Archive for the ‘Essay’ Category

Surprise Dinosaurs! Can Make Any Movie Better

Posted 14 Jul 2018 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay

By Ezra Stead

On the cult-classic two-season animated sitcom The Critic (R.I.P.), one of the half-dozen or so fake movie clips recycled in the opening credits throughout the series depicts a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers-style black-and-white ballroom dancing scene suddenly interrupted by a full-color Tyrannosaurus Rex devouring the dancing couple. The show’s protagonist, Jay Sherman (voiced by Jon Lovitz), responds with his usual catchphrase (“It stinks!”), but every time this particular clip comes up, I can’t help but think he’s dead wrong about it. That would clearly be one of the greatest movies ever made, because nothing can improve literally any movie like the sudden, unexpected appearance of a prehistoric creature or two. In other words: surprise dinosaurs!  Read More

The 4 Most Essential Gangster Movies For Understanding Rap Lyrics

Posted 27 Mar 2018 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay

By Ezra Stead 

More than any other type of songwriting, rap lyrics are peppered with pop culture references, from movies to cars to sports to fashion to other rap songs. Of the movie references, no genre is more popular than the gangster movie (the most popular non-gangster movie references are probably The MatrixStar Wars and, thanks mainly to the Wu-Tang Clan, various kung fu movies). The classic gangster movie narrative of rising to great power from humble means via violent crime and the drug trade has a special resonance with many of the great canonical rappers of Hip-Hop’s Golden Age who found a similar path via rapping about the violent crime and drug trade that they either witnessed in the streets or, in many cases, actively participated in. Beyond that, violent crime has an undeniable entertainment value, whether in movies or in music. Once you’ve seen these four movies, you’ll have a lot better understanding of the references in rap lyrics, though I can’t really help you with the sports, car, or fashion ones.  Read More

Ezra’s Top 10 Favorite Movies Of 2017

Posted 24 Feb 2018 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead 

These choices don’t get any easier to make year after year, but I do become increasingly more aware of just how inconsequential they really are. I certainly hope no one reading this takes my opinions any more seriously than I do. Anyway, this year I managed to see 125 new releases, so this top ten plus the 20 constitutes roughly the top 25% of all that I saw. Just know that I really liked even more movies than that, which might account for all the superhero and/or “space battle” movies you might be shaking your fist at me for not including. I’ve also included my three least favorite movies of 2017 at the end, because life’s too short to not make fun of bad movies. Let’s do this thing!  Read More

Spooktober 2017: The Return

Posted 28 Oct 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews

By Ezra Stead 

As always, I am not finished almost exclusively watching horror movies for the year, nor will I be once Halloween night has come and gone; this will likely continue throughout November. However, in the interest of providing this list with some sort of seasonal relevance, now is the time to tell you about a handful of the movies I’ve watched so far in this, the best of all possible seasons. As it happens, this year I ended up watching a high percentage of iconic franchise entries, so, forsaking some other great ones I discovered that don’t fit into this category (Pretty Poison and The Blackcoat’s Daughter in particular are a couple of real gems), let’s take a look at some noteworthy sequels, in the order in which I viewed them.

CULT OF CHUCKY—I don’t think any horror franchise in movie history has reinvented itself so drastically as this one. The success of the original Child’s Play (1988) led to two more of the same, basically, before series mastermind Don Mancini took it into full meta-comedy mode with Bride of Chucky in 1998, following that up with the unfairly maligned Seed of Chucky in 2004. Curse of Chucky came along in 2013 to bring the series back to real horror, with fewer nudges and winks, and with this latest entry, Mancini has struck the perfect balance, and made the best Chucky movie since Bride, at least. It’s rare for the seventh entry in a franchise to be this good.
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Baby’s Day Out – A Scathing Indictment Of A Pre-Apocalyptic Society

Posted 19 Jun 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead 

Baby’s Day Out, USA, 1994

Directed by Patrick Read Johnson

As anyone who’s read my in-depth review of Beethoven knows, family movies from the 1990s are often covert founts of darkness and despair, sometimes to the point that it’s nigh impossible to see them any other way. Another great example of this curious phenomenon is 1994’s Baby’s Day Out, which depicts a world on the brink of total destruction just underneath its deceptively cheerful surface. This is a world that no longer values anything but material possessions, social status, and unbridled hatred. If allowed to go on the way it is, this society will surely collapse on itself, as childcare, familial connections, and basic human decency are utterly neglected. Baby’s Day Out is the tale of the one super-genius infant who just might be able to save a world full of nihilistic idiots from itself.  Read More

Ezra’s Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2016

Posted 22 Feb 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead 

Well, here we are again, folks! Every year since 2001, I’ve made it my self-imposed obligation to see at least 100 new movies (104 in 2016) and then attempt to rank my ten (or more) favorite ones against one another. Notice I didn’t say these were the “best” movies of the year, but my favorite ones; the distinction is important, lest anyone mistakenly expect a shred of objectivity herein.

Anyway, this year, in the interest of championing underdogs and holding a light to some movies you might not have been constantly hearing about since November or so, I have decided to exclude any of the Academy’s Best Picture nominees from my top ten. If you want to know how I felt about those films, you can find my favorites, unranked, in the Honorable Mentions just below the main list, and if you want to know more than that, there’s always the annual MoviesIDidntGet.com Oscars Podcast, which you can listen to on this very site, very soon.  Read More

Toning Down The Terror – Stephen King At The Movies

Posted 01 Nov 2016 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay

By Ezra Stead 

carrieFew authors in the 20th century (or any time, for that matter) have been more frequently adapted for the movies than Maine’s favorite son, Stephen King. This Halloween season, instead of presenting a cross-section of my month’s viewing as I have in years past, I thought I’d offer a look at some (not nearly all) of those movie adaptations and the ways in which certain elements were changed from page to screen. More importantly, we’ll be exploring why those elements were changed (at least, to the best of my speculation). Specifically, many of these movies tend to tone down two things: violence (especially directed at children) and overtly supernatural elements.

SpoilerAlertLet’s start from the beginning. Carrie was King’s first published novel and, within two years’ time, the first movie adaptation of his work. Brian De Palma’s 1976 film is still the best adaptation that has been made of the book, and one of the best of all S.K. movies in general. However, even bloody Mr. De Palma softened the blow of Carrie’s destructive rampage a bit, though probably more for budgetary reasons than anything else. In the movie, we see Carrie burn down her school and blow up a car on her way home, but in the book she pretty much destroys the whole goddamn town on that walk home. The novel actually includes an official body count of 409, “with 49 still listed as missing,” which seems significantly higher than what we see in the movie. Read More