For NPR, I wrote this fond remembrance of the actor Bill Paxton, a man who lived but one colorful life but who died onscreen an absurd stupid lot of times, in some of my all-time favorite film. He was in great big movies like Aliens and Titanic, he was in not-great big movies like Twister, he was great in little movies like One False Move and Traveler and A Simple Plan. He was great, basically.
I strongly endorse the episode of WTF with Marc Maron on which Paxton appeared only three weeks ago. He spoke at least as much about his upbringing in Texas as about his 40-year career in movies, but it was a wonderful interview, warm and revealing. But please read my piece, too. I literally ripped a sleeve from emphatic typing while working on it. Continue reading
The Happy Meal-shifting blockbusters of Summer 2014 continue to deliver the goods. Godzilla was dire and painterly and majestic, X-Men was fizzy and fun, and Edge of Tomorrow — the latest Tom Cruise action vehicle to suffer from Awful Title Syndrome — might be better than either. I liked it a whole bunch, even if it ends on a more conventional note than it might’ve if, say, Christopher Nolan had been holding the reigns.
Anyway, here is my official statement.
— TRANSMISSION BEGINS —
Blockbuster audiences have seen it all, and so has Tom Cruise. He is the most resilient and longest-lived movie star of modern times, a guy whose name has opened movies, and whose overcaffeinated performances have powered them, for 30 years. (“Actor. Producer. Running in movies since 1981,” reads his Twitter bio, perfectly.)
Edge of Tomorrow, his new science fiction adventure directed by the guy who made Swingers, cleverly harnesses both our abundant affection for the fearless, freakishly energetic young actor Cruise was, and our more fickle approbation for the risk-averse, still freakishly energetic 51-year-old action star he’s become. He plays a craven Army public affairs officer ordered unexpectedly into combat against space invaders who’ve occupied, er, France and Germany. Whereupon he is slain almost immediately. Continue reading