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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

Heroes and Villains

4 Aug suicide-squad

On the surface, the two new movies Suicide Squad and Gleason would seem to have very little, if anything, in common.

One is a big, loud comic-book movie about a group of meta-human villains, and the other is a true-life documentary about the devastating effects of ALS on a former NFL football player. One is about some very bad characters acting sort of heroically and the other is about an actual hero acting even more heroically.

But at their cores, both movies are about flawed heroes. Heroes overcoming their own challenges.

And here they both are in theaters, presenting discriminating moviegoers with a choice. Which one should you see? Here are my reviews. Continue reading

Tickled Is So Much More Than a Laughing Matter

27 Jun

tickled-posterIf it’s true that truth is stranger than fiction, then what are we to make of the new documentary Tickled?

Ostensibly the story of a New Zealand reporter who wants to know more about the world of Competitive Endurance Tickling (yes, that’s really a thing), this documentary takes viewers on an unforgettable journey down a rabbit hole so twisty they’ll never see the bottom coming.

Without spoiling anything, here’s the gist: David Farrier is one of those lighter-side TV personalities who is always reporting on the weird and wacky side of life. So when he comes across videos featuring the sport of “competitive endurance tickling,” he figures he’s found his next great story. In the world of CET, a young jock is held down — shackled, actually — and, yes, tickled by one, two, or three other men. Why do they do this, other than, apparently, for significant financial gain? Who wants to watch this? And who is behind it all? Continue reading

Blake Lively vs a Shark, and Other Summer Movie Thrills

24 Jun

blake-lively-the-shallowsWhat’s with movie producers putting Blake Lively in danger? First, Ben Affleck turned her into a drugged-up townie in The Town. Then, she got kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel in Oliver Stone’s Savages. Now, the erstwhile Serena van der Woodsen is being hunted by a hungry shark in The Shallows.

My girl just can’t catch a break!

Unfortunately, the same can be said for moviegoers. Based on the films I’ve seen in the past few weeks, there’s not a breakout that screams “must-see.” So, with that spoiler aside, I figured I’d share a bunch of recent reviews, starting with a review of Blake Lively’s latest. Continue reading

“Don’t Be Afraid to Let the Experience Find You.”

6 Apr

Everybody Wants Some posterThe best Richard Linklater movies have always emphasized dialogue and character over plot. And the fleeting nature of time has often been a dominant theme.

Boyhood, Linklater’s Oscar-nominated 2014 social experiment, beautifully documented in subtle fashion what it was like for a young boy to grow up over the course of 12 years.

The films in his Before trilogy (Sunrise, Sunset, and Midnight) each focus squarely on the same couple, and we watch as these two walk and talk and talk and talk, examining their own relationship as it evolves.

Dazed and Confused, the instant classic saga of Austin, Texas, high school kids in search of a party on the last day of school in 1976, featured a cast of up-and-coming actors mostly talking, driving around, and hanging out — when they weren’t getting high, of course.

Now, Linklater returns to school with Everybody Wants Some!! (yes, there are officially two exclamation points in the name), what the writer/director is calling his “spiritual sequel” to Dazed. That means we’re still in Texas (natch), but it’s four years later and none of the characters are the same. Continue reading

The Top 10 Movies I’ve Seen So Far This Year

28 Mar

batman v supermanBefore you get too excited about that headline and the blog post that follows, I need to offer a brief disclaimer: I’ve only seen 10 movies so far this year. And these reviews are in order of when I saw them, which means they’re unranked.

So … sorry for the clickbait.

Alas, I wanted to clear the deck before any good movies come out. So here we go: My first 10 review blurbs of 2016. Continue reading

Finishing Off a Big Movie Year

8 Jan

the-revenantWhile you were out seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens once, twice, three times, or maybe even four, a bunch of other movies hit theaters. Sure, I did already publish my top movies of 2015 blog post, but now that all of these last few have hit theaters nationwide, and since none of them made my year-end list (the good one or the bad one), here are my final movie reviews of 2015. Continue reading