Friday - April 16, 2021
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mahk’s Pahking the Cah in Hahvahd Yahd

April 14th, 2020

Spenser Confidential is streaming on Netflix. Gather round, children, and let Graybeard Tim regale you with tales of the Long Ago Times! Back in the day, there were three tiers of screened entertainment. The first was theatrical films. This was where the Scorseses, Spielbergs, and Coppolas of the world lived, and actors like Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise strode the world like a colossus. In short, it was the big time. The second tier was television, and at the time it was looked at as a decidedly lesser art form.* You had formulaic cop shows with lawmen (and they were almost always men) who would... Read More

Ignition

April 6th, 2020

Portrait of a Lady on Fire is streaming on Hulu. Connections are everything. We all know that humans are social animals. We all know that there’s an inescapable aspect of us that yearns to be around others. That connection might be on a professional level, a familial level, a romantic level. Even introverts, who might feel like they have been in training for current events, need somebody else in their lives. Making the right connection is hard enough. You have to be in the right place at the right time with the right person. Even then, the bonds can be tenuous. Ghosting seems like a 21st-century... Read More

The Grind

March 19th, 2020

We’re all scared. Can you blame us? There’s a pandemic cutting through every corner of the world. The guy who’s supposed to be in charge doesn’t appear to know what he’s doing. People are hoarding toilet paper, for God’s sake. As a species, as a country, and as individuals, we’re living in a time of great uncertainty, and it might feel like we’re going to hit bottom any minute. What are we supposed to do? You know who knows a little something about that? Ben Affleck. It wasn’t easy for him, growing up with a father who was an alcoholic and the eventual split that took place between... Read More