your options are limited to an MCU snarkfest or the Snyder cut of Justice League, truly an edgelord’s delight. But there’s more to superheroes than that. A hell of a lot more. Consider Wild Cards. Originally a series of anthology novels, the premise focused on an alien virus released over the skies of New York City. 90 percent of those infected died. Nine percent lived and were known as Jokers, people afflicted with crippling... Read More

Headspace

August 21st, 2020

7500 is streaming on Amazon Prime Americans are not good at empathy. We like to think we are, but the hard truth is, we suck at it. Why? Because empathy is a skill. It takes a great deal of time, effort, and imagination to try to put yourself into the place of someone different than yourself. Some people are better at it than others. Some people don’t see the value of attempting empathy in the first place. For example, since the murder of George Floyd, a great deal of white people have taken a hard look at their biases and privilege. They have had to reckon with the concept of systemic racism,... Read More

What A Croc

August 14th, 2020

The Pool is streaming on Shudder. There aren’t too many animals that genuinely scare me. Sure, I know that my place on the food chain isn’t anywhere near as high as I’d like to think. During a visit to the Denver Zoo a year or so back, I was spending time at the lion exhibit. A male lion padded up close to the barrier, sat down, then gave me a long look. That look was similar to the look I used to give the Taco Bell menu in college. As a middle-aged man with white beginning to speckle my beard, there are still a few critters that freak me out. One is chimpanzees, and as adorably cute as they... Read More

Love, Die, Repeat

August 14th, 2020

Sometimes, the best-case scenario is to be wrong. We all have our blind spots, right? I was wrong about Andy Samberg. Wrong as hell. For a while there, I had him pegged as a second-tier Saturday Night Live alum. I figured his comic persona was just like Jimmy Fallon, where he was all about being cute and non-threatening. He would probably get a talk show or a sitcom, and that would be that. Turns out Samberg did get a sitcom, the very funny and very sharp Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He’s also part of the comedy troupe The Lonely Island, and he starred in the criminally unappreciated Popstar: Never Stop... Read More

Blast From the Past

July 29th, 2020

The Old Guard is streaming on Netflix So there I was, in the midst of a bout of pandemic depression. The old ways of coping were gone for the moment. I couldn’t schlep to my local movie theater. I couldn’t take my kid to a ball game. Up until recently, the zoo and local museums were closed. Sure, there are plenty of trails close by, but even my dog seems to be getting burned out by the constant walks. I’ll pick up his leash and say, “Ready to go for an adventure?” His eyes get wide as if to say, “Jesus, again?” You know what that’s like. Nobody wants to socially distance. Nobody... Read More

Their Performance Is an Adventure

July 17th, 2020

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is streaming on Netflix I like to think I’m a relatively knowledgeable guy. I read a number of reputable news outlets daily, including The Washington Post and The Atlantic. I’m able to speak quasi-intelligently on a fairly wide range of topics. While I might not be a dazzling sophisticate like some of you, I’m not some drooling bumpkin. Yet up until a few weeks ago, I’d never heard of the Eurovision Song Contest. I know, typical American. If you’re an ignorant savage like me, get ready for some righteous science. The Eurovision Song Contest... Read More

Critic & Son – MCU Edition

July 8th, 2020

I’m writing this on the morning of July 2. By now, we should have been a couple of months deep into the summer movie season. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t miss it. Facts are facts, though. We’ve got one heck of a nasty virus wreaking havoc on the country, and one of the casualties is the modern movie-going experience. At this point, the only way I’d set foot in a theater is if I could be enclosed in a human-sized hamster ball. What is a summer movie, anyway? Well, it’s complicated.* Jaws is the first summer blockbuster, proving to studios that audiences would flock to theaters... Read More

Brothers

July 2nd, 2020

Da 5 Bloods is streaming on Netflix I’ve never served in the military. At the tail end of high school, recruiters from the Army bombarded my phone, trying to convince me to sign up for officer training school. What they didn’t realize, and what I only dimly knew at the time, was that I would have been an absolutely horrible soldier. There’s a host of reasons, but the main might be that I ask too many questions, and when you’re part of a chain of command, asking too many questions at the wrong time can get people killed. I’ve also never been Black. For God’s sake, have you seen me? If... Read More

Girl Kills World

June 24th, 2020

Everyone who’s into movies has a thing. A thing that is endlessly fascinating and that can be refracted through a thousand different lenses. One friend of mine has a deep and abiding love of schlocky horror movies. Loves ‘em, can’t get enough of ‘em. They’re his happy place, and whenever he’s having a tough day, a small scotch and a viewing of Motel Hell will perk him right up. My thing is comedians playing villains. However, let me be clear. If a comedian or comedic actor is playing a comedic villain, that doesn’t scratch the itch. Instead, when a funnyman plays a real nasty piece... Read More

Ain’t Love Grand?

June 15th, 2020

The Lovebirds is streaming on Netflix If you’re like me, you could use some quiet time. There’s something to be said for bringing back naps and giving us adults a scheduled block with which we can reflect and recharge. Why? Oh, only because the country is literally on fire and going foo-foo nutty. Let’s take a moment to review, shall we? In the past few weeks alone, we’ve been treated to: Police brutality Police brutality in response to the aforementioned police brutality Numerous riots Peaceful protests that dwarf the riots The President orders the teargassing of peaceful protesters to... Read More

Amateurs

June 9th, 2020

Time to Hunt is streaming on Netflix We should be in the summer movie season right now. We should be bombarded by entertainment options: a little Marvel, a Pixar movie, a studio comedy—you know, the usual. We should be escaping the increasingly oppressive heat, complaining about ding-dongs on their smartphones, and praying that nobody spilled anything in or around our seats. All of that should be going on. But it isn’t, and it’s increasingly looking like the 2020 summer movie season simply isn’t going to happen. How are we supposed to deal with it, particularly when it’s one of a host... Read More

Critic & Son – Star Wars Edition

May 28th, 2020

You shouldn’t expect your kids to be into the same things you are. It certainly wasn’t the case with my father and me. Bill was a World War II veteran, a lover of big band music, and a guy with the kind of effortless charisma that made him likable to everyone he came across.* He was also a casual moviegoer. I remember him laughing himself into a mild asthma attack during The Naked Gun, and I remember us seeing both Goodfellas and The Silence of the Lambs theatrically. However, I should emphasize he was a casual moviegoer. Did he care about the works of Altman and Kurosawa? Nope. Not even a... Read More

Touchable

May 20th, 2020

Sometimes the meaning of a life is revealed at the end of it. We’ve seen that in film for decades, and perhaps the best example of this is Citizen Kane.* After a meteoric rise and a life spent in journalism and the halls of power, Charles Foster Kane is moments away from death. He whispers, “Rosebud,” and as the film commences, we learn that all the power and prestige in the world is meaningless without love. A real life tends to be messier. Sometimes that’s problematic, and reality is jettisoned in favor of a narrative. The end result might look a bit like Braveheart, a cracking good movie... Read More

The Worst of All Possible Parents

May 15th, 2020

The Willoughbys is streaming on Netflix Once upon a time, there lived a parent. This parent had the colossal misfortune to be a) alive during a pandemic and b) in charge of children. It was bad enough that the wicked virus forced people to stay inside.* Movie theaters closed. Baseball stadiums were empty. Jobs vanished. People scoffed at the idea of eating at buffets. As you can imagine, all that time spent inside was incredibly boring for the parent. There were only so many times they could make sourdough bread! But as dull as it was for the parent, it was a thousand times worse for their kids.... Read More

Return of the Sad Action Guy

May 10th, 2020

Extraction is streaming on Netflix now. Not all action movies are created equally. You know that, and you know there’s a wide world of difference between an honest-to-God classic like Die Hard and a disappointment sandwich like A Good Day to Die Hard. Like me, you’re likely stuck in coronavirus lockdown, and you’re likely looking for entertainment to take the edge off. The question is, what flavor of action movie are you after? If you break it down, there are really three kinds of action protagonists. The first is Happy Action Guy. Bruce Willis has played quite a few of them, and despite... Read More

The Expanse of Dreams

May 6th, 2020

The Room is currently streaming on Shudder. Some people love home renovation projects. Can’t get enough of them. I am not one of those people, due to a comical lack of handyman skills. An example? My involvement in a house painting project with my wife ended with an irritated lesson in proper brush techniques and the hissed admonition to “Go get pizza. Just go.” Needless to say, I got the pizza. Your experience might have been different. Many years ago, my friends Stacy and Dave bought a home located in a small town in New England. Having been built in the late 1700s, their house passed through... Read More

Language!

April 21st, 2020

Coffee & Kareem is streaming on Netflix. We can’t help what we find funny. Who knows where it comes from in the first place? We all have those particular peccadillos that crack us up and make little to no sense. That’s just it—our sense of humor is simply that, a sense. There’s no logic, no rhyme or reason to explain it. Years ago, I worked with a guy and got a very close look at his sense of humor. He was responsible, well-liked, and good at his job. Yet no matter what he was doing, if he saw someone fall, he would immediately die of laughter. You’d hear this loud, almost Joker-style... Read More