Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

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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.

Barry, Plane and Not Tall: American Made, reviewed.

Film Title: American MadeHere’s my NPR review of American Made, Doug Liman’s heavily fictionalized but ecstatically true crime biopic starring Tom Cruise as C.I.A. gunrunner and dope smuggler Barry Seal. As I discuss in the piece, Liman’s father, Arthur Liman, was heavily involved in the 1987 U.S. Senate hearings into the Iran-Contra affair, of which Seal’s covert flights were an operational element. (Here’s Arthur.)

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Don’t Forget the Motor City: Detroit, reviewed.

DETROITReview-writing is easier when you can interrogate your responses to the work and make judgments quickly. Detroit just wasn’t one of those movies for me.
 
I thought it was important to try to discern exactly where the Bigelow-Boal directing/screenwriting duo deviated from or compressed the facts, which is hard in a 50-year-old case where so many of the facts were disputed. But I also saw some odd parallels between this movie and a couple of the ones Bigelow made before her historic Oscar win changed the way we receive her work. So my review is, among other things… long.

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

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

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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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