Tuesday, July 31, 2018

'The Darkest Minds' Review

The Darkest Minds hopes to capitalize on the Hunger Games/Maze Runner world of young-adult sci-fi. Unfortunately, I think it's not special enough to really resonate. My review is up at Screen International.

When Fan Bases and Rival Players Collide

Chipper Jones was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. Among his career highlights, he loved making Mets fans crazy: He absolutely murdered that team's pitching over his long career. To retaliate, they would serenade him with a taunting "Laaaaaaary!" chant. (That's his real first name, which Jones hates.) For MEL, I wrote about a few other ballplayers and the battles they got into with rival fans. Hope you enjoy.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: 'Fallout,' 'Friday Night Lights' and 'Please Give'

On this week's episode, I get especially rhapsodic about Mission: Impossible - Fallout. Then, in our Reboot segment, we look back at the Friday Night Lights movie, which I had never seen. And I revisit Please Give, which I reviewed out of Sundance back in 2010. Check out the whole show down below.

Some Thoughts on 'Mission: Impossible - Fallout'

Are masks in real life as realistic as the ones in Mission: Impossible films?

Is the first Mission: Impossible good or not?

What's the best current film franchise?

And can you love Tom Cruise movies but still feel weird about his association with Scientology?

I answer those questions over at MEL.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Jay Som - "Baybee"

Dreamy indie-pop. A ski lift. Some amateur choreography. This is my favorite track off Jay Som's 2017 debut, Everybody Works.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

'Come Inside My Mind' and the New Wave of Gone-Too-Soon Documentaries

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind played on HBO recently, looking at the comic's legacy and tragic end. It's a good movie ... but it sure felt a lot like Amy ... and Whitney ... and The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling ... and so on. For Rolling Stone, I wrote about this recent wave of documentaries memorializing artists who died too soon. In my essay, I note, "Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, but troubled artists get a one-size-fits-all misery to represent their complicated existence. Are all visionary, anguished performers essentially the same? Or does it help us, the audience, if we believe that?"

You can read it here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

My Interview With Matt Tyrnauer, the Director of 'Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood'

For MEL, I spoke with Matt Tyrnauer, whose latest documentary is about Scotty Bowers, an Illinois boy who moved to Los Angeles after World War II. Once he got to Hollywood he found his niche procuring same-sex partners for some of the industry's biggest stars. Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood profiles the now-95-year-old Bowers, but it also examines the hypocrisy of the movie business, which has for decades worked very hard to straight-wash its own history. You can read our interview here.

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: Denzel, Tati and 'Timecrimes'

On this week's podcast, Will and I review The Equalizer 2. (I also share some random thoughts about Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.) Then, in our Reboot segment, we take on two foreign-language films: Mon Oncle and Timecrimes. Hear the whole episode down below.

Some Thoughts on 'The Equalizer 2'

Why do we love movies about action heroes who walked away from their old life?

Are real-life fight scenes in moving cars similar to the ones we see in films?

What movie should Denzel Washington have revisited for a sequel?

I answer those questions, and more, after watching The Equalizer 2. Read all about it over at MEL.

Friday, July 20, 2018

'Press Play With Madeleine Brand': Let's Talk About 'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again'

Fellow critic Katie Walsh and I were on KCRW today to review The Equalizer 2 and Blindspotting. (Katie soloed on Unfriended: Dark Web.) But the real conversation was around the Mamma Mia sequel, which is surprisingly good. You can hear the whole thing here.

Portishead - "Machine Gun"

Years later, I still remember walking into the Nuart to see a movie as the theater's preshow music was pumping. That's when I first heard the thudding, rat-a-tat-tat rhythm of "Machine Gun." "What is this?" I wondered. It was a song off the new Portishead album.

Every time since, I think of that theater when I hear this song.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Film Geeks Turned Filmmakers

For this week's Debate Club, we spotlighted five filmmakers who are, above all else, film lovers. You can see it in every frame of their movies. The list is here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The History (and Legacy) of 'Weekend at Bernie's'

For MEL, I looked back at Weekend at Bernie's, speaking to some of those involved (including Terry Kiser) about the film's making. Hope you enjoy.

'The Equalizer 2' Review

I quite liked The Equalizer (the movie, not the TV show): It was fun to watch Denzel Washington in no-nonsense, R-rated, elite-enforcer mode. So what happened with the sequel? I reviewed the disappointing follow-up for Screen International.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: Reviews of 'Shock and Awe,' 'Eighth Grade,' 'Donnie Darko' and More

Lots of movies in this week's episode. Will and I both review Skyscraper, while I go solo to talk about Eighth Grade, Shock and Awe and Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot. Then, in our Reboot segment, we look back at Donnie Darko. You can hear Episode #129 below.

'Who Is America?' Review

I have seen the first episode of Who Is America? I have some thoughts about it. Over at MEL, I wrote about the show, Sacha Baron Cohen and the Freddie Mercury movie he never got to make. You can read my musings here.

Some Thoughts on 'Skyscraper'

The latest from Dwayne Johnson ended up being a commercial disappointment. You'd think a film that pays homage to Die Hard and features one of the planet's most charismatic actors would do better. For MEL, I talked about how that Bruce Willis film ushered in a new era of action flick -- and how Skyscraper represents the end of that era. Plus, I riff on duct tape and asthma. You can read it all here.

What's Rob Reiner's Best Movie?

Shock and Awe is out now, which was a good excuse to rank all of Rob Reiner's films. There is a heavy demarcation between the good movies and the bad ones, sadly. Will's and my list is up at Vulture.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Mousterpiece Cinema: 'Ant-Man and the Wasp'

Yours truly appeared on the 359th episode of Mousterpiece Cinema to go long on Ant-Man and the Wasp. I talked about what Marvel's doing right that Lucasfilm could learn from. You can hear the whole thing down below.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Alvvays - "Archie, Marry Me"

Happy wedding season, everyone.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' Review

Hollywood's best action franchise shows no signs of slowing down. Fallout is great, as I explain over at Screen International.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

When Bombs Become Cult Favorites

For this week's Debate Club, we look back at five films that crashed and burned at the box office, only to be resurrected by audiences over time. (I had to write the Brazil capsule, naturally.) Check out the whole list here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Some Thoughts on the New Season of 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee'

For MEL, I wrote about Jerry Seinfeld, a brilliant comic, and the very mixed feelings I had about the 10th season of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, a show I've often really liked. (As an added bonus, I rank my five all-time favorite episodes.) You can read the whole thing here.

'Skyscraper' Review

The Rock returns with Skyscraper, which is better than Rampage but not as good as Central Intelligence. The movie borrows from tons of other films -- not just Die Hard but also The Lady From Shanghai and The Fugitive -- and it's a silly, goofy, disposable entertainment. That wasn't enough for me, as I explain over at Screen International.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Some Thoughts on 'Ant-Man and the Wasp'

Is Paul Rudd smug?

Is truth serum a real thing?

What is Michelle Pfeiffer's best film of 2018?

I answer those questions, and explain why I want more small-stakes blockbusters like Ant-Man and the Wasp, over at MEL.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: Ant-Men, 'Sorry to Bother You' and 'Ikiru'

On this week's episode, we discuss Ant-Man and the Wasp. (I liked it better than Will did.) Then we review Sorry to Bother You. (I liked it less than Will did.) And then, in our Reboot segment, we look back to Ikiru. You can hear the whole thing down below.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Pusha T - "If You Know You Know"

You ever been hit with the water weight?
Then had to weigh: Do you war or wait? 
When we all clickin' like Golden State 
And you and your team are the motorcade
If you know, you know

I don't, but I love it.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Munich Film Festival 2018: 'Murer – Anatomy of a Trial' Review

I didn't attend the Munich Film Festival, but for Screen International I reviewed Murer, which dramatizes the true story of Franz Murer, who went to trial in 1963 for his work with the Nazis. The film has a slow-burn power that eventually builds to a righteous fury. You can read my review here.

Patriotic Sci-Fi Films

I was away yesterday, so I didn't have a chance to post this on Independence Day: For Debate Club, Will and I paid tribute to five patriotic sci-fi films. Does that include superhero movies? It sure does. You can read the whole thing over at SyFy.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

The Greatest Hot Dogs and Hamburgers in the Movies

What other list brings together Pain & Gain, Meatballs, Pulp Fiction, National Lampoon's Vacation and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover? For MEL, I wrote about the best meat performances in cinema. You know, in honor of the fact that everybody barbecues on the Fourth of July. Check it out here.

Monday, July 02, 2018

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: The Best Films From the First Half of 2018

On this week's episode, we review Leave No Trace and I tackle Sicario: Day of the Soldado. But most of our run time is devoted to our picks for the best films from the first half of 2018. We each listed six, and there were four crossovers. You can hear the whole thing down below.

Some Thoughts on 'Sicario: Day of the Soldado'

For MEL, I wrote about Sicario: Day of the Soldado. Specifically, I talked about why the sequel made me so angry. Plus, I investigate being shot in the face. (Don't worry, I didn't try it on myself.) I also discuss movie stars doing TV commercials and why I miss Johann Johannsson. You can read the piece here.