Thursday, May 31, 2018

What's the Best Superhero Movie Spoof?

That's the question we try to answer on this week's Debate Club. The answers are here.

'Adrift' Review

Some people like Adrift. I am not one of those people. My review of the new Shailene Woodley disaster drama is up at Screen International.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Why Did 'Solo' Stall at the Box Office?

Let's acknowledge two things:

1) A movie that makes $103 million over Memorial Day weekend is hardly any sort of disaster.
2) For a Star Wars film, that's a relatively low amount.

For Rolling Stone, I tried to read the tea leaves to figure out why Solo failed to connect with audiences as strongly as one might assume. Hope you enjoy.

Some Thoughts on 'Solo'

I am surrounded by people who didn't much like Solo ... or Rogue One, for that matter. I liked them both quite a lot. So, for MEL, I decided to explore why that is. I also wrote about Alden Ehrenreich, Lobot, Solo plastic cups and Clint Howard. You can read the whole thing here.

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: 'Solo' Review, and a Little 'Prestige'

We posted this week's episode a little early because of Solo, which we had many thoughts about. Also, we look back at The Prestige. Have a good holiday.

Jack White - "Humoresque"

"Last year, White purchased a musical manuscript written by Al Capone in Alcatraz (in the 1920s, even gangsters could read and write music) for a song called 'Humoresque.' ... Capone, it seems, played tenor banjo in a prison band with Machine Gun Kelly on drums. The song, a take on a DvorĂ¡k work, turns out to have been recollected, not composed, by Capone, but White still ended up recording it as the closing track on his new album. He's moved by the idea that a famous murderer had a weakness for such 'a gentle, beautiful song.' 'It shows you, like, what we were talking about earlier,' he adds. 'Human beings are complicated creatures with lots of emotions going on.'"
Rolling Stone cover story on Jack White (March 12, 2018)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

'Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget For the Rest of Your Life' Review

Tomorrow, Steve Martin and Martin Short's special comes to Netflix. Today, I wrote about it for Rolling Stone. Comparisons are made to Oh, Hello and David Letterman. (That's a good thing.) You can read it right here.

Hollywood's History With Suntan Lotion

This week over at MEL, the editors are running a bunch of pieces about summer and body issues. As part of that special, I looked at a bizarre movie trend: scenes of guys trying to rub suntan lotion on beautiful bikini-clad women. Hope you enjoy.

Actors Who Took Over Iconic Roles

Alden Ehrenreich plays Han Solo in the new Star Wars standalone movie. That's a tough task; everybody thinks of Harrison Ford in that role. With that in mind, for this week's Debate Club, we highlight five actors who faced similar challenges. You can read it here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

What's Ron Howard's Best Movie?

Over at Vulture, Will and I ranked the man's films, including Solo: A Star Wars Story. You can see the final results here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Cannes 2018: 'Knife + Heart' Review

I saw almost all the Competition films at Cannes this year. The worst of the bunch was Yann Gonzalez's silly, trashy Knife + Heart, which is set in the world of gay porn in Paris in 1979. So why isn't it more fun? I reviewed the film for Screen International.

Cannes 2018: 'Everybody Knows' Review

Couple last Cannes reviews to share with you. For Paste, I wrote about the festival's opening-night film, Everybody Knows, which I liked more than most did. I explain why here.

Some Thoughts on 'Deadpool 2'

Is luck the greatest superpower? What is dubstep? And how can Deadpool 2 pretend to be the snarky outsider now that it has so many more commercial expectations attached to it? I answered those questions, and others, over at MEL.

My Interview With 'The Tale' Writer-Director Jennifer Fox

The Tale was the best film at this year's Sundance. On Saturday, it premieres on HBO. For MEL, I spoke with writer-director Jennifer Fox about her autobiographical tale of a 13-year-old who enters into a sexual relationship with her much older track coach (Jason Ritter). We talked about sexual abuse, what Hollywood gets wrong about survivors, and what the experience has been like to share the movie (and her story) with the world. You can read my interview here.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: 'Deadpool 2,' Cannes and 'Amadeus'

I'm back from Cannes. Will and I talk about that, and we also review Deadpool 2. Then, in our Reboot segment, we look back at the Oscar-winning Amadeus. Hear the whole thing below.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Cannes 2018: The Wrap-Up and the Rankings

Those who predicted that this year's Cannes Film Festival was going to be underwhelming can stuff it. If it wasn't my all-time favorite -- this is my fifth -- it was filled with highlights, including a pretty strong Competition slate.

Before I get into my rankings, here's a piece I wrote at the halfway point for MEL, in which I talk about the experience of seeing nothing but subtitled films for a week, and what I learned in the process. If nothing else, this year's Cannes reaffirmed my appreciation for the idea that cinema is actually a global phenomenon -- and I don't mean "global" in terms of how much Deadpool 2 earns in China.

With that said, here's how I'd evaluate the festival. Links lead to individual reviews/articles...

37. Knife + Heart
36. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote 
35. The Great Mystical Circus 
34. Treat Me Like Fire
33. Fahrenheit 451
32. Pope Francis - A Man of His Word
31. Ayka
30. The House That Jack Built
29. Rafiki 
28. The Trouble With You
27. Sorry Angel 
26. Whitney  
25. Birds of Passage
24. Climax
23. Yomeddine
22. Everybody Knows
21. Happy as Lazzaro
20. Dogman 
19. Wildlife
18. The Image Book
17. BlacKkKlansman
16. 3 Faces
15. The Spy Gone North 
14. The Wild Pear Tree
13. Solo: A Star Wars Story
12. Capernaum 
11. Summer
10. Donbass
9. Long Day's Journey Into Night
8. Mandy
7. Leave No Trace
6. Ash Is Purest White
5. Shoplifters 
4. Under the Silver Lake
3. At War 
2. Cold War
1. Burning 

I was sad Burning walked away with no awards, although it was the clear winner of Screen's critics jury. (It also won the Fipresci prize.) As for Hirokazu Kore-eda's Shoplifters, which took home the Palme d'Or, it's probably my favorite film of his since Nobody Knows, so I'm not going to complain too loudly.

I'm looking over my rankings right now; there's a lot of happy memories attached to those films, even the ones I didn't like that much. A Cannes with very little "Oscar buzz" is a perfectly good Cannes to me. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Cannes 2018: 'Ayka' Review

Ayka just won Best Actress here at Cannes. I think that Samal Yeslyamova is good as a woman who abandons her child, but I was less enamored with the movie as a whole. Read all about it over at Screen International.

Cannes 2018: 'The Man Who Killed Don Quixote' Review

Terry Gilliam has been trying to get his Don Quixote project off the ground for decades. At last, it's here ... and it's not very good. I reviewed The Man Who Killed Don Quixote for Screen International.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Whitney Houston - "I Wanna Dance With Somebody"

I saw Whitney and now I have this song lodged in my brain.

Cannes 2018: 'The Great Mystical Circus' Review

Going into the festival, there was some hope that The Great Mystical Circus would be a Brazilian Greatest Showman. That didn't happen. I reviewed this silly, soapy movie for Screen International.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Cannes 2018: 'The Trouble With You' Review

What a very silly comedy The Trouble With You is. But I couldn't help it: I was charmed by the damn thing, and especially by Adele Haenel's change-of-pace performance. She could be a rom-com star if she wanted. My review is up at Screen International.

Cannes 2018: '3 Faces' Review

Jafar Panahi was banned from making films by the Iranian government several years ago. 3 Faces is his fourth since then. I reviewed this modest, moving drama for Screen International.

Cannes 2018: 'Burning' Review

There are still a couple days left at Cannes. But I doubt I'll see a better film here than Lee Chang-dong's terrific new drama. I raved about Burning over at Screen International.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Cannes 2018: 'Whitney' Review

Whitney Houston's tragic life is the subject of Kevin Macdonald's new documentary. Whitney is good, but it's also eerily familiar to a few other recent music portraits, like Amy. I talked about that in my Screen International review.

The Best Soundtrack Songs

For this week's Debate Club, we picked the five best soundtrack songs from genre movies. (Oh, and we skipped James Bond themes. We'll do that as a separate list.) Check out our selections here.

Some Thoughts on HBO's 'Fahrenheit 451'

The new adaptation comes to HBO this weekend. Guess what? It's now a dark commentary about the Trump era. For MEL, I talked about why I'm tired of that sales pitch. I also discuss the 1966 film and whether we still like physical books in 2018. Hope you enjoy.

Cannes 2018: 'Under the Silver Lake' Review

Reactions seems to be across the board for David Robert Mitchell's latest. I'm a big fan, as I explain over at Screen International.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: 'Life of the Party,' 'JFK' and 'Grosse Pointe Blank'

In all the excitement, I forgot to post this week's podcast. Will talks to me about the new Melissa McCarthy movie. And then, for the Reboot segment, we look back at JFK and Grosse Pointe Blank. Go in the 1990s time machine with us.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tom Wolfe, 1931-2018

The great Tom Wolfe has passed away. I wrote Rolling Stone's obituary for a writer whose history is inextricably linked to the magazine's. You can read it here.

Cannes 2018: 'Pope Francis - A Man of His Word' Review

I think Pope Francis is an inspirational figure. So why didn't I much care for Wim Wenders' documentary about the pontiff? The answers are over at Screen International.

Cannes 2018: 'The House That Jack Built' Review

Lars is back. Mr. von Trier returns to Cannes with The House That Jack Built, still consumed with the same dark thoughts as always. I found the film fascinating but ultimately unsuccessful. My review is live at Screen International.

Cannes 2018: 'BlacKkKlansman' Review

Lordy, this title is a nightmare to spell. But, hey, it's a Spike Lee joint, so I'm not gonna complain. The man's first film in competition since Jungle Fever is angry, sad and thoughtful. I have no idea how it'll play in the States when it opens in August. My review is up at Screen International.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Cannes 2018: 'The Spy Gone North' Review

The South Korean spy thriller The Spy Gone North features no action scenes. Nonetheless, it's a taut, suspenseful experience. My review is up at Screen International.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Cannes 2018: 'Treat Me Like Fire' Review

Stacy Martin is a Parisian waitress seduced by a charming scoundrel (Tahar Rahim) with a love for the city's high-stakes underground gambling clubs. Is it a match made in heaven? Alas, no. I reviewed Treat Me Like Fire for Screen International.

Simon & Garfunkel - "Bridge Over Troubled Water"

Happy Mother's Day to my awesome mom. I still remember her singing along to this song when I was a kid. She especially likes the "Sail on, silver girl" part.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

What's John Williams' Best Film Score?

Narrowing down the multiple-Oscar-winner to his five best soundtracks was very difficult. But over at SyFy, we do our best to accomplish that impossible mission. Take a look.

Cannes 2018: 'Mandy' Review

Mandy, which premiered at Sundance, will be screening in Directors' Fortnight. My review of this bloody, hypnotic, Nicolas Cage-crazy movie is up at Screen International.

Cannes 2018: 'Yomeddine' Review

My first Competition review this year is for Yomeddine, about an Egyptian leper going on a journey to find his long-lost parents. It's a simple story, but it's told with a lot of compassion and gentleness. My review is up at Screen International.

Let's Go Back to College: The Movie

In honor of this weekend's Life of the Party, I looked back at the cinematic history of characters who go back to college. My findings are over at MEL.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Some Thoughts on 'Cobra Kai'

Thirty-four years after The Karate Kid, its two main adversaries reunite in the YouTube Red series Cobra Kai. For MEL, I wrote about the show, which I found to be a pretty sober examination about what happens when you don't get over your high school traumas. You can read the piece here.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: 'Tully,' Summer Movie Season and 'American History X'

A little earlier than normal, here's this week's episode. We discuss Tully. We preview some summer movies that most intrigue us. And we look back at American History X, which I loathed. (If anything, Will hates it even more than I do.) You can hear the entire episode down below.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Genesis - "Turn It On Again"

Off to Cannes for two weeks of the finest in international cinema. So let's enjoy some cheese right now.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

The Best Action/Music Combos in Movies

There are great actions scenes. There are great uses of music in movies. But when you combine them? Pure gold. For our new Debate Club piece, we look at the best action/music sequences in film. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

'Tully' Review

Charlize Theron and Jason Reitman have now made two movies together. I prefer Young Adult, but Tully is a pretty affecting film as well. As a portrait of exhausted motherhood, it'll resonate with a lot of people. My review is up at Paste.

Does Jerome Holtzman Still Matter?

This summer, Jerome Holtzman (pictured, right) will have been dead for 10 years. The sportswriter is perhaps best known for inventing the save stat, which legitimized the closer and helped get folks like Trevor Hoffman into the Hall of Fame. But as sabermetrics advocates argue that the save is, essentially, a bad stat ruining the game, where does Holtzman's legacy stand? I spoke with seven men -- sportswriters, analysts, even Holtzman's son -- to get their takes. I really enjoyed working on this. It's over at MEL.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: The Latest Marvel Blockbuster and 'True Romance'

What would the impetuous lovers in True Romance think of Avengers: Infinity War? My guess is Christian Slater's character would be sick of the Marvel machine, but maybe Patricia Arquette would get a kick out of it? Regardless, those are the two movies we tackle on this week's podcast. You can hear it all below.

Some Thoughts on 'Avengers: Infinity War'

What superhero do people want to have an affair with? What's the silliest part of Avengers: Infinity War? Why are we such suckers for these Marvel movies? I answer those questions, and more, over at MEL.