Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Getting Ready for Toronto

We're a little more than a month away from the Toronto Film Festival. I'll be there for Screen International, but today I wanted to focus on the films I'm most curious to check out at the festival. I picked 10 must-sees for Gawker. Let award season begin.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Renaissance of Colin Farrell

For the last few years, Colin Farrell has been on something of a roll. Cassandra's Dream, In Bruges, Crazy Heart.... he's delivered some really strong performances. This Friday is Total Recall, which will be his chance to prove he's a viable box office attraction. Before I see the film, though, I decided to take a look back at his career thus far. My article is up on IFC Fix.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Le Tigre - "Deceptacon"

It's very possible that Le Tigre's very best song was the first track on their first, self-titled album. In a way, this video is a precursor to the charming, low-budget DIY aesthetic you see in the Black Keys' "Lonely Boy" clip or even the OK Go videos. Fun fun fun.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Back Stage: Gimme Some 'Sugar'

It's a good weekend at the art house. Killer Joe, Searching for Sugar Man, Ruby Sparks and Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry are all worth checking out. My Back Stage column goes into all four films. Check it out here.

'The Watch' Review

The Watch was once called Neighborhood Watch, but after the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case, Fox decided to change the name to be sensitive. Unfortunately, the studio still has a movie on its hands that celebrates dumb characters firing guns, which made it a little hard for me to laugh in light of the Aurora shootings. But my problems with The Watch have nothing to do with any similarity to recent tragic events. No, the movie's a mess on much more basic levels. My Deadspin review explains.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Trailer Roundup: 'Life of Pi,' 'The Master,' 'Man of Steel'

I grant you that writing about trailers is kinda stupid. It's like writing about an ad. And, yet, I find it really fun as well, in part because it allows me to figure out what I think that I think about a movie before I've even seen it. There's a value in that: You can see where your expectations are at that moment, and you can perhaps look out for certain biases you may have. I dunno, maybe I alone find such musings interesting. Regardless, for Gawker I wrote about five new trailers. Dig in.

'Step Up Revolution' Review

There are some bands who aren't particularly great album artists. Each record they put out, maybe they're good for two or three terrific songs, but the rest is straight filler never worth hearing again. Such bands are ideal for greatest-hits collections: You can grab their best moments without worrying that you're missing anything.

The Step Up films are the same way. If someone wanted to put together a compilation of all their dance sequences, I'd be there. But as pieces of narrative cinema, well, you just want to fast-forward to the next big dance scene. That's the same way with the latest installment, Step Up Revolution, which I review for Screen International.

Monday, July 23, 2012

On the Nasty, Great 'Killer Joe'

Killer Joe will probably corrupt your soul, but it sure is fun -- and Matthew McConaughey is quite good in it. The movie absolutely deserves its NC-17 rating, but its amorality is an unabashed hoot. I make the case for the film over at IFC Fix.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Revisiting 'The Ben Stiller Show'

The Watch opens on Friday. It does not look good. For Deadspin, I decided to go back to one of Ben Stiller's earliest projects, The Ben Stiller Show, to see how much his persona has or hasn't changed in the 20 years since it debuted. You can read my article here. And as an added bonus, here's an appearance from the Ben Stiller crew on local L.A. television the morning after they won the Emmy for writing.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fiona Apple - "Regret"

Fiona Apple's latest, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser..., isn't as immediately approachable as her previous effort, Extraordinary Machine. It's a rawer, sparer album that doesn't flaunt the immediate indie-pop hooks of Tidal or the jazzy theatricality of When the Pawn..., and I imagine those who already can't stand Apple because of her precocious-naif persona will find plenty to object to here. Fine, but I do love listening to the stories on The Idler Wheel, which start emerging once you wrap your ear around the piano-and-percussion arrangements. I think "Regret," which isn't the most outwardly catchy tune, is a good Rorschach test for the whole album. If you can get into its lyrical specificity and scruffy, handmade aesthetic, I think you're ready for the record.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Back Stage: The New Movies That Aren't 'Dark Knight Rises'

You may notice that this week's Screen Grab column is a little light. It wasn't because I was slacking: Other than The Dark Knight Rises, there isn't much of anything coming out. Nonetheless, the other three movies I reviewed for this week's column are all worthwhile, starting with the painfully revealing documentary The Queen of Versailles. My whole column is up at Back Stage.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Top Six Films of 2012 (so far)

We're a little more than halfway through the year, so Will and I decided to list our individual picks for 2012's best films to this point. It's up at Deadspin. And now, allow me to answer some Frequently Asked Questions about these lists....

1) Why six?
Why not?

2) Why alphabetical?
List freaks that we are, Will and I don't want to start ranking our movies until we get to the official end-of-the-year announcement in January/February.

3) What's your No. 1 movie of the year so far?
Hey, I'm not going to tell you. But I bet my wife knows.

4) What just missed your list?
Something that made Will's list, Jeff, Who Lives at Home.

5) Why are there so many foreign-language films on your list?
The first half of the year's release calendar tends to favor international films over English-language ones, the rationale being that the really great English-language films are being held until Oscar season.

6) Do you know what Will's No. 1 movie is?
I think so, but I'm not saying.   

7) What movies from the first half of the year do you still need to see?
Attenberg, Beyond the Black Rainbow, Chronicle, The Color Wheel, Declaration of War, The Grey, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Kill List, Michael, The Secret World of Arrietty.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Giving 'The Three Stooges' Another Chance

The Three Stooges arrives on DVD tomorrow. I was very pleased with the movie when it came out in April and then not very happy when it failed to do much at the box office. So here's your chance to catch up with a very funny movie. A very stupid movie, sure -- but also pretty darn funny. I advocate for the film over at IFC Fix.

'The Dark Knight Rises' Review

And so at last, we come to the end of the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale Batman trilogy. I adore Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, but I don't think The Dark Knight Rises is quite at the same level. Still, if you keep your expectations in check, you'll have a pretty satisfying time. My review is up at Screen International.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

In Praise of Christopher Nolan

On Friday, The Dark Knight Rises finally comes out. In its honor, I decided to dig into what exactly has made Christopher Nolan such a formidable mainstream filmmaker. You can read my thoughts over at Deadspin.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Best Coast - "Up All Night"

The final track on Best Coast's new The Only Place. Bethany Cosentino is still a brokenhearted gal, but now she's got more polish behind her.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Back Stage: Tour the 'Alps'

There's only one wide release this weekend, Ice Age: Continental Drift. It's not so good -- the Simpsons short before it ain't bad -- so this week's Screen Grab column would like you to focus on smaller, artier fare instead. Maybe the Greek drama Alps? Or the baseball documentary Ballplayer: Pelotero? Perhaps The Imposter? Several good options for you. My complete column is now live over at Back Stage.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


If you haven't read it yet, my buddy Will Leitch's interview with Spike Lee is pretty darn great. Inspired by the article, I decided to go long about why I think Lee is such an underrated filmmaker. The piece is up at Deadspin.

Monday, July 09, 2012

In Praise of 'Do-Deca'

Because the summer tends to focus on big blockbusters and big art-house movies, I wanted to write a little about a tiny indie that started playing in a few theaters last weekend. It's The Do-Deca-Pentathlon from writer-directors Jay and Mark Duplass. For IFC Fix, I tried to explain what makes this comedy so special.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Deerhunter - "Desire Lines"

Some indie guitar loveliness for your Friday....

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Back Stage: 'The Do-Deca-Pentathlon' Sure Is Fun

It's not a great weekend for movie options. Savages is OK, The Amazing Spider-Man is OK, and The Magic of Belle Isle is positively dreadful. But I heartily recommend The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, which is playing select theaters starting on Friday. It's from the Duplass brothers and is another wry, wise comedy from them about family. My entire Screen Grab column is up live over at Back Stage.

'Savages' Review

Like with Magic Mike, I'm not sure a lot of people will see Savages because of who directed it. Nonetheless, that individual is Oliver Stone, and the film represents the first time he's made a purely commercial movie that actually worked. It's not great, but it's good enough. My review is up at Deadspin.

(By the way, I had forgotten that Jennifer Lawrence was originally slated to play the Blake Lively role. Supposedly, Lawrence had to pass because she was doing The Hunger Games. Whatever the reason, it was a good call, Jennifer: O's the least interesting character in this movie.)

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Movies That Love (and Hate) America

Since it's almost Independence Day, Will and I decided to devote some time this week to picking one movie each that represents all that's wrong and right with our great nation. Monday, we took on what's wrong. Today, it's time to salute a film that makes us proud to be Americans.

Happy holiday, everybody.

The Return of Matthew McConaughey

We forget this now, but for a period in the mid-'90s, people really had high hopes for Matthew McConaughey -- or maybe it was just me. He was great in Lone Star and Dazed and Confused, but unfortunately he then lost his way with a series of dull romantic comedies. In the last few years, though, he's started to transition into more interesting roles, like his great performance as Dallas in Magic Mike. For IFC Fix, I wrote about how great it is to have him back.