Category Archives: My Week in Movies

My Weeks in Movies: Oct. 27 – Nov. 2

This’ll be my last My Week in Movies post, at least for a while. My real-life schedule has kept me too busy to give it the time it deserves, and while a Halloween vacation allowed me a chance to catch up, this week is the exception, not the rule. Indeed, aside from the daily What I’ve Watched updates (which is essentially a personal list-diary neither requiring much effort nor affected by a lack of same), business is going to slow down for a while ’round here. I’ll still likely crank out a feature article or two each month, but nothing on a regularly scheduled basis. Things will possibly (maybe) pick back up in the new year. Until then, enjoy these final mini-ramblings. Continue reading

My Weeks in Movies: Oct. 13-26

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2011) In terms of gory-yet-witty send-ups of horror movie tropes, Cabin in the Woods is good, but Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is great. While the former is impressed with its own cleverness, the latter is too busy delivering some terrific character work to bother being smug. The result is a rarity in the genre, a “yes” answer to that classic question Would I enjoy watching these characters just hanging out? Heck, I’d watch Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine all day; the horror/comedy antics are just icing. And what icing! By turning well-worn slasher flick ideas into a Three’s Company-esque case of misunderstandings and shenanigans (peppered with a well-honed sense of Looney Tunes-esque slapstick), writers Eli Craig (who also directed) and Morgan Jurgenson craft some of the sharpest, smartest, and funniest comedy I’ve seen in years. Continue reading

My Week in Movies: Oct. 6-12

The Raven (1935) and The Black Cat (1934) Two entries from the “Lugosi vs. Karloff in a big ol’ creepy house” subgenre. The Raven is enjoyable for Karloff’s sadsack performance, but not too much else, as its plotless array of Poe-inspired sadism (including the pendulum) doesn’t do enough with its characters to get us interested in their fates at the hands of madman Lugosi. The Black Cat, on the other hand, is a masterpiece of mood (and set design!), its slow burn drawing us deeper into darker corners of its leading men’s troubles. The ghosts of World War I hang heavy, mixed with a then-innovate dose of psychological undertones and a then-racy dose of sexual overtones. It’s haunting stuff, one of Universal’s best non-monster entries of the decade. Continue reading

My Week in Movies: Sept. 29 – Oct. 5

Gravity (2013) Yup, everything you’ve heard about Gravity is true. Revolutionary effects, stunning storytelling, powerhouse acting, the whole works. But the most amazing thing? Even more than recent exception-proves-the-rule stuff like Hugo and Life of Pi, Gravity is that rare film that has pretty much the entire film critic community, a group that cringes at the very thought of 3D, insisting this is a film that must be experienced in three dimensions, and on as big a screen as possible. Even jaded ol’ me, whose longtime love of the format was crushed years ago by too many upcharges for too many bad movies, insists you pay for the full experience. And Gravity is one hell of an experience – even without the high tech gimmickry, there’s an artistry at play that we’ve seldom seen before on a screen of any size. I probably need three or four or twenty more viewings to truly digest it all, especially the way it handles its scope, both vast and internal, but for now, I’ll simply call it amazing. Continue reading

My Week in Movies: Sept. 22-28

Knuckleball! (2012) Let’s thank the makers of Knuckleball! for showing some much welcome restraint and not taking the obvious route with their film. The documentary covers the least respected pitch in baseball, a wobbly slowball that’s sometimes viewed as the last refuge of the untalented. But rather than go with a tongue-in-cheek snarkfest poking fun at the pitching style, directors Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg get earnest, with most of its time spent following the Red Sox’s Tim Wakefield and the Mets’ R. A. Dickey – at the time of production, the only two knuckleballers working in the Majors – through their bumpy career arcs, with most of the focus given to their performances in the 2011 baseball season. The filmmakers are more concerned with the personal side of the game, unafraid of quieter moments, using the humanity of their subjects to underscore the drama of the season. It’s a fascinating and rather gentle study of outsiders struggling to work in an insiders’ game. Continue reading

My Week in Movies: Sept. 15-21

The Mummy (1932) and Dracula (1931) Is Freund’s The Mummy better than Browning’s Dracula? I used to be sure the answer was yes. After all, it’s leaner, meaner, and sexier, and that opening sequence is one of the best in horror history. But Dracula is no small potatoes, and my admiration for it grows with every revisit. After all, when it comes to the creeps, it’s tough to top Renfield. I might say Dracula is better at the smaller moments (those cobwebs!) while The Mummy does better with its overall story. I’ll call this a draw… for now. (Your move, Frankenstein.) Continue reading

My Week in Movies: Sept. 8-14

Casa de mi Padre (2012) File under Hit or Miss, but when it hits, it hits. This Funny or Die offshoot is, mercifully, far more than the one joke “Will Ferrell speaks Spanish all the time” movie it appeared to be, with enough absurd humor to keep it going into wildly demented corners. And it’s the weirdness that keeps it going; many of the jokes are a bit too obvious and the run time is a bit too long, but even when it’s not creating belly laughs, it’s being bizarre enough to stay amusing. (Meanwhile, there’s the first ninety seconds of this clip, which is the hardest I’ve laughed in a long time. The rest of the clip is admirably ballsy, too.) Continue reading

My Week in Movies: Sept. 1-7

The past few weeks have been a bit hectic ’round here, which left me away from the blog and, for the most part, movies in general. Things haven’t quite returned to normal, but normal is on its way, following a layover in Tulsa. Until then, here’s a brief My Week in Movies post. Enjoy. Continue reading

My Week in Movies: Aug. 11-17

The Noose Hangs High (1948) Abbott and Costello’s first non-Universal film is also rightly remembered as one of their weakest. The flimsy plot remakes the 1939 film For Love or Money as a comedy, but only in the sense that Bud and Lou graft a handful of their comic routines onto the proceedings. Worse, those routines had all been used before on the big screen, and with greater energy (most famous is the “you’re forty, she’s ten” bit from Buck Privates, turned tiresome here). These moments never feel as organic as they do in other, better Abbott and Costello pictures, whereas here, they drag, playing more as bloated asides than as joyous revisits. The rest of the movie is a wet noodle, too. Continue reading

My Week in Movies: Aug. 4-10

Return of the Jedi (1983) Hmm? Yes, of course I watched the original 1983 version. I’m no philistine. (Or maybe I am: I still love the Ewoks. Yub nub.) Continue reading