The Spectacular Now (2013)

spectacular now

A letter to director Luke Pondsoldt and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber:First of all, thank you for The Spectacular Now.During a summer overstuffed with blockbuster excesses, I found myself encouraged by the way your movie reminded an attentive Seattle audience that real movie magic comes from human beings, patient observation, truthful storytelling, and nuanced performances from talented actors.Secondly, I highly recommend that all three of you get to know an … [Read more...]

Blue Jasmine (2013)

Blue Jasmine2

"You could do better."Have you ever heard a friend say that to you about the person you love? Were they referring to state of the person's finances? If so, well... when it comes to friends, you could do better."You could do better" is the kind of thing Jeanette "Jasmine" Francis tends to say when she encounters people whose affection for each other is based on something other than money. … [Read more...]

Netflix Brings Back the Coen Brothers’ Most Underrated Comedy

intolerable cruelty

The Coen Brothers' Intolerable Cruelty is, by my lights, their most underrated film.It was almost directed by Ron Howard. It was almost directed by Jonathan Demme. Thank the silly gods of Hollywood, it ended up with Joel and Ethan, even though it wasn't their script.Originally written by Robert Ramsey and Matt Stone, the film never quite feels like a true Coen Brothers concoction. The comedy takes turns toward the crass  and sophomoric, turns that the brothers have never taken in their o … [Read more...]

The Way, Way Back (2013)

The Way Way Back1

Poor Duncan.He's in the way, way back of the family station wagon, looking out the back window at his past... the happy times, when his family was a unit.What happened to Duncan's father?Why is he on a road trip with his mother and her boyfriend?And why is that volunteer stepfather throwing fuel on the fire of Duncan's insecurities like some kind of pyromaniac?Come to think of it, why is Duncan sitting in the back, facing the places he's been? Maybe he hopes Trent, the … [Read more...]

Revisiting Marla: Did Their Kid Paint That? [Updated!]

mykidcouldpaintthat

Today, Marla Olmstead is 13 years old. I wonder what she's like. Is she still painting? Does she do interviews yet? Or does her family shield her from the press?If anybody out there knows, send me an update.-UPDATE: A friend on Facebook has alerted me to this: Apparently she's still painting... and she gave an interview at an innovation and creativity conference in January: -Five years ago today, I saw My Kid Could Paint That for the first time. It was an incredible experience. … [Read more...]

The Lone Ranger: “Cynical. Bankrupt. Brutal. Anti-American. A Catastrophe.”

the-lone-ranger1

Steven Greydanus has seen The Lone Ranger.And he is not a happy camper.But I'm grateful for his vigorously critical review... because now I know not to spend even a nickel on this movie.Just listen to this... … [Read more...]

Happy 5th Birthday, WALL•E!

Wall-e1

Five years ago this weekend, Pixar brought us a vision of the future through the eyes — the amazing, expressive, binocular eyes — of a robot called WALL•E.A year and a half later, TIME Magazine named it the best movie of the decade.I think that was a bit extreme, but still... the first 20 minutes of this film remain the most astonishing advance in animation since Toy Story, and one of the most virtuosic flourishes of comedic visual storytelling since the days of Charlie Chaplin and Buster … [Read more...]

Monsters University: Bonus Question – Are These Monsters Dangerous?

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

If you read my review of Monsters University, you know that I liked it.But I hope that wasn't enough for you. I hope you don't stop there. I didn't.I went on to read reviews by Matt Zoller Seitz and Steven Greydanus. One increased my appreciation of the movie, and the other helped me see its strengths and weaknesses more clearly.And then another review aggravated this lifelong lover of monsters. … [Read more...]

Star Trek Into Heartlessness

"Like tears... in... rain..."

Warning: This is not a review. This is a rant. And it is full of spoilers.I really hoped J.J. Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness would be a little better than the first movie. Finding myself too tired to work last night, I thought I might give it a chance. At least the amiable cast and the special effects would take my mind off my troubles.But alas, no. Now I have more troubles. … [Read more...]

Before Midnight (2013): An All-Thumbs Review

before-midnight

This review of Before Midnight is Part Three of the new fiction series I call All Thumbs Video.In the first installment, I introduced a small cast of characters, friends who talk about movies in one of Earth's last video stores — All Thumbs, a store named in honor of Roger Ebert. They're members of "Sight Club," watching movies in theaters and, late at night, in the store's back room, then engaging in vigorous discussion. They argued about Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder. In the  second c … [Read more...]


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