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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

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

The 2017 Happiness Project

3 Jan

HappinessSomething I’ve learned over the years is that happiness is not something you can seek or plan. You just have to allow yourself to feel it. To notice and appreciate the good things in life — no matter how small — that make you smile. Hopefully on a regular basis.

With so much negativity in the world, that can sometimes be hard. And this year, it may prove extra challenging.

So, to proactively prevent another sucky year like 2016 was, I want to do whatever I can to focus on my own happiness — and hopefully, in the process, share that happiness with others. Continue reading

Everybody Wanted Some Good Movies in 2016!!

27 Dec

everybody-wants-someEvery year around this time, movie watchers put on end-of-the-year goggles and delight in the riches that come with awards season movie releases.

Funny thing is, it wasn’t so long ago that many of those same people (myself included) were bemoaning the lack of quality releases this year. For example, in September, in a column on the sorry state of movies, Boston Globe critic Ty Burr actually wrote, “Someday we may look back on 2016 as the year the movies died.” Ouch. (And this was less than a year after Spotlight, a fantastic movie about a group of dogged Boston Globe reporters, won all kinds of awards, including the Oscar for Best Picture.)

There was also a great video by a YouTuber who calls himself the Nerdwriter about the epidemic of “passable” movies.

To be sure, neither Ty or the Nerdwriter — or the multiple other critics who wrote similar columns — was wrong. Much of 2016 did feel seriously lacking in great cinematic pleasure.

And yet, here we are. Continue reading