Wednesday, August 31, 2016

My Interview With Michiel Huisman

Slowly but surely, I'm working my way through the cast of The Invitation, interviewing each of them one by one. I spoke with Emayatzy Corinealdi in March, and now I've talked to Michiel Huisman, who's one of the stars of the forthcoming miniseries Harley and the Davidsons. We chatted about music, luck and fortune tellers. I had a fun time, and you can read my profile in Backstage.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Venice 2016: 'The Light Between Oceans' Review

And now ... fall film festival season begins. We start with The Light Between Oceans, the latest from Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance. It stars Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander as lovers who find an abandoned baby and decide to pretend it's theirs. As you might imagine, things don't go well. My review is live at Screen International.

The Inside Story on 'White Girl'

Over at Rolling Stone, I spoke with White Girl writer-director Elizabeth Wood and star Morgan Saylor about the gritty New York coming-of-age tale. When I sat down with Wood, she told me that the last two people to interview her had accidentally erased their recording, losing everything. This is not the sort of thing one likes to hear but, thankfully, I had no disasters -- plus, I found her to be a very fun conversationalist. You can read my profile here.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: Talking 'Almost Famous' and 'Garden State'

On Episode No. 32 of the Grierson & Leitch podcast, Will and I look back at the summer movie season. We also look ahead to next summer. (Uh, oh.) And then there's this week's Reboot section. We dig into two music-heavy, much beloved coming-of-age films: Almost Famous and Garden State. It's all happening. You can hear the whole thing here.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Toronto 2016: The Preview

The Toronto Film Festival is just around the corner. What am I excited to see? Take a look.

The Perils of Loving Jason Statham

Mechanic: Resurrection came out on Friday. Not screened in advance for critics, it got bad reviews and then proceeded to underperform at the box office. I love its star, Jason Statham, and I'm still tempted to see it. Am I crazy? Why do I do this to myself? I wrote about my ridiculous relationship with the actor for MEL.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Movies About First Dates

In honor of Southside With You, a drama about Barack and Michelle Obama's first date, I put together a list for MEL of the best movies about characters going on first dates. Everything from Certified Copy to Sunday to In Search of a Midnight Kiss made the cut. Hope you enjoy.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Grimes - "Kill V. Maim"

"One song on the album, 'Kill V. Maim,' is written from the perspective of Al Pacino in The Godfather: Part II. Except he’s a vampire who can switch gender and travel throughout space."

That's how Grimes described this utterly nutty dance track from last year's terrific Art Angels. The video is what would happen if you mixed Sion Sono and Law & Order.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Summer 2016: The Best and the Worst

Summer movie season is over. Thank god. What a terrible summer this has been. Just one bad big movie after another. Over at The New Republic, Will and I go back to salute the highs and lows of the last few months. Check it out.

Exploring De La Soul's Best Non-Hits

Tomorrow, De La Soul release And the Anonymous Nobody..., their first disc in 12 years. Today for MEL, I explore the trio's back catalogue to find their greatest deep album cuts. Oh man, was this fun. Check out the list here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

'Gomorrah' Review

My memory of the film Gomorrah is fuzzy, but I was sucked in by the Italian TV series that is adapted from the same source material as the movie. Sundance TV is showing the first season starting tonight -- we don't need any more mob dramas but, man, this one's real good. My review is up at The Wrap.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Frank Ocean, 'Blonde' and the State of the Modern Album

Remember how Spotify, YouTube and their ilk were going to destroy the album as an art form? How individual songs would become more valuable than the LP? Well, forget that nonsense. As Frank Ocean's new album, Blonde, demonstrates, a crop of musicians are resisting this mindset, producing challenging work in our internet age that only really works as a unified album. My essay is up at MEL.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: Debating 'War Dogs,' 'Lo and Behold' and 'Breaking Away'

This week's installment of the Grierson & Leitch podcast finds me and my buddy disagreeing on two films: the Iraq War satire War Dogs and Werner Herzog's latest documentary, Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World. Then, in our Reboot section, we discuss the 1979 coming-of-age drama Breaking Away. Hope you enjoy.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Misleading Men: Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant has starred in many beloved romantic comedies. And yet, his 1995 scandal in which he received oral sex from a prostitute remains one of his most indelible public performances. His appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno suggested another side of her persona -- and in a small but meaningful way, it's informed our relationship with his films ever since. My piece is up at MEL.

Friday, August 19, 2016

'War Dogs' Review

I wanted to like War Dogs. Miles Teller and Jonah Hill play Miami bros who make a bundle during the Iraq War selling guns. It's based on a true story. So what went wrong? That's where I come in. My review is up at The New Republic.

Eric Church - "Kill a Word"

Eric Church's most recent album, Mr. Misunderstood, came out last year. A song from it that I keep returning to is "Kill a Word," in which he lists all the negative words he wishes he could eradicate: regret, fear, lies, hate, you get the idea. Always setting his sights on the arena, Church is a country guy with strong pop and (in the case of this song) gospel instincts. A simple sentiment effectively and melodically conveyed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

'Ben-Hur' Review

Two things I should admit: I don't necessarily love the Charlton Heston Ben-Hur, and I didn't hate Timur Bekmambetov's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. So, his version of Ben-Hur wasn't a proposition I was dreading. And yet, the remake is just kinda so-so. My review is up at Screen International.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: The Movie Review Lightning Round

In this week's episode of the Grierson & Leitch podcast, Will and I go through a ton of movies in a short time. So, if you'd like reviews of Pete's Dragon, Sausage Party, Florence Foster Jenkins, Hell or High Water, Blood Father and Spaceman, you've come to the right place. And in our Reboot section, we go back to 1954 and Rear Window. Check it all out here.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

'Press Play With Madeleine Brand': Meryl, Dragons, Animated Food and 'Hell or High Water'

The lovely Barbara Bogaev filled in for Madeleine yesterday on Press Play, and Grae Drake and I had a fine time discussing Sausage Party, Florence Foster Jenkins, Pete's Dragon and Hell or High Water. You can hear our segment here.

'Florence Foster Jenkins' Review

Meryl Streep returns with Florence Foster Jenkins, based on the true story of a 1940s New York socialite who was famous for her terrible singing voice. So why was she such a sensation? This very enjoyable film doesn't dig deeply enough into that question. My review is up at The New Republic.

A Salute to Dirty Cartoons

In honor of Sausage Party, I put together a little movie marathon at MEL of notable R-rated cartoons. (Actually, some of them are even more extreme than R.) Happy viewing.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Midnight Star - "No Parking on the Dance Floor"

Today is my wonderful wife's birthday. I love her for many reasons, not least of which is that she introduced me to this song.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

'The Get Down' Review

Baz Luhrmann's The Get Down streams on Netflix starting tomorrow. People know that it's been a troubled production, but is the show any good? I've seen the first three episodes, and thus far I think it's a soap opera-y mess. When the show traces the early days of hip-hop in New York City, it can be fun. But too much of the time, the series tries to be something else. My review is up at The Wrap.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

'Sausage Party' Review

As most everyone knows, Sausage Party is an animated movie for adults. And, boy, does it take full advantage of that fact -- not since South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut has a mainstream animated film been this shocking. Plus, it's really funny. And it actually has some heart. But mostly, it's just filthy and funny. I reviewed the film for Screen International.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: Talking 'Suicide Squad,' 'Shallow Grave,' 'Brick'

On this week's episode, Will and I try to explain what happens in Suicide Squad. (It's such a bad movie.) But we have more fun in our Reboot segment, which focuses on two stylish debuts: Danny Boyle's Shallow Grave and Rian Johnson's Brick. You can hear the whole thing here.

What's the Greatest Punk Rock Movie of All Time?

I wrote about We Are the Best! for this Rolling Stone survey of the greatest punk rock movies ever. "Hate the Sport"! And enjoy the whole list here.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

'Little Men' and Why We Can't All Get Along

Director Ira Sachs makes intimate little movies that I really enjoy. Keep the Lights On, Love Is Strange and now Little Men constitute what he calls his New York trilogy -- they're all set there -- and the new one is about two families who will get ensnared in a rent dispute. Sachs has much to say about the ways that good people do unkind things to each other. I reviewed the film for The New Republic.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Frank Ocean - "When I'm Done"

Today, Frank Ocean's much-anticipated, long-delayed new album, Boys Don't Cry, finally drops. To mark that occasion, I'm bumping an Ocean song not everyone knows.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Who's the Greatest Supervillain?

The team at Rolling Stone came up with a list of the best bad guys from superhero movies. Yours truly had things to say about Lex Luthor, General Zod and Elijah Price. (Don't know who Elijah Price is? For shame.) You can check out the list here.

What Listening Has Over Talking

About a year ago, I was researching a piece for MEL that tried to determine if there was such a thing as the perfect speaking voice. During that process, I interviewed a voice coach, who said that, really, the sign of a good speaker is being able to convey the sense that he's listening -- the quality of the voice didn't much matter. I found that fascinating. The piece ended up being shelved, but that remark stayed with me.

A few weeks ago, Vox's Ezra Klein wrote a piece about Hillary Clinton, in which he asked her friends and colleagues to explain what they know about her that the general public doesn't. The answer, over and over again, was that she's a great listener, which is why they thought she'd make a great president.

Klein's article made me think back to my interview with the voice coach. And out came this MEL piece about the value of listening over talking. I'm pretty pleased with this one -- hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: 'Jason Bourne,' 'Quiz Show' and Chevy Chase

On this week's Grierson & Leitch podcast, Will and I disagree about Jason Bourne. But in our Reboot segment, we're closely aligned on the very fine Quiz Show. And, boy oh boy, do we both hate Fletch. Or do we both just hate Chevy Chase? You can check it out right here.

'Suicide Squad' Review

In an ordinary summer, Suicide Squad might be considered one of the worst films of the season. But this year? Eh, it's merely another disappointment -- I've been so beaten down I almost can't summon up the energy to care about all the things that don't work in this supervillain action movie. But for Screen International, I do my best to tell you precisely why this film stinks.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Happy 35th Birthday, MTV

MTV launched August 1, 1981. For Rolling Stone, I pitched in with some other smart writers to chronicle the artists, performers, trends, TV shows and strange happenings that entered the culture thanks to the music-video channel. Hope you enjoy.