With yet another Transformers movie in theaters, it’s time for another round of debates about Michael Bay’s standing as a filmmaker and worth as an artist. Of course, where were these debates last year when his (supremely underrated, in my opinion) Pain and Gain came out? But anyway, this time around it seems like some people are starting to reconsider Bay and view him in a different context, which I think is a good thing. Regardless of what you think of his style or substance, there should always be room at the table for different approaches to the art form, though more often than not Bay’s approach is certainly different from what most discerning film people would consider “good”. And while Bay’s voice might run directly counter to what I prize most in film, I feel that I’m starting to develop new understanding (but certainly not enthusiasm) for the man and his madness. Read the rest of this entry »
As an extension of my interest in both superheroes and film noir, old pulp heroes are right up my alley, though much like film noir it’s an area where that interest has remained mostly academic. Nevertheless, I’m always hungry for new (or old, or any) takes on the Masked Hero concept, a hunger that was easily satisfied by Judex, a lost bit of awesomeness recently released by Criterion. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m a big fan of Criterion’s work, and once again they’ve brought another forgotten great back from irrelevance. Good thing too, as Judex is a sprawling-but-intimate, intriguing, gorgeous bit of classic pulp that shows some of the untapped avenues of masked heroics on film.
The Star Wars Saga has been one of (if not the) defining stories of my life, and has shaped my view of and passion for storytelling and pop culture ever since. The original films were great, the prequels had their moments but ultimately disappointed, the Expanded Universe was fun but ridiculous. With the whole galaxy getting a fresh start under the oversight of Disney, there are plenty of reasons to get excited about Star Wars again, particularly for me, and it’s surprising that I’ve barely talked about either the old or new parts of the series on this blog. But with all that being said, I remain somewhat detached from this return to the galaxy blah blah blah, for what I think are very rational reasons… which is far from the sort of perspective I’d want to have on one of myfavorite franchises.
10 Things I Hate About You is considered to be one of the quintessential teen movies, and I’m glad to say that it’s good enough to earn that distinction on something other than nostalgia. It’s sharply written (aside from the few needless and out-of-place Shakespeare quotes) and very well acted from a cast whose collective stature has grown considerably since this. It’s funny, engaging and even a little bit emotional, and I hope people remember that, much like Jaws and Star Wars, this is a film that’s leaps and bounds better than the derivative junk that is commercially engineered to emulate it.
While Bryan Singer’s career has become dominated by summer blockbusters of varying quality, there was a point during the ‘90s that he was an exciting new voice in twisty, dark thrillers. The Usual Suspects is the most recognizable of these, and aside from being a great film in its own right, it also holds distinction as being one of the few ‘90s crime thrillers that wasn’t trying to copy Tarantino. As something I’ve been meaning to revisit myself, I thought Shiran might appreciate this twisty little yarn and the great cast that’s caught up in it.
After his sprawling, Shakespearean Animal Kingdom, David Michod decided to go in the other direction with a stripped-down, minimal thriller in The Rover. Aside from being very gorgeously shot movie and a great showcase for Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson, it also happens to be a very grim and harsh movie, potentially fatally so in terms of connecting with the audience. But in painting such an unforgiving picture (one filled with broken people), Michod ends up perfectly depicting the cost of indifference to the world, no matter how shitty it might be. (SPOILERS BELOW)
At this point, I feel comfortable in saying that Phil Lord and Chris Miller are some of the most consistently and excitingly creative voices in film right now, and that is in spite of the fact that all of their projects have begun life as nakedly commercial endeavors. They have brought a level of intelligence and wit to all of their projects that is invigorating to say the least, and they are a reminder of why I still hold mainstream studio projects to the same high standard as anything else. 22 Jump Street is the perfect example of all of this, as they not only solve the puzzle that is a Good Comedy Sequel but also tell a sweet and emotional relationship story in the process.