Friday - January 24, 2020
http://ontuscaloosa.com/

Archive for the ‘ Movie Reviews ’ Category

 

Almost, But Not Quite, The Abyss

January 23rd, 2020

If you’re a regular viewer of movies, you know you can track the seasons by the kinds of movies playing. Are the theaters jam-packed with big, loud blockbusters? You’re in summer. Do you have a wide variety of Oscar bait to choose from? Congratulations, you’ve arrived safely in the fall. The depths of winter are when studios give up. They already released the films built to either make an assload of money or attract awards. What’s left is the cinematic equivalent of the island of misfit toys, and production companies frequently throw these redheaded stepchildren into theaters with a hasty... Read More

The Endless Trench

January 14th, 2020

We never really reckoned with World War I, not in any meaningful sense. For a while there it was called The War to End All Wars, despite the fact that its aftermath both caused and led into World War II. Like all wars, its horror recedes in memory. A little over a century later, most of us barely understand why the war happened in the first place. That continues to be shocking, as the casualties of World War I were so high that battles frequently resembled a meat grinder in terms of the staggering numbers of men both sides threw at each other. When you put the numbers into context, it’s literally... Read More

Shifting The Lens

January 6th, 2020

There are two incontrovertible facts: the first is that Louisa May Alcott was a fascinating human being. Her parents were Transcendentalists. She took lessons from Henry David Thoreau. She wrote a play for the Boston Theater and subsequently burned it due to infighting between her actors. Alcott briefly served as a nurse during the Civil War, survived typhoid fever, was a feminist, and was active in the abolitionist movement. To put it plainly, she was a baller. Oh, also? She wrote Little Women. That brings us to the second incontrovertible fact, which is that up until very recently, I was almost... Read More

Pressure Drop

December 29th, 2019

As many of us do, the arrival of the year’s end is a time for me to look back. If I were to sum it up, 2019 was all about surprise. Putting aside the absolute insanity of our politics, the year in film has been wild as hell. We saw both the Star Wars and MCU franchises come to a temporary end. We saw films about cathartic cults, flicks involving doppelgangers, and a number of movies examining class warfare. Perhaps strangest of all, we saw one of the best performances of the year delivered by Adam Sandler. Maybe it’s not so strange, though! I’ll grant you that a cursory look through Sandler’s... Read More

The Force Ricochets

December 22nd, 2019

In the beginning, there was the Word…or a bunch of words, anyway. They began with, “It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.” Once seen, it was impossible to forget. Film historians will tell you the first blockbuster was Steven Spielberg’s Jaws in 1975. That’s true, but there’s a galaxy’s worth of difference between a blockbuster and a frickin’ phenomenon. On May 25, 1977, Star Wars changed everything. The brainchild of George Lucas erupted from theaters and soon laid claim to... Read More

A Death Without a Body

December 16th, 2019

If you’re currently married or you were ever married, I’ve got news for you: your marriage is insane. I hate to be the one to tell you, but there it is. People you know, people you love, will take stock of your relationship and life choices and say, “They’re cuckoo banana-pants. No doubt about it.” Luckily, you aren’t alone. Everybody’s marriage is insane—yes, including mine. From the outside, they’re nearly impossible to understand. From the inside? Well, it ain’t much easier. Some days you can feel an almost religious degree of closeness to your partner, while during others... Read More

The Doughnut Hole

December 8th, 2019

Making a movie is hard. Making a good movie? That’s really hard. Making a good mystery? These days that appears to be damn near impossible, given the relative scarcity of mysteries. Horror movies, superhero flicks, action, and dramas are all doing well in theaters and multiplexes. A good old whodunit? They’re a rare breed. But why? Is it because, as a society, we’re dumber? I imagine that some people of a certain age would sneeringly point to Millennials and the rise of social media and claim their attention spans have been irrevocably damaged.* Yet the average American reads somewhere in... Read More

The Man Who Painted Houses

December 1st, 2019

What is cinema? Is cinema only cinema when you’re watching it in a movie theater? While their methods have changed throughout the years, ultimately a sculpture remains a sculpture and a painting stays a painting. Most of the arts have resolutely remained themselves, but cinema has a kind of protean quality, whether its worshipers choose to admit it or not. Consider that the first movie theater opened June 19, 1905, in Pittsburgh. 96 seats were dragged into an empty store located on Smithfield Street, and when it opened, admission was a nickel. At their height, theaters bore the more grandiose... Read More

Go Like Hell

November 24th, 2019

One of the keenest pleasures found in moviegoing is that of competence porn. A great comedy can flood your brain with endorphins, a solid horror movie can unnerve you days after you saw it, and the right drama can restore your faith in the essential decency of humanity. Even the much-maligned superhero genre can, when executed properly, provide viewers with something mythic. That’s all well and good, but I really dig films about smart people doing a particular job with intelligence and competence. Consider Apollo 13, a film I absolutely adore. On the one hand, I understand perhaps 25 percent... Read More

Eat The Rich

November 17th, 2019

“Someday, even the experts will figure out, that crime is not caused by rap music…or even my music, but by a power structure of self-absorbed property owners so brain dead and stupid they won’t even see that if you’re too goddamn greedy to pay taxes for schools and services, they’re not going to be any good anymore! And that uneducated time bombs are a very poor investment as a future workforce. And if you go on teaching people that life is cheap, and leave them to rot in ghettos and jails, they may one day feel justified in coming back to rob and kill you. Duh!” Jello... Read More