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.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Top 108 Things I Love About Casino (that no one talks about)

I love everything about Martin Scorsese’s crime saga, Casino. So much, in fact, that this is the longest “No One Talks About” post I’ve done yet. And that’s for a few reasons: one, the movie is nearly 3 hours long, two, I really do love everything about it, and finally, I don’t think people talk about Casino enough. Casino is one of the most compulsively rewatchable films I’ve ever seen, because it’s one of the fastest paced long movies ever released. This film, in all its profane, violent, gaudy sensibilities, has me. Here are several reasons why. (Please note that I give away every major plot detail about Casino in this post.)

Friday, March 9, 2018

In Character: Marisa Tomei

What a long, great, twisty career Marisa Tomei has had. She started in the sitcom world, took a while to find her footing in film, won an Oscar, hit the indie film scene, refound her footing, got nominated for more Oscars, and has now transitioned to wonderful character roles in which she steals scenes from some of best people in the business. I’ve always been a great admirer of her work; no matter what she’s in or when she’s in it, I’m there.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Who Will Win the Oscar for Best Cinematography?

This article ran as part of this year’s LAMB Devours the Oscars series.

In a rare change of pace for Oscar discussion, a technical award is one of the most talked about races this year. When the Oscar nominations were announced last month, people were ecstatic when cinematographer Rachel Morrison became the first woman ever nominated for Best Cinematography. Morrison has some very strong competition, as nearly every nominee has an honest chance of winning. Let’s dive into each nominee by discussing their chances this year, their past work, and how Oscar politics could play a part in who wins.

Friday, February 16, 2018

In Character: John Malkovich

John Malkovich is a name so synonymous with strange, or disturbed, or grotesque characters, that simply evoking the actor’s name is enough to help people understand what kind of performance you’re about to watch. John Malkovich. It’s a name that speaks for itself. An actor whose skills, and inadvertent amusement, are impossible to ignore.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Breaking Down Cinematographer Roger Deakins’ 14 Oscar Nominations

Roger Deakins is one of the finest cinematographers to ever work in film. He’s a master of isolating blues, unyielding yellows, dangerous silhouettes, and deep shadows. He also has an incredible knack for capturing sunrises and sunsets, consistently proving that in order to be a great director of photography, you have to bend with the elements.

For the purposes of this post, I’m highlighting a painful reality about Deakins’ career: the man has been nominated for 14 Oscars, and never won. Now, of course, I’d love to tell you how absurd it is that Roger Deakins doesn’t have an Academy Award. But in analyzing all of his nominations, it became clear that, despite how great a Roger Deakins film looks (and they all look great), he shoots movies in insanely competitive years.

This year, Deakins is nominated for shooting Blade Runner 2049, and, like every other year he’s been nominated, he has a damn good shot at winning. One can only hope. Because if there’s a year he deserves it, it is truly this one.

Monday, January 29, 2018

In Character: 2018 Oscar Nominees

Following the announcement of the Oscar nominations last week, I offer my thoughts on my favorite work each nominee has delivered. Be sure to share your favorite roles from all the nominees as well!