Monday, June 29, 2015

'Magic Mike XXL' Review

No Matthew McConaughey, no Steven Soderbergh, no problem ... well, not exactly. Magic Mike XXL doesn't feature either the star or director of the first film, but it's still a pretty enjoyable sequel. (And, for the record, Sodebergh does make his presence felt in other ways than as director.) If the novelty and heart aren't there as abundantly as in the original movie, Channing Tatum's star turn picks up the slack. My review is up at Screen International.

Friday, June 26, 2015

SAG Foundation: My Conversation With Yana Novikova of 'The Tribe'

The Tribe, a dark drama set in a school for the deaf, is the best film of the year so far. Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking with one of the film's stars, Yana Novikova, for the SAG Foundation. Because Novikova is deaf, our chat required two interpreters, which you'll notice in the below video.

Weezer - "Automatic"

One of Weezer's best songs of the last 10 years wasn't written by frontman Rivers Cuomo. "Automatic," off the third self-titled Weezer disc -- it's also know as The Red Album -- comes from longtime drummer Patrick Wilson, who also contributed lead vocals. Never a hit, never a single, "Automatic" would have completely fallen through the cracks if not for a remixed version showing up in the video game Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. I prefer the original.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Conversation With Peter Labuza for 'The Cinephiliacs'

I think the first time I heard of Peter Labuza was back in 2012 when he wrote "Between the Pitches: Why Film Critics Love Baseball," a very smart piece that connects a fondness for the national pastime with an appreciation of slow cinema. A longtime Twins fan, Peter is now at USC as a PhD candidate in Critical Studies and Annenberg Fellow at the School of Cinematic Arts. (When I went to SC, it was just known as "the film school.")

Anyway, he's an impressive guy, and I was honored to be on his podcast, The Cinephiliacs, to discuss my background, my philosophy on film criticism, and my latest book, Public Enemy: Inside the Terrordome.

I am grateful to Peter for his thoughtful attention to my book and his smart questions. And I'm also happy that I got to talk about the movie with which I've been obsessed since finally seeing it a few years ago, Stop Making Sense. I hope you enjoy our conversation.

'Batkid Begins' Review

A lot of people will like Batkid Begins for obvious reasons. The documentary chronicles what happened to Miles Scott, a young boy diagnosed with leukemia who dreamed of being Batman for a day. Make-A-Wish stepped in, turning San Francisco into Gotham one fall day in 2013. It was a heartwarming story, so why did the movie annoy me? I explain why in my Paste review.

'Terminator Genisys' Review

Ever since Arnold Schwarzenegger ended his stint as governor of California, his fans have been counting down the minutes until he made a new Terminator movie. Terminator Genisys isn't your typical sequel/reboot, however: It rewrites/revises the storyline from the original 1984 Terminator. Does it work? Better than it should. Is it a good movie? Close, but not close enough. I reviewed the film for Screen International.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Beck - "Dreams"

After releasing my favorite album of last year, Beck switches gears completely with his new single, setting aside the gorgeous acoustic sadness for a little summer fun. "Dreams" makes me very, very happy.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

My Interview With the 'Wolfpack' Gang

For Rolling Stone, I chatted with Crystall Moselle and Mukunda Angulo, the director and one of the stars, respectively, of The Wolfpack, which was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival. For those who don't know, the documentary chronicles the exploits of Mukunda and his brothers, who lived in a New York apartment with a father who forbid them to interact much with the outside world. However, that didn't stop them from re-creating their favorite movies at home. You can read my profile piece here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What's Pixar's Best Movie?

With Inside Out opening on Friday, Will and I put our heads together and ranked Pixar's 15 features. Lots of disagreements, except for what should be No. 1. You can complain about our rankings, but I think our write-ups are on-point. The whole piece can be found over at Vulture.

'Manglehorn' Review

Oh, Al. Over the last couple decades, Mr. Pacino has found himself in one misfire after another, with the notable exception of something like Heat or The Insider. His latest, Manglehorn, is an indie character piece in which he plays the titular locksmith struggling to make sense of a life that's passed him by. There are surface pleasures to be found here, but not enough to recommend. I reviewed Manglehorn for Paste.

'Southpaw' Review

I'm always a bit baffled when critics seem surprised that Jake Gyllenhaal can act. Last year's Nightcrawler was overpraised, in my view, because of his go-for-broke, Taxi Driver-like intensity; had everyone forgotten how good he was in everything from Brokeback Mountain to Zodiac to Enemy? I imagine there might be a similar reaction to his performance in Southpaw, a gritty boxing drama in which he plays a mumbling, raw pugilist looking for a shot at redemption. He gives his all, but this film is awfully familiar. I reviewed Southpaw for Screen International.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

'The Tribe' Review

The year's best movie so far, hands down, is The Tribe, a Ukrainian drama about a school for the deaf where a few bad apples seduce the impressionable new student. Gripping, bleak, mesmerizing, fascinating, upsetting, sometimes hard to take, brilliantly constructed ... The Tribe is all that and more. My review is up at Deadspin.