Tag Archives: movies

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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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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Why Any Viewing of the 148-Minute SPECTRE Now Takes at Least Three Hours

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I suppose if you haven’t seen SPECTRE (or at least Skyfall) and Hail, Caesar! (or at least one of its trailers) this won’t make much sense to you.

The Future Is Not Set: A Terminator Dossier

A T-800 goes shopping for some clothes at the Griffith Park Observatory, May 12, 1984. Recognize the guy with the spiky blue hair?

I haven’t seen the by-all-accounts underwhelming Terminator: Genisys yet, because since I’ve been busy being a “Critic Fellow” at the one-of-a-kind Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in the wilds of Connecticut. But I did indulge in some quippy dramaturgy on the wandering-ronin Terminator franchise, for NPR.

The Fault Not in Our Stars: San Andreas, reviewed.

Magic Fingers

I went with my friend and colleague Heather to see San Andreas, and we felt saw the Earth move. That the film really seems not to notice that its fireman chopper-pilot hero is a deserter and a thief is part of the fun. My NPR review, which opens with a discussion of the 1974 Universal Pictures release Earthquake — written by Mario Puzo the same year as The Godfather, Part II! — is here. Continue reading

Don’t Fence Me, Vin: Talking Furious 7 on Pop Culture Happy Hour, Small-Batch Ed.

script-scoop-brian-o-conner-to-retire-in-fast-and-furious-7-74101_1These are indeed Strange Days we’re living in when my delightful friend Linda Holmes appreciates an action picture more than I do. We have each of us seen only the latter-day installments in the unaccountably resilient Fast & Furious franchise – those would be Nos. 6 and 7, the ones we watched together – which did not deter us from debriefing on the new Furious 7 in a small-batch session Pop Culture Happy Hour, which you can hear here.

Linda loves it. I like it, too, though I have some reservations. (My Travel Channel TV show is actually called Some Reservations. Call your cable operator.) Continue reading

What the Movies Taught Us About World War II Aviation

I wrote this fun piece for my day job. It appears in our May 2015 issue of Air & Space / Smithsonian, now on sale at Barnes & Noble and other fine booksellers and newsstands, as well as the National Air & Space Museum. It’s our 70th anniversary of V-E Day issue, which – because it’ll be out in time for the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover on Friday, May 8th (the actual anniversary) – includes pull-out Spotter Cards you can use to identify the silhouettes of the two dozen vintage warbirds that’ll be buzzing over your head a few minutes past noon if you come down to the National Mall on that day. Continue reading