Through the run of the column, you can trace my slow-dawning realization that the life of a workaday critic that I’d been preparing myself for was no longer an option, at least not in the form that I’d envisioned it, and that I was not a special exception immune to the insidious forces far larger than myself that were at work, spoiling far more than my own petty ambitions. Revisiting my inaugural column, I was already referring to the question … Read More
Neeson is 61 now, and viable as an action star in a way that eludes his tanned leather, HGH-augmented, Expendable contemporaries, who have tended to embrace the self-parody ever implicit in their personae. He lends even the most preposterous material a certain gravity and veracity, for he has the grimly tenacious air of a working-class dad who hasn’t made much time for the gym because he’s been punching the clock for forty-five years at some shit job, and as … Read More
The eruption is beautiful and terrible, a billow of brimstone that’s like a stereoscopic John Martin canvas, the 3D keeping a flittering veil of snowy ash shimmering in front of the action. There isn’t a great deal to intellectualize here. Erupting volcanos are awesome, a fact of which I have been aware at least since seeing Ring of Fire in IMAX on a 6th grade class field trip. This one, which spews molten lava into your lap, is particularly awesome.
While The LEGO Movie may have been conceived in the gutter of shameless product placement, it’s staring at the stars. I was a neophyte to the work of co-writers and co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller last week, though I did catch their 21 Jump Street in summer of 2012 and had a good enough time with it, and was sufficiently intrigued after having seen what they’d built from such an unpromising property—literally, a popular brand of plastic building bricks … Read More
Polymath, Renaissance Man, dilettante—call Michael Snow what you will, but whatever he lost by not committing to any single medium, he gained by not being beholden to any single medium’s assumptions. Snow’s gift is a fresh perspective, of not accepting the tenets of whatever form he’s working in as a given, but rather as something to be dissected.
While a sizable portion of the critical community uses the fallow month of January to look forward to the year to come, the rest of us—along with the average American multiplex-goer—have no escape from the winter doldrums. If indeed they are doldrums: After the clamber of fall prestige-picture releases and awards season announcements the first months of the new year can offer sweet relief from importance.
The things that wind up hopping the fence between film culture and the world at large can surprise you. Last Tuesday my father sent me a text message asking “What’s your opinion of Armond White?” Up until that fateful day my father would have been hard-pressed to name a single working film critic who didn’t share his last name. And yet somehow, less than 24 hours after a kerfuffle broke out over comments made by Mr. White and his party … Read More
We change and movies change with us. I couldn’t abide Before Sunrise the first time I saw it, then subsequent viewings mellowed this into grudging recognition and deep affection, so perhaps I will yet someday heed the chimes of Midnight. It would take nothing short of a massive blunt trauma to the skull resulting in the radical alteration of my entire personality, however, to make me see the light on American Hustle, Computer Chess, Her, or Upstream Color.
While smart critics generally make a virtue of “ambiguity” and “shades of gray” in festival fare or films that play for the self-selecting cinephile set, this sort of hand-wringing censure seems to be reserved for movies that, like The Wolf of Wall Street, have a certain amount of entertainment value, and will potentially play for large, diverse audiences that, unlike cinephile cabals, presumably aren’t so well equipped to navigate the straits of moral ambiguity without binary signposts to guide their … Read More