Friday, July 25, 2014

Yours Truly on 'Press Play With Madeleine Brand'

This morning, I appeared on KCRW's Press Play alongside the always-charming Christy Lemire to talk with Madeleine Brand about this weekend's new film releases and to discuss the trailer for 50 Shades of Grey. Mostly, I tried my best to make it clear how great A Most Wanted Man is. You can listen to our chat here.

Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott - "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)"

This weekend, my 17-year-old nephew comes to town to visit. In his honor, here's a great song from the year he was born.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

'Hercules' Review

I like Dwayne Johnson. I don't like Brett Ratner. So what did I make of Hercules? The answer, dear reader, can be read over at Deadspin.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

'Lucy' Review

Lucy is such dopey fun. It has its head in the clouds, pondering the big questions of life, while also being a really taut action-thriller. It's silly, it's stupid and it wouldn't be nearly as good without Scarlett Johansson. My review of Lucy is up at Screen International.

'Magic in the Moonlight' Review

They can't all be great, right? After a string of mostly good films, Woody Allen hits a few too many bum notes with his latest, Magic in the Moonlight. My review is up at Deadspin.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Boz Scaggs - "Lowdown"

A good buddy of mine enjoys putting together mixes -- strange disco tunes, a year's worth of great hip-hop songs -- and sending it to friends. I'm thankful to be on that list of recipients. His most recent is a nearly-four-hour collection of what he calls "summer songs." Boz Scaggs' "Lowdown" is on it. Wikipedia files him under "blue-eyed soul," "soft rock" and "jazz rock." I say, "Ahhhhhhhhh....."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

'Mood Indigo' Review

As someone who's quite a fan of director Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep, I was prepared to be pleased by his latest, Mood Indigo, despite some negative reviews last year when it opened in France. The movie's been trimmed by about 30 minutes for its U.S. release, but I still found it to be too long and far too precious. I reviewed Mood Indigo for Paste.

'The Purge: Anarchy' Review

You may recall that I was not a fan of The Purge, the 2013 sleeper summer hit with the ludicrous premise. So I'm happy to say that the sequel, The Purge: Anarchy, is better. The premise is still nonsensical, but I found myself making peace with it more this time -- or perhaps I was sufficiently distracted by the onscreen suspense. I reviewed The Purge: Anarchy for Screen International

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Interview With Frank Grillo

Frank Grillo has been making a name for himself lately thanks to scene-stealing roles in Warrior and The Grey. (He was also Crossbones in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.) Now, he faces the spotlight as the lead in The Purge: Anarchy. I chatted with the very charming, very winning actor for Backstage. You can read the piece here. And, as an added bonus, here's a segment from my draft that got trimmed a little during the final edit. I thought the full text was revealing of Grillo's personality....

Because of Grillo’s love of boxing and his penchant for macho roles, I wondered where the vulnerability he brings to these men came from. (His character’s final scene in “The Grey” is one of the most moving death scenes in recent cinema, touching on tricky emotional terrain about manhood and friendship that most guy’s-guy movies are too scared to visit.) “What I look for in a role is the physical,” he says. “But what’s the journey emotionally? Can I take this person who is this archetypal tough guy and find the beauty?” Even as a boy, he wasn’t embarrassed by emotion. “I come from an Italian family,” he reminds me. “We are emotional all the time, every day, all day. You and I now are friends forever—that’s how I am. When we leave this interview, I will hug you and wish you safety.”
For the record, we did, in fact, hug when we said goodbye. I may have initiated the hug, though.

'Sex Tape' Review

Outside of Neighbors, has there been a funny R-rated comedy in the last five years? All I can think of are the many stinkers. Add to that pile Sex Tape, which is pretty lame. I survey the damage in my Deadspin review.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Greats: Gene Hackman

When I write my column "The Greats," which is about Hollywood's living legends, I try hard not to make the essays sound like eulogies. (The whole point of the column is to celebrate these people in their lifetime, after all.) But for Gene Hackman, who's been retired for 10 years, it's a little more complicated. My tribute to the pride of Danville, Illinois is up now at Paste.