Category Archives: movies

Jaws 3-D: Roland Emmerich’s Midway, reviewed.

Ed Skrein and Luke Kleintank as real-life WWII veterans Dick Best and Clarence Dickinson.

Just in time for Veterans Day, disaster artist Roland Emmerich has made a bid to improve upon 1976’s Technicolor / Sensurround-sound sensation Midway with a more historically-focused (but also more heavily-animated) dramatization of the three-day battle that turned the tide of the war in the Pacific. My NPR review of the movie is here.

In Terminator: Dark Fate, SkyNet Is History But U.S. Customs and Border Protection Remains

Gabriel Luna as the Rev-9 Terminator, which can divide itself in two. (Kerry Brown/Paramount)

No amount of Terminator scholarship is too much if you’re me. So just as the new Terminator: Dark Fate (which bombed over the weekend, but you people keep buying tickets for those The Fast & The Furious movies, so there’s no accounting for taste) is a follow-up to 2015’s Terminator: Genisys (sic) that’s really a sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day,

…the piece that I published on Slate tonight is a sequel to my Terminator: Dark Fate review from last week that’s really a sequel to a longish T2 essay I wrote five summers ago for The Dissolve, may it rest in power. When I observed in my review of Dark Fate that the series finally got some of its old zeitgeist-surfing mojo back, this is what I meant.

The Future Is Female: Terminator: Dark Fate, reviewed.

Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, the cyborg-hunter whom it turns out did not die of cancer in the late 90s.

As in every Terminator movie, the new Dark Fate offers no explanation for why the A.I.—SkyWho? It’s called LEGION now—dispatched only a single cyborg assassin to this time period, or why the human resistance sent only one bodyguard. The answer, of course, is that the one-on-one conceit is just more compelling and dramatic than a platoon representing each faction would be.

My NPR review of Terminator: Dark Fate, a these-were-canon-those-were-not half-reboot in the tradition of Superman Returns and Halloween (2018) is here.

Deleted Scenes: Edward Norton on Motherless Brooklyn and the Ghosts of New York

Cinematographer Dick Pope and director/star Edward Norton on the set of Motherless Brooklyn in 2018. (Glen Wilson/Warner Bros.)

Here are some outtakes from the interview Edward Norton I had on Smithsonian this week, where we talked about his long-gestating adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s 1999 novel, Motherless Brooklyn , out this week. The book is set in the present of when it was published, but Norton has, with Lethem’s blessing, set his version of it in 1957 in an attempt to make something like New York City’s answer to Chinatown. Anyway, I was sorry to see these exchanges go, so I clipped ‘em out and saved ‘em.

I was trying to remember if there are any signposts in the book that mark it as taking place in the present, or in the present of when it was published 20 years ago. I don’t think there are any until we get to the passage where Lionel is talking about how much he loves Prince, and he hears in extended remixes of Prince songs a sort of reflection of how his condition makes him play with language in a way he can’t control. 

You do a version of that in the movie in a jazz club scene where Michael K. Williams’ character is performing, and Lionel can’t stop himself from trying to contribute verbally to the music.

Yes, that’s a very intentional transposition of a part of Jonathan’s book that I loved. The idea of music being a beautiful expression of compulsion. And I thought we could have a lot of fun with jazz and especially Bop, in that era, because if you were ever to say, “What is the Tourretic impulse writ into music?”, it’s Bop. It sounds Tourretic to me, in that it’s impulsive, it’s improvisational, and it loops on itself. It takes things and, just as Lionel says about his brain, it twists them around and reforms them. 

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Act Naturally: Western Stars, reviewed.

The Boss in Western Stars, filmed back when he was still a vital young man of sixty-nine.

From the Dept. of Straight Talk for My Heroes: Western Stars, the new motion picture from 1st-timer auteur Bruce Springsteen, is only the 4th or 5th most exciting filmed record of The Boss in performance, & it doesn’t really work as an essay film, either.

My NPR review is here.

Zeke, a Mouse: Zombieland: Double Tap, reviewed.

Rosario Dawson (second from left) joins Breslin, Eisenberg, Stone, and Harrelson for the decade-later sequel. (Sony)

PREPARE YOURSELVES for the long-unawaited, hotly unanticipated sequel to the zombie road movie you’re pretty sure you saw on a plane a decade ago! I didn’t mind watching it one bit. My NPR review is here.

Eat Out More Often: Dolemite Is My Name, reviewed.

Eddie Murphy and Da’Vine Joy Randolph lead a topnotch cast in this Rudy Ray Moore biopic.

Dolemite Is My Name, a very entertaining but not very curious Origins of a Turkey movie with Eddie Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore and an A+ supporting cast, premieres on Netflix October 25 after a tiny theatrical run. I’ve reviewed it for your convenience.