Just got the news that this DAREDEVIL review is the final installment of my film journal/blog/etc. that began in the summer of 2014. (Gosh, if I had known this was the last entry, I would have written about Jacques Tati's PLAYTIME, which is my favorite movie of all time. See that some day if you haven't. Then see it a bunch more times and learn to love it. It will change the way you look at the world. Seriously.) This post is also more or less the last thing I'll probably ever write for the Flyer, which I've been contributing to since September 2000.
Somewhat astonishingly, my Flyer freelance gig is the job I've held the longest, although that'll change next fall when I begin my 16th year as a high school teacher. I can't imagine ever trying to live off freelance wages alone. But as a fun li'l side gig that I tried to take very seriously, writing for the Flyer was too good to be true. Who ever gets to write about movies for money, much less in today's climate? And the blog was in some ways even better than the longer weekly pieces: I got $50 a week to write about whatever I wanted, no questions asked. A bit of a grind, but altogether great. I appreciated the Flyer's willngness to let me figure out why I liked or disliked some things in their space, and I eventually started to appreciate the way the weekly grind forced me to be a better writer. Plus, I could pass over all the dumb stuff (like, for instance, ANOMALISA--how valuable is it to have recorded for all posterity the precise feeling of wiping off steam in the bathroom mirror of an expensive, anonymous hotel room?) and concentrate on movies and shows I wanted to share with others. It was and is fun to imagine that someone's leisure time was better spent because they avoided something I disliked or checked out something I thought was cool.
I don't have any plans to write anything else right now, at least not movie reviews. But if you ever want to hear me talk about current or classic movies and TV, you can always disguise yourself as a high school junior or senior in suburban St. Paul, MN, who is enrolled in my Art of Film class because it sounds easy (which it isn't, really).
Thank yous to BMOC Bruce VanWyngarten of course, but more personal thank yous go to Chris Herrington, my first editor, college classmate and forever friend, for thinking of me and letting me write terrible reviews of mediocre records before giving me the movie gig about a decade ago; Greg Akers, Chris' successor and an unflagging and hilarious supporter who helped launch the film journal idea and once let me write all of the film criticism for the entire month of August (or was it July?) 2014; and Chris McCoy, whom I've never met and who had no real reason to keep me in the stable but worked out this sweet deal for me for as long as he could. He always thanked me for my writing, which was impossibly gentlemanly and sweet. Men, you are all the fucking best.
Thanks also to everyone who read and either agreed or disagreed with what I had to say. It was nice to know that you cared enough to post your comments, even if they sometimes sought to impugn my non-existent critical objectivity. Don't have it, probably never will, and that's OK.
In case you're wondering, the review I'm most proud of is HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3, and the headline I'm most proud of is "Whoop That Trek," for a review of STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS that nobody got.
My English class is currently studying Walt Whitman, who's good for both introductions and farewells. I think this line applies to moviegoers even though movies weren't around in his time, and it's worth going out on: "You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life."
So long everybody; thanks for the use of the hall.
Important casting in-joke: In Edgar Wright's HOT FUZZ, Edward Woodward plays a seemingly harmless resident of the remote, award-winning English village of Sandford. Simon Pegg plays a London cop relocated to Sandford who discovers that "there are secrets bubbling beneath the...placid exterior" that involve a cult whose members murder mimes and juvenile delinquents "for the greater good (THE GREATER GOOD)" and to keep the town quaint.
It's the little things that make HOT FUZZ an A+ film.
Also, the Nic Cage remake (from Neil LaBute!) is indeed mercilessly dumb in spite of its invocation of the rare back-to-back dream sequence.
I'm happy not to be part of the "we" that wrongly dismissed GET ON UP as a glorified MTV Music Video. (I'm also happy not to be part of the "we" that thinks music videos can't be as cinematic or as compelling as either short films or features, but that's another story.)
Yep, GET ON UP is imperfect. Many of Brown's personal eccentricities are either briefly mentioned or altogether ignored; his family/women issues alone could spin off into another couple of movies. And what about hip-hop? And Zaire? And his appearance at the Grand Ole Opry? But even though its run time and its PG-13 rating conspire against it, Taylor's movie offers plenty of tart images, scenes and observations about black (and white) history, psychology, and music, music music. It's a provocative and formally complex piece of mythology with a phenomenal soundtrack. The only fiction film I've seen recently that did something similar was CADILLAC RECORDS, and even that is relatively conventional in comparison.
As for why Mick Jagger might want to put some money down on a movie about a man that supposedly hated him, who knows? Maybe Mick was trying to manage or control or possibly exploit Brown's legacy. You know, like when people write or peddle tell-all books that claim to offer "the truth" about difficult, complex artists instead of admitting that what they're telling or selling simply adds to the available storehouse of scholarship, analysis and first-hand anecdotes instead of rendering it irrelevant or unnecessary.
Oops. The too-oft quoted line in THE TRIP is actually from THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, not GOLDFINGER. C. and B. keep saying the line as part of their attempts to sound like Christopher Lee, which nicely connects this capsule to the 1941 capsule. Anyway, sorry about that mistake.
One time I was asked why I didn't like SPIDER-MAN 2, and I said I didn't think it was realistic. To which my friend said, "Oh, really? The movie where the human bug fights the guy with the sentient mechanical arms wasn't an accurate or truthful picture of modern life?"
I guess what I'm trying to say is that attacking the "science" of LUCY is, well, not where I'd start if I wanted to criticize it.
Haven't heard of it. What's it about?
Good point, GroveReb84. However, everybody else who'd written about the movie was calling it an "abortion comedy", so I left it alone and went looking for other things to talk about.
But the long conversation Donna and Nellie have about abortion is one of OBVIOUS CHILD's best scenes--certainly more straightforward and open about what it would be like to get one and recover from one than any even remotely similar conversation I've seen in American feature films. (Compared to something like KNOCKED UP, it's incredibly honest.)
And on a totally unrelated note, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is pretty good.
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