Thursday, November 30, 2017

Who's Better: Chris Hemsworth or Chris Pine?

The next installment in our Debate Club feature for SyFy tries to figure out which big-screen Chris is best: Evans, Hemsworth, Pine or Pratt. We narrowed it down to two finalists and duked it out from there. Read our findings here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

'The Other Side of Hope' Review

Aki Kaurismäki is back with his first film in six years. The Other Side of Hope tells the story of a Syrian refugee who makes his way to Helsinki. He'll cross paths with a middle-aged man who decides one day to radically remake his life. The comedy is deadpan, as per norm, but that doesn't mean there's no feeling underneath. My review is up at Paste.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

What's Better: 'Star Wars' or 'The Empire Strikes Back'?

For SyFy, Will and I are going to do a limited-run series called Debate Club, where we come up with definitive answers to some of the greatest long-running arguments among sci-fi fans. Our first installment is a big one, as we weigh Star Wars against The Empire Strikes Back. Which one comes out on top? Check out our piece here.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: 'Coco,' 'Darkest Hour' and 'Spaceballs'

On this week's episode, we get rhapsodic about Call Me by Your Name. We differ on Coco. I talk to Will about Darkest Hour. And, in our Reboot segment, we look back at Spaceballs. The whole thing is delightful, take my word for it, and you can hear it right here.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

What Was the Greatest Thanksgiving Movie Weekend?

Over at MEL, I gave myself a difficult task: figuring out which Thanksgiving movie lineup was the best ever. I'll give you a hint: It came from the 1990s. Check out the list here.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Ryan Adams - "Enemy Fire"

For this week's installment of "Songs of Pine," I thought I'd pick something that rocks a little. After all, we don't just deal with heartache by listening to sad, slow songs. Sometimes, you need something a little angrier. That was certainly the case with this Gold track, which was playing when I found out something devastating about an ex and then proceeded to play it over and over again as a coping device. (This did not help at all.)

It's too late, baby
Baby, it's too late

Was I trying to communicate that to her? Or was I trying to tell myself that? Regardless, I rarely listen to this song anymore. It still brings up ... not bad memories, per se. Just the memory of feeling bad.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

My Interview With the Cast and Crew of 'Call Me by Your Name'

When I was preparing to sit down for separate interviews with Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg and director Luca Guadagnino about their superb film Call Me by Your Name, I had an idea: "I wonder if these guys have ever had a summer like the main characters in their movie." That inspired the angle to my piece, which I hope articulates how much I love this movie. It's over at Rolling Stone.

Breaking Down All of Netflix's Fireplace Videos

Netflix offers several streaming videos of virtual fireplaces, a perfect complement to your holiday party. But which one is best? I break down the numbers -- and talk to an actual fireman -- to come up with the answers. Check it out over at MEL.

Monday, November 20, 2017

I Talked to Spike Lee About 'She's Gotta Have It'

Almost two years after our first chat, I got on the phone to interview Spike Lee to discuss his new Netflix series based on his 1986 debut. He's always a lot of fun, as you'll see in my piece up at Rolling Stone.

What Happened With 'Justice League'?

For MEL, I tried to figure out what went wrong with the latest DC offering -- and if there's anything Warner Bros. can do to right the ship. You can read my thoughts here.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: Superheroes, 'Jim & Andy' and 'Slap Shot'

On this week's podcast, Will and I lament how bad Justice League is. Then, we focus our energies on two Netflix films: the Sundance favorite Mudbound and the rather remarkable Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond. Finally, in our Reboot segment, I finally get around to watching Paul Newman's Slap Shot. (It's about hockey.) You can hear the whole thing down below.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

'Press Play With Madeleine Brand': 'Justice League,' 'Mudbound' and Denzel Washington

I saw Roman J. Israel, Esq. back in Toronto, but the movie has been trimmed and reedited for its release. So I gave it a second look to be on Press Play with my good buddy Christy Lemire. We talked about that, as well as Justice League, Mudbound and Wonder. You can hear the whole thing here.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Pearl Jam -"Black"

Continuing this month's "Songs of Pine" series, I will now acknowledge that, yes, at one embarrassing moment in my life, I was so heartbroken that I actually said to myself (to the woman who had made me so sad)...

I know someday you'll have a beautiful life 
I know you'll be a star 
In somebody else's sky 
But why 
Why can't it be 
Why can't it be mine?

Yup, those are lyrics from "Black," the emotional centerpiece of Pearl Jam's first album, Ten.

To this day, the song kinda makes me cringe because of just how nakedly earnest my feelings were in that moment. But I'll say this: Eddie Vedder was never a creep or a jerk in his lyrics. "Black" is a song about losing someone, about being left behind, but there's no misogyny or snottiness in his delivery. In the history of rock songs about dudes getting dumped, "All I taught her was everything" is pretty mild rancor. In other words, I feel embarrassed but not ashamed to have clung to this song in a vulnerable moment. Vedder is actually trying to be an honorable person while acknowledging how distraught he is. Many have expressed themselves in far uglier fashion under the same circumstances.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Misleading Men: Jim Carrey

For my latest installment of Misleading Men at MEL, I wrote about Jim Carrey, who's the star of a new documentary called Jim & Andy. It's about Carrey's transformation into Andy Kaufman for Man on the Moon, which I think is a great movie. Jim & Andy examines what went on during the movie, and what happened to Carrey afterward. I talk about the film and him here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

'Justice League' Review

This is the face that Ben Affleck makes through most of Justice League. It's also the face I made while watching it. My review is up at Screen International.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: 'Three Billboards,' 'Thelma,' 'Cabaret' ... and Louis C.K.

On this week's episode of the podcast, we dutifully review Murder on the Orient Express. But we're much more interested in discussing I Love You, Daddy and Louis C.K. Elsewhere, I go solo to break down Three Billboards and Thelma. And, in our Reboot segment, we tackle Cabaret. You can hear the whole thing below.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

'Wonder' Review

Wonder is a story about being kind, even when the world doesn't show you it in return. Based on the bestselling novel, this tearjerker has a lot to recommend. And, yet, I couldn't quite get there: The film ends up overdoing its sentimentality. My review is up at Screen International.

Will Ferrell and His Comedy Sidekicks

In many of Will Ferrell's movies, he works off a sidekick: John C. Reilly, Kevin Hart or, in the case of Daddy's Home 2, Mark Wahlberg. For MEL, I decided to rank all of his comedic wingmen. Check out the results here.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Elvis Costello and the Attractions - "Blue Chair"

For this week's "Songs of Pine," I've chosen a track off Blood & Chocolate, Elvis Costello's 1986 record that I gorged on while obsessing over not one but two women. What's especially fun about that scenario is that the songs really never lose their vitality; if you get tired of projecting the lyrics onto one person, hey, you can just switch to the other.

"Blue Chair" was the focal point, though. I still cannot fathom these lyrics, which actually made the song work even better. The snippets of coherence stung even more...

You say that your love lasts forever 
When you know the night is just hours

And wherever she is tonight
I want her anyway
I suppose she never said to you
You were just in the way

Now when I hear it, I think, "Oh right, I was going through a bad time then, huh?" I'm very grateful not to be sinking into the blue chair anymore.

'Daddy's Home 2' Review

I thought the first Daddy's Home was disposable but contained an interesting idea underneath: In an era of enlightened masculinity, how do sensitive guys compete with old-fashioned alpha males? Alas, Daddy's Home 2 mostly abandons the nuance of that notion for dumb hijinks. This thing stinks, as I explain over at Screen International.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

What's Cate Blanchett's Best Movie?

With the two-time Oscar-winner in Thor: Ragnarok, Will and I decided to rank all of Cate Blanchett's roles. Where did I'm Not There end up on the list? That answer is over at Vulture.

Let's Rank Woody Harrelson Movies

Woody Harrelson is having a pretty busy 2017 between Wilson, War for the Planet of the Apes, LBJ and Three Billboards. Over at Vulture, Will and I went through all his performances to select his finest. Take a look.

'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' Review

I saw Three Billboards in Toronto, but I wanted to catch it one more time before reviewing. I've done that now, so I have some thoughts about this Oscar contender over at Paste.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: Thor, 'Lady Bird' and 'Punch-Drunk Love'

On this week's episode, we cover a lot of movies -- well, I do. Will and I review Thor: Ragnarok, while I go solo to discuss Last Flag Flying, Lady Bird and LBJ. Then, we take a little time raving about Punch-Drunk Love, which isn't getting any less wonderful over time. You can hear the whole thing here.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

'Last Flag Flying' and the State of the Iraq War Movie

For MEL, I wrote about Last Flag Flying and noted that, in the modern Iraq War film, we see very little of the battlefield. Instead, the focus has shifted to the home front. I pondered why that is here.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Foo Fighters - "How I Miss You"

So, for no reason other than the fact that the idea came to me, I've decided that, in November, each week's Friday Video will be devoted to a song I've listened to on repeat while dealing with some sort of heartache. I'm calling this series "Songs of Pine." I'm sure this tour through my musical back pages won't be embarrassing at all.

First up: "How I Miss You," which was a Foo Fighters B-side from their 1995 self-titled debut. This is such an obvious mid-'90s alternative-rock track: quiet vocals, minimalist but tense arrangement and then, finally, an explosion of guitars and yells. This is how pining used to sound to me, as if that eruption of power chords was a way of letting all that pain and anguish out of my system. Hearing "How I Miss You" now kinda makes me cringe -- the song isn't even that great -- but the rawness of its misery (or was it my misery projected onto the song?) still stirs something deep in me.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

'Murder on the Orient Express' Review

There's a new Murder on the Orient Express. Were we craving one? I have my doubts, and I'm not sure Kenneth Branagh's adaptation will do much to get people excited. I reviewed the film for Screen International.

'Last Flag Flying' Review

I suppose that calling Last Flag Flying "a shrug of a movie" doesn't sound very glowing. But this sequel to The Last Detail works in its own low-key way. I'm not sure about Bryan Cranston as Jack Nicholson, though. My review is up at Paste.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

'A Bad Moms Christmas' Review

I kinda sorta liked Bad Moms, but not enough to recommend. I actually kinda sorta liked A Bad Moms Christmas better. But not enough to recommend. My review is live at Screen International.