Saturday, March 28, 2015

What's the Greatest Sketch-Comedy Show of All Time?

Over at Rolling Stone, a group of writers (including yours truly) did write-ups for 40 of the best sketch-comedy programs ever. I didn't have a say in the final rankings, but I made the case for my three entries: Portlandia, Inside Amy Schumer and The Muppet Show.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Crosby, Stills & Nash - "Guinnevere"

My father likes to insist that Neil Young ruined Crosby, Stills & Nash. (What can I say: The man simply has never been on Young's wavelength.) So, in his honor, here's one of my favorite CSN tracks. And let's be honest: There really isn't a place for Young in it.

P.S. If you haven't heard the alternate version of "Guinnevere," you should check it out.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Let's Rank All Will Ferrell's Movies

For Vulture, Will and I gave ourselves the task of ranking every one of Will Ferrell's movies. (We did draw the line at his cameos and his animated roles, with the exception of The Lego Movie, of course.) Going through Ferrell's career, including the recent Get Hard, you notice that he's a better comedic actor than a dramatic one: His artistry doesn't require him to get serious to get our attention. Also, boy, he plays a lot of musical instruments in his films: everything from guitar to drums to banjo to jazz flute. OK, with that out of the way, let's get to the list.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

'Get Hard' Review

You can probably start officially worrying about Will Ferrell's career. After The Campaign and Anchorman 2 (which I actually liked), he's begun to seem less relevant and fresh as a comic star. (Never mind that Anchorman 2 was a massive hit.) He's back with Get Hard, where he and Kevin Hart throw Molotov cocktails at all sorts of P.C. topics. For their trouble, they've been labeled racist and homophobic. I'm not that down on the movie, but I don't think it works. I reviewed Get Hard for Deadspin.

Update: On Wednesday, I was on Studio 11 LA to discuss whether or not the film was racist. You can see my segment here.

'Last Knights' Review

Clive Owen! Morgan Freeman! Swords! Crossbows! These are just some of the selling points of Last Knights, a decidedly threadbare action-adventure film set in ye olde medieval times. I'm going to be honest: I wrote this review weeks ago and remember almost nothing about it. So reading my Screen International piece now will be enlightening for me as well. Here it is.

'White God' Review

In the Hungarian film White God, a teenage girl and her beloved dog are separated, the girl forced to deal with adolescence and the dog struggling to survive on its own in a cruel, uncaring big city. Can they find their way back to one another? The film, from director Kornél Mundruczó, sounds like it could be a variation on The Incredible Journey, but this dark parable has much more on its mind. I reviewed White God for Paste.

True/False 2015: The Wrap-Up

Another True/False, my third, has come and gone. So, let's recap what I wrote about the festival and take a look at my final rankings.

As far as the below list goes, please note I didn't include The Act of Killing, which I've only seen in its theatrical cut. (The festival screened Joshua Oppenheimer's preferred director's cut.) I also decided to leave off Arena of Life, four shorts from Polish filmmaker Bogdan Dziworski, which were, mostly, exceptional. So, here we go, with links leading to individual pages/reviews....

15. What Happened, Miss Simone?
14. Finders Keepers
13. How to Change the World
12. The Chinese Mayor
11. Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait
10. The Visit
9. Tales of the Grim Sleeper
8. Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
7. Best of Enemies
6. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
5. Bitter Lake
4. Heaven Knows What
3. Western
2. Cartel Land
1. The Look of Silence

I struggled a bit deciding where to place each of the movies in my top four. All I know is they were the four finest films I saw at the festival. Second viewings will help sort out their placement.

In addition, I wrote a long overview of this year's festival. Rather than doing a standard recap, I explored the notion of how to change the world -- an idea that came to me after watching, you guessed it, How to Change the World. I wondered if a film, or a group of activists, or even a film festival can legitimately make a difference in the world. I hope you enjoy what I came up with.

And, finally, my thanks to Kevin B. Lee for including me in his annual rundown of critics' favorites from True/False. Look how handsome and wise I am.

Monday, March 23, 2015

'The Salt of the Earth' Review

Director Wim Wenders hit my Top 10 for 2011 with Pina, his startling 3D documentary dedicated to choreographer Pina Bausch. His new documentary, The Salt of the Earth, received an Oscar nomination, losing out to Citizenfour. This weekend, it opens in select cities, singing the praises of acclaimed photographer Sebastião Salgado. I think it's a quite fine primer on the man's work, even if the man remains a bit mysterious at its center. You can read my review at Paste.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Nicki Minaj (featuring Drake and Lil Wayne) - "Truffle Butter"

Currently, my car's CD player is on the fritz, which has left me at the mercy of terrestrial radio. It's pretty depressing out there, folks. But "Truffle Butter" has been my salvation.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

'Amour Fou' Review

It's still one of my happiest memories from Sundance: A few years ago, I walked into a screening of Lourdes, knowing little about the film, and walked out utterly gobsmacked. That film's writer-director, Jessica Hausner, has finally returned with her follow-up. Amour Fou isn't as potent, but it's fascinating in its own right. How often do we get movies about suicide pacts? My review of Amour Fou is up at Paste.