Sunday, July 23, 2017
Kathryn Bigelow returns with her first film since Zero Dark Thirty. It's Detroit, which focuses on the 1967 riots in that titular city. This is a raw, angry, feverish drama that has the sweep of an ensemble epic. It doesn't always work, but I got wrapped up in its urgency and fury. My review is live at Screen International.
Recently, Monocle's The Cinema Show had me on to talk about 2017 films that have really stood out for me. I chose three, and I'm not telling you what they are. You can hear my segment right here.
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Jason Bateman has been doing some of his best work of late. I quite liked him in The Gift, and I thought his second directorial effort, The Family Fang, was a huge improvement over the massively lame Bad Words. (And this, of course, isn't even mentioning Arrested Development, which rejuvenated his career nearly 15 years ago.)
He's now the star and one of the executive producers of the Netflix series Ozark, which is about a financial advisor from Chicago who has to move his family to the Ozarks after the drug kingpin he's been working for accuses him of skimming off the top. There's a strong Breaking Bad quality to Ozark, but Bateman doesn't go full Walter White. He brings his own take to the dark-antihero trope, which I talk about over at MEL.
Had a blast, as always, on Press Play. I was on with Kyle Buchanan to review Dunkirk, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and Landline. There's also some random Comic-Con talk. Hear the whole thing here.
Friday, July 21, 2017
When it comes to poetic, specific details, "No one knows me like the piano in my mother's home" is as evocative as it gets. I first heard of Sampha from his work on Kanye West's Life of Pablo record. This track off his debut, Process, is one of those "OK, let's stop everything and listen to this" songs that seems to freeze time.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Rolling Stone is doing a feature where they spotlight the most dynamic artists under the age of 25. I got to speak with Shameik Moore, the breakout star of Dope and part of the ensemble in The Get Down. He's one driven 22-year-old; we chatted about social media, growing up partly in Jamaica and how he wants to be thought of in 100 years. Check it out here.
New podcast episode! Will and I dig into War for the Planet of the Apes. Then, we have two Reboot films. First up is the movie that's considered one of the best of this century, Mulholland Dr. And then, we talk about writer-director Noah Baumbach's debut, 1995's Kicking and Screaming. So, sci-fi, horror and indie comedy. Check out the whole thing below.
Friday, July 14, 2017
Early impressions of Fin: I like that voice, I like the minimalism of the music, I hope the whole album comes together for me as I suspect it will. In the meantime, I'm perfectly happy to love fully its opening track, which really ought to be a single.
Thursday, July 13, 2017
For Popular Mechanics, I interviewed some of the wizards at Weta Digital to find out what were the biggest challenges in doing the effects for War for the Planet of the Apes. These folks have been on the franchise since 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, so hearing about this new film's headaches was especially interesting. (Apparently, snow is a pain when you're working with monkey characters.) My piece originally appeared in the magazine, but since the film hits theaters tomorrow, it's now available on the website.
As I've said before on this blog, one of the pleasures of my job is being assigned to interview someone with whom I'm not that familiar. It allows opportunities to really discover who a person is with no preconceived notions.
That's how Adam Grandmaison came into my life. Rolling Stone asked me to meet him and learn what makes him tick. Grandmaison is better known as Adam22, and he's a mini-entrepreneur. Starting out as a BMX blogger, he's become an influential man in the world of underground hip-hop, hosting the popular interview podcast No Jumper. He is a character, as a cursory scroll through his YouTube videos will attest, but he also loves rap music and can speak about it with incredible passion and precision.
I spent two days with Adam22, and the more time I was with him, the more I liked him. He's smart, funny and opinionated, and while it didn't make the final piece, his thoughts on how to approach interviewing guests really resonated with me.
We hung out around the NBA playoffs. Today, the piece is live over at Rolling Stone. It was a pleasure, and I hope you enjoy.
That's the question Rolling Stone decided to answer, and the magazine asked a lot of writers to provide capsules for the list. As always, I need to say: I had no control over the rankings. Still, I'm very pleased that my top two choices ended up at Nos. 2 and 3. The whole list is here; I wrote about Barton Fink, The Matrix, When We Were Kings, Breaking the Waves, JFK and Lone Star.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
What a treat it was to spend some time talking with ESPN's Keith Law. We talked about his great new book, Smart Baseball. But we went far beyond sabermetrics, digging into politics, medication, living on Twitter and what should be done with players who get accused of domestic violence. If you love baseball, you'll love this conversation. But even if you don't, hopefully you'll get a lot out of our chat. He's a smart guy. Read the whole interview at MEL.
I dunno, folks: There aren't that many planets in this movie. Valerian is an ambitious, swing-for-the-fences sci-fi epic. It's just not very good. But there is a lot of it. My review is up at Screen International.
Many have praised Spider-Man: Homecoming for its performance by Michael Keaton as Spidey's nemesis, the Vulture. For Rolling Stone, I dig a little deeper into the character, making the argument that he's the encapsulation of the so-called "angry white voter" we read so much about since Trump rose to power. You can read my thoughts here.
We had three big movies to discuss on this week's podcast. First, we dive into Spider-Man: Homecoming. (One of us likes it far more than the other.) Then, we both go gaga for A Ghost Story. Finally, it's time for our Reboot segment: Has Mangolia held up? That turned into a conversation about Paul Thomas Anderson in general -- someone I always enjoy discussing. You can hear the whole thing here.
Sunday, July 09, 2017
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was the best blockbuster since The Dark Knight, so I had high hopes for the trilogy's finale, War for the Planet of the Apes. Alas, War is not unlike The Dark Knight Rises: a perfectly good last act that can't quite live up to what's come before. My review is up at Paste.
Saturday, July 08, 2017
Spider-Man: Homecoming is out now, but for MEL, I decided to take a look back at the first big-screen Peter Parker. That would be Tobey Maguire, and here's my appreciation of an actor who has remained the culture's idea of who Spider-Man is.
Friday, July 07, 2017
Wednesday, July 05, 2017
I flipped for A Ghost Story earlier this year. Now that it opens Friday, I sing its praises again over at MEL, where I talk about how the movie makes the afterlife seem like the most horrifying thing imaginable. You can read my piece here.
Tuesday, July 04, 2017
On this week's podcast, we review Okja and The House. But the majority of the episode is devoted to our lists of the best films of the first half of 2017.
Let me say that these are the films I still need to see and will be dutifully catching up on over the next several months: Beatriz at Dinner, Contemporary Color, Dark Night, The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, Heal the Living, I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore, Kedi, Land of Mine, Last Man in Aleppo, The Lovers, My Journey Through French Cinema, A Quiet Passion and A Woman’s Life. So, yeah, I've got some work to do.
Listen to the whole thing here:
(Pssst..... my picks, in alphabetical order, are Casting JonBenet, Graduation, Hermia & Helena, It Comes at Night, The Lost City of Z and Personal Shopper.)
Saturday, July 01, 2017
Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler and Jason Mantzoukas are all really funny people. They're all in The House, which is a stunningly unfunny movie. Seriously, what happened? I gaze at the wreckage in my Paste review.