Category Archives: movies

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Skyscraper and What’s Making Us Happy (which is, for me, Blindspotting)

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I had a lovely time dissecting the laughably derivative, greenscreeny pleasures of Skyscraper with Pop Culture Happy Hour hosts Linda Holmes and Stephen Thompson and fellow friend-of-the-show Margaret H. Willison. This movie wants to be Die Hard, and it isn’t even as good as Johnson’s own Central Intelligence or Rampage.  It’s maybe on par with San Andreas.
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“‘Man’ Ain’t Spelled G-U-N, Son!” The Equalizer 2, reviewed.

Ashton Sanders;Denzel WashingtonIf you can stomach the fridging, The Equalizer 2 has a lot to like. Denzel trying to get Ashton Sanders from Moonlight to read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, for one thing. Here’s my NPR review.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Ant-Man and The Wasp

nullI saw a review headline earlier today proclaiming Ant-Man and The Wasp “the perfect summer movie.” I could easily name 20 perfect movies released during the summer going back to Jaws, released the summer before I was, but the phrase “a perfect summer” movie almost invariably refers to movies that aren’t very good.

Ant-Man and The Wasp isn’t Not Good. It is, as my pal and editor and occasional (today!) Pop Culture Happy Hour panel-mate Glen Weldon observed in his review, fine.

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Deleted Scenes: On Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Benicio Del Toro;Isabela MonerSpoiler for Sicario: Day of the Soldado, which is the Denis Villeneuve/Roger Deakins/Emily Blunt/Daniel Kaluuya-free sequel to the very good 2015 drug war thriller Sicario. Late in the movie, Josh Brolin, reprising his role as a C.I.A. black-ops guy from the first movie, is ordered to kill a 16-year-old girl—an unarmed noncombatant who is the daughter of a drug kingpin but not a criminal herself. There’s more to it than that, but that’s all I’ll say just in case you feel compelled to see the film, which I do not endorse.

Anyway, I talked about that scene in my review, which went into production in November 2016, the same month we elected a president who said on TV during the campaign that if you want to stop terrorists, “you have to go after their families.” Given that Day of the Soldado opens with a scenario wherein Muslim suicide bombers are believed to have snuck into the United States across the Mexican border (though they’re later revealed to have been American citizens from New Jersey), I believe this plot element was directly inspired by the current president’s campaign rhetoric
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Notes on Dinosaur Camp: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, reviewed and discussed on Pop Culture Happy Hour.

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Here’s my review of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. That link will also take you to where you can hear Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, and Glen Weldon discuss the movie and its place in the Jurassic-iad with me in the fourth chair.

I regret that it never occurred to me to refer to this film as Jurassic 5 even though “Sum of Us” is an all-timer shadowboxing jam. I also regret that none of us, not even Thompson, thought to mention the moment in Jurassic 5 when it seems like Ted Levine from The Silence of the Lambs is about to start singing “See My Vest.” You’ll know the one I mean.

Try the (Youngblood) Priest: Superfly, reviewed.

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A lot has happened since Super Fly came out in 1972. I wrote about the new no-space remake Superfly, which careens among tones like a chromed-out Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado that’s had its brake lines cut. But “Youngblood Priest” drives a sensible Lexus in this version, I am sorry to tell you.

And Now For Something Largely the Same: It’s My Fifth Annual Village Voice Summer Movie Preview!

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In olden times, Memorial Day weekend marked the start of what was known as the Summer Movie Season. It’s an obsolete notion, now that would-be blockbuster releases are most heavily concentrated between mid-February (when Black Panther arrived this year) and the first weekend in May, and can come out basically any month of the year other than January. But as a kid who grew up planning my summers based on which hotly anticipated, frequently disappointing tentpole release came out when, I carry the torch for the idea that summertime is the season for escapist genre films that seek to overwhelm the senses.

My pal Alan Scherstuhl, the Village Voice‘s film editor, indulges me, assigning me each May to single out a dozen due before Labor Day that show promise. These features get shared among the whole New Times media ecosphere; sometimes even before they turn up in the Voice. No matter. Here’s the list.