Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Monstrous And Gruesome Effects Of The Cycle Of Abuse Are On Display In The Riveting And Unsettling Monster

Charlize Theron is talented in an abundance of ways but she’s particularly adept at portraying damaged individuals. She’s gone down that route a number of times in her career and whenever she does, she makes sure she’s not repeating herself, she’s examining different facets of a damaged human being. Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, for instance, is a whole different kind of damaged human being, one who has just much physical trauma in her past as she has mental trauma but she has an unfailing determination to her that motivates her sole purpose in life: to help others that are being abused by the ones who had committed awful atrocities to her.

Monday, May 29, 2017


American pop culture is at an interesting...impasse, I guess you could say, in terms of how it treats the Iraq war. For a good long while during the Iraq war conflict, American war movies were firmly situated in the past, namely in World War II where audiences could have a greater sense of removal from what was transpiring on-screen and some clear-cut villains (Nazi's and Hitler) to root against. In 2009, we got two movies that tackled the brutality offered up by the war and its effects on individual men with the excellent The Hurt Locker and the incredible Brothers, but since then, most of our wartime movies have been mostly empty features, whether they're just "rah-rah" action films like Lone Survivor or American Sniper or supposedly philosophical but mostly just empty movies like Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Go Down The Scenic Route In The Enchantingly Unique And Abstract Mulholland Drive

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #36
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #28                                                                                                                                                                                

Well, if anyone thought Blue Velvet, with its plot that hinges on a human ear in a field and Dennis Hopper's crazed baddie, was too weird, Mulholland Drive is not gonna be the movie for you. I would have really loved to see this movie in its theatrical release, as I'm pretty sure audiences would have been left bamboozled at best and likely asking movie theater attendees for their money back in an angry fashion. Me? My main reaction once Mulholland Drive was one of being impressed by what an absorbing experience David Lynch had concocted, even if I needed to do a little reading up on Wikipedia afterwards to fully figure out what was going on in this movies final scene.

Norman: The Moderate Rise And Tragic Fall Of A New York Fixer Fixes Up Some Well-Written Money-Motivated Mayhem

The world of politics is tricky to navigate for sure. For instance, recent American political developments seem to pain a gloomy picture in terms of the kind of leaders many people in our country want, with racist sexual predator reality TV show hosts with no political experience winning the highest seat of power in the country over a woman with decades of political experience while a man who assaults reporters is able to win a seat in Congress. Yes, the world of politics is not for the faint of heart and it's one that Nathaniel Oppenheimer, the titular character of Norman: The Moderate Rise And Tragic Fall Of A New York Fixer, finds himself very much in the middle of.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Is Soaked In Tedium And Terrible Writing

Just like Bernie in Weekend At Bernie's, the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise is dead. The newest entry in this lame-brained saga, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, brings a franchise that's always struggled with sequels to lows lower than the ones seen in the already anemic Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Yes, the one that committed the foul crime of wasting Ian McShane as an evil pirate is no longer the worst entry in this series, that's how bad Dead Men Tell No Tales is. Nothing can dull the glorious high-quality of that original Pirates Of The Caribbean movie, but at this point, this newest Pirates movie is like Terminator: Genisys; a nonsensically told story that's just around to provide "REMEMBER THIS FROM PAST MOVIES???" moments in place of anything even remotely of substance.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Happy 40th Anniversary Star Wars!

40 years is a long time.

Like, a long time.

We've been through seven Presidents Of The United States in that time, four different James Bond actors, the entire runs of TV shows like Breaking Bad, The Sopranos and Law & Order in that four decades of time. So many people have come and gone, so much has been lost and gained, but there Star Wars stands, like a lighthouse in the fog of reality, always standing, always shining, always providing clarity even in the midst of tragedy. It's always residing there as this pop culture institution children love and adults will enjoy both watching on its own terms and similarly enjoy passing onto the next generation.

Lowriders Needed More Polish Before It Could Truly Shine

Lowriders is a collaboration between two of Hollywood's biggest production companies; Ron Howard and Brian Grazer's Imagine Entertainment and Jason Blum's micro-budget wonder factory Blumhouse Productions. The two have joined forces to finance and theatrically release (via Blumhouse's self-distributing studio BH Tilt that put out recent movies like Incarnate, The Belko Experiment and Sleight) Lowriders after the movie sat on the shelf for nearly two years. Interestingly, in that time, three of its main stars (Melissa Benoist, Theo Rossi and Tony Revelori) have gotten involved in major roles in high-profile superhero projects. Hopefully Demian Bichir joins them in that regard soon!

Au Hasard Balthazar Is A Boldly Grim Cinematic Experience

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #35
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #16                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            One of the biggest no-no's in the world of cinema is hurting animals. Kill all the people you like (so long as they ain't kids) but hurting an innocent animal? You've gone too far. That's a really understandable phenomenon to me because animals are awesome and the sight of seeing an innocent creature with less capabilities than a human being experiencing pain just feels icky. That's why I've never been big on hunting and that's why movies have typically eschewed showing animals in dire pain, though there are exceptions of course. Satantango decided to just abuse a poor cat in one of its worst and most pointless scenes while Old Yeller is famous for its climax that results in the demise of the titular canine.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Trying To Review A Movie As Phenomenal As Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans Is Daunting, But Lemme Give It A Try!

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #34
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #5

Well ladies and gents, this is my 1,500th post on Land Of The Nerds!!! And what better movie to serve as the centerpiece of such a momentous article than Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans, a movie so phenomenal I want to bypass all other formal introductions so I can get to singing the praises of it all the more quickly. Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans is the kind of movie that, the moment it's finished, leaves me wanting to go outside and imitate George Bailey at the end of It's A Wonderful Life by telling every person I see in a hysterically giddy fashion about the amazing imagery I just witnessed!

Somewheeere....Beyond The Sea.....Is The Seafaring Movie Kon-Tiki!!

Directing duo Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg have been tasked with this weekend's new blockbuster Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. At this point, the concept of lesser-known directors previously in charge of projects that ranged from small-scale to micro-budget projects endeavors being tasked with American blockbusters is far from a novel concept. What's interesting is that Rønning and Sandberg have actually done multiple movies (three in fact) prior to being tasked with something as massive as a Pirates Of The Caribbean movie, a sharp contrast to the likes of Collin Trevorrow or Jordan Vogt-Roberts who each did one movie before going off into blockbuster territory.

Good Men Become Obssessed With Finding The Signs Pointing To Answers In Zodiac

We all love a good mystery. Why you think mystery novels, whether they're aimed at adults or youngsters, tend to sell like hot cakes? Mysteries tend to sell well because they offer up all the confusion and uncertainty of everyday life, but typical mystery books/films/TV shows also offer up something life, more often than not, doesn't offer: a tidy conclusion. You get to find out what bad guy committed whatever mystery is driving the plot and his motivations by the end of these mystery tales in sharp contrast to real life where, frequently, those kind of answers are never found. Pieces of mystery based entertainment allow us to indulge in getting the kind of closure on atrocities we may never find in reality.

In Laman's Terms: Celebrating Three Years Of Land Of The Nerds

In Laman's Terms is a new weekly editorial column where Douglas Laman rambles on about certain topics or ideas that have been on his mind lately. Sometimes he's got serious subjects to discuss, other times he's just got some silly stuff to shoot the breeze about. Either way, you know he's gonna talk about something In Laman's Terms!
Three years.

It's been three years since I started this website.

Three years ago, I launched Land Of The Nerds after months of preparation and thought as a way to segue from being my High School newspaper's film critic into being a full-on pop culture journalist. My entire life I had been captivated and inspired by websites like Comingsoon.net, Roger Ebert's own website The AV Club and The Dissolve that provided plenty of film news and in the latter three websites cases, also provided commentary and reviews that attended to a wide spectrum of types of movies. Blockbusters, obscure documentaries and direct-to-video comedy sequels all got equal levels of analysis. The world of cinema was vast and unpredictable and these websites were populated by people just dying to explore that world and all its nooks and crannies.

My job in starting Land Of The Nerds was to create something that could take that level of dedication and writing quality and add my own dash of personality to the mix. Since May 24, 2014 when Land Of The Nerds first opened, I've published 1,496 pieces of writing, most of which were movies reviews but there were plenty of editorials and news pieces to spice things up too. In recent weeks, I've been expanding the type of writing done on here too; music reviews, a prominent fixture in the early months of this website (where namely reviews of country music singles), have returned with a vengeance with a new weekly feature entitled Douglas Laman Needs A Tune-Up where I review a classic album I've never heard of before.

A new weekly editorial feature, In Laman's Terms, has also been an attempt by myself to revive a feature that was more prominent in the early days of the site. Why do I bring these two columns up specifically? To show how Land Of The Nerds is growing now and will continue to grow for as long as it exists. I love routines and proven schedules but I am not a stagnant person when it comes to my writing. I am always looking for new film genres and new avenues of pop culture to explore and write about and these two new weekly fixtures I hope serve as an indication of the wide spectrum of content Land Of the Nerds provides from yours truly.

Where do we go from here? Who really knows. Weekly fixtures and movie reviews will continue unabated (though my summer college courses will heavily restrict movie reviews to primarily new releases versus the heavy emphasis on reviews of pre-2017 feature films I've been doing for the first five months of this year) while I hope to one day make good use of the plural use of the word "Nerds" in this site's title and hire additional writers to provide their own unique perspectives to the table when it comes to pop culture. I would have once thought that was impossible, but I also would have thought it was impossible for this website to garner over 25,000 pageviews in a single month and since that's happened in two separate months in 2017, perhaps that goal of adding writers to this website will happen one of these o'l days!

I really don't want to sound like a bragger or anything like that, but I do work hard here, I take pride in my work and always wanting to improve it and looking back on the three years of steady pieces of writing I've provided on a daily basis does make me proud. Though it's a geeky pile of work I've created over the last few years, it's MY geeky pile of work and I'm happy to have my name and face on this website. But I'm even happier that I can share these works with you dear reader. Whether you've been reading this site for all three years of its existence or you just stumbled upon Land Of The Nerds by accident, I thank you for sticking around and listening to my extended ramblings about all sorts of pop culture fixtures. Your interest in diving deeper into the world of cinema makes my heart soar and you're the reason the site has kept going for as long as it has.

In summation, thank you to everyone for reading what I've made here for three years, I'm really proud of what's transpired so far in the Land Of The Nerds and I'm incredibly excited for what's to come. I don't know what's in the future, which is both a scary and exciting experience. But that's also how I felt when I was a High School Senior in the last week of High School, and now three years later, look what's happened. I just finished my third year of college and have done three straight years of working on this website. Not everything's been good that's occurred in the last three years for sure (just look at American politics) but we've also had amazing events too like the legalization of gay marriage, plenty of moments I'll never forget shared with my friends and family and I also have seen too many amazning movies to count.

The future is, quite frequently, a terrifying thing  But as long as I've got this site, writing, you fine readers and some good movies by my side, I think I can handle anything life throws my way. Here's to the next three years and beyond of Land Of The Nerds!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Douglas Laman Gets A Tune-Up (Entry #3): What's Going On by Marvin Gaye

ENTRY #3: What's Going On by Marvin Gaye

Douglas Laman Gets A Tune-Up is a new weekly series wherein Douglas Laman listens to an album of music he's never fully listened to before (though he may have heard one or two songs from it) and writes up his brief thoughts on it.

For the next entry in this series, we head only a few years after 1967 when The Velvet Underground & Nico was released but we do head into a different genre of music entirely. Marvin Gaye's 1971 album What's Going On clearly belongs to the world of soul music, a genre reliant on African-American culture and one that served as an artistic outlet for African-Americans in both the 20th and 21st century. While American music was still struggling to recognize African-American artists on a regular basis in the 1960's and 1970's, the terrain of soul and jazz music served as one of the few go-to avenues for African-American musicians looking to express themselves in an authentic way.

Dreamgirls Is Frequently Entertaining But Not Quite A Dream Come True

Certain movies have these massively iconic sequences that have, in many cases, managed to become even more famous than the movies they originally came from. Notice how the scene of Adolf Hitler breaking down from the Oscar-nominated 2004 German drama Downfall has garnered far more notoriety than the actual movie due to that scene being appropriated for comedic reasons so that the subtitles in that particular scene have Hitler reacting to more mundane modern-day circumstances. Such a phenomenon also includes the 2006 musical Dreamgirls, which has a certain showstopper musical number so powerful it eclipses the rest of the movie it appears in.

The 2008 Stage Version Of Rent Shows Why This Gut-Wrenching Musical Has Endured For So Long

It's interesting to me how a large amount of art can be dubbed both timely to the specific period it premiered in and timeless in the types of emotions and characters it grapples with. Rent, a Broadway musical penned by Jonathan Larson, is very much one such production, with its story chronicling the experiences of eight adults in their early twenties grappling with financial insecurity and the AIDS crisis being very much something that resonated powerfully with audiences in the mid-1990's. For decades at that point, the AIDS crisis had ravaged the LGBTQA community and instead of creating more empathy for members of this community, individuals like former President Ronald Reagan only made those suffering from AIDS and the LGBTQA community itself even more of a pariah in American society than it already was. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Prepared To Be Floored By The Mesmerizing Romance And Unique Spirit Of Moulin Rouge!

I wonder what it must have been like to be on the set of Moulin Rouge!, being directed by Baz Luhrmann and trying to make sense of what he was crafting here. The dude had made two films prior to Moulin Rouge!, and while I haven't seen those two initial features from Luhrmann, it's pretty clear they aren't exact copies of the incredibly one-of-a-kind aesthetic that Moulin Rouge! is reliant on, one that is very much informed by elements that get added into a movie during its post-production like editing. One can't help but ponder what was going on in the actor's minds as they acted out scenes that were going to have their own unique rhythm and pacing that could only be fully appreciated once the movie was fully completed.

Plenty Of Well-Done Musical Numbers Pop Up In Chicago, Though, Sadly, There's No Pizza

We've had plenty of "ladies-in-prison" movies in the history of cinema, to the point that it's become its own subgenre so ubiquitous it inspired a fake trailer on Grindhouse. Such a concept has endured so much that it's even eeked over into television with Orange Is The New Black being a hugely popular show for four years now. Despite the huge amount of content fixated on the idea of women getting into shenanigans in prison, I doubt any other piece of "ladies-in-prison" pop culture is quite like the 2002 Rob Marshall movie Chicago, which is based on a hugely popular and long-running Broadway musical of the same name.

Liza Minnelli And Bob Fosse Joins Forces For Thoughtful Musical Fare In Cabaret

The idea of Liza Minelli and the late great Bob Fosse teaming up feels like as natural a pairing as peanut butter and jelly or dogs and cuteness or Donald Trump and racism. EGOT winner Liza Minnelli most certainly knows her way around a musical number while you'd be hard pressed to find individuals in American pop culture from any era more adept at the art of dancing than Mr. Bob Fosse, whose knowledge of how to pull off the most exquisite dance moves seemed to come as naturally to him as breathing air. Such a promising pairing came to pass in the 1972 musical drama Cabaret, which also managed to rope in Michael York into the proceedings.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

There's Just Not Enough Brains Or Good Scares In The Underwhelming Alien: Covenant

Ridley Scott is a master of his craft. Like fellow 1970's filmmaker trailblazer Steven Spielberg, it's awesome to see him still out there making large-scale movies and pushing boundaries in the modern age. The guys made his modern-day duds for sure (The Counselor has its notable fanbase for sure but I just couldn't get into and Exodus: Gods And Kings was a total snoozefest) but his most recent film, The Martian, demonstrated why we al fell in love with him in the first place. All of that praise having been said, I won't lie; Alien: Covenant, his newest directorial effort, does make me think it's time for some new creative (acid) blood to get injected into this franchise on some level.

Alien: Covenant Has An Underwhelming Bow As Everything, Everything Does Solid Box Office And The Newest Wimpy Kid Film Lives Up To Its Name

Five years after Prometheus, the Alien saga continued again with Alien: Covenant, which managed to have an underwhelming bow compared to expectations. No one was expecting this one to handily top the $51 million bow of Prometheus but it should have been a given for this one to cross $40 million given the ubiquity of the Alien brand name. Instead, Alien: Covenant grossed only $36.1 million this weekend and failed to hold well throughout the weekend, going down 21% on Saturday from its $15 million Friday (Saturday drops over 10% are more forgivable when a film's opening day is above $30 million) and scoring a B CinemaScore that's quite lackluster as far as blockbusters go (though, to be fair, it's actually better than average for conventional horror movies). When looking at past opening weekends in the Alien franchise, Covenant comes in third behind the $51 million debut of Prometheus and the $38 million debut of Alien vs. Predator. Adjusted for inflation, it slips to fourth place since Covenant had a lower opening weekend than the adjusted for inflation $41.4 million debut of Alien 3 and also was only 14% ahead of the $31.7 million adjusted for inflation debut of Alien: Resurrection.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Man (With A Movie Camera)! I Feel Like A Woman!

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #33
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #8

In the early days of cinema, everything you could with a camera was revolutionary. The works of folks like Eadweard Muybridge, Thomas Edison and the Lumiere Brothers may seem quaint now, but at the time, they were changing how art could be made forever. Film was such a new artform at that point that the very act of filming anything was rightly considered something tantamount to an act of Biblical proportions. By the time 1929 rolled around, cinema had advanced notably since the 1890-1900 era, but there was still much to be done and experimented with when it came to the art of filmmaking. There was still plenty of artistic terrains yet to be charted in the realm of cinema.

Extraneous Raunch And Viagra Weakens The Charming Romance In Love & Other Drugs

Back in the late 2000's, specifically around 2009 through 2011, the American romantic comedy took a detour into the raunchy and R-rated. It's not like no film in the subgenre had gone to such terrain before, but the likes of The Ugly Truth, Friends With Benefits and No Strings Attached decided to unleash more nudity and F-bombs in the world of romantic comedies in order to entice moviegoers and keep things fresh (a friend of mine smartly pointed out how this trend was also likely a response to Judd Apatow's mid-2000's R-rated comedies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up which had major romantic components to them). Ironically, the most financially lucrative romantic-comedy from this epoch was the PG-13 feature The Proposal!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Double Indemnity Provides So Many Engrossing Thrills It's Practically A Crime!

I always try to reiterate my feelings that no cliche is inherently bad, it's the way it's presented that makes all the difference in the world. Perhaps no better example of this phenomenon exists than the world of noir thrillers. We all know the trappings of noir cinema, maybe from seeing plenty of noir movies or maybe even just from seeing one of the countless parodies of this subgenre, the omnipresent narration, the black-and-white color scheme, the dames and femme fatales, the steel-jawed detective, all of those are recurring factors in many entries in this subgenre. And let me tell you, I love those recurring traits of noir filmmaking, I really do. When they're done right, they can create a storytelling atmosphere like no other that merges intrigue with a bleak tone.

You Can Thank Sanaa Lathan And Alien Carnage For Making Alien vs. Predator More Watchable Than Expected

Ever since a 1989 comic had created the idea of the Xenomorphs from the Alien movies and the Predators from the Predator movies meeting up and duking it out, 20th Century Fox had carried a hankering for creating an entire motion picture centered around that concept. Despite Sigourney Weaver, the face of the entire Alien franchise up to that point, feeling the idea was a bad idea and would kill the franchise, the studio plowed ahead on the concept, with the results of the fruit of their labors being Alien vs. Predator, a 2004 action horror movie that broke new ground by being the first entry in either the Alien or Predator franchises to be rated PG-13.

"Here Comes The General!" "This Should Be Fun!"

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #32
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #34

Me and my love for classic silent movies have already had plenty of experiences with one Mr. Charlie Chaplin while the phenomenal motion picture Safety Last! allowed me the chance to be introduced to Harold Lloyd, another titan of this era of filmmaking. But despite my intense affection for this particular decade of movies, there's one major star from the age of classic silent movies that I have not been exposed to; the one and only Buster Keaton! Yep, somehow Keaton and his numerous massively influential features have passed me by over the year, though that changed for the better recently when I finally saw  Keaton's 1926 feature The General!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

In Laman's Terms: Let The Men (And Raccoons!) Cry

In Laman's Terms is a new weekly editorial column where Douglas Laman rambles on about certain topics or ideas that have been on his mind lately. Sometimes he's got serious subjects to discuss, other times he's just got some silly stuff to shoot the breeze about. Either way, you know he's gonna talk about it In Laman's Terms!


When the original Guardians Of The Galaxy motion picture came out, multiple articles on The Dissolve surrounding the movie had comment sections that quickly turned into extended discussions on the film's virtues and what specific elements of the film really stood out to people. Plenty of memorable lines ('That was my favorite knife!") got brought up of course but one notable compliment has stuck out to me regarding the film in three years since its release. Disqus user Persia mentioned how Guardians Of The Galaxy really went all out in depicting the individuals characters vulnerabilities, particularly in a final scene depicting Rocket mourning the loss of his buddy Groot by sobbing over such an event. As Persia rightly pointed out, how many recent blockbusters depicted male protagonists outright bawling over tragic events?

In Space, No One Can Hear You Be Disappointed By A Forgettable Sci-Fi Horror Film Like Alien: Resurrection

The Xenomorphs are back! And this time, they're trapped in a movie that harkens back to the 1960's sci-fi schlockfest's the original Alien was supposed to be an atmospheric and suspenseful counterbalance to. Now, there's nothing at all inherently wrong about the world of B-movie cinema, far from it! It's just interesting to me to see this franchise become the very yin it was supposed to be the yang to. More than a little bit of tragedy is added to that transformation considering Alien: Resurrection turns out to be the weakest Alien movie in the franchise yet.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Another Brick In The Wall

Truth in advertising still exists it seems, as The Wall very much does indeed focus on a wall. I have this wish that more modern-day Hollywood movies would use more inventive titles and eschew these shorter generic titles running rampant in modern cinema but at least the more truncated title of The Wall is pretty accurate to what the actual movie entails. The only way it could be more accurate is if it somehow managed to cram in the names of its two lead actors and its primary location (Iraq) in the title, though at that point I suppose the title would become quite unwieldy at that point. I doubt they could even fit that on a poster in a satisfying manner.

The Downward Trend In Quality In The Alien Movies Began With Alien 3

How do you follow a one-two punch like Alien and Aliens? Well, really, you should just leave a good thing alone, especially if you haven't got a great idea for a third movie burning a hole in your pocket. But 20th Century Fox was determined to make more entries in the franchise after the big box office bucks generated by Aliens. From their determination to wring another Ellen Ripley adventure out of the franchise sprung Alien 3, which ended up being the feature-length directorial debut for one David Fincher. Yes, that David Fincher, the guy responsible for The Social Network, one of my favorite movies of all-time.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Douglas Laman Gets A Tune-Up (Entry #2): The Velvet Underground & Nico

ENTRY #2: The Velvet Underground & Nico by The Velvet Underground and Nico

Douglas Laman Gets A Tune-Up is a new weekly series wherein Douglas Laman listens to an album of music he's never fully listened to before (though he may have heard one or two songs from it) and writes up his brief thoughts on it.

I had never heard of The Velvet Underground prior to it being selected as the next title in this series (friends of mine who are way bigger music geeks than me choose the albums I cover for this series), but boy am I not gonna forget 'em now. If you're as out of the blue in regards to this group as I once was, The Velvet Underground is a mid-20th-century band that existed for only eight years but left an incredible impression on the world of music in that timespan. A key reason for them carrying such influence in their work comes from their very first album (released in 1967), The Velvet Underground & Nico.

Originality, Fun And Being Entertaining Are Not King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword's Strong Suits

I always felt like The Sword In The Stone was one of the weakest animated Disney movies as a kid. Maybe my opinion would change as an adult (I haven't seen it in years) but its more episodic story structure was more obvious there than it is in other animated fare from Disney in the same era and the characters never struck me as all that interesting. That having been said, I'd handily say that particular cinematic take on the King Arthur mythos is notably superior to Guy Ritchie's new take on the world of Camelot in King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword. After all, The Sword In The Stone at least had that owl who was occasionally funny.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ya Can't Help But Believe In Aliens

James Cameron is about to spend the next eight years immersed in the world of Pandora creating four Avatar sequels, which, considering they just cast Cliff Curtis in a major role in said sequels, means it looks like these Avatar follow-ups are actually finally happening after nearly a decade of development. Cameron himself is no stranger to sequels having started his entire directorial career with Pirhana 2: The Spawning, a cheapie 1981 horror movie he directed with Ovidio G. Assonitis. A decade later he would helm Terminator 2: Judgement Day which is widely considered to be one of the best blockbusters of the 1990's. In between those two sequels though came Aliens, a direct follow-up to Ridley Scott's earlier Alien film.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 Wins The Box Office Again As King Arthur Loses Legendary Amounts Of Money

We got the first major blockbuster bomb of the summer this weekend, one that'll probably go down as one of the years bigger duds. Before we get to that film though, let's first talk about Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, which ruled the box office again with $63 million, a 57% decline from its opening weekend. That's a slightly better second-weekend hold than the ones experienced by the last three early May Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, Captain America: Civil War (59%), Avengers: Age Of Ultron (59%) and Iron Man 3 (58%), though it's slightly larger than the 55% decline the first Guardians Of The Galaxy experienced in its second weekend. In ten days, this new Guardians Of The Galaxy movie has grossed $246.1 million and looks to be headed for a final domestic total in the $350-360 million range.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Snatch Me If You Can

Before he was making big blockbusters like the Sherlock Holmes movies and that new King Arthur film that just opened this weekend (the latter feature is why I'm covering the subject of this review today), Guy Ritchie was a bloke from England looking to make crime movies with a distinct air to them. He's carried over his unique editing and directing sensibilities over to some of his blockbuster work, but if you want pure unfiltered Guy Ritchie, you can most certainly find it in his 2000 crime movie Snatch, which is packed to the gills with energy as well as characters in its gargantuan ensemble cast.

Friday, May 12, 2017

We Built The Lost City Of Z On Rock And Roll

In his 1995 review of Congo, Roger Ebert mentioned how the jungle adventure movie had "fallen out of fashion", which is true, we didn't really see a whole bunch of such movies in the years leading up to 1995. While last year brought the new Jungle Book remake from Disney and The Legend Of Tarzan, jungle adventure movies have otherwise been mostly scarce in 2010's cinema as well, a sign that that particular subgenre may really have just fallen by the wayside for a variety of reason. But just because it's scarce doesn't mean it's gone extinct. Case in point, last month brought a brand spanking new jungle adventure movie in the form of James Gray's newest directorial effort, The Lost City Of Z.

Charming Craziness Runs Rampant In Spike Jonze's Debut Directorial Effort Being John Malkovich

I'll be right upfront and proclaim myself as a total Spike Jonze fanboy. When I saw Where The Wild Things Are as a thirteen-year-old, I had no prior experience with his filmmaking but the movie itself was so captivating and incredible that I knew I would never forget Spike Jonze's name. Just a few yeas later, Jonze managed to surpass his 2009 achievement with the masterpiece Her, one of the best movies made in the 21st century. Since seeing those two in their theatrical runs, I've also gone back and watched the superb Adaptation and have no finally rounded out Spike Jonze's feature film directorial catalog by finally viewing his debut effort Being John Malkovich, which paired him up with writer Charlie Kaufman, the writer of Adaptation.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

I'm Blue (Velvet) Da Ba Dee Da Ba Daa

The unusual seems to just come natural to David Lynch. His movies are world-renowned at this point for having incredibly idiosyncratic visual touches to them and extended dream-like sequences while his 1982 movie The Elephant Man (previously the only David Lynch movie I'd seen) concentrated on a man whose physical appearance was so different from society it caused him to be ostracized from the rest of the world and treated unfairly like a freak. For his 1986 feature Blue Velvet, Lynch once again embraces the unorthodox to create incredible and distinctive cinema, the kind that really feels like it could only come from the mind of Lynch himself.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Spend Seven (Or, Technically 127) Minutes In Thrilling Heaven With Davin Fincher's Excellent Thriller Seven

Though his most acclaimed movie may be the 2010 masterpiece The Social Network, which is very much a restrained down-to-Earth movie in many respects, David Fincher's 1995 thriller Seven reminds us all that this guy isn't just a cinematic auteur but also someone along the lines of Sam Raimi that loves to freak out his viewers with some truly sadistic imagery and sequences. You can see that in his most recent feature, Gone Girl, which has plenty of over-the-top kills and buckets of blood when the time comes for it. Fincher knows excellent shot composition and thoughtful narratives like the back of his hand but the guy also knows how to do grimy violence for shock value in a tantalizing manner that furthers the man's versatility as a filmmaker.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Letting A Non-White Perspective Take A Prominent Role In Amistad Helps It Become As Powerful As It Is

Despite Steven Spielberg being one of the most prolific figures to ever grace the medium, he does have a few movies that seem to not be as noteworthy in the public eye. 1941 is one of course, while his mid-1980's drama that introduced the world to Christian Bale Empire Of The Sun also feels like it's slipped through the cracks and maybe it's just me, but his 2005 Best Picture nominee Munich also feels like it could be given that distinction. Another one if his films in that category is his 1997 feature Amistad, which I first heard about in the book The Men Who Would Be King (a book chronicling the rise and fall of Spielberg's movie studio DreamWorks) where it was looked back on as both an awards and financial disappointment in the history of the studio.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Journey To Italy Is A Quietly Tragic Romantic Drama NOT A Concert Movie About Journey Performing In Italy As I Thought

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #31
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #12

We have plenty of movies about people falling in love, with the subgenre thriving because of people of all genders getting to live vicariously through the characters on-screen engaging in a perfect romance they know can't possibly exist in the real world. There's plenty of those movies I like but I also tend to gravitate heavily towards movies with more realistic depictions of romance, specifically, one's that show people in either romantic partnerships or marriages that are crumbling and how that deteriorating relationship affects both people. That's why Richard Linklater's Before Midnight is so excellent, among many many other reasons!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Gifted Is Far From Original But It Has Its Moments And Proves (Once Again) That Chris Evans Has Dramatic Acting Chops

Chris Evans is so assured and natural in his multiple performances as Captain America that I think we all take for granted just how good he is as a performer to make that character (which many in the public had dismissed as a jingoistic one-note caricature before the 2011 Captain America film) feel so real and dramatically investable. You can see the guy's talent as an actor in plenty of other works too, including Sunshine (which way more people need to see!), Snowpiercer (ditto) and in his small but hilarious role as Lucas Lee in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Evans gets to flex his dramatic muscles once more in the new Marc Webb drama Gifted.

In Shocking News, A Marvel Movie Makes Loads Of Cash In Early May As Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 Rules The Box Office

Well, another first weekend of May just came and went and once again, a new Marvel Cinematic Universe movie just made a bunch of cash on its opening weekend. The newest MCU movie that premiered this weekend was Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, which grossed $145 million, a 53% increase over the opening weekend of the first movie. That's the biggest opening weekend ever for a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that didn't star Robert Downey Jr. (beating out Captain America: The Winter Soldier's $95 million bow from April 2014 for that distinction) and the sixth biggest May opening weekend of all-time (all of the seven biggest May opening weekends are Marvel movies with all of them belonging to the Marvel Cinematic Universe except for the $151 million bow of Spider-Man 3).

Human Beings Helping Other Human Beings Is The Crux Of The Beautiful Short Term 12

I tend to think of myself as a Timely Timothy, but man, I can also be such a procrastinator if I don't keep my innately lazy tendencies in check. Delaying stuff I need to get done has come back to bite me plenty of times, but man, I feel like a real loser for managing to put off watching the 2013 indie drama Short Term 12 for so long. Once I missed this one's theatrical release, it somehow slipped off my radar over the past few years despite constantly hearing quite positive things about it. Well, I managed to rent it from the library a while back and finally finally finally watched it and oh my God, I am filled with an incredible amount of regret in regards to not watching this movie much sooner than I did.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Ranking All of The Marvel Studios Post-Credits Scenes From Best To Worst (2nd Edition- May 2017)

Hey, look! Even The Marvel Studios logo got a major update since I did the first edition of this article!

Back in August 2014, I wrote up an essay ranking the then 13 post-credits scene in the Marvel Cinematic Universe from worst to best. In honor of the release of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 and its five separate post-credit scenes, I decided to do an updated version of that essay, this time rejiggering the placement of certain scenes that already existed way back in August 2014 and adding the 12 (yes, 12) mid-credit and post-credit sequences that have been scattered throughout the five Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies that have been released since August 2014. Join me, won't you, in this expansive look at the post-credits scenes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

A Duplicitous Lead Character Strongly Hinders One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

A few weeks back, I had the privilege of giving a presentation at an event at my college regarding portrayals of Autistic characters in American pop culture. One recurring facet I paid a notable amount of attention to in these portrayals is how in many many depictions of Autism, the Autistic characters are relegated to the roles of sidekicks, they're always supporting a lead character who most assuredly does not have Autism. We've seen this trend bucked a few times in recent productions like The Big Short and Life, Animated but it's still a recurring problem and you can see a similar issue in how people with any sort of neurological or mental handicap are always pushed into supporting roles for characters who don't have such ailments.

Friday, May 5, 2017

In Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, The Cosmic Weirdness, Fun And Interesting Characters Are In Full Supply!

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has done a lot of things right, but man, it took 'em a while to get a handle on doing their second movies in individual franchises right. Their first one of these specific type of features, Iron Man 2, is still by far the weakest and most narratively messy MCU film while their next effort in this area was Thor: The Dark World, a heavily flawed fantasy movie with some elements of fun scattered throughout. Right after Thor: The Dark World, they finally got one of these movies right with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and continued that trend with the gonzo yet thoughtful Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Now, you may be pondering to yourself right now, is Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 more on the order of Iron Man 2 or Captain America 2?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Jean Luc-Godard's Contempt Is An Oddly Thin And Mean-Spirited Movie in The Man's Filmography

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #30
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #12

Well hello Jean-Luc Godard, we meet again. After watching Godard's Histoire(s) du Cinema recently for this series of reviews, I was intrigued to follow up that incredibly avant-garde experience with something more a bit closer to a conventional drama with his 1963 film Contempt, something I learned after watching the movie was actually quite autobiographical in nature. Turns out, Godard made the movie in response to the troubles he was having with his wife at the time, a woman he would divorce by 1965. That's interesting to learn though it still can't quite make me raise my not so positive opinion on Contempt.

Classical Noir's Don't Get Much Better Than The Maltese Falcon

One of my favorite parts of the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes (and let me tell you, I have so many favorite parts of that amazing comic strip) were the recurring appearances by Calvin's persona Tracer Bullet, a detective trapped in a black and white noir with omnipresent narration that basically introduced a young Douglas Laman to the trappings of the noir genre. Of course, Tracer Bullet (God, that is such a perfect name for a detective meant to be a pastiche on noir protagonists) was building upon the legacy of many surely detectives before him, including Humphrey Bogart's lead character in the 1941 drama The Maltese Falcon.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Properly Maintaining Its Light Tone Is Not One Of The Stronger Suits Of The Mostly Pleasant L'Atalante

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #29
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #12

It can be tough sometimes to review classical movies through a millennial prism, only because not everything from older movies is going to hold up. Pieces of dialogue and actions now considered to be unacceptable in our modern society may have once been deemed fine as rain to do in even the most serious circumstances. You can even see this phenomenon in films made as late as the 2000's; there's plenty of gay panic jokes or gags that are incredibly demeaning towards the LGBTQA community in plenty of supposedly light-hearted comedies. Times change, but art is always stuck in the era in which it was made which means the vast majority of cinema, for instance, may carry over aspects from certain eras that seem unsavory in today's world.

My Thoughts On The Dark Tower Trailer

Despite the fact that it's coming out on August 4th, you'd be hard-pressed to find evidence that the new Dark Tower movie even existed considering the previously non-existent marketing campaign
Sony/Columbia has been putting up for the motion picture. Aside from a solitary poster and some footage shown off exclusively to movie theater owners at CinemaCon, nada, nothing! But that changed this morning when Sony/Columbia finally decided to throw the world a bone and give this long in-development movie a trailer! Check it out and my thoughts on it below!