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The Tobacconist

Sigmund Freud would be, all things considered, an excellent wingman. A more introspective one than usual, but by trade the psychologist is certainly one of the best listeners you could ask for. That’s not a thought I had watching “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” and yet it is one that came to me during “The …

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Stateless

The credits to each episode of Netflix’s “Stateless” tout that it’s not only “Based on an idea by Cate Blanchett,” but that it’s “Inspired by true events.” That last part is verifiable without having to know the exact inspired details, as its depiction of life inside a refugee camp in Australia—concerning the captives, and their captors—is like a microcosm …

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David Foster: Off the Record

“David Foster: Off the Record” is a tribute to the multi-Grammy winning songwriter and producer, as curated by the man himself, David Foster. Most people are celebrated by a documentary like this after they’ve stepped away from the spotlight; at the very least, these types of projects aren’t usually made with the subject in the room. But …

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Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries Reboot Ready to Satisfy Our True Crime Appetite

For years, we’ve been solving crimes from the comfort of our own homes, and now Netflix has rewarded us with more “Unsolved Mysteries.” The TV show, which virtually made addictive entertainment out of learning about people’s unanswered trauma, has now been rebooted by its original producers, and the people behind “Stranger Things,” to join Netflix’s roster of other stories …

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Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash

Imagine you’re watching one guy give a testimony about how he survived a plane crash, one that happened to be one of the biggest tragedies in rock ’n’ roll history. The details are incredible: they were the one who talked sense to the bumbling pilots; they held the hand of singer Ronnie Van Zandt right before the …

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Yummy

A zombie movie set in a plastic surgery hospital practically writes itself, and that’s supposed to be the charm of “Yummy.” What’s it about? Just check the poster tagline—”facelifts, boob jobs, and zombies.” But any degree of sleaze requires a little wit, and “Yummy” has none. As it struggles to be even mildly significant in the sprawling history …

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HBO Max Revives Adventure Time with Distant Lands Series

“Adventure Time” is one of those modern cartoons that’s primed to warp the minds of kids and adults equally. Anyone who has been sucked into the world created by Pendleton Ward knows that it’s about more than just a boy named Finn and his shapeshifting dog friend Jake—the serial approach that takes Finn and Jake to …

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Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen

Chances are if you are visiting this website, and are a fan of its namesake, you have an affinity for critical thinking as its own act of empathy. Deconstructing a piece of art is so much more than assessing a positive and negative experience, but a means to help people see what others see. In the …

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A Whisker Away

The cute factor in Netflix’s anime film “A Whisker Away” is bountiful enough, even if its love story of naive obsession is a little more than worrisome. One could say this is about the delusions of puppy love, but aha, they’d be wrong—”A Whisker Away” is all about cats. In this film from directors Junichi Satoh …

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Infamous

If you’re going to check out the social media “Bonnie and Clyde” riff “Infamous,” do it for Bella Thorne’s performance. From the get-go she has the classically great presence of someone like Sandra Bullock, but with her own scraggly edge. As Arielle, an irascible mix of anti-Florida angst and social media delusion, Thorne dominates numerous scenes …

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Judd Apatow on The King of Staten Island, Telling Pete Davidson’s Story, Self-Help Books and More

“The King of Staten Island” marks the first narrative feature from director Judd Apatow in five years, continuing his interest in not just promoting rising comedians as he did with Amy Schumer and “Trainwreck” or producing Kumail Nanjiani’s breakout “The Big Sick,” but sharing the stories behind their jokes. In the case of this vehicle for Pete Davidson of “Saturday …

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Mighty Oak

Kids might be into generic rock ‘n’ roll, and playing guitar, but do they dig reincarnation? That’s what director Sean McNamara is hoping with his hollow “Mighty Oak,” which is making movie history by being Paramount Pictures’ first theatrical release since quarantine.  Tommy Ragen appears in the movie as Oak, a 10-year-old guitar player and songwriter with …

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Spelling the Dream

For 12 years in a row, the winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee has been Indian-American; in the competition’s 31 years, 26 of them have been Indian-American as well. Even just last year, when the Scripps champion title was split between eight kids (known as the “octo-champs,”) seven of them were Indian-American. “How Indian …

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Netflix’s Easy Satire Space Force is Simply Silly and Sweet

There’s a big difference between what Netflix’s new series “Space Force” looks like, and what it actually reveals itself to be. Based on a very dumb, very real concept that our taxpayer money will have to reckon with soon enough, this new show from co-creators Greg Daniels (“The Office”) and Steve Carell is a workplace …

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A Couple of Troubadours Traveling Around the Country: Rob Brydon on The Trip to Greece

After four films, Michael Winterbottom’s food and talk-heavy “The Trip” series reaches its final destination with “The Trip to Greece,” which premieres this Friday. It’s a journey that started with “The Trip” in 2010, an international success that then lead to “The Trip to Italy,” “The Trip to Spain,” and now this finale, where funny men Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan …

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Ovid and the Art of Love

Proving that strict period details are not a must when it comes to visual storytelling, “Ovid and the Art of Love” is shot in modern Detroit but takes place in 31 BC Rome. You can tell the time period by the costumes, but not the language, even if it’s all about the poet Ovid and …

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Netflix’s Salacious, Messy White Lines is Like a Beach-Read You Can Watch

Right about the time you get to the stylized sex scene in the rain, over a makeshift dirt grave, you realize that the new Netflix series “White Lines” is playing with some different rules, different standards than usual. Yes, this messy ten-episode drama from the people behind “The Crown” and “Money Heist” wants to entertain, but most of …

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Fourteen

Dan Sallitt’s “Fourteen” is the tedious story of Jo and Mara, two New York City friends who have grown together since being teenagers. But the film presents the two when social worker Jo (Norma Kuhling) is at the start of a too-obvious decline, suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness, and not receiving help from the bad …

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This Beautiful, Stressful, All-Consuming Thing: Alex Wolff on Castle in the Ground

In a healthier world, Alex Wolff would have received a Golden Thumb last month at the latest edition of Ebertfest. But being as things are, the busy indie darling will have to wait at least another year for such an honor, along with the thrill of presenting an audience in Roger’s own Champaign-Urbana the horror of “Hereditary,” one …

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Driveways

The “big” scenes in Andrew Ahn’s exceedingly gentle “Driveways” involve a young boy named Cody (Lucas Jaye) listening to an older man named Del (played by the late Brian Dennehy). Del shares bits about his life—too precious to mention here—and more than once, their interactions end with Cody looking up at him, processing it all, and …

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