This past weekend, my family and I were discussing this article whose central conceit is the following question: “But what if you wanted to just pick one: a single movie [set in/about New York] that the whole city could watch together?” And let me tell you, the movies that they chose to answer that question are not the ones that I’d suggest. First, the Times’ suggestions, and then a much better list after the jump. For a Martin Scorsese movie, they chose “New York, New York” – a fine film, sure, but not anywhere as good or capturing of a New York spirit as “Mean Streets,” “Wolf of Wall Street,” “Gangs of New York,” or “The Age of Innocence.” The critics also chose “Crooklyn,” a fine Spike Lee movie, sure, but is it even as good a statement of New York as “Do the Right Thing” or the best post-9/11 movie, 2002’s “25th Hour”? And then they nominated “Desperately Seeking Susan,” which…ok? I mean, is that a movie that, when you see it, you think, “That truly captured the spirit of New York”? And the last nominee? Ang Lee’s “The Wedding Banquet.” I’ll pause here to let you google that movie, because that’s how memorable it was for me. And now for some movies that should have made the list. Continue reading
I recently saw “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” and while a lot of the movie is very good, my first comment walking out of the theater was, “Man, I wish Aunt May [Marisa Tomei] was in it more.” And it’s not the only time that Tomei has had a (small) part in a movie, done a lot with it, and left the audience wanting more. In fact, let’s take a look at her IMDB page. You may be like me and forget in just how many roles she’s been really excellent.
“Memory can change the shape of a room; it can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They’re just an interpretation, they’re not a record, and they’re irrelevant if you have the facts.” – Leonard Shelby, Memento
I recently got sucked into one of those “Bourne” marathons that are on cable every so often, and I started thinking about the concept of memory as it applies to movies. My friends often tell me that I have a very good memory, with one even saying that I remember his own life better than he does. And yet somehow, I am drawn to characters who are the opposite – amnesiacs and people who have willfully twisted or deleted their own memories. I had an English teacher in high school who said that the two most important things you could give a character that you were writing were a name and a birthdate; without those, a character didn’t have an identity. Yet in a movie like “Drive,” where Ryan Gosling’s protagonist is known only as “Driver,” or “Fight Club,” where Edward Norton’s protagonist is essentially nameless (though 18-year-old spoiler alert notwithstanding, he really is Tyler Durden), the character’s lack of identity isn’t detrimental; in fact, it’s essential to how they act. If Gosling’s character were tied down in any way, he wouldn’t be able to, well, drive as well as he does. If Edward Norton’s character were more fully formed, you wouldn’t believe that he’d invent a Brad Pitt alter ego to change the world.
With that in mind, I think the three movies/franchises that best deal with a lack of memory are the aforementioned “Bourne” movies, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” and, of course, “Memento.” Continue reading
Well, since everyone else is doing it (Exhibits A, B, and C), here is my list of the best Fast & Furious movies, along with what they should have been called. Amazing that these movies used to be about people racing in the desert and now they’re essentially international superhero spies. And family.
Feel free to disagree in the comments below. As always, RIP Paul Walker – you were too beautiful for this world. Continue reading
A few months ago, the BBC published a list of the “best” movies of the 21st century. While these lists are nothing if not subjective, let’s be clear: that list is wrong. Way wrong. Horribly, terribly wrong. So, why not come up with my own list? It may not have the seal of approval from the Queen’s official network, but it’s certainly better than the drivel they published. (Seriously – check out that list. It’s atrocious, or as I would say to my friend Kim, “atrosh.”) N.B. that the BBC’s list considers the 21st century as starting in 2000, so I will use that format. Read that ridiculous list and then check out mine, below, and you tell me (in the comments or on twitter or Facebook) which movies you’d actually rather (re-)watch. Without further ado, the real 100 best movies of the 21st century, presented in alphabetical order: Continue reading
Well, as John Oliver rightly noted, 2016 was not a good year. And while I’ll do my best to keep updating this space, regular readers (if there is such a thing) can vouch that I’ve been lacking in posts; mostly because it feels like the world is falling apart. (I say this not as a wholly political statement; for instance, Alan Thicke and Florence Henderson and George Michael have passed while I’ve been working on this draft. Update: Carrie Fisher, too.) But with that said, entertainment is often a good way to express discontent with the current political and social climate, and can often serve as a distraction from, well, our impending doom. So enough prologue: I humbly submit the winners and losers of the entertainment world that were on my radar in 2016.
For my movie-going entertainment, nothing is better than a good comedy. And so, when announcements of sequels to my favorite funny movies are made, I get excited. I hope the key members of the original will be back, and that random throw-away lines will be expounded upon. I hope that the movie recaptures the magic of the original, and provides its own laugh. And, generally speaking, that doesn’t happen.
Recently, Nicholas Stoller, director of funny movies such as “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “The Five-Year Engagement,” and “Neighbors,” spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the art of directing a comedy sequel and crafted rules for directing a comedy sequel, rules which include “the story should be different, but the themes should be the same” and “cut out the fan service.” While I respect Mr. Stoller’s work, both “Get Him to the Greek” and “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” show that directing a comedy sequel inevitably leads to these fatal flaws. Let’s take a look. Continue reading