Double-Tap on This Picture-Perfect Movie

23 Aug

If you’ve spent any amount of time on Instagram lately, you’ve come across some of those people commonly known as “influencers.” You know who they are: They’re the good looking ones who always seem to be posing for photos in which they show off their awesome clothes, the awesome location they’re in, the awesome food they’re eating, their awesome spouse or partner, or some other aspect of their awesome life. They are truly #blessed.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to say that the lifestyle they’re promoting can’t possibly be real. And often, it isn’t — as some are quick to tell you in a post where they still look fabulous.

That false modesty, that so-called “authenticity,” is what has helped many of those folks to attract thousands and thousands of fans who hang on their every photo, waiting to see what they’ll be wearing and where they’ll be going next. And who totally buy into the wish fulfillment fantasy, thinking they know these people intimately and that they’re actually a friend.

These model wannabes are people who take their ability to influence fans a bit too seriously, and who believe their own hype. Talk about a scenario that’s ripe for parody.

If you agree, then you’re going to love the new movie Ingrid Goes West, Matt Spicer’s pitch-black and very funny comedy about the dangers of getting too attached to minor online celebrities (a hit at Sundance earlier this year). Continue reading

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Christopher Nolan Scores a V for Victory with Dunkirk

18 Jul

Christopher Nolan’s latest, Dunkirk, is a film for anyone who wished the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan was an hour and a half longer.

The director of the The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Prestige, and Inception has given us a definitive account of one of World War II’s most heroic and miraculous — not to mention, pivotal — events, and in the process, has made a movie that is a real must-see. Continue reading

Local Boy Makes Good Hero

6 Jul

Movie-watchers got their first look at Tom Holland in the Spider-suit last year, when the erstwhile Peter Parker was recruited by mentor Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) to help him in the fight against Captain America, et al. in Captain America: Civil War. Holland was such a blast of energy in the role that he practically stole the film right out from under stars Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans.

Now, Holland gets his own stand-alone Spider-Man film in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and shows that the inflated cameo was no fluke. This Spider-Man is the one we’ve been waiting for. Or, you might say, third time’s the charm. Continue reading

Is This the Most “American” July 4th Playlist of All Time?

4 Jul

Photo credit: Stephanie McCabe / Unsplash

You don’t need a reason to make a playlist, but a holiday sure does provide a good one.

And today, on July 4th, one of my favorite days of the year, I like listening to one of my favorite Spotify playlists. Like my summertime mix, it’s a collection of songs all built around a theme — in this case, the word “America.” All included songs feature some use of the word America (or a variation of it) in a prominent way — which is why John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses” qualifies, but, say, “Horse with No Name,” by the band America, does not. Bruce Springsteen’s “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” may be an exception to that rule, but come on. How could I not include it?

And, because it’s a mix for the Fourth of July, there are a few patriotic or “Independence Day”–themed or related songs (like Katy Perry’s “Firework,” natch) thrown in too. Yes, there are even some songs, like Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.,” that sound patriotic, but really aren’t.

I call this playlist, no surprise, American Tunes. Continue reading

That’s Why They Call It Love

3 Jul

Like so many single people of a certain age, Kumail Nanjiani is getting pressured by his family to get married. But there’s a “twist”: In traditional Pakistani Muslim culture, you don’t choose your spouse, it’s all arranged for you. And so, at every family dinner, a potential wife just happens to be in the neighborhood, and shows up right before dessert.

But Kumail wants nothing to do with that custom. Since moving to Chicago at a young age, he’s stopped praying and has been assimilating into American culture. Instead of becoming a doctor, he’s chosen a career as a stand-up comedian. (Fine. He’s also an Uber driver.) And, as the new movie The Big Sick begins, he meets an American woman named Emily (Zoe Kazan, writer and star of the excellent Ruby Sparks), and the two start dating. Continue reading

Young Mozart with a Go-Kart

2 Jul

Baby Driver is a movie for anyone who lives life with a constant soundtrack of music playing. Those who sing along with the radio, change the way they walk or drive depending on the song they’re listening to, and can’t sit still when they go to concerts.

This one’s for all of us.

Nowhere is this more true than in its opening credits sequence, where our title character (played by Ansel Elgort, from The Fault in Our Stars) doesn’t so much walk through the city as he grooves, while listening to Bob & Earl’s “Harlem Shuffle.” Eagle-eyed viewers will spot song lyrics appearing as graffiti on the walls.

Nice touch. Continue reading

Thank You to Everyone and Everything That’s Made Me a Happy Person So Far This Year

30 Jun

View of Boston from Look Out rooftop bar at the Envoy Hotel

Photo credit: Martin Lieberman

I don’t know how it happened, but somehow, we’ve already come to the midpoint of 2017. Holy crap, did time fly.

Usually at the end of the year, I like to look back and take stock of all that happened, and celebrate the good times I had. This year, there’s been so much going on that I didn’t want to wait till December to do that. Continue reading