Category Archives: movies

Wartime in a Bottle: Dunkirk, reviewed.

BB-T2-0051I’ve never understood the objection that Christopher Nolan’s movies are sterile. Dunkirk, his new dramatization of the 1940 rescue of British soldiers from the beaches of Northern France carried out largely by civilians, knocked me flat. Here’s my review.

By Any Means Necessary, Any Which Way You Can: War for the Planet of the Apes, reviewed.

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APESWhat a Craig Finn-style blockbuster summer we’re having this year. Nothing as visionary as Mad Max: Fury Road from 2015, maybe, or as congruent with my own sensibilities as The Nice Guys from last year, but everything I picked sight unseen for my Village Voice/LA Weekly summer movie preview—Wonder Woman, The Beguiled, Baby Driver, Spider-Man: Homecoming—has so far avoided embarrassing me. I even liked Rough Night okay. It’s possible I’m not all that discerning a critic.

But my praise for War of the Planet of the Apes is well-founded. Even though I saw the movie weeks before I was assigned to write about it, which might be why the review is uncharacteristically (I hope) light on specific observations.
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Mr. Holland’s Opus: Spider-Man: Homecoming, reviewed.

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I know I’m supposed to be sick to death of superhero movies, but I don’t think we’ve ever had three as strong as Logan, Wonder Woman, and the new Spider-Man: Homecoming arrive in such rapid succession. Here’s Homecoming, for NPR. Continue reading

Nobody Puts Baby Driver in a Corner!

Ansel Elgort;Jon Hamm;Jamie Foxx;Eiza Gonzalez

I’ve liked all of writer-director Edgar Wright’s movies, so it’s no surprise that I flipped for his comic thriller Baby Driver. It sings like Freddie Mercury, it dances like Fred Astaire, it burns enough rubber to curl Vin Diesel’s hair.  Run, don’t walk; but for God’s sake don’t drive because you’re likely to kill someone on your way home.

Putting the “All” in All Things Considered: Can Wonder Woman Find a Superhero Theme That Sticks?

WONDER WOMAN

Here we are in Year Ten of the Marvel Cinematic Era, and not one piece of music has emerged from any of the two dozen films based on Marvel characters (released by Marvel Studios and others) that can rival John Williams’ mighty score for Superman: The Movie or even Danny Elfman’s brooding Batman theme.

For years I’ve wondered why this is. But only two days ago did I at last get to ask someone who might know. On today’s All Things Considered, I speak with Rupert Gregson-Williams, who composed the score for director Patty Jenkins’ fine Wonder Woman. You might even hear a cameo by one of the most venerable heroes of the National Public Radio universe, the great Bob Mondello.

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Hear Me Threaten the Life of Co-Host Josh Larsen on Last Week’s Filmspotting!

Hamilton Biehn CameronThe Terminator is one of my favorite movies. When my Windy City pals Adam Kempenarr and Josh Larsen announced the other week that they would make writer-director James Cameron’s low-budget, high-concept sci-fi classic the subject of one of their “Sacred Cow” reviews, I knew that the likelihood that Josh—a critic who generally seems to dislike action films, with the bizarre exception of the Fast & the Furious franchise, which to me represents the genre at its most derivative and least inspired—would rain on it. He hates Predator, people! Predator! A film I saw last year at the Library of Congress!

So I took action. To paraphrase Al Capone, you can get farther with a kind word and a quote from The Terminator than you can with a kind word alone. And the threatening voice mail I left for Josh opened last week’s episode.
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From the Streaming Service That Brought You The Handmaid’s Tale, Something Completely Different in Becoming Bond

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It’s a strange coincidence that Sir Roger Moore, 007 No. 003, died only about 48 hours after the premiere of the very funny Hulu documentary Becoming Bond, about one-and-done 007 George Lazenby — who, incredibly, landed the most sought-after role in showbiz (circa 1968) with double-oh-zero prior acting experience.
I’ll never get tired of this real-life story. And the Bond flick that resulted, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, is in my Bond Top Five, way above of any of the Moore entries. Anyway, I wrote about all this for the weekend crowd. And I fan-casted Matt Gourley, again.

I wrote this piece quickly, and it occurred to me only after I’d send it off to my editor, the great Linda Holmes, that I might’ve mentioned the passage of the documentary wherein Lazenby explains the discovery that turned him from a failing salesman into into a successful one. He might’ve been talking about acting.