Friday, January 19, 2018

Sundance 2018: 'Blindspotting' Review

Blindspotting is a mess. But it's a mess I could ultimately get behind. It tells the story of two lifelong friends -- one black, one white -- who live in an Oakland going through rapid gentrification. This comedy-drama deals with police brutality, racial profiling and economic inequality. It doesn't all work, but it got to me. My review is up at Screen International.

Spoon - "Can I Sit Next to You"

Get the stars out your eyes 
Come and sit next to me 
Under Tennessee skies 
Down on South Front Street

Did Britt Daniel spend some time in Memphis?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

What's the Most Disappointing Sci-Fi Film of the Last 20 Years?

That's the question Will and I gave ourselves to answer over at SyFy. We narrowed it down to five finalists, but No. 1 was always going to be an easy pick. Check it out here.

My Interview With Greg Barker, the Director of 'The Final Year'

Greg Barker spent a little more than a year shadowing Barack Obama's foreign policy team as the administration was readying to end its term. His documentary The Final Year captures 2016 in a unique, painful way. I interviewed the filmmaker for MEL, and the first thing I asked him was just how hard it was to assemble this movie after Trump's election. We talked about that and lots of other things here.

Some Thoughts on 'The Commuter'

Over at MEL, I wrote a little about The Commuter. Well, not the movie directly. Instead, I riffed on Liam Neeson's action-movie face, the fact that Hollywood is running out of places to set close-quarters thrillers, and why movie characters never are able to use their cellphones to get out of trouble. You can read the whole thing here.

'12 Strong' Review

12 Strong tells the story of a major U.S. military operation that took place in Afghanistan right after the 9/11 attacks. The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon and Michael Pena (not to mention Moonlight's Trevante Rhodes), but that doesn't keep it from feeling surprisingly dull. My review is up at Screen International.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: We Review 'The Commuter,' 'World of Tomorrow Episode Two' and 'The Thing'

Lots of stuff to cover on this week's episode. First, new reviews: We dig into The Commuter and Paddington 2. Then, we show a little love to Don Hertzfeldt's World of Tomorrow Episode Two, which was released through Vimeo at the very end of last year. Then, in our Reboot segment, we take a look back at John Carpenter's The Thing. A very fun show, and you can hear it all down below.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

My LAFCA Awards Presentation for Luca Guadagnino

At Saturday night's Los Angeles Film Critics Association awards banquet, I had the honor of presenting one of our two Best Director prizes to Call Me by Your Name's Luca Guadagnino. (He tied in the voting with Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water, a very different kind of love story. All our winners are here.)

Here are the remarks I made from the stage...
I wish I could see the world through the eyes of Luca Guadagnino. His enrapturing films are filled with the complexity and pleasure of how romance first sparks, then blossoms and then sometimes drifts away. Most directors’ movies merely recreate the sensation of falling in love—his make you wonder if you’ve ever experienced anything quite so real. He depicts love so intensely because he sees life so beautifully. 
Call Me by Your Name continues a sensual and emotional exploration he began in previous movies, most recently I Am Love and A Bigger Splash. But it also feels like a culmination—a wistful summation of our shared desire to make connection with someone, to be seen. Call Me by Your Name never strains for significance, and yet in its quiet, languid chronicling of Elio and Oliver’s budding romance, it’s profound—cosmic, even.   

So, how did he do it? Not even his actors can quite explain this. When Michael Stuhlbarg was asked once about Guadagnino’s methods, he searched for an answer. And then this is what he said: “It’s wonderful filmmaking, what he allows us to see. Look at this weaving path. Look at this leaf. Look at the rain. Look at a waterfall. All of these images, in some perverse and magical language, help tell the story.”   

Since Call Me by Your Name’s premiere at Sundance, critics have tried to encapsulate this film’s poetry, but I think Stuhlbarg’s explanation is the truest. In Call Me by Your Name, Guadagnino gives us new eyes to see the world around us. Every little element matters—love above all else.  

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating our Best Director winner, Mr. Luca Guadagnino.
When I put together my presentation, Stuhlbarg was actually not scheduled to be in attendance. Saturday morning, I found out he was coming. I was very happy to give him a little shout-out from the stage.

Call Me by Your Name also won Best Picture from the group. A deserving winner, and a very fun night.

(Photo by Matt Harbicht.)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

What's Marvel's Greatest Character: Iron Man or Spider-Man?

Time for the latest installment of Debate Club. In this episode, Will and I tackled the legacy of Spider-Man and Iron Man. Who is the better superhero? Our answer is over at SyFy.

'Press Play With Madeleine Brand': Bears, Polka and Liam Neeson

I was so happy to be back on KCRW yesterday to talk movies. Alicia Malone and I joined Madeleine to review Paddington 2, The Polka King and The Commuter. Check it out here.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Thundercat (featuring Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins) - "Show You the Way"

One of the happiest sounds from 2017? The moment when Thundercat says, "Ladies and gentlemen, Michael McDonald" about halfway through "Show You the Way."

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Misleading Men: Jack Black

Jack Black was one of the stars of the new Jumanji, which has shocked people by how big a smash it is. It gave me an opportunity to write about the veteran funny man, which I did for MEL.

Your Big 2018 Movie Preview

For Rolling Stone, my colleagues and I took a look at 50 movies we're curious to see this year. We've got superhero flicks, Scorsese dramas and whatever Mortal Engines is. You can read the whole thing here.

Monday, January 08, 2018

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: We Open Our Mailbag and Look Back at 'Cloverfield'

This week's podcast was our annual mailbag episode. We got lots of questions, and we tried to answer as many as possible. That inspired a lot of soul-searching. Then, in our Reboot segment, we reevaluate Cloverfield on its 10th anniversary. You can hear the whole thing down below.

What Happened Last Night at the Golden Globes?

For MEL, I recapped the Golden Globes. I wasn't so much interested in who won what. Instead, I was curious about the overall tone of the night -- and why Oprah's speech was so stirring. You can read my thoughts here.