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!]


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.”


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!


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?


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


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...]

Finding Nemo: This Fish is Still Fresh


Here comes Father's Day.And Steven Greydanus of Decent Films and The National Catholic Register once wrote: Andrew Stanton’s Finding Nemo is the best father-son story in all of Hollywood animation, and maybe animation generally. ... [W]hat makes Finding Nemo so unforgettable, in my book, is Marlin. He stands virtually alone among animated father figures: not an idealized father, but a heroic and lovable one who is trying his best and whose faults, such as they are, are regarded with sympat … [Read more...]

The Bard on the Big Screen: Much Ado About “Much Ado,” “Shakespeare in Love,” and More


Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing is winning high praise at film festivals, promising moviegoers an infusion of intelligence, romance, and sophistication during summertime's typically juvenile program of explosions.Glenn Kenny, for example, writes, The entire cast, indeed, revels not just in Shakespeare's language but in the clever way this play both conforms, in its plot points, to the now-antiquated gender roles of its time but also subverts them, giving acute but not overemphatic … [Read more...]

Warm Bodies (2013)

warm bodies1

Well, it could be that zombie movies have finally eaten my brain, but I think this movie has an honest-to-goodness heartbeat.In most zombie movies, plot is secondary; the movie is made as an excuse for frenzied violence and gore. Whimsical, clever, and sometimes downright silly, Warm Bodies works because it is, at heart, a "Beauty and the Beast" story that is interested in finding meaningful possibilities in undead cliches, rather than indulging in standard-issue excess. It knows that less i … [Read more...]