A Case Against SPECTRE

Earlier today, Deadline Hollywood broke the story: after decades of legal battles, MGM and EON Productions – the owners of the James Bond film franchise – finally acquired the rights to Blofeld and his terrorist organization, SPECTRE, both mainstays of the series’ Connery era. The history of EON’s courtroom troubles is tangled stuff; this James Bond news site does a fine job explaining things, but the main point, simply, is that EON now has full creative control of intellectual property not seen on screen since 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever. But what does this mean for the movies to come, most notably Sam Mendes’ not-yet-titled follow-up to Skyfall?

Blofeld Continue reading

Best Song Ever: “7th of November”

Casey Scott’s Creep City is hands down the best album nobody heard in the 90s. The singer/songwriter/poet/artist and her backing band, the Creeps, cranked out a masterpiece blend of rock, spoken word, and itchy, twitchy angst. It’s tempting to call the album raw – it has a rough vibe, as if recorded on the fly in quick, angry bursts – but the band is airtight, working out some challenging rhythms and inventive sounds, their expert craftsmanship betraying the garage atmosphere.

Creep City Continue reading

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

Happy Halloween! Now Let’s Watch Thriller Again

It’s been a busy month for me, with little time to update much of anything around here. That’s my flimsy excuse for why I didn’t do a Nifty YouTube Thing series this year, but I couldn’t overlook my tradition of posting Thriller on October 31. I’ve praised it twice before, so you should now by now why I find it to be perfect Halloween viewing. 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

The Fatal Flaw(s) of Now You See Me

Note: The following discusses the ending of Now You See Me in detail and contains spoilers.

The Now You See Me screenplay is so flawed on a structural level, it should be studied in writing classes.

Now You See Me Continue reading