Friday, August 28, 2015

Taylor Swift - "Style"

My cousin gets married today. In honor of him and his bride, here's a cut from his favorite album of 2014.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

'Zipper' Review

Patrick Wilson would seem to be a perfect fit for Zipper, a dark drama about an honorable man running for office who is undone by an unexpected fixation on high-class call girls. (Hey, it happens to the best of us.) Instead, the film is laughable. I reviewed this stinker for Paste.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

'Z for Zachariah' and Craig Zobel's Lab-Experiment Cinema

Craig Zobel is one of America's most intriguing indie filmmakers, the man behind Great World of Sound and the superb Compliance. He returns with Z for Zachariah, which I saw for the first time at Sundance. I watched it again now that it's opening on Friday, and I continue to find this post-apocalyptic drama deeply unsettling in its own quiet way. Why? Because Zobel, as per norm, is conducting a little experiment with the characters -- and with us in the audience. I get into that over at Deadspin.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

'We Are Your Friends' Review

I'm not so far removed from my youth that I can't feel a kinship to something like We Are Your Friends, which stars Zac Efron as a DJ trying to break into the world of EDM. For a new generation, perhaps this movie will be an American Graffiti or Reality Bites: an impudent, urgent "We are young!" state of the union. But, lordy, the film's story couldn't be more familiar. (Still, I think Wes Bentley is quite good in it as a mentor figure to the young Efron.) I reviewed We Are Your Friends for Screen International.

Friday, August 21, 2015

John Mellencamp - "Longest Days"

"It's one of the better songs of the last few years, actually," Bob Dylan said in February of John Mellencamp's "Longest Days." "I ain't lying."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

'Documentary Now!' Review

I wasn't sure what to expect from Documentary Now!, the new IFC series that parodies iconic nonfiction films. But the show, overseen by Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Seth Meyers, is straight-up terrific -- not just funny, but also kinda profound in its own modest, playful way. I've only seen three episodes, but I want to watch more, and soon. I reviewed the show for The Wrap.

'Grandma' Review

Lily Tomlin gets one of her richest roles in years with Grandma, a two-hander about a poet and her granddaughter (Julia Garner) who drive around L.A. all day in search of $600. It's a moving, delicate wisp of a film, which I reviewed for Paste.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

'Hitman: Agent 47' Review

Back in 2007, I reviewed Hitman for Screen International. That movie was not good. Now, Fox is yet again trying to breathe cinematic life into the videogame assassin. Hitman: Agent 47 isn't much better, though. I reviewed this shoot-'em-up stinker for Popular Mechanics.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

'American Ultra' Review

What a strange little film American Ultra is. Equal parts midnight movie and lovers-on-the-run saga, American Ultra mixes action, comedy and romance into a heady brew that's sorta entertaining but also kinda tiring. I walked out of the film impressed with the ambition but mixed on the execution. My review is up at Screen International.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Why 'Straight Outta Compton' Ruled the Box Office

It's not based on a comic book. It's not a prequel, sequel or reboot. And yet, Straight Outta Compton enjoyed one of the best opening weekends of the summer, earning an estimated $56.1 million over its first three days of release. How did an N.W.A biopic become a sensation? For Rolling Stone, I crunch the numbers and offer a few theories. Hope you enjoy.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Los Lobos - "A Matter of Time"

The most underrated band in L.A. rock, Los Lobos will be putting out their latest album, Gates of Gold, on September 25. In the meantime, here's one of their loveliest tracks, off 1984's significantly lovely How Will the Wolf Survive?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

'We Come as Friends' Review

It's been nine years since I've seen director Hubert Sauper's superb documentary Darwin's Nightmare. Now, he's returned with another despairing portrait of Africa, We Come as Friends, which sets its sights on South Sudan. You may never look at George Clooney's global activism the same. I reviewed the film for Paste.

'Straight Outta Compton' and Gangster Rap's "Problematic" Legacy

Since I saw Straight Outta Compton a few weeks ago, I've been wrestling with its portrayal of the iconic N.W.A: Are they heroes or villains? And what kind of musical legacy has Dr. Dre and Ice Cube left behind? I dive into all that over at Deadspin.

Monday, August 10, 2015

'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' Review

Guy Ritchie is at his Guy Ritchie-ist with The Man From U.N.C.L.E., striving for pure cinematic excess without much concern for character or emotion. It almost works. I reviewed the film for Screen International.

What's the Greatest Sports Movie?

The gang at Rolling Stone is counting down the 30 best sports movies of all-time, and I contributed a few write-ups. I didn't have a say on the final rankings, but I can say I completely agree with No. 1. You can read the full list here.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

'Press Play With Madeleine Brand': On the Great 'Diary of a Teenage Girl'

Yesterday on Madeleine Brand's KCRW show, James Rocchi and I discussed Fantastic Four, while he tells you about The Gift and I get into Ricki and the Flash and The Diary of a Teenage Girl. You can hear our whole chat here.

Friday, August 07, 2015

'Club de Cuervos' Review

Club de Cuervos is being advertised as Netflix's first original Spanish-language series. It concerns a wealthy Mexican family that's all in turmoil after its patriarch dies: Who's going to run the soccer team now? Not quite juicy, soapy, silly, campy or twisty enough, Club isn't malo, but it ain't bueno either. I reviewed the show for The Wrap.

Roberta Flack - "Compared to What"

My review of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. will drop on Monday. In the meantime, here's a song featured in the film.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Meryl Streep's Movies, Ranked

Will and I have done a few ranked lists for Vulture, but our latest is our biggest: We run down 42 of Meryl Streep's performances, from worst to best. This was a massive undertaking, and I'm quite proud of the results. I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

'Ricki and the Flash' Review

Meryl Streep is one the best parts -- but not the only good part -- of Ricki and the Flash, which is slight but still pretty profound in its own minor way. I reviewed the movie for Deadspin. (Oh, and this isn't the only Meryl Streep item coming from me this week.)

Jon Stewart, Newsman

Throughout his run on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart was quick to say that he wasn't a journalist -- he was a comic. For Rolling Stone, my colleagues and I chronicle the times that the show actually made news. (Judith Miller probably still doesn't know what hit her.) Here's the piece.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

'Fantastic Four' Review

For the first 30 minutes, I was down with Fantastic Four. But soon after, the movie starts going off the rails -- and it never recovers. A fine group of young actors are thoroughly wasted in this misbegotten superhero movie, which I reviewed for Screen International.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Jon Stewart's Favorite Punching Bags

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart ends its run this week. For Rolling Stone, I looked at 10 of the show's most reliable comic targets. Many of them were political figures. One was Arby's. You can read my piece here.

'Shaun the Sheep Movie' Review

I think the worst thing about the old Wallace and Gromit shorts is that they're so good they've spoiled me. Aardman has made plenty of adorable works since then, but none of them can compare. Now comes Shaun the Sheep Movie, and it's a perfectly enjoyable, super-cute family film about that sweet little sheep. And yet...well, I've got reservations. My review is up at Paste.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

'The End of the Tour' Review

One of the best of the year, The End of the Tour is now playing in Los Angeles and New York. For Deadspin, I go into why I think the movie, about the 1996 encounter between author David Foster Wallace and journalist David Lipsky, is so special. Hope you enjoy.