Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My Interview With Richard Linklater

Back in mid-June, I spoke with Richard Linklater during the height of the Boyhood promotion. (He had photo shoots and interviews morning until night that day.) The time between speaking with him and writing the cover story for Backstage allowed me an opportunity to reflect on the movie and our talk -- plus, it gave me a chance to make sure I didn't just repeat everything he said in every other interview. I'm grateful: I'm pleased with how this piece turned out and the topics it covers. I hope you enjoy, too.

The Greats: Woody Allen

When I started "The Greats" last summer for Paste, I'm sure some people wondered when I'd get around to devoting a column to Woody Allen, whose films I've loved for a very long time. I intentionally held off for as long as I could: I adore his work so much that my devotion is almost beyond words. Nonetheless, I decided to give it a stab for my latest installment. Here you go.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

'Guardians of the Galaxy' Review

The last big blockbuster of the summer, Guardians of the Galaxy, opens on Friday. Very fun if a little too shtick-y for my tastes, it ends the season on a relatively strong note. If you're keeping score of this year's Marvel entries, I liked X-Men: Days of Future Past and Captain America: The Winter Soldier better, but I certainly preferred Guardians to The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I reviewed Guardians for The Verge.

Monday, July 28, 2014

'Get On Up' Review

There is a lot to discuss about Get On Up, the ambitious, mostly successful portrait of James Brown. I went long in my Screen International review.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Yours Truly on 'Press Play With Madeleine Brand'

This morning, I appeared on KCRW's Press Play alongside the always-charming Christy Lemire to talk with Madeleine Brand about this weekend's new film releases and to discuss the trailer for 50 Shades of Grey. Mostly, I tried my best to make it clear how great A Most Wanted Man is. You can listen to our chat here.

Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott - "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)"

This weekend, my 17-year-old nephew comes to town to visit. In his honor, here's a great song from the year he was born.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

'Hercules' Review

I like Dwayne Johnson. I don't like Brett Ratner. So what did I make of Hercules? The answer, dear reader, can be read over at Deadspin.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

'Lucy' Review

Lucy is such dopey fun. It has its head in the clouds, pondering the big questions of life, while also being a really taut action-thriller. It's silly, it's stupid and it wouldn't be nearly as good without Scarlett Johansson. My review of Lucy is up at Screen International.

'Magic in the Moonlight' Review

They can't all be great, right? After a string of mostly good films, Woody Allen hits a few too many bum notes with his latest, Magic in the Moonlight. My review is up at Deadspin.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Boz Scaggs - "Lowdown"

A good buddy of mine enjoys putting together mixes -- strange disco tunes, a year's worth of great hip-hop songs -- and sending it to friends. I'm thankful to be on that list of recipients. His most recent is a nearly-four-hour collection of what he calls "summer songs." Boz Scaggs' "Lowdown" is on it. Wikipedia files him under "blue-eyed soul," "soft rock" and "jazz rock." I say, "Ahhhhhhhhh....."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

'Mood Indigo' Review

As someone who's quite a fan of director Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep, I was prepared to be pleased by his latest, Mood Indigo, despite some negative reviews last year when it opened in France. The movie's been trimmed by about 30 minutes for its U.S. release, but I still found it to be too long and far too precious. I reviewed Mood Indigo for Paste.

'The Purge: Anarchy' Review

You may recall that I was not a fan of The Purge, the 2013 sleeper summer hit with the ludicrous premise. So I'm happy to say that the sequel, The Purge: Anarchy, is better. The premise is still nonsensical, but I found myself making peace with it more this time -- or perhaps I was sufficiently distracted by the onscreen suspense. I reviewed The Purge: Anarchy for Screen International

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Interview With Frank Grillo

Frank Grillo has been making a name for himself lately thanks to scene-stealing roles in Warrior and The Grey. (He was also Crossbones in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.) Now, he faces the spotlight as the lead in The Purge: Anarchy. I chatted with the very charming, very winning actor for Backstage. You can read the piece here. And, as an added bonus, here's a segment from my draft that got trimmed a little during the final edit. I thought the full text was revealing of Grillo's personality....

Because of Grillo’s love of boxing and his penchant for macho roles, I wondered where the vulnerability he brings to these men came from. (His character’s final scene in “The Grey” is one of the most moving death scenes in recent cinema, touching on tricky emotional terrain about manhood and friendship that most guy’s-guy movies are too scared to visit.) “What I look for in a role is the physical,” he says. “But what’s the journey emotionally? Can I take this person who is this archetypal tough guy and find the beauty?” Even as a boy, he wasn’t embarrassed by emotion. “I come from an Italian family,” he reminds me. “We are emotional all the time, every day, all day. You and I now are friends forever—that’s how I am. When we leave this interview, I will hug you and wish you safety.”
For the record, we did, in fact, hug when we said goodbye. I may have initiated the hug, though.

'Sex Tape' Review

Outside of Neighbors, has there been a funny R-rated comedy in the last five years? All I can think of are the many stinkers. Add to that pile Sex Tape, which is pretty lame. I survey the damage in my Deadspin review.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Greats: Gene Hackman

When I write my column "The Greats," which is about Hollywood's living legends, I try hard not to make the essays sound like eulogies. (The whole point of the column is to celebrate these people in their lifetime, after all.) But for Gene Hackman, who's been retired for 10 years, it's a little more complicated. My tribute to the pride of Danville, Illinois is up now at Paste.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Let's Rank Richard Linklater's Films

Over at Deadspin, Will and I put together a list that ranks all of Richard Linklater's films, from worst to best. Where did Boyhood end up? Check it out.

Janet Jackson - "Escapade"

While on a road trip to San Francisco, I was flipping around the dial and stumbled upon Janet Jackson's "Escapade." What a great song, I thought, and then I got a little sad. Ms. Jackson's career implosion following the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" at the Super Bowl remains an odd, unfair thing. (Checking her chart history, I realize that she didn't vanish off the face of the earth after the incident, but her pop-royalty standing has never been the same since.) So, I choose to forget that sadness and just enjoy the music, which is probably better anyway.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' Review

After my screening of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I tweeted:

So, yes, I'm a fan. Dawn isn't as singular as 2008's The Dark Knight and Wall-E but, hey, it's pretty damn wonderful. Intelligent, grown-up, thoughtful, deeply moral: How often can you say these things about a studio blockbuster?

I reviewed the film for Deadspin.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

'Land Ho!' Review

Paul Eenhoorn, so magnificent in last year's This Is Martin Bonner, returns with Land Ho!, a likeable indie comedy about two older man who go on vacation to Iceland. (Eenhoorn is the gentleman on the right.) It certainly beats Last Vegas. My review is up at Paste.

The 100 Greatest 'Seinfeld' Characters

My years of watching Seinfeld reruns finally paid off: I contributed to Rolling Stone's list of the 100 best characters from that beloved NBC show. I didn't have any say in the rankings, but I generally agree with where people ended up. (Well, maybe Izzy Mandelbaum is too low.) Anyway, hope you enjoy.

Monday, July 07, 2014

My Interview With Nasri of Magic!

Last week, I caught the record release show for Magic!, whose debut album is Don't Kill the Magic. If you don't recognize the band name, you may know its smash single from the radio, the reggae-pop of "Rude." And even if you do recognize the group or the song, you may not know Nasri (far right), Magic!'s charismatic frontman. He started out as a songwriter for Chris Brown, Justin Bieber and others; now he's moving into the spotlight for himself. I spoke to Nasri for Rolling Stone -- here's what we talked about.

Friday, July 04, 2014

The Best American Indies Ever

I contributed to this list for Rolling Stone, which celebrates the greatest of American independent cinema. It was very, very fun.

Schoolboy Q - "Hell of a Night"

First 10 times I heard this Oxymoron track, I was convinced Schoolboy Q had sneaked a sample from "Money for Nothing" onto it. (Sure sounds like Sting's opening interlude.)

As for the album, here's my unformed early impression: It sounds really good at night. During the day, however, Oxymoron doesn't do much for me at all. But I need to immerse more before I render any definitive opinions.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

'Deliver Us From Evil' Review

I was a big fan of Sinister, director Scott Derrickson's last horror movie. His follow-up, Deliver Us From Evil, didn't do as much for me, although I do seem to like it more than most folks. That shouldn't be confused with a recommendation, though. My review is up at The Verge.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Best Movies of 2014 (So Far)

We are at the halfway point of 2014. It's a perfect time to pay tribute to the best movies that have already been released. So, as is our custom, Will and I each picked our six favorites from the first half of the year. Here's the list.

(And, as a reminder to myself, here are the noteworthy films that have been released this year that I still need to see: Cheap Thrills, Chef, The Dance of Reality, Hide Your Smiling Faces, The Last of the Unjust, The Lunchbox, Nymphomaniac: Volume II and Policeman.)