Friday, May 26, 2017

Alien: Franchise Breakdown

You have to give it to Ridley Scott. The man has been fighting tirelessly to revive the franchise that gave him a career. Alien was an instant classic; it made the words “A Ridley Scott Film” wholly important. Like Scott’s Prometheus, his latest inclusion to the franchise, Alien: Covenant, is being met with mixed reviews. And truly, if there was ever a franchise whose films are all over the map, it is this one. Note: this post contains spoilers for all Alien films, including Alien: Covenant.

Monday, May 22, 2017

In Character: Lili Taylor

Lili Taylor is one of film’s best living character actors, a distinction she’s held since she began appearing in films in the late ‘80s. She helped make the ’90s American independent film movement so iconic. When that movement dried up, Taylor moved to TV, delivering some of the best work of her career. In fact, her recent stint on the second season of American Crime is right up there with her best work. I love that Taylor is still going so strong; she makes everything she’s in that much more interesting.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

In Character: Powers Boothe

We’ve lost another great one. Powers Boothe was a big man, a Texas man, an intimidating and charismatic man. His voice thundered and his fury raged. I say this a lot in these posts, but I genuinely liked Boothe in everything I saw him in. The performances below highlight his best work in rather fine films, but the man was no stranger to appearing in films that were not well received. Yet, he’s great in all of them. Red Dawn, Sudden Death, U Turn, MacCruber – line them up and I’ll watch them all, because Powers Boothe was the man. A sad loss indeed, but such a worthy career to revisit.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

In Character: Tom Berenger

Tom Berenger is a guy I’ve always rooted for. There’s just something about him. He has an old school swagger but a thinly masked sensitivity. He’s tough yet vulnerable, mean yet melancholic. His career has twisted and turned, but he’s been in the game for 40 years, and I enjoy watching him today as much as I did when I was young.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Top 10 Persona-lite Movies

Ingmar Bergman’s Persona is one of Top 3 favorite films of all time. It’s a fever dream masterpiece that I will continue to pick apart. Because, despite being only 83 minutes long, Persona is one of the most pleasantly complex films I’ve ever seen. I’ve spent more hours working over the film in my mind than I have actually watching the movie.

Classifying a film as “lite” in this post is not to suggest that the film is inferior to Persona. The purpose of this list is to draw attention to a particular group of films that remind me of a particularly unique film. Very few movies can even be considered in the same warped class as Persona, but these are a few of the best of them.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Matineecast: Song to Song

Ryan McNeil’s Matineecast is one of my favorite film-related podcasts. I’ve been fortunate enough to be featured on Ryan’s show before, most recently to discuss Terrence Malick’s new film, Song to Song.

Song to Song is a complex flick. It joggles multiple love connections while enthusiastically ignoring the convention of time. There’s a lot to unpack in the film, certainly more than the limits of my review allowed, so it was great to have the opportunity to discuss the movie in-depth with Ryan.

Click here to head over to Ryan’s site, The Matinee, and listen to our discussion on Song to Song.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Top 71 Things I Love About There Will Be Blood (that no one talks about)

Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood is a masterpiece, certainly one of the best films made since its release a decade ago. Upon reflection, it’s incredible Anderson was even able to make this movie. Prior, Anderson had done a little-seen two hander (Hard Eight), two large mosaics (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) and a quirky character study (Punch-Drunk Love). The tone, pace, and execution of There Will Be Blood don’t have much in common with those other films. In hindsight, There Will Be Blood kind of came out of nowhere. Which makes it that much better. Here are several reasons why.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Song to Song

Watching Song to Song is like explaining an old romantic relationship to a new friend. You would certainly start at the beginning – how you met, how long it took to fall in love. And then you may suddenly jump to the end – the fighting, the apathy. Beginning to end, back to back. As you kept talking, your narrative might gradually shift to highlights – the highs, the lows, the vacations, the fights. In real life, stories of such personal importance are rarely told in order. We shape our own narrative to make things more compelling. It’s a challenging concept for film, but one that clearly interests director Terrence Malick.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Terrence Malick Q&A: The Meaning of Life and Other Small Things

Okay, well, first of all, I can’t just be all cool guy and publish a blog post about a Terrence Malick Q&A without geeking out a little. I mean, I saw Terrence Malick… in person. At one point, he was 5 feet away from me, smiling graciously to all those who acted as if they were staring at a mythical god.

Terrence Malick is one of my favorite living filmmakers. I love every movie he’s made, and so appreciate that he makes movies his own way. Part of his method has been his prior insistence on not speaking publicly. No interviews, no question and answer sessions, no Making-Of docs, no awards acceptance speeches – literally, nothing. But in his later years, Malick seems to be opening up a bit more. He has been spotted at science and history-based Q&As for some of his films (namely The New World and Voyage of Time), but he recently showed up for a lengthy Q&A for his latest film, Song to Song, at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.

Voyage of Time: IMAX Director’s Cut


The late astronomer, Carl Sagan, developed the Cosmic Calendar as a way to explain the history of the universe to laymen. According to Sagan, if the entire history of the universe (from The Big Bang to present day) were represented in one calendar year, highlights would break down as follows:

January 1, The Big Bang occurs
September 14, Earth is formed
December 24, First dinosaurs appear
December 31, 11:54 p.m., Modern humans appear
December 31, 11:59:45 p.m., Writing is invented
December 31, 11:59:59 p.m., America is discovered

Sunday, March 12, 2017

In Character: Bill Paxton

When Bill Paxton died last month, cinema lost one of its finest character actors. For more than three decades, Paxton stole scenes in nearly 100 films, TV shows and miniseries. He wasn’t always in great films, but any film featuring Bill Paxton was a film worth watching. He made us laugh our asses off and cry our eyes out. He was the guy, every time, every role. On a recent episode of Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast, Paxton sounded eager to keep delivering great roles. Which makes his unexpected passing that much harder to take. Paxton’s loss is such a sad one, but we’ll always have his work, some of my favorite examples of which are below.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

In Character: 2017 Oscar Nominees Edition

With the Oscars set to role today, I thought it’d be fun to take a quick look at the careers of all the acting nominees. Be sure to let me know your favorite performances by each nominee!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Breaking Down Sound Mixer Kevin O’Connell’s 21 Oscar Nominations

With more than 35 years in the business, Kevin O’Connell is one of cinema’s most revered sound mixers. Most notably, O’Connell is the person with the most Oscar nominations in history, who has yet to win. O’Connell has been to the show 20 times (21 this Sunday, for sound mixing Hacksaw Ridge), but hasn’t made it to the podium once.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

LAMB Devours the Oscars: Best Actor

Below is my entry to LAMB’s Devours the Oscars column. Check out all of their Oscars 2017 posts here.

When the Oscar nominations were announced a few weeks ago, it seemed like Casey Affleck was a lock to win Best Actor for his searing work in Manchester by the Sea. But in a pleasant change of pace for the Oscars, most of the major awards are relatively open. The only real lock is Supporting Actress (Viola Davis, get it), with the other big categories are stuck in two, or even three, way races. Here I’ll take a look at Best Actor – what I think of each performance, and their chances at winning – before concluding with a few snubbed performances I would’ve love to have been nominated.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Top 10 “Rotten” Films of 2016

This is my favorite end-of-the-year movie list tradition. At the end of every year, I look at all of the “rotten” films on Rotten Tomatoes, and highlight ones I actually liked. Most of these aren’t close to being great films, but I enjoyed my time with them all the same. Be sure to list your favorite “rotten” films as well! (Note: I’m using the Rotten Tomatoes scores each film had on December 31, 2016.)