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Archive for the ‘ Movies ’ Category

 

Wannabe

March 17th, 2019

Do you know what drives me absolutely batty? When a movie doesn’t know what it wants to be. You’d think that would be reasonably easy to work out, right? Perhaps not, but let’s perform a thought experiment from a couple of angles. Imagine you’re a screenwriter. A major studio hires you to pen the latest installment of their box-office dominating franchise. To do that, you need to figure out genre and tone. With genre, are you making a superhero movie? An action flick? A comedy? Science fiction? If you want to blend the genres, great. The Cabin in the Woods is ultimately a horror movie that... Read More

Maybe Not So Much With the New Friend

March 3rd, 2019

Big film genres stick around. As long as movies are a device for long-form storytelling, we’ll always have earnest dramas, goofy comedies, and movies where a guy walks away from an explosion without looking at it. But smaller sub-genres come and go, and we seem to be entering a resurgence of the Yuppies in Peril film. If it’s been a minute since you’ve seen one of these flicks; no worries—I’m here to help. Originally, Yuppies in Peril movies focused on a young, white, and affluent person, couple or family being psychologically and physically assaulted. For example, disc jockey Clint Eastwood... Read More

No Backup

January 27th, 2019

I love seeing actors take risks. Even more so, I love seeing movie stars take risks. It’s not the kind of thing that happens too often because, like criminals, movie stars tend to be a superstitious and cowardly lot. Considering that the era when a matinee icon could guarantee a huge opening for a movie is essentially dead, movie stars are increasingly faced with two choices. They can either retreat into a niche that gets increasingly smaller, or they can adapt. Robin Williams was an early adopter of adaptation. For those of you too young to remember, Williams was a hyperactive stand-up comedian... Read More

Make it Stop

January 13th, 2019

I kind of hate January. There, I said it. Yes, it’s the first month of a new year, and it represents a new start and new possibilities and blah blah blah. After the warmth of the holiday season, January is cold, bleak, bereft of life. The main reason I hate January, though? It’s the month where movies go to die. For the most part, certain times of the year correspond with certain movies. Summer is for big blockbusters. Late fall is when then Academy Award hopefuls are rolled out. January is the dumping ground of the studios. People are going back to work or back to school, and there generally... Read More

The Glass Between Their Love

January 6th, 2019

On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile died tragically and pointlessly. Officer Jeronimo Yanez pulled Castile over during a traffic stop. Later, Yanez claimed Castile was pulled over because he looked like the suspect in a robbery. In the car with Castile was his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds. Her four-year-old daughter was in the back seat. As Yanez asked Castile to produce his license and insurance, Castile informed the police officer that he had a licensed firearm in his possession. At this point, Officer Yanez panicked. He raised his voice, unholstered his firearm, and fired at Philando Castile seven... Read More

Mercury Rising: Local Movie Reviewer Has Thoughts About Bohemian Rhapsody

November 4th, 2018

My neighbors Jennifer and Paul are absolutely delightful people. Our kids play together, and we’ve made it a point to hang out whenever possible. Paul is a ridiculously talented baker, and Jennifer quietly sabotages the Minnesota Nice caricature with her vicious sense of humor. They’re great…except for one teensy-weensy thing. A while back, we’re all having dinner together. As they’re from Minnesota, I’m asking questions about the state. Inevitably, the subject of Prince comes up. I mention to them that I’m a big fan of His Purple Majesty. With a sneer, Jennifer responds with,... Read More

Mile Twenty Poo

August 26th, 2018

Can we take a moment to talk about Mark Wahlberg?* If you’re in the mood for some whiplash, mosey on over to the IMDB and take a look at Wahlberg’s filmography. There, you’ll see an absolutely baffling assortment of films. Some of them are very good, like Three Kings, The Departed, and Boogie Nights. Some of them, like Max Payne, Planet of the Apes, and Shooter are certified Not Good. There’s no rhyme or reason to the trajectory of his career. It’s like he randomly throws darts at a dartboard to pick projects. Sometimes he makes a filthy and fun comedy like Ted. Sometimes he makes a piece... Read More

Done The Impossible

July 29th, 2018

You have an opinion on Tom Cruise. You might be an obsessive cineaste like me, or you might be a casual filmgoer. But I guarantee you that, when I bring up the man formerly known as Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, a person who’s coming up on 40 years in the movie business, you likely aren’t responding with a hearty “Meh.” For a while, a long while there, he was the biggest movie star in the world.* The 80’s and 90’s were his time. Go take a gander at his IMDB page, and I’m willing to bet that anyone can find a movie he’s in that they like. He racked up some well-deserved Academy Award... Read More

Dwayne Johnson Fights a Building

July 22nd, 2018

Die Hard is the greatest American action movie ever made. Released on July 12, 1988, there are an awful lot of reasons why it shouldn’t have worked. Casting the lead role of John McClane wasn’t easy. The studios really wanted either Al Pacino or Richard Gere, but neither was interested. Stallone passed on it. Schwarzenegger passed on it. Eastwood passed on it. Hell, even Frank Sinatra passed on it.* They had to settle for Bruce Willis, a motormouthed television actor. Weirder yet? Despite only being known for fairly obscure English TV, Alan Rickman landed the iconic role of archvillain Hans... Read More

Earth’s Tiniest Heroes

July 8th, 2018

What do superheroes mean? Everything means something, but they don’t always mean the same thing. Westerns are a nostalgic look back at a time of independence and exploration. They’re also about the subjugation of native peoples and a time of almost complete anarchy. Science fiction can be a hopeful look to the years ahead, and it can also be a reflection of our anxieties about the present. Most folks tend to read superheroes as adolescent power fantasies. We want to have the brains of Iron Man, the raw power of the Hulk, the morality of Captain America. That’s why it’s easy to understand... Read More