Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Sorry To Bother You – A Fascinating Mess

Posted 28 Jul 2018 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead 

Sorry to Bother You, USA, 2018

Written and Directed by Boots Riley

It is often lamented by casual movie fans that “Hollywood has run out of ideas.” In fact, the seeming lack of originality in the mainstream movie pool has more to do with a fear of taking chances on those new ideas, which certainly do exist. Why gamble when you can pretty much guarantee a huge opening weekend with a sequel to, or adaptation of, an already beloved existing property? With that in mind, it’s rather amazing that this debut feature from writer-director Boots Riley, a founding member of legendary Hip-Hop group The Coup, ever got greenlit. I mean this in both a good way – because Sorry to Bother You is full of original ideas, sharp satire, and great performances – and in a somewhat more negative way, because it often feels so overstuffed with interesting concepts that it can’t possibly come together as a wholly satisfying, coherent narrative.  Read More

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

Diary Of A Serial Killer – Through The Eyes Of A Busey

Posted 03 Apr 2018 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead 

Diary of a Serial Killer, USA, 1998

Directed by Joshua Wallace

Right from the opening frame of the 1998 straight-to-video thriller Diary of a Serial Killer (also known as Rough Draft), it’s obvious the viewer is in for a cheesy affair. The score, with its heavy saxophone wailing and bombastic drum-machine track, feels more like something from the ’80s rather than the late ’90s, and the rest of the movie feels the same way. Our protagonist, Nelson Keece (Gary Busey) is introduced dressed in drag that is, while certainly not convincing, enough to render the distinctive-looking actor practically unrecognizable. In fact, he actually seems to be enjoying these early scenes more than the rest of the movie, and it almost makes you wonder if maybe he chose this project out of bitterness that he wasn’t included in the cast of To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, alongside his Point Break co-star Patrick Swayze (and his Drop Zone co-star Wesley Snipes).  Read More

Dr. Seuss’ How Ron & Jim Ruined Christmas

Posted 16 Dec 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, USA/Germany, 2000

Directed by Ron Howard

Several times while watching the Ron Howard-directed How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I found myself wondering, “Who is this even for?” At 105 minutes, it’s a bit on the long side for kids small enough to actually enjoy Jim Carrey’s manic, over-the-top turn as the title character, and the whole thing is far too ugly and irritating for older kids, let alone adults. On the other hand, my niece (aged six) and nephew (aged ten) say they love it, and it was released long enough ago that I also have adult friends who remember it fondly. I do know who it’s not for, however, and that is the grumpy old Grinch writing this review, as this is decidedly a Movie I Didn’t Get.  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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It – Floats Much More Than It Sinks

Posted 11 Sep 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead 

It, USA, 2017

Directed by Andy Muschietti

The 1990 TV movie adaptation of Stephen King’s wildly ambitious 1986 novel It has always had a place in the hearts of folks my age (we’re apparently known as “Xennials” now) much like that reserved for The Goonies. This love for both movies exists in us for the same reason: simple nostalgia. Unless you first saw both of them at a young, impressionable age, it might be too late now. For anyone remembering the It miniseries as genuinely scary, watch it again; it’s far more unintentionally funny. With the advances in special effects technology over the past 27 years, though, and without the restrictions imposed by television network standards, the new theatrical take on King’s novel fills the void quite nicely for those who want to be genuinely frightened by a movie about a bunch of misfit preteens facing down a murderous clown-monster.  Read More

Brigsby Bear – Make Something Cool With Your Friends!

Posted 26 Aug 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead 

Brigsby Bear, USA, 2017

Directed by Dave McCary

Though Dogtooth certainly has its dark sense of humor, one wouldn’t expect a movie about an abducted child raised in an isolated, hermetically sealed world based on lies to be a comedy. This type of premise has yielded great results as emotionally devastating drama, as in the rightfully acclaimed Room, or intense psychological suspense, as in the by-and-large underrated 10 Cloverfield Lane (not about a child abduction, but dealing with similar ideas in terms of the nature of the protagonist’s captivity). Despite these and some other obvious comparison points, though, veteran Saturday Night Live director Dave McCary’s feature debut, Brigsby Bear, is a wonderfully original, sincere, and idiosyncratic movie that manages to not only earn cruelty-free laughs from an inherently unsettling subject, but also to make a larger point about the very nature of art and entertainment, without being annoyingly meta about it.  Read More