Tag Archives: NPR

Vin Diagram: “Bloodshot,” reviewed.

Memento and Iron Man 3 star Guy Pearce with Vin Diesel in a comic book adaptation that shamelessly rips off Memento and Iron Man 3, among other films. (Sony)

If the last movie I ever get to see in the theater is a goddamn Vin Diesel vehicle, I’m gonna die very angry. My review of Bloodshot is here.

Bovine Intervention: “First Cow,” reviewed.

Orion Lee and John Magaro play friends and business partners in 1820s Oregon. (A24)

Full disclosure: I saw First Cow, the new 19th century-set frontier drama from cowriter/director Kelly Reichardt last night at a screening that was followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker herself. At the end of the evening, she saw me crutching along—I had arthroscopic surgery to repair my meniscus two weeks ago today—and she held the door for me.

That decent gesture did not in any way influence my NPR review of First Cow, which is here.

Toff Guys: “The Gentlemen,” reviewed.

Colin Farrell and Charlie Hunnam are no gentlemen. (Christopher Raphael)

An hour after my review of Guy Ritchie’s last crime comedy posted, someone from Rotten Tomatoes wrote me to ask if I deemed the movie, in my professional opinion as a botanist, Fresh or Rotten. They couldn’t tell! And it was good of them to follow-up. They don’t have an option for Fresh With Reservations, which is where I’m at on this one, as I am compelled to explain in the last paragraphs of my NPR review.

Trenchant Warfare: “1917,” reviewed.

Here’s my review of Sam Mendes’ 1917. I guess it doesn’t mean much to say it’s the best war movie since Dunkirk (whose Oscar-winning editor, Lee Smith, cut 1917 too) but it is, and it’s first film Mendes has made that I’ve found fully satisfying.

The Ballad of “Richard Jewell”

Sam Rockwell and Paul Walter Hauser are good actors in a bad-faith movie. (Warner Bros.)

Billy Ray, the screenwriter of Richard Jewell—director Clint Eastwood’s disingenuous dramatization of the 1996 case of a security guard falsely accused of a horrific crime—spoke to my screenwriting class at UCLA in 2002 or 2003. I hope that if he’s still doing this some student will ask him how can justify defaming deceased Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Kathy Scruggs in his new movie while giving the (also deceased) FBI agent he has depicted as tipping her off in exchange for sex the dignity of a pseudonym. That malicious act undermines everything in the movie that’s any good. My NPR review is here.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and What’s Making Us Happy

Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers. (Lacey Terrell)

I sure hope my friends Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, Glen Weldon, Jess Reedy, and Emmanuel Johnson aren’t suffering today from the head cold that audibly ailed me on Monday during the recording of today’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. Our subject is A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the Tom Hanks-IS-Fred Rogers movie directed by Marielle (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) Heller, loosely fashioned after Tom Junod’s 1998 profile of Rogers for Esquire magazine. As I say in the show, this movie’s depiction of the life of a magazine journalist reflects the circa 1998 expectations on which I based career choices that I have, over the last 20 years, had more than one occasion to lament.





Thanks to all of them for allowing me once again to plug my yulemix. You can hear the show right here or via whatever podfeeder brings you your NPR.

Jaws 3-D: Roland Emmerich’s Midway, reviewed.

Ed Skrein and Luke Kleintank as real-life WWII veterans Dick Best and Clarence Dickinson.

Just in time for Veterans Day, disaster artist Roland Emmerich has made a bid to improve upon 1976’s Technicolor / Sensurround-sound sensation Midway with a more historically-focused (but also more heavily-animated) dramatization of the three-day battle that turned the tide of the war in the Pacific. My NPR review of the movie is here.

The Future Is Female: Terminator: Dark Fate, reviewed.

Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, the cyborg-hunter whom it turns out did not die of cancer in the late 90s.

As in every Terminator movie, the new Dark Fate offers no explanation for why the A.I.—SkyWho? It’s called LEGION now—dispatched only a single cyborg assassin to this time period, or why the human resistance sent only one bodyguard. The answer, of course, is that the one-on-one conceit is just more compelling and dramatic than a platoon representing each faction would be.

My NPR review of Terminator: Dark Fate, a these-were-canon-those-were-not half-reboot in the tradition of Superman Returns and Halloween (2018) is here.

Zeke, a Mouse: Zombieland: Double Tap, reviewed.

Rosario Dawson (second from left) joins Breslin, Eisenberg, Stone, and Harrelson for the decade-later sequel. (Sony)

PREPARE YOURSELVES for the long-unawaited, hotly unanticipated sequel to the zombie road movie you’re pretty sure you saw on a plane a decade ago! I didn’t mind watching it one bit. My NPR review is here.

Eat Out More Often: Dolemite Is My Name, reviewed.

Eddie Murphy and Da’Vine Joy Randolph lead a topnotch cast in this Rudy Ray Moore biopic.

Dolemite Is My Name, a very entertaining but not very curious Origins of a Turkey movie with Eddie Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore and an A+ supporting cast, premieres on Netflix October 25 after a tiny theatrical run. I’ve reviewed it for your convenience.

The Stars My Destination: AD ASTRA, reviewed.

Brad Pitt is the boy in the bubble. (Fox)

James Gray’s Ad Astra is a stirring, plausible space odyssey in the tradition of 2001, Sunshine, and Interstellar—but its real antecedent is Apocalypse Now. My NPR review is here.

The Boss-tic Gospels: Blinded by the Light, reviewed.

Viveik Kalra plays a fictionalized version of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor’s adolescent self.

My abiding love and respect for the work of Bruce Springsteen is a matter of public record and of a couple dozen records. But I must report to you that Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha’s new movie Blinded by the Light, about how The Boss inspired Pakistani-British journalist Sarfraz Manzoor to pursue his dream of becoming a writer despite the poverty and racism that surrounded him in Margaret Thatcher’s England, is the jazz-handsy Springsteen jukebox musical that Springsteen on Broadway was supposed to protect us from. It boasts some wonderful performances, though, as well as a previously unreleased Springsteen song that at one point was going to appear on the soundtrack of… Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Huh.

Anyway, my NPR review of Blinded by the Light is here.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Kirby, Statham, & Johnson are Shaw, Shaw & Hobbs.

Yesterday’s exciting episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour featured Linda Holmes’ triumphant return to the host chair after the triumphant publication of her debut novel. Hooray! In a deleted scene, I asked the panel—my forever Fast & Furious viewing-mate Linda, my sister-from-another-mother Daisy Rosario, and new friend Christina Tucker of the Unfriendly Black Hotties podcast—if I was the only one of use suffering from what I am loath to call “Johnson Fatigue.”

Yes, came the three ladies’ reply. It’s just you. So be it! This was an especially fun episode. My review of Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is right here.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Brad and Leo, movie stars. (Sony)

Our Pop Culture Happy Hour dissection of Quentin Tarantino’s ninth picture gave me the opportunity to be on a panel with Monica Castillo, a fellow Eugene O’Neill National Critics Institute fellow and someone with whom I’d not previously had the pleasure of speaking, though we have friends and colleagues in common. A fun episode. After some deliberation, we elected to avoid any in-depth discussion of the ending of the film.

The Ampersands of Time: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, reviewed.

Bald Is Beautiful: Dwayne Johnson & Jason Statham. (Universal)

Look, all of the Fast & Furious movies have stolen their best bits from better movies, but when the new double-ampersand sidebar flick Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw actually had its cyborg villain, Brixton Lorr (Idris Elba) get orders from an unseen superior to try to turn heroes Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) over to the Dark Side, I still managed to be surprised. My NPR review is here.

The Next-to-Last Picture Show: Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, reviewed.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt star in Quentin Tarantino’s 9th film. (Sony)

The Bruin—the Westwood cinema where Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate) goes to see herself in the Dean Martin-starring spy spoof The Wrecking Crew midway through Quentin Tarantino’s new Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood—is where I saw Ocean’s 11 (the Soderbergh-Clooney-Pitt one, not the the Dean Martin one) in 2001 and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003. I must’ve seen at least a few other movies there, but those are the two I remember.

I like QT’s new picture a whole lot. My NPR review awaits you.

Does Whatever a Spider Can, in Europe: Spider-Man: Far From Home, reviewed.

Secret identity, shmecret identity: Numan Acar, Tom Holland and Jacky Gyllenhaal.

Here’s my NPR review of Spider-Man: Far From Home, a lovably shaggy vestigial tale on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Y’all are great at this. Now just stop it for a while already.

I’ll be on Pop Culture Happy Hour next week to talk about the movie with the great Mallory Yu, Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon, and guest host Stephen Thompson.

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The Third Time’s the Charmless: Shaft, reviewed.

Jessie T. Usher, Samuel L. Jackson, and Richard Roundtree (Kyle Kaplan)

Some stuff I didn’t have space to say in my NPR review of Tim Story’s not-very-good new Shaft: The distinctive feature of the Shafts is a shared contempt for crosswalks and a love for walking into traffic. And it’s a shame that after Gordon Parks’ Shaft hit big in 1971, newspaperman-turned-novelist-turned screenwriter Ernest Tidyman got right to work adapting his third novel about the Black Private Dick Who’s a Sex Machine to All the Chicks, Shaft’s Big Score!, skipping right over Shaft Among the Jews.

Royal Flush: Godzilla: King of the Monsters, reviewed.

I really liked Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla, and I want to like any movie with the audacity to call itself Godzilla: King of the Monsters, but Michael Dougherty’s sequel is dreary drag, man. Good enough to catch on a double or triple-bill at Bengies on a gorgeous summer night, but no better than that. I reviewed G: KofM for NPR.

Continental Drift: John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, reviewed.

Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, and two
Malinois take the road to Morocco.

One of these movies, we’re going to find out John Wick killed that dead spouse he’s been pining away for, aren’t we? Forgive my cynicism. On the day I saw the new, double-punctuated John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, I walked past the taped-off scene of one violent crime on my way to the subway that morning, and past the taped off scene of another violent crime on my way home from the movie 12 hours later. So I’m not sure it’s correct to call this celebration of ultraviolence escapism.

I sure did enjoy it, though. You can read about my enjoyment and my hand-wringing in my NPR review.