Category Archives: Uncategorized

Theatre of Pain: Woolly’s Gloria and Round House’s Small Mouth Sounds, reviewed.

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After the customary late summer lull, I’m back on the theater beat. Last week’s Washington City Paper featured my reviews of two plays that first appeared in 2015, now making their regional premieres Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ stunner Gloria, at Woolly Mammoth, and Small Mouth Sounds by Bess Wohl, at Round House.

FURTHER READING: My 2013 City Paper profile of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is here.

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Anti-Monster Squad: The Predator, reviewed.

THE PREDATOR

Predator, directed by John McTiernan the year before he made Die Hard, has been a favorite film of mine ever since I biked home with the rented VHS cassette (I couldn’t persuade my dad to take me, aged 10, to see it in the theater) and watched it three or four times in a weekend. It was the 12th highest-grossing film of 1987, a year when the box office top five was Three Men and a Baby, Fatal Attraction, Beverly Hills Cop II, Good Morning, Vietnam, and Moonstruck. One sequel and four original, not-based-on-preexisting material screenplays. Just in case you need a sense of just how long ago that was.

Anyway, I love Shane Black, so I wanted The Predator to be better than it is. My NPR review is here.

I Got Stripes: Peppermint, reviewed.

PEPPERMINT

Jennifer Garner and Jeff Harlan star in PEPPERMINT

“The title, with its slight echo of the 1973 Pam Grier vehicle Coffy, promises a sticky confection of feminism and violence, but the movie it’s selling is a desultory drag. It’s so dull-edged that even prospect of a white woman (named North!) whose family was afflicted by, um, economic anxiety before being murdered by cartel-affiliated outlaws doesn’t carry the scab-picking provocation that it should.”

That’s me on Peppermint, a sweaty return to sweaty form for Jennifer Garner, from Taken director Pierre Morel. It’s the kind of movie that doesn’t get shown at the Toronto International Film Festival, where I currently am not. The full review is here.

Shark, Weak: The Meg, reviewed.

Statham MEGPal-for-Life Glen Weldon did me a solid with that headline. Of all the giant-shark thrillers that’ve been scaring us out of the water since Jaws invented the summer blockbuster, The Meg is without question the most recent. Here’s my NPR review.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Annihilation! (emphasis mine)

ANNIHILATIONHere is a joke you will not hear on today’s episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour, wherein I join old friends Linda Holmes and Stephen Thompson and new friend Daisy Rosario to dissect (heh) Annihilation, the new thriller from Ex Machina writer/director Alex Garland starring Natalie Portman and involving lots of cool but hella gross body horror stuff:
Continue reading

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Black Mirror Season 4, discussed.

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I’m on today’s episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour, weighing in on the new season of Netflix’s cautionary-tale tech anthology Black Mirror. One thing I should’ve said had there been time is just how much the open format of the show contributes to its ability to build tension. Two of my favorites among the six new episodes are “U.S.S. Callister,” which runs a nearly feature-length 76 minutes, and “Metalhead,” which clocks in at around 40 minutes—not even long enough to fill a network hour.

Anyway, I was happy as always to join Linda and Glen, and especially glad to get to speak with Brittany Luse, whom I had not met previously. You can hear the episode here, or on whatever smart device you’ve got. Or both. I mean, we’re all cuffed to our digital appendages now, despite the warnings of Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker. Continue reading

Elf Quest: Bright, reviewed.

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The alarming lesson of Netflix’s new Will Smith-toplined, David Ayer-directed human-&-orc buddy cop thriller Bright is that I am, apparently, not Too Old For This Shit.

Only someone who didn’t see xXx: The Return of Xander Cage or The Fate of the Furious could proclaim this this worst movie of 2017. Let’s be reasonable, now.