Category Archives: movies

The Great War: They Shall Not Grow Old, reviewed.

I was moved by Peter Jackson’s World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, which uses digital wizardry to conjure empathy, not spectacle. I didn’t have space to go into it in my NPR review, but I wondered how J.R.R. Tolkien’s experience of the war might’ve shaped Jackson’s sense of it. Jackson did spend a sizable chunk of his career adapting Tolkien’s novels, for better and for worse.

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Talking Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on All Things Considered

We didn’t think I’d actually get to interview everyone I had on my to-interview wish list. That never happens. Only this time it did, which is how I came to have five different voices in my four-and-a-half-minute All Things Considered piece on the animation in Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, a movie I cannot wait to see again.

All of them—producer Chris Miller, producer/co-screenwriter Phil Lord, co-screenwriter/co-director Rodney Rothman, co-director Peter Ramsey, and finally, Eisner Award-winning comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis, who (with artist Sara Pichelli), created Miles Morales, the primary hero of Spider-Verse—had smart, illuminating things to say. I spoke to Bendis solo and Lord & Miller and Rothman & Ramsey in pairs, and pretty soon I had something like 75 minutes of good tape for a story that could accommodate mmmmaybe two-and-a-half minutes of that.

It was an epic job of cutting, followed by more frantic cutting, and then more surgical cutting. My editor, Nina Gregory, and news assistant Milton Guevara, showed me how radio pros get things done on deadline. Bob Mondello, who’d suggested the piece in the first place, gave me some vocal coaching in the booth.

I wish we could’ve used more of what all those smart, imaginative people had to say. I wish we could’ve made the segment 15 minutes long. But I’m very happy with what we managed to pack into about 240 seconds.

You can listen to the piece here.

It’s True, All of It: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, reviewed.

It takes a lot of spider-beings to make a Spider-Verse. (Sony)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the first good Spider-Man movie in, uh, 18 months! But it’s more than that: A fun, warm, visually astonishing omnibus of Spider-lore that elegantly rebukes reactionary fans whose minds are stuck in 1963. I rarely get worked up over animated films—a blind spot I can neither defend nor explain—but I loved this. Here’s my NPR review.

It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over and Over: CREED II, reviewed.

CREED II

Creed II is either an inferior follow-up or a superior one, depending on whether it’s a sequel to Creed or to Rocky IV, respectively. (It’s both.) I sure enjoyed seeing all these characters again, but I am, as I say, disposed to view these movies forgivingly.‬ My review of Creed II is here.

FURTHER READING: My 2015 review of Creed.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Never Say Die Hard

We had to do a Pop Culture Happy Hour discussion of Die Hard because it’s holiday time and because the beloved classic turned 30, uh, back in July and because we just had to. I thought I was being punk’d when I got the invitation but I’m so glad it was real. This was the awkward Christmas Eve holiday party/attempted spousal reconciliation I’ve been waiting to be invited to since I was 11 years old. Yippie kai yay, podcast lovers. (My punishingly long Die Hard Dossier is here.)

Dancing With Myself: Suspiria, reviewed.

suspiria-16-427-AB-SUSPIRIA-04-0328-5_EW Fall Preview_rgb.jpgLuca Guadagnino’s new reimagining of the vibrant Dario Argento Italian cult classic Suspiria is is vulgar, shamelessly pretentious, and frequently opaque. But there were also things about about it that I didn’t like. My NPR review is here. Continue reading

Pop Culture Happy Hour: First Man and What’s Making Us Happy

Film Title: First Man

I was delighted as always to join my pals Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, and Glen Weldon on Pop Culture Happy Hour to discuss the Neil Armstrong biopic First Man—a movie that, like the new A Star Is Born, I appreciate more the more I think about it. Somehow we managed to avoid re-litigating the great La La Land controversy during this conversation. (My bomb-throwing position: It’s good!) When I used the word Weldonian in the studio, Glen nearly tore his rotator cuff making the “cut” gesture, but cooler, more hirsute heads—those of producers Jessica Reedy and Vincent Acovino—prevailed. You can hear the episode here.
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