Wednesday, September 19, 2018

In Character: Jeff Goldblum

Jeff Goldblum has a persona all his own. The man is a singular talent, to be confused with no one. But beyond his endlessly amusing and eccentric personality, he’s a true actor who can play any type of role. There are so many classic Golblum performances to choose from, below is a collection of only a few.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

An Exhaustive and Unofficial Guide to Film Commentaries

As a lifelong lover of movies, and a filmmaker for more than 10 years, I can honestly tell you that I have learned more about film and filmmaking from DVD and Blu-Ray commentaries than I have from any other single source.

I’ve listened to thousands of commentaries, and there is almost always something to gleam from them. If you love a movie, a commentary can make you appreciate the film even more. Or, perhaps more significantly, a great commentary can give a fresh perspective to a movie you were otherwise lukewarm about.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Top 82 Things I Love about 25th Hour (that no one talks about)

Spike Lee’s 25th hour is one of the best, most important films made so far this century. It’s a movie I’ve talked about a lot on this blog, but this post a comprehensive dive into the things I love most about the movie. As Lee’s BlackKklansman currently makes waves in theaters, here’s a look into one of Spike Lee’s masterpieces.

Friday, August 3, 2018

In Character: Christopher Meloni

Christopher Meloni is one of my favorite working actors. He has a magnetism that is so apparent in all of his work. Whether he's being absurd or psychotic, he can draw you in with equal weight. Here’s a look at Meloni’s best work, which often, remarkably, varies wildly in tone from role to role.

Monday, July 16, 2018

the Directors: Paul Schrader

Paul Schrader has made everything from brash pieces of exploitation to sensitive masterworks. At first glance, it’s easy to write Schrader off as an agent of provocative cinema. His films live in the underworld of depravity, and he explores them well. But upon full exploration of his work, it became clear to me that Paul Schrader has taken a risk with nearly every film he’s made. Whether those risks were violent or tender, Schrader has always challenged himself, and his audience. Say what you will about Paul Schrader’s body of work, but the man challenges himself in ways few modern filmmakers do.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Armageddon: Criterion Commentary Breakdown

Believe it or not, Michael Bay’s Armageddon came out 20 years ago today. And to mark this milestone, I thought it’d be fun to dive into the film’s hilarious Criterion Collection commentary track.

Armageddon is not the type of film typically chosen to receive the Criterion treatment, which makes this commentary that much more fun. Commentaries are usually recorded with every participant in the same room, so that they can all riff off the movie together. But this track combines the opinions of Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer, Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck, who all recorded their tracks separately.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Top 15 Spiritual Sequels

Everyone seems to have a different method of defining what a spiritual sequel is, but to me, a spiritual sequel is a film that somehow clearly lives in the shadow of a movie that came before. Maybe they share a director or members of the cast, maybe the plots are similar or characters are the same. Sometimes, a spiritual sequel is simply getting two stars back together and hoping to repeat the lightning in a bottle effect of the first film. Much like conventional sequels, the spiritual sequel is rarely superior to its predecessor, but this list accounts for some damn worthy follow-ups.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

In Character: Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore is one of the finest actors working today. Which made writing this post so difficult. Truly, as I made my way back through Moore’s work – from her early character roles to her recent star performances – I was reminded that this woman is damn near perfect in everything. Here are my picks of her best performances, but there are many to choose from, so do feel free to share yours!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Top 140 Things I Love About Taxi Driver (that no one talks about)

As far as my film tastes are concerned, Taxi Driver is the one. The boss of it all. The best of the best. I saw Martin Scorsese’s urban masterpiece for the first time when I was 10 years old. A few years later, I began hailing it as my favorite film of all time, which is still the case to this day. I love everything about this movie, and, as a result, have a lot to say about it. Taxi Driver has been viewed, studied and discussed for decades, so the “no one talks about” aspect of this post may not be entirely true. But, alas, here’s my deep dive into the conflicted, frenzied, tortured mind of Travis Bickle.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

In Character: Keith David

Keith Davis is expert at sticking out amongst an ensemble. Many of the actor’s film and television roles (he has an astounding 287 credits on IMDb) include standout work he’s delivered in a large ensemble cast. In fact, four of those performances are listed below, as well as a few genuine supporting turns. The point is, no matter the size of the role, you always remember Keith David.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

the Directors: John Carpenter

I’ve been afraid to cover John Carpenter in this column. Years ago, as I made my way through Carpenter’s films, I realized I did not like many of the John Carpenter movies people seem to adore. But a few years passed and a change occurred. I was discussing Carpenter’s work with my best friend (himself a huge Carpenter admirer), and he explained that Carpenter, like many directors, has different facets to his career, and if you acknowledge each aspect, you can appreciate his films.

Basically, there is serious, masterful John Carpenter; B-movie John Carpenter; and phoned-in John Carpenter. In the past, I’ve had trouble with the B-movie John Carpenter. I thought many of his intentional B-movies took themselves too seriously, and that blinded my appreciation for them. And while I certainly don’t love every John Carpenter film, I have turned a corner, and I’m eager to share my thoughts on his work.

Monday, April 16, 2018

You Were Never Really Here

In my experience, when you go through something horrific, it stays with you in flashes. We all carry trauma differently, of course, but horror has always followed me around in glimpses.

Most movies and television shows do not depict trauma this way. In mainstream fiction, trauma stays with you for every second of every day. You can’t eat. You can’t sleep. You can’t work. There is no room for life, no room for adjustment. In my reality, after some time has passed on pain, the effects of it sneak up on you when you least expect it. It’s a song playing in a grocery store, a person with a similar face, a stranger with a familiar smell. You experience these random things, and a flash of grief consumes you. But it does subside, if ever so slightly. You breathe, you calm down. And then you do the dishes, you go back to work; you adjust, you live.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Breaking Down Steven Soderbergh’s Three-Shot Rule

I began my review for Steven Soderbergh’s latest film, the genre thriller, Unsane, by describing the three-shot rule Soderbergh holds himself (and all filmmakers) accountable for. “After the first three shots, I know whether this person knows what they’re doing or they don’t,” Soderbergh has explained. That’s an interesting idea. In a film’s three opening shots, can the filmmaker use composition, blocking, music, font and other elements to establish the story we’re about to see? That’s what I want to find out in this post.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Unsane

What’s in a shot? More specifically, what’s in the three opening shots of a film? Steven Soderbergh holds all filmmakers (himself especially) accountable for the first three shots they decide to open their movie with. Soderbergh calls it the three-shot rule. “After the first three shots, I know whether this person knows what they’re doing or they don’t,” Soderbergh told Film Comment last year. Soderbergh isn’t solely referencing shot composition. He’s talking about how the lighting, framing, placement, movement, and blocking of a film’s opening shots service the story we’re about to see. Or, if they service the story at all. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Happy End

Happy End is as sparse, cold, and detached as anything Michale Haneke has made. If you’re familiar with the Austrian director’s body of work, you know that means Happy End is one hell of an emotionally detached movie. If you haven’t seen any of Haneke’s films, then I honestly cannot think of a single good reason for you to begin by watching Happy End.