Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Best Movies of 2016 (So Far)

Oh man, it's the halfway point of the year, so it's time to look back at the good movies that have come out so far in 2016. Over at The New Republic, Will and I each list our six favorites so far. You can check 'em out here.

And now, here's my list of movies that I still need to see: April and the Extraordinary World, Chevalier, Creative Control, Fireworks Wednesday, In the Shadow of Women, The Invitation, My Golden Days, No Home Movie, Only Yesterday, Pervert Park, Rams, Sunset Song, A War, The Wailing, The Witness and Zootopia. Good heavens.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: Fighting About Nicolas Winding Refn

On this week's edition of the Grierson & Leitch podcast, Will and I clash over The Neon Demon. I've heard that some people think we agree too much on the show; this is one of those weeks when that's not the case.

We also talk Independence Day: Resurgence and The Rocketeer. You can hear the whole thing here.

'The Legend of Tarzan' Review

The Legend of Tarzan is one of those movies whose politics, I'm sure, could be labeled "problematic." But I couldn't even get to that level of irritation with a movie I found so damn dumb and boring. I mean, seriously, ugh. I tried to be more articulate in my Screen International review.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What's the Greatest Animated Movie of All Time?

Over at Rolling Stone, several writers (including yours truly) said some things about the 40 best animated movies ever. I had no control over the rankings, but I'm pretty cool with what was picked for No. 1. Check out the whole list here.

At the Movies, the Aliens Are Us

Independence Day: Resurgence is but the latest Hollywood movie in which aliens come to Earth to wreck havoc. Why are extraterrestrials invading so often? For MEL, I suggest that those aliens aren't actually aliens at all: They're metaphors cluing us in to what we're scared about. You can read my essay here.

Monday, June 27, 2016

'Right Now, Wrong Then' Review

I haven't seen all of Hong Sang-soo's films, but his latest, Right Now, Wrong Then, ranks right behind The Day He Arrives and Night and Day as one of my absolutely favorites of his. Yes, he plays with space and time. Yes, it's a story about people stumbling toward love. But Hong is a master at reworking and reworking his techniques and themes. My review is up at Paste.

Friday, June 24, 2016

'Press Play With Madeleine Brand': Aliens, Sharks and 'The Neon Demon'

I was on KCRW's Press Play this morning to discuss a bunch of this weekend's new releases. Vulture's Kyle Buchanan and I talked Independence Day: Resurgence, The Shallows, Swiss Army Man, The Neon Demon and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. You can hear the whole thing here.

'Roadies' Review

There's no point in kicking Cameron Crowe when he's down. But I found Roadies increasingly irksome over the three episodes that were made available to critics. The show looks at the road crew for a touring rock 'n' roll band, and although Luke Wilson is quite likable, the series is too darn cutesy. My review is up at The Wrap.

'Independence Day: Resurgence' Review

It's been 20 summers since the last Independence Day. Did we need a sequel? I answer that question -- and a few others -- in my review of Resurgence over at The New Republic. Enjoy.

The Long, Strange History of "Never Gonna Give You Up"

Rick Astley recently put out a new album. It's called 50, because of the fact that he's 50 now. For a lot of '80s kids, that news will be a shock. In the culture, he's been forever frozen in his early 20s because of hits like "Never Gonna Give You Up." For MEL, I look back at that song's path to No. 1 ... and then to an internet meme. Read all about it.

My Chat With Nicolas Winding Refn

For Rolling Stone, I sat down with Nicolas Winding Refn, the director of Drive, which lots of people like, and Only God Forgives and The Neon Demon, which lots of people don't. Since I've found his last two movies pretty interesting, I wanted to chat with him about them. I'm glad I did: I walked away from the experience convinced he's no mere provocateur. There's substance underneath the flourishes, and we talked about it.

case/lang/veirs - "Delirium"

case/lang/veirs is the new side project of Neko Case, k.d. lang and Laura Veirs. Thus far, their self-titled album hasn't blown me away, but it's full of so many melodic pleasures, who cares? On "Delirium," Case grabs lead vocals for a song that wouldn't have been out of place on her own Blacklisted. You'll hum it all day long.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Exploring Neil Young's Best Non-Hits

When it comes to someone like Neil Young, the notion of a "hit" is amorphous at best. Outside of "Heart of Gold," which went to No. 1, he's not exactly a dude who dominates the charts. So for MEL, I picked 10 songs that have never been featured on a live album or best-of collection. In theory, these are the greatest of his "obscure" songs. I hope this list shows many of the different aspects of the man's style and career shifts. Dig in.

'The Shallows' Review

Blake Lively shares the screen with a shark in The Shallows, a survival tale about a surfer in for the fight for her life. There are sufficient B-movie pleasures to be had, but I'm sorry: I just found the movie too darn hokey. My review is up at Screen International.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Boys' Club of 'Swiss Army Man'

I've seen Swiss Army Man twice, and while I appreciate the film's audacity, I find the big ideas behind its oddball leanings not particularly compelling. Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe are both good, but they're at the service of a movie that moans too much about sensitive guys' problems. My review is up at The New Republic.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: Talking Pixar, 'Armageddon' and 'Road to Perdition'

In the latest installment of our New Republic podcast, Will and I review Finding Dory. (I like it more than he does.) And we turn our attention to one of the quintessential summer movies, Armageddon, as well as Road to Perdition, which also came out during the summer. You can hear the whole thing here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Misleading Men: Val Kilmer

The latest installment in my MEL series on actors who were Hollywood's A-listers for a minute is dedicated to Val Kilmer. The more I dug into the man's films, the more I noticed a trend: His bigger movies were almost never his most interesting. Here's a guy who has lived wandering around from project to project, doing whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. I'm not sure it's a blueprint for a major career, but it's definitely a way to have a unique one. You can read my essay here.