Wednesday - December 8, 2021
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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