Friday, August 31, 2012

'The American' and Other Good Labor Day Releases

For Deadspin, I decided to try and find some good movies that opened over Labor Day weekend, which tends to be a black hole in the annual film calendar. I managed to find a grand total of five in the last 30 years. The American is one -- the rest of the list is here.

Divine Fits - "Baby Get Worse"

Divine Fits are a new indie supergroup that includes Spoon's Britt Daniel. But I'm really happy to hear Dan Boeckner as part of this band, especially on the stellar "Baby Get Worse," which has the same pristine '80s/New Wave aesthetic as his great, much-missed Handsome Furs. And I love how Daniel shows up near the end.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back Stage: 'Lawless' and 'For a Good Time, Call...' Lead a Weak Weekend

We're heading into Labor Day weekend, the one big holiday weekend all year where movie studios don't unveil any of their prize fare. Nope, if your movie comes out this weekend, that's a sign that everybody thinks it stinks. There are exceptions, though, and Lawless and For a Good Time, Call... aren't too shabby. You can read my rundown of your movie choices over at Back Stage.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Where Does Orlando Bloom Go From Here?

Orlando Bloom will be starring in The Hobbit, reprising his Lord of the Rings role, but in the meantime, you can see him in The Good Doctor, a so-so psychological thriller. The Good Doctor made me think about Bloom's career and where it's headed. So, for Deadspin, I decided to speculate on five potentially interesting directions for him to go. You can tell me if I'm way off base.

'The Possession' Review

Yup, it's late August, which means you get the dregs of the movie season. With that said, I didn't hate The Possession -- it's just that it's a little too humdrum for my tastes. I remember writing about this film when it was first announced back when Will and I were doing The Projector. At that time, the movie was slated to be released around Halloween 2011. Well, that didn't happen. My review is up at Screen International.

Monday, August 27, 2012

C'mon, 'Battleship' Is Fun

At least that's the argument I make over at IFC Fix. The film hits DVD tomorrow, and I think it deserves a second chance. It's funny: I reviewed the movie in May at Deadspin, and for months after, Will's and my reviews would be greeted by one commenter who said that he/she couldn't believe a word we said after giving a thumbs-up to Battleship. Such is life.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Shia LaBeouf, Serious Actor

Shia LaBeouf will be in Lawless on Wednesday, and it's part of a new phase in his career where he walks away from Hollywood blockbusters and focuses on indie films. For Deadspin, I consider LaBeouf's career, his bid for respectability, and the pitfalls therein. You can read it here.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Grandaddy - "The Warming Sun"

A fan-made video for "The Warming Sun" from Grandaddy's Sumday, which is still my favorite album of theirs. I miss these guys.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Back Stage: 'Premium Rush' Is Just OK

Not a lot opening this weekend, but what is out there isn't all that impressive. Yes, you should see Sleepwalk With Me, but what else? Hit and Run is hit or miss, and Little White Lies is only so-so. (The adoption documentary Somewhere Between is affecting, if slight.) Encapsulating the overall meh quality of this weekend's releases is Premium Rush: You can sorta enjoy it, but that mild enjoyment will only take you so far. For my complete reviews, check out my Screen Grab column at Back Stage.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

'Sleepwalk With Me' and Stand-Up

In another life, if I were braver, I think I might have liked to try being a stand-up comic. Not in this life, though: I'm not nearly smart or sharp enough to do it. But that doesn't mean I can't admire the art of stand-up from afar. I've long been a passionate fan of Comedian, and I also really liked Sleepwalk With Me, which opens on Friday. For Gawker, I wrote about why I'm so obsessed with stand-up comedy. You can read the piece here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

'Hit and Run' Review

I can't say that I recommend Hit and Run, but it has an offbeat charm that has stayed with me weeks after seeing the film. Also, I'm pretty sure Bradley Cooper should never wear dreadlocks again. My Hit and Run review is now live at Screen International.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Kool & the Gang - "Summer Madness"

I love DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's "Summertime" as much as the next guy, but when's the last time you sat down and enjoyed the track that gave the song its soul? Here's some "Summer Madness" for you...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

'Compliance': Let the Debate Begin

I've been raving about Compliance since Sundance. At last, the film is finally opening in theaters, and I expect a wide range of opinions on this divisive, terrific movie. For Deadspin, Will and I debated the movie's merits. (He doesn't like the film so much.) You can read our conversation here.

'Sparkle' Review

Oh, Sparkle. You're a remake of a '70s film, but you're mostly just a vehicle to make movie audiences care about Jordin Sparks. No dice. My review is up at Screen International.

Back Stage: The Best Movie Weekend of the Year?

Now that I have your attention with my needlessly hyperbolic headline, I do think there are plenty of worthwhile film options available to you this weekend: everything from the unnerving Compliance to the warmhearted Robot & Frank to the winningly macabre ParaNorman to the intriguing Side by Side. This week's Screen Grab column for Back Stage lays out all the new releases.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

'Cosmopolis' Review

Some movies impress upon their initial viewing, but as days go by, they stay glued to your brain, their effects slowing sinking in. That's the way Cosmopolis was for me. When I saw it, I was rather taken by it. A week later, I can hardly wait to see it again. The credit belongs to both director David Cronenberg and star Robert Pattinson. My Cosmopolis review is up at Deadspin.

'The Expendables 2' Review

I had a ball watching The Expendables 2, although I'm very aware of its clear flaws. But where the first movie was just sorta dumb, the sequel is big dumb fun. That doesn't seem like a big difference, but, believe me, it really is. My review is up at Screen International. (By the way, whenever I think of this franchise, this song always comes to mind.)

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Look Back at 'The Expendables'

When The Expendables came out in August 2010, box office watchers didn't have huge expectations for the Sylvester Stallone vehicle. (For crying out loud, it's got Dolph Lundgren in it.) And then just like that, the movie became one of the more unlikely $100-million movies of recent years. The Expendables 2 arrives on Friday -- for IFC Fix, I remind everyone how crazy the first film's success really was.

Friday, August 10, 2012

'Red Hook Summer' Review

Now that I've counted down Spike Lee's filmography, it's time to review his latest, Red Hook Summer. Honestly, I wish I liked it better, which I hope comes through loud and clear in my very mixed review over at Deadspin.

Let's Rank Spike Lee's Films

Spike Lee fan that I am, I was thrilled and honored to be asked by Vulture to rank his movies from worst to best. Will Leitch and I put our heads together and came up with this list. Hope you enjoy. (And, yes, Bamboozled is pretty high on the countdown.)

Cloud Nothings - "Wasted Days"

I have a feeling that the 16-year-old version of me would love "Wasted Days." Nearly nine minutes of angry, punk-ish guitars and the repeated lyric "I thought I would be more than this": Really, how much more angst-ridden can you get? (Even better, Cloud Nothings' album Attack on Memory was produced by none other than Steve Albini.) Let 'er rip.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Back Stage: The Pickings Are Slim

It's not a great weekend for moviegoing, ladies and gentlemen. The Bourne Legacy is OK, Hope Springs is good but not great, and everything else is a disappointment or worse. (Man, The Campaign really stinks.) For Back Stage, I cover six new films. Tread lightly.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

'Hope Springs' and S-E-X

Hope Springs isn't a great movie, but it's a good one -- and it's that rare film to talk honestly about sex as an actual real-world thing. That alone makes it worthwhile in my book. I explain why over at Gawker. (And, by the way, the above scene is one of the stupider in the film. I get into this in my piece.)

Monday, August 06, 2012

In Praise of the Jason Bourne Trilogy

As you no doubt know, The Bourne Legacy opens Friday. So what better time to salute the original trilogy, which starred an Oscar-winning screenwriter who had never been the lead in an action movie before? Matt Damon worked out just fine, thanks -- and so did the movies. My piece is up at IFC Fix.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Breaking Down the Sight & Sound Poll

This week was the official unveiling of the latest Sight & Sound poll results. (My predictions, at least for the critics, were pretty accurate. The directors were a little more surprising.) For Deadspin, I crunched some numbers and offered some analysis. What I didn't do was try to figure out what it all "means." Ever since I've become a member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, I'm much more sensitive to this idea that poll results say something about a particular group. Speaking for my fellow LAFCA members, we're such a bunch of ornery individuals that we're completely uninterested in sending some sort of message through our end-of-the-year awards. I find it hard to believe, therefore, that a collection of critics and directors living all over the globe are unified in a way for their collective results to "mean" anything other than, hey, these are the movies they consider the greatest. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let the obsessiveness begin.

Todd Snider - "Looking for a Job"

Just now realized that one of my favorite Todd Snider songs, "Looking for a Job" off the fine The Devil You Know, has a video. Not surprisingly, it's goofy: Although Snider writes songs that address class warfare and politics, he's known for his disarming sense of humor in concert. But keep an ear out for the lyrics. He's a great storyteller, and "Looking for a Job" has a nice edge to it.

Back Stage: Celeste and Jesse and Mosquita y Mari Forever

This week's Screen Grab column is headed by two very unusual love stories. One is Celeste and Jesse Forever, which stars Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg as a former married couple who are still the best of friends despite wanting a divorce. The other is Mosquita y Mari, a coming-of-age tale concerning two Chicana girls (Fenessa Pineda and Venecia Troncoso) whose friendship may lead to something more. They're both delicate in their own way. My full preview of this weekend's film choices is now available over at Back Stage.

'Total Recall' Review

As I've made clear, I like Colin Farrell. So I was rooting for him in Total Recall. Sadly, the movie isn't quite a home run. My review is up at Screen International.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Sight & Sound Poll Predictions

Sight & Sound is about to reveal the critics' and directors' lists for the magazine's once-a-decade Greatest Films poll. So, some predictions that I spent all of five seconds pondering...


1. Vertigo
2. Citizen Kane
3. The Rules of the Game
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey
5. Sunrise
6. The Godfather Part II
7. The Searchers
8. Raging Bull
9. Singin' in the Rain
10. Tokyo Story 


1. Citizen Kane
2. 8 1/2 
3. Raging Bull
4. The Godfather Part I
5. Lawrence of Arabia
6. Vertigo
7. Seven Samurai
8. The Godfather Part II
9. The Rules of the Game
10. Pulp Fiction

This will all look really funny when I'm not even remotely close to being right.