Friday, May 30, 2014

Sly and the Family Stone - "Time"

Like much of There's a Riot Goin' On, "Time" is more of an experience than a song, which isn't to say it's not a terrific song, too. I don't ever find myself singing along to this -- I just sorta sit down and wallow inside it, instead.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

In Praise of Kelly Reichardt

The name Kelly Reichardt may not be familiar to you, but in the last decade she's been responsible for four resonant, small-scale dramas: Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy, Meek's Cutoff and her latest, Night Moves. For Deadspin, I explain why she's such a major modern filmmaker. Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

'Maleficent' Review

Maybe I'm just not the target audience for these new fantasy/fairytale movies. I didn't like Oz the Great and Powerful or Red Riding Hood or Mirror Mirror or Snow White and the Huntsman. Now comes Maleficent, which I also didn't care for. I get into my reasons in my Deadspin review.

'A Million Ways to Die in the West' Review

I want to put this on the record: I don't like Seth MacFarlane's comedies, but I can't deny that they give me an odd little buzz. Whether it's Family Guy or Ted or his latest, A Million Ways to Die in the West, MacFarlane has such an unpredictable, explosively abrasive comedic style that I'm never bored. (I don't often like what I see, but I'm never bored.) But his considerable talent remains secondary to his sizable weaknesses. I reviewed A Million Ways for Screen International.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Impressions - "Choice of Colors"

Have a great Memorial Day, everyone. Also, remember: A better day is coming for you and me.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

'Blended' Review

1. Yes, Dan Patrick is in it.
2. No, Rob Schneider is not.
3. Also, Nick Swardson isn't.
4. Drew Barrymore is, thankfully.
5. There's no bizarre Al Pacino cameo.
6. Shaq is in it.
7. The movie has a Greek chorus-like group of African singers I swear is meant to be an homage to Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
8. The movie's not very good, but it is better than several of Adam Sandler's recent films.

Should you require more information about Blended, I reviewed it for Deadspin.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Greats: Jean-Luc Godard

Tomorrow, Jean-Luc Godard's latest, Goodbye to Language, premieres at Cannes. Today, I salute the one-of-a-kind filmmaker in my latest installment of "The Greats" for Paste. Here it is.

'Cold in July' Review

Following up his squirm-inducing We Are What We Are, director Jim Mickle is back with a thriller, Cold in July. Set in Texas in the late '80s, the film is very much indebted to that era's B-movie charms as it features a regular guy (Michael C. Hall) who kills a home invader, opening his life up to a series of unexpected repercussions. I reviewed the film for Paste, y'all.

Monday, May 19, 2014

What's a Movie Like in 4DX?

4DX is a premium theater experience utilized in 100 countries around the world. None of those countries is the U.S. -- until this summer, when the first 4DX-equipped theater screen opens (hopefully) in late June in Los Angeles. For Rolling Stone, I went to the 4DX offices in Hollywood to try out the 4DX system. This required me watching Need for Speed again. Here's my report.

'Stand Clear of the Closing Doors' Review

Stand Clear of the Closing Doors has been getting good reviews on the festival circuit since premiering at Tribeca last year. I caught it at True/False this year, and it was one of two fiction works at the documentary festival, presumably because the film incorporates plentiful nonfiction elements in the narrative. I touch on that in my review for Paste. The film opens Friday in New York.

Gordon Willis, Cinematographer, 1931-2014

One of the all-time great cinematographers, Gordon Willis, died yesterday. The loss is immense. The Godfather films and many of Woody Allen's early classics wouldn't have looked the way they did without him. Last summer, I wrote a tribute to Willis as part of my series "The Greats" for Paste. Actually, his was the first in the series: I wanted to start on a high note. Here it is.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Phantogram - "Fall In Love"

Phantogram are a New York duo comprised of Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter. I haven't had a chance to really dig into their latest, Voices, but I'm quite smitten with "Fall in Love." It's the rare single that isn't long enough. (That dynamite loop could run another minute at least.)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

'Sugar' Is the Better Version of 'Million Dollar Arm'

That's the gist of my essay at Deadspin today. While watching Million Dollar Arm, I was thinking about how minorities and the underprivileged are represented in sports movies. And then I got to thinking of cases where they're actually dramatized in nuanced, interesting ways. And then I thought about the great Sugar. That movie deserves a second look, as I hope you agree.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cannes 2014: 10 Must-Sees

After going to the Cannes Film Festival last year for the first time, it's sheer torture not being able to be there this year. (Alas, a book project is keeping me here.) But that didn't stop me from profiling 10 films that are screening in Cannes that I'm most excited about. Let's hope they're all gems.

Monday, May 12, 2014

'X-Men: Days of Future Past' Review

I've never been the biggest X-Men fan. So maybe you shouldn't trust me when I say that Days of Future Past is my favorite film in the series. But I really enjoyed it, which I explain in great detail in my Screen International review.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Keith Jarrett - "Long As You Know You're Living Yours"

Yesterday was Keith Jarrett's birthday. (He's 69.) Being a Steely Dan nut, I know the man mostly because he sued the band for how closely their 1980 song "Gaucho" sounded to his 1974 track "Long As You Know You're Living Yours." As a result, he was able to get his name added to the songwriting credits -- not to mention a cut of future royalties. The similarities are undeniable.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

In Praise of Seth Rogen

Seth Rogen has been a movie star for almost 10 years. With his great Neighbors about to come out, I decided to devote some time thinking about what makes him stand out among contemporary comedians. Those thoughts form the basis for this week's Playboy Culture Club column. (Hint: He's a lot smarter than his onscreen stoner persona suggests.)

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

'Million Dollar Arm' Review

Just about every movie about baseball will at least stir me a little. Then there's Million Dollar Arm, which isn't bad so much as it's really bland. The film is based on a true story, but it feels like it's been terribly homogenized so that it will fit into a wholly predictable feel-good narrative. My review of Million Dollar Arm is up at Screen International.

Monday, May 05, 2014

The Greats: John Williams

You know his scores: Star Wars, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark. For my recurring column "The Greats" for Paste, I devote some time to the man. Here's my appreciation of John Williams. (And note: I didn't even have space to go into his impact on me as the conductor of the Boston Pops on the PBS program Evening at Pops.)

Friday, May 02, 2014

What Are TV's Best Cult Comedies?

That's the question the editors of Rolling Stone tried to answer in their latest list. I very much enjoyed taking part, writing up the entries for Portlandia, Late Night With David Letterman, Arrested Development and Sledge Hammer! I had no say in the rankings, though, so don't get mad at me if your favorite isn't near the top.

James Brown - "The Payback"

James Brown would have been 81 on Saturday. Fingers crossed that Get On Up is good.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

'Neighbors' Review

It's so rare to find a legitimately funny comedy. But Neighbors is one; it made me laugh pretty consistently. Defiantly lowbrow but with a sweet side, this movie is probably going to do really well. I reviewed Neighbors for Screen International.