Tag Archives: film

In which I review the film Palo Alto


That irrational part of me that still gets mad when “mainstream” people mention liking The National really thought I was gonna hate this flick, directed by 27-year-old Gia Coppola (yes, of those Coppolas) and adapted from a book of stories by actor/polarizing universal force James Franco.

But I liked it. Quite a bit, in fact. The review is here.

Year-End Dump: On The Subject Of Movies

 I don’t get to see a lot of movies. I’m driven to work like a mad beast, and that’s not boast–if I spent half the time working on projects I was passionate about that I do on the ol’ fashioned day gig, I would’ve published two Ravis stories and my first “proper” novel this year.

(Plus, going to the movies makes me stabby, because a lot of people are, well … let’s just say, inconsiderate.)

So instead of a Top 10, here are my thoughts on some of the films I was fortunate enough to see this year.

The Dark Knight Rises. Saw it once. Need to see it again, but at first pass, it seemed to neglect story in favor of buoying some BIG IDEAS that were really rather obvious to begin with. And it pains me to say that, because I love both Christopher Nolan (did a bit of a Nolanapalooza recently, and I’m sorry, Insomnia still reigns supreme) and BIG IDEAS. But, well … heavy-handed. Oh, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt stole the show.

Found-Footage Ghost Movies. Ugh. Stahp. It’s over.

The Avengers. Loved it the first time, watched it again, loved it the second time. I won’t join the fray about continuity / real-world / comic timeline errors, because I just don’t care. It was awesome. I want a superhero mythology with a human heart, and that comes naturally to Joss Whedon. Speaking of Whedon …

The Cabin In The Woods. Un-fucking-touchable. At least as much credit is due to Drew Goddard as Whedon, as well as the actors that played this sublimely crafted fan letter to the horror genre with straight faces. I watch it once a month, minimum. Why? It’s a master class in screencraft, and it’s also entertaining as hell.

The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo. The American version. Came out last year. Fincher directed it. Didn’t do a whole hell of a lot of business, in today’s terms. And yeah, it came out last year, but THIS WAS THE BEST FILM I SAW IN 2012. Just freaking perfect, hit all the notes. I loved it. Larsson’s books came off as a bit austere to me, and I wrote it off as lost in translation, but holy crap, what a good, human story.

Prometheus. I could be wrong, but this might’ve been the only film I saw in a theater this year. Here are my initial thoughts, and they still sound about right.

Really, those are about the only flicks on which I feel qualified to comment. In my defense, I will say these things: 1) The overwhelming majority of movies that come out look frankly terrible; 2) Movies are timeless, and the march of technology renders them ever more so; and 3) I’ve stopped caring about seeing new movies right away because most people simply do not know how to watch a movie in a theater without ruining the experience for other theatergoers. I won’t make it about age, or race, or emergent technology, or anything else–I’ll make it about people, and a lot of the people with whom I’ve shared a theater in the last five or six years were assholes. IF YOU USE YOUR PHONE AT ALL, OR TALK LOUDLY, OR BRING A BABY TO A MOVIE MADE FOR ADULTS, YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE.

That’s it, really. I look forward to auditing the best of 2012’s movies in my home, later, because it’s not a goddamn race.


On the Subject of Attack The Block

Finally saw it. Probably the finest B movie/monster flick since 2006’s The Host.

Obviously, I don’t think the term “B movie” is derogatory. And, to recap, here are my criteria for what makes a B movie:

  1. Low budget.
  2. Largely unknown cast.
  3. Fits squarely within an established (and usually/formerly ignoble) genre.
  4. Exploits a contemporary social pressure point, e.g. crime, racism, “the Red Menace,” etc.
  5. Thinks subtlety is for garden parties and your gammy’s cotillion.

Another example of a great New Millennium B movie? Splinter:

On the Subject of Prometheus

I have extremely mixed feelings about Prometheus.

On the one hand, if all you want is a beautiful big-screen sci-fi image-fest, and you don’t care at all about series continuity, or plot holes, or questionable science, or vague side-plots that don’t really get resolved, then hey, here you go. Enjoy your visually stunning, capably crafted, hyper-self-aware big-budget futuro-suspense movie. I like those things sometimes, and I sometimes enjoyed Prometheus on a strictly superficial level.

On the other hand, if a movie is going to present itself as a deeper, more philosophical think-piece that ponders life’s larger questions, then it should be judged as such. And on that level, Prometheus is a heartbreaker of a disappointment, particularly for those of us whose obsession with Alien has turned that little horror flick into something as substantial, meaningful and allegorical as Blade Runner in its own way.

On The Subject of Fangoria‘s FrightFest

I recently got to review the eight films comprising Fangoria Magazine‘s fan-participatory online FrightFest promotion, and most of ’em were a hell of a lot better than anybody who’s waded through hundreds of straight-to-DVD horror titles might expect.

Here’s the piece at Creative Loafing.