Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Mermaids! Monstrous Murder! Musical Numbers! It's All Here In The Lure!

Remember that brief period in the early 2010's when we had gritty reimaginings of fairy tales? It didn't last long, mostly because more classical retellings of those fairy tales proved to be far more financially lucrative, but for a moment, we got just enough of these titles to qualify as a mini-trend in American cinema. Jack The Giant Slayer, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and Snow White & The Huntsman all emerged as attempts to rework children's fairy tales into dark PG-13 or R-rated cinema. In the end though, most of these attempts to be "adult" just ended up feeling derivative of other movies or tv shows and resulted in lackluster motion pictures (I do remember Giant Slayer being decent, to be fair).

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Kogonada Makes an Impressive Debut Effort As A Writer/Director With Columbus

You'd be surprised by what topics can help connect people. Sometimes a common interest in the most unusual things can help unite strangers. That's part of the appeal of all those fan conventions centered around niche interests, a way for people to amalgamate around what they love. For the lead characters of Columbus, it's architecture found around Columbus, Indiana that manages to bring these two strangers together during pivotal moments in their lives. Another person may just see assorted buildings in a city in Indiana, but for these two human beings, these buildings offer a chance for some much-needed human connections during tumultuous periods in their lives.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Hostiles Tries To Be A Woke Western But It Can't Quite Get It's Eyes Open

I've been beating the drum on director Scott Cooper for some time now, mainly thanks to how highly I thought of his 2013 feature Out of The Furnace (his 2009 motion picture Crazy Heart is also notably good). Thought it received an overall divisive critical reception upon initial release, I myself thought it was a great movie that managed to take the basic premise of a revenge action movie and imbue both a terrific Christian Bale performance and thoughtful grimness into it. Taking my love for his past works in mind, it breaks my heart to say that Scott Cooper's newest movie Hostiles, handily his most ambitious feature yet in terms of themes and scope, is a mess and an unpleasant one at that.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

A Movie As Well-Made As The Passionate Friends Has Got A Friend In Me

To quote Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia (which itself was quoting a passage from the book The Natural History of Nonsense): "We might be through with the past but the past ain't through with us." That's true under any circumstances but it's especially true in regards to the lead characters of The Passionate Friends, who are all entangled in how Mary (Ann Todd) is becoming heavily infatuated with a figure from her past much to the detriment of her present circumstances. Even when seemingly important people and events fade into the best, they can still manage to be impactful well into the present.

Maze Runner Ends It's Franchise With Solid Box Office, Hostiles And Padmaavat Exceeds Expectations

And so, the exit of the maze has been found. Maze Runner: The Death Cure ended the Maze Runner franchise on a solid note this weekend by grossing $23.5 million, down 27% from the opening weekend of the first Maze Runner film and down 22% from the opening weekend of the second Maze Runner movie. Despite being down from its predecessors, this is a fine debut for the final Maze Runner motion picture given the two-and-a-half-year gap between its predecessors (only a year separated the first two Maze Runner movies) and the difference between opening weekends of it's second and third installments were considerably better than the one seen by the second and third Divergent movies. That $62 million budget (which is much higher than it's predecessors, likely due to accounting for filming having to restart after the movies star, Dylan O'Brien, suffered a life-threatening accident on set) looms large, but thankfully, this series has always done well internationally. Looks like the Maze Runner movies are ending on a fine note that the Divergent movies would be green with envy over.

Get Grooving To Those Thoughtful And Transfixing Boogie Nights

The porn industry is a ubiquitous presence in the media landscape, especially during the 1970's when the medium went through an era marked by financial prosperity that would later get it named The Golden Age of Porn. But how often do we think about the people behind these X-rated movies, the human beings who brought the smut to the big screen back in the day and your laptop screen in the modern-day world? For only his second feature-length movie ever, Paul Thomas Anderson decided to expand on both an idea and a name (Dirk Diggler) that originated in an earlier short film he helmed to create Boogie Nights, which may just be his peak as a filmmaker and God knows that's a high compliment given how many great movies Anderson has made.

Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg), on the surface, seems like a protagonist you've seen many times before, the scrappy kid everyone undervalues who dreams of doing something great with his life and ends up heading off to show business to prove he's something special. For Eddie's journey though, some key differences have been made from the typical depiction of this storyline. For one thing, Eddie's struggles at home stemming from an abusive mother are more realistically rendered, which makes Eddie's tearful proclamation to his mother (who repeatedly yells at her son that he's stupid and won't amount to anything) that he will make a name for himself all the more heartbreaking to watch. After that kind of experience, there's no going back to his old life and considering how troubled it was, that's very much a good thing.

Where exactly will Eddie make a name for himself though? Why, in the world of XXX cinema! Prolific director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), who has dreams of making an adult movie so captivating on a storytelling level that people watch it for more than just self-pleasure, has asked Eddie to come act in some of his movies and now Eddie decides to take up his offer. Eddie, now donning the name Dirk Diggler for the silver screen, is introduced to the various members of Jack Horner's gaggle of actors & technicians, including Horner's wife Maggie A.K.A. Amber Waves (Julianne Moore), Eddie's soon-to-be best bud Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly) and Rollergirl (Heather Graham).

Early on, we get introduced to the various members of Jack Horner's social circle at a big pool party and one can already see there are issues with how these various people interact with each other. Everyone is trying to score something from another person, whether it be drugs, a role or sex or some combination of all three. There is no concern for anyone beyond themselves and this mindset has been so ingrained into everyone's psyches that it's not even a malicious act at this point, it's just how they act. Even a young woman overdosing on cocaine isn't enough to get people to exert empathy, only the prospect of cleaning up this mess quickly and quietly is on the minds of the people who find this dying person. It's clear from the get-go that, underneath all the girls, glitz and glamor, is a self-absorbed atmosphere that can only lead to ruin.

Laying that atmosphere out in the open from the get-go doesn't make the heavily flawed characters a pain to watch though. On the contrary, Paul Thomas Anderson's screenplay hopscotches between a wide array of figures that Eddie meets as he enters the porn biz who are thoroughly engaging to watch. Reed Rothchild (who has been told he looks just like Han Solo don'tcha know) is a total hoot thanks to John C. Reilly's committed and frequently intentionally oblivious performance while Julianne Moore is totally transfixing as the quietly tragic Maggie. Her character is a phenomenal representation of the sense of tragedy that makes the characters of Boogie Nights thoroughly entertaining even in their most unsavory moments.

Each of the characters in Boogie Nights want to upend the odds and get themselves a better life. Whether it's Reed's desire to be a magician, Horner wanting to imbue real cinematic craft into his pornographic movies or especially Maggie's desire to be reunited with her son, these characters are all people who wish to exceed expectations and lead top-caliber lives. But their own self-destructive tendencies (namely drug addiction) keep getting in their own way. They've got the will to change their lives, but not the drive. Though it's got tons of humor to its name and a lively pace, the best moments in Boogie Nights are the quietly tragic ones where characters realize their ambitions can't fit into reality, most notably Scott J. (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) breaking down after his romantic advances on Eddie are rejected and a separate scene showing Rollergirl and Maggie bonding over their personal familiar woes while doing cocaine.

Nestling the combination of tragic pathos and well-realized characters underneath a feel-good partying exterior is a move Paul Thomas Anderson pulls off with grace as both a writer & a director. He's especially good with working with his incredibly well-casted actors, who make the ensemble cast of characters work like gangbusters. There really isn't a dud performance to be found here from leading man Mark Wahlberg, in the role that put him on the map as a leading man, being dynamite as Eddie to character actors Luis Guzman & Alfred Molina doing memorable work in supporting roles. It's Julianne Moore who walks away with handily the best performance here though as she portrays Maggie's internal pain in such subtly masterful ways that emotionally devastate you. A scene where she fights for custody of her son serves as ample demonstration of this as just a facial expression from Moore proves to be as powerful as her depiction of her character breaking down in tears immediately after the custody battle.

Similarly memorable from Boogie Nights is the soundtrack which is littered with memorable 1970's/1980's tunes. Movies heavily utilizing pop tracks from those two decades are a dime-a-dozen, but Boogie Nights make some great unique choices for which songs to use (Sister Christian is an especially good example of this) and the way they're utilized is also key to why the soundtrack works so well. For instance, I would have never ever imagined Fooled Around And Fell In Love being set to the type of scene Boogie Nights sets it against, but it's a brilliant and hilarious move, just one of many remarkably crafty moves this 1997 feature makes that help make it as entertaining as it is. Another one of those moves is ending the story on a melancholy note for the characters, with a few members of the cast making progress as people, but others (like Maggie, her final moment in the film showing her just staring into a mirror in resigned sadness is thoroughly haunting) still left stranded in their own unfulfilled ambitions. What a perfectly realistic somber note to end the story on. Frequently cafard character introspections have rarely been as compulsively riveting as they are in Boogie Nights.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

12 Strong Goes to The Front Lines of Forgettable Cinema

It's January, so the massive box office success of both Lone Survivor and American Sniper dictates it's time for another action war movie based on a real-life incident that occurred to U.S. armed forces (or mercenaries in the case of 13 Hours) in the Iraq War. 2018's entry in this subgenre is 12 Strong (the trailers add the sentence The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers to the title), which is all about a group of U.S. soldiers called Task Force Dagger that's led by Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth). Nelson, whose only led the team in training situations, has recently taken a desk job that'll allow him to spend more time with his wife and young kid but those plans take a turn once the World Trade Center attacks occur.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Call Me By Your Name Starts Off Slow Before Focusing On An Absorbing Romance That's Just Peachy

For his fifth (excluding documentaries) feature-length directorial effort, director Luca Guadagnino turns his eye to helming an adaptation of the novel Call Me By Your Name (penned by James Ivory) into a motion picture of the same name. Taking place in Guadagino's home country of Italy, this novel is all about the story of Elio Perlman (Timothee Chalamet), a 17-year-old who finds himself living in a luxurious house owned by his kindly father, Mr. Perlamn (Michael Stuhlbarg), but also struck by boredom as he waits for the summer days to run out and grapples with a local tendency for people to hide who they are (his mom hides their families Jewish heritage while a girl Elio talks to frequently says she veils her love for literature). The introduction of a new houseguest in the form of his dad's former student Oliver (Armie Hammer) only seems to add irritation to Elio's summer since he and Oliver don't get along at first.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Paul Thomas Anderson's Sprawling Magnolia Is Incredibly Engrossing And Unique Cinema

There is no attempt to ease the viewer into the world of Magnolia, the film is just off to the races once the first frame comes up on-screen. Before you know it, the audience is tossed around multiple different storylines happening in close proximity to one another with a similar bleak yet darkly humorous tone permeating the majority of the individual subplots. As the camera frantically moves around from one person to the next, it may seem like this will be too much too fast for a viewer to process but in actuality, it's all too easy to adjust oneself to the unique atmosphere of Magnolia and the similarly idiosyncratic way it tells it's myriad of stories that all transpire over the course of a single day.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Phantom Thread Is Clothed In Delightfully Off-Kilter Material

If you thought any of Paul Thomas Anderson's past films were too unusual for your tastes, buckle up, because he's put the weird into overdrive for his newest motion picture, Phantom Thread. Taking cues from filmmakers ranging from David Lean to Alfred Hitchcock to Yorgos Lanthimos, the newest Paul Thomas Anderson motion picture is an utterly bizarre concoction that shares more with past efforts made by this filmmaker than just being on the unorthodox side. Like other Paul Thomas Anderson movies, Phantom Thread is thoroughly fun to watch, specifically in how it channels Anderson's own Boogie Nights in having this escalating sense of craziness in its plot.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Documentary Spielberg Looks At An Iconic Career In An Engaging Manner

This morning, the nominations for the 90th Academy Awards were announced and among the nine films nominated for Best Picture was The Post, Steven Spielberg's newest directorial effort. With The Post securing a Best Picture nod, this meant, as pointed out by Mark Harris on Twitter, that Spielberg has now had eleven of his movies nominated for Best Picture, the second highest amount of movies a single director has ever had nominated in Best Picture (William Wyler has the most with 13 of his features scoring Best Picture nominations). That's an astonishing accomplishment and it's far from the only place where Spielberg's career has been marked with great success as anyone who's been to a movie theater in the last four decades can attest.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Bet On The Actors Excelling And The Camerawork Underwhelming In Molly's Game

Aaron Sorkin has been writing movies and TV shows for 26 years now and somehow, in that entire period of time, he's never directed anything before his 2017 feature film Molly's Game. This is especially regarding his TV work, the guy was the creator of four different TV shows, one of which (The West Wing) ran for over 150 episodes, and he never once directed an episode of any of these programs despite frequently writing the scripts for individual episodes. Taking all of that into consideration, it's utterly shocking he's taken this long to get behind the camera but he's done just that with the motion picture Molly's Game.

Douglas Laman's 90th Academy Awards Nominees Predictions (PART TWO)

We did Part One back on Saturday, now it's time for the second part of my predictions for who gets nominated for what at this year's Academy Awards ceremony!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

For The Third Weekend In A Row, Jumanji Tops The Box Office While 12 Strong Starts Out Decently And Den Of Thieves "YAWK! YAWK! YAWK! YAWK!"'s It's Way Past Expectations

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle continued to impress at the domestic box office in its fifth weekend of release as it eased down only 28% to gross another $20 million, the seventh biggest fifth weekend in history. With a domestic cume of $316.9 million, it appears this Jake Kasdan directed motion picture is headed for a final domestic gross in the vicinity of $370-380 million. It' astonishing how this one continues to leapfrog past expectations, a clear sign this one has incredible word-of-mouth working in its favor.

Steven Spielberg Kicked Off His Career In Thrilling Style With Duel

Before The Post, before Schindler's List, before even Jaws and The Sugarland Express, Steven Spielberg directed Duel, a TV movie of the week that got expanded into an 89-minute-long feature-length cut for theatrical exhibition domestically and abroad (that longer cut is the one reviewed here). Spielberg's earliest directorial credits were all television work (including a segment in a horror anthology TV movie that starred Joan Crawford!) but this was the first time he got to be behind the camera on a project that reached the runtime of a typical feature-length motion picture, setting the stage for his career in directing theatrical films that was yet to come.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Douglas Laman's 90th Academy Awards Nominees Predictions (PART ONE)

The nominees for the 90th Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday. Everyone from Variety to The Hollywood Reporter to award-centric websites like Gold Derby have been doing their final round of Oscar nominee predictions, so what the hey, I'll embrace conformity and also join in on predicting who gets nominated for what at this year's Oscars. Just a heads up before we go forward, these Oscar nominee predictions are not based on my own personal desires for what should be nominated, but rather based on numerous other factors like who's getting the most buzz in the industry, who has been nominated at crucial recent award shows like the Producer's Guild of America Awards and so on.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Prepare For Oodles of Laughs And Kindness, Paddington 2 Is Here!

This perception (which is, as so many pieces of entertainment from decades past can attest, is far from new) that films or tv shows aimed at children must be as loud, grating and hip as possible to attract their attention is a thoroughly insulting concept, especially in regards to children themselves. Yes, there are programs that fit such a bill that kids like but it's not the only way to create pieces of pop culture that youngsters enjoy. The first Paddington movie, about a small bear from Peru who goes to London to live with a human family, from three years ago threw off the shackles of default family entertainment and embraced with, charm and an infectious sense of sweetness instead. The result was something shockingly enjoyable that succeeded as much as a comedy as it did as a family movie.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Dean Works Better As A Contemplation of Coping With Grief Than As A Comedy

Dean is the feature film directorial debut for comedian Demetri Martin, who also writes and stars in this project which revolves around Martin playing artist Dean who is struggling with coming to terms with the death of his mother. His Dad, Robert (Kevin Kline), is trying to move forward by selling their old family home, engaging in new exercise routines and keeping in omnipresent contact with his son (which is made all the more easier by the use of his new handy-dandy smartphone). Dean, on the other hand, is looking to be more reclusive as he shuts himself out from his father and tries to avoid fully confronting the internal emotional pain that his mom's passing has caused for him.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

In Laman's Terms: The Queer of The Dawn of Cinema

An image from the pivotal 1919 feature Different From The Others
In Laman's Terms is a 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!

"Somebody, your father or mine, should have told us that not many people have ever died of love. But multitudes have perished, and are perishing every hour--and in the oddest places!--for the lack of it." - James Baldwin

Have you seen the new trailer for Love, Simon? If not, check it out below cuz it's all kinds of sweet and heartwarming, really makes me hope the movie itself is awesome!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Menashe Provides A Thoughtful And Charming Character Study

The tale of the titular lead character of Menashe (played by Menashe Lustig) does not begin with a bang. We do not see the tragic circumstances that led to the death of Menashe's wife, rather, we pick up a short period of time after this event has occurred and follow Menashe as he attempts to pick up the pieces of his life and raise his son, Rieven (Ruben Niborski), as best he can. Menashe, raised as a Hasidic Jewish individual, finds the traditions of this religion bumping into his plans to raise his son, as elders in his community, as well as his son's uncle Eizik (Yoel Weisshaus), believe Rieven should be raised in a more traditional household with two parents instead of having just one guardian whose barely getting by as it is.

Steven Spielberg Created A Phenomenally Impactful Motion Picture With Schindler's List

While watching the documentary Spielberg, which chronicles the filmography of its titular filmmaker, shortly after Schindler's List, I was struck by being reminded of how much of a departure this film was compared to everything else Spielberg had done up to this point. Both in Steven Spielberg's comments on the film and in juxtaposing footage of the feature to footage of past Spielberg movies, Schindler's List feels like a complete 180 from what had come before it. Tight, small-scale conversations had replaced the grand spectacle of his blockbuster efforts, more realistic muted character beats abounded and small touches in the lighting & and writing reinforced that this project, near and dear to the heart of its director, was being executed with a deft & thoughtful touch.

Hot Off The Presses Is Steven Spielberg's Entertaining New Drama The Post

Steven Spielberg's been directing movies since the early 1970's and Meryl Streep got put on the map as an actor of note forty years ago with The Deer Hunter. In the multiple decades they've both worked as prominent figures in the American film industry, it's utterly shocking their paths haven't crossed before now (though Streep did have a voice-over cameo in Spielberg's 2001 masterpiece A.I.: Artificial Intelligence). Such an odd lack of artistic collaboration is finally rectified for The Post, Steven Spielberg's new drama that pairs Streep up with Spielberg regular Tom Hanks for a timely tale of heroic journalism standing up to corrupt forces in the American government.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

As Jumanji Leads The Box Office Again, The Post Has Solid Debut While A Trio of Newcomers, Including Paddington 2, Underwhelm

It's absolutely insane how well Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is doing at the domestic box office. Did anyone have even the faintest idea of how much cash this one was gonna end up making? For its fourth weekend of release, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle grossed another $27 million, a tiny 27% dip from last weekend that brings this one's domestic gross to $283.1 million. Could this one manage to crack $350 million domestically? It doesn't look impossible at this point but I'll say it ends it's domestic run at $335 million right now, good enough to become the fifth biggest movie of 2017 domestically.

Friday, January 12, 2018

I Can Handle The Nastiness In Brawl In Cell Block 99 But Did It Have To Be So Meandering?

Brawl In Cell Block 99 is a grimy nasty movie, one that finds human beings as simply vehicles to experiment new forms of torment on and I can guarantee you that the features writer/director S. Craig Zahler would take that as a major compliment. He's made a film that's just stacked with depravity, which isn't a bad thing at all inherently, there are movies I absolutely love that are way more grim than this prison-set action film (Au Hasard Balthazar would eat this thing up for breakfast and then go back for seconds). But could it at least be depraved in an interesting way? Could its warped worldview manifest in ways that are actually entertaining instead of frequently meandering?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Churchill Surrenders Talented Actors To Lackluster Storytelling

From time to time, a fascinating occurrence transpires in Hollywood filmmaking in that two films with similar plots get released in close order to each other. Think of how Deep Impact and Armageddon both were large-scale disaster movies about massive asteroids headed for Earth released between April and July of 1998. A pair of magician dramas from 2006, The Illusionist and The Prestige, provide another great example of this as does Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down choosing to tell action-packed tales of the White House being under siege. Of course, that whole Antz/A Bug's Life debacle of Fall 1998 is likely the most famous example of this. Our newest entry in this trend is a pair of Winston Churchill biopics released in the span of six months in 2017. One of them is Darkest Hour starring Gary Oldman, the other is Churchill and the latter happens to be the subject of this review.

In Laman's Terms: How Did The Seven Major Studios Do At The Domestic Box Office In 2017?

Pictured: A handful of Warner Bros. executives celebrating the box office success of Wonder Woman
In Laman's Terms is a 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!

There are seven big movie studios and they all released a number of movies in 2017. Today, I shall use my box office savvy mind to look at their yearly grosses from 2017 and see which ones were on a financial roll and which ones are hoping to make 2018 a better year!

Let us begin with a studio I'm sure you're all shocked is on top....

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

No Wonder Audiences Have Connected With Wonder, It's A Real Heartfelt Treat

Live-action family movies that don't star CGI chipmunks or aren't remakes of classic animated Disney fare have become a rarity in theatrically released American cinema to the point that Pure Flix (the studio behind God's Not Dead and other pieces of cinema of similar top-caliber quality) is the only studio in America these days regularly producing such films. That makes Wonder a rarity for sure as well as a reminder of how good these movies can be when produced right. Live-action family movies don't just have to be vehicles for CGI versions of 1960's cartoon characters to make pop culture references, they can instead be actually entertaining movies with heart.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Money, Money, Money, It's Not So Funny In A Rich Man's World In All The Money In The World

The newest Ridley Scott movie, All The Money In The World, has generated plenty of discussion leading up to its theatrical release this past December and it's extremely easy to see why. Kevin Spacey had shot his entire role as J. Paul Getty earlier this year and the film was almost ready to go when news broke at the tail end of October 2017 about sexual allegations being lobbed at Kevin Spacey. All of a sudden, this motion picture found itself starring one of the most detested men in Hollywood and Ridley Scott undertook a preposterous-sounding task to rectify this: reshoot Spacey's scenes with Christopher Plummer instead playing the role.

Be Open and Vulnerable With The Work

Emotional barriers are a daunting entity. They don't carry a physical form, but they still occupy space in our lives by affecting our decisions, how we interact with certain people and even our own personalities. Too many choose to just shove those emotional barriers to the back of your mind, hoping the o'l "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" axiom will end up applying for these internal problems. More often than not though, that just ends up exacerbating the issues you've been grappling with and leaving you in a worse position than where you started. Like I said though, these emotional barriers are a daunting thing to confront, so how does one go about actually handling these barriers?

Monday, January 8, 2018

Just Because I, Tonya Is Heavily Stylized Doesn't Mean It Can't Also Be Thoughtful

Craig Ferguson is one of my all-time favorite late night TV shows hosts, this guy bent the rules of the American late-night TV show format with such glee and wit, it was absolutely wonderful. Interestingly though, one of my absolute favorite moments of his show comes not in the form of a punchline but in a thoughtful monologue he gave in 2007, which I've embedded below this paragraph for you to watch. Here, he talks about how his jokes lampooning certain people (like Kevin Costner) in situations where they're obviously having actual problems related to health or mental issues were bothering him on a personal level. He goes on to talk about the then-recent actions of Britney Spears and how they'd been the focus of widespread media attention and were the butt of countless jokes from the late night TV show hosts, including himself. He notes his discomfort with mocking her unorthodox behavior and notes how he recognizes that behavior from his own actions from he when he was an addict fifteen years prior.

Douglas Laman Gets A Tune Up (Entry #9): The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance

ENTRY #9:  The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance

Douglas Laman Gets A Tune-Up is a series of essays 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 so many years, My Chemical Romance was a source of pointless ridicule from myself. Even though I had had no exposure to their music, I made them the butt of so many of my own jokes that degraded the band and their work simply because my younger brother was fixated on this band to a major degree back on his middle school days. Thus, the anti-MCR jokes, like the years in a Smash Mouth song, started coming and didn't stop coming despite me, again, having no actual experience with their music. For that, I truly apologize to the band and its assorted members, who, though not above any form of criticism, deserved to have criticism stemming from someone who had actually listened to their music.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

High School Musical Is Pure Musical Cheese And, Delightfully, Very Much Knows That

How have I not seen High School Musical before? There are numerous classic movies that I've reviewed for this website that I'm not entirely surprised I've never seen due to a myriad of external circumstances, but seriously, how did I manage to avoid watching High School Musical prior to December 31st, 2017? This Disney Channel original movie was a touchstone for my generation, something whose songs were belted out ad nauseum by people in my age range all throughout my first years of middle school and is now looked upon with nostalgia by those very same people. It's baffling it's taken me this long to get here but I finally made it to High School Musical!

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle Is King Of The Jungle, Er, Box Office While Insidious: The Last Key Has Scary Good Opening Weekend

As 2018 began, Star Wars: The Last Jedi's hold on the top spot of the domestic box office ended, meaning it was time for Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle to be the number one movie in America. One of the biggest surprise smash hits of 2017, this Jake Kasdan directed motion picture grossed $36 million this weekend, a mere 28% dip from last weekend, for a $244.3 million domestic total so far. It's within days of beating out the domestic gross of Night At The Museum, the champion of Christmastime family movie box office hits, and will soon surpass the $248.7 million gross of Moana to become the biggest Dwayne Johnson movie of all-time that isn't Furious 7. This one is also handily gonna cross $300 million domestically (who thought that was ever possible???) and once it surpasses the $304.3 million gross of Skyfall, it will be the biggest movie ever for Sony/Columbia that doesn't star Spider-Man. Soak that in folks, Jumanji is guaranteed to become the biggest non-Spider-Man movie ever for Sony/Columbia. This is what happens when you concoct strong marketing for a crowdpleaser movie with the perfect release date. Expect the greenlight for a movie about Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart battling robots called Jumanji: Welcome To The Zathura any day now....

Friday, January 5, 2018

Douglas Laman's Ten Worst Movies of 2017

The title says it all, let's get these dismal motion pictures out of the way so we can start looking back at the good stuff of 2017, shall we? Let us begin with the film that inspired the above header image....

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Turn The Lights Out On The Dismal Netflix Blockbuster Bright

The central premise of Bright is so good. A buddy cop action movie but with fantasy elements? How cool! The mind reels at the possibilities one can come up with for making a feature film centered around that premise considering just how expansive of a canvas one has to play with in terms of famous creatures, items and types of people associated with fantasy storytelling. Bright decides to just go for the most generic and non-fun version of its premise imaginable. Those expecting to have some good o'l R-rated cop movie fun here will leave wondering why such an exciting premise had to be executed in such a grimy and monotonous manner.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Downsizing Is Small On Narrative Ambitions Or Anything Really Remarkable To Speak Of

There's not much going on here in Downsizing. Despite labeling itself a "social satire", there's not much in the way of actual satire transpiring in Alexander Payne's latest motion picture. There isn't all that much comedy either and what does show up to generate yuks is just awkward and forced (the majority of the jokes received, from the audience at my screening, the kind of forced light chuckles a parent might use to laugh at a young child's incoherent knock-knock joke). So what is there in this movie, what exactly is going on in Downsizing? There's...a chance for Christoph Waltz to play someone that isn't a bad guy in an American movie? That's good! OK, that's one thing that happens in Downsizing...

Monday, January 1, 2018

It's Thematically Messy But The Greatest Showman Does Come Through On Providing Fun Musical Numbers

It's time to play the music, it's time to light the lights, it's time to meet The Greatest Showman at the circus show tonight! Who is The Greatest Showman you ask? Why, it's P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman), a real life figure who is thought of having a complicated legacy at best (a good example of this is how he was a staunch critic of slavery but also heavily utilized blackface in his entertainment programs) and has now been recontextualized for the American musical The Greatest Showman as being a staunch advocate for the downtrodden and the oppressed. How does he advocate for such individuals? By creating a haven for them that he calls...the circus.

Live In The Chaotic And Gruesome Here And Now With Nocturama

There isn't much in the way of background established for the lead characters of Nocturama in its opening scenes. We just get to follow a handful of college-aged young adults going about assorted pieces of business, with only minimal amounts of accompanying of dialogue, with this array of individuals occasionally bumping into each other amidst their routines before it's revealed that they're all in some kind of close-knit group together. There's a subtly intense vibe created here, an undercurrent of espionage that director Bertrand Bonello is able to sew into the fabric of seemingly mundane sequences.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Rules Last Box Office Frame of 2017 As X-Mas 2017 Releases (Mostly) Flourish And We Look At The 2017 Box Office As A Whole

First off, my apologies for not having a box office column up last week, it's been quite busy around here for myself and time for writing has just slipped away. Anywho, let's look at what's been going on at the box office this weekend, starting with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which was the top title at the box office for the third weekend in a row by grossing $52.4 million, the fifth biggest third weekend of all-time and a 26% dip from last weekend, one of the smallest third weekend declines on record for a movie that opened to over $100 million and a better third weekend hold than The Force Awakens. With $517.1 million in 17 days, as well as just over $1 billion worldwide, it's now the biggest movie of 2017 domestically and seems to be on track for a $640-650 million domestic total.