There are many words that historians will use to describe 2020, most of which are unprintable on this website. But in my continued quest to focus on the positive (last week’s snarky deviation notwithstanding), let’s turn to the pop-culture that kept us going through these rough times.
There was much to hate about the past year, which featured too many awful, destructive, and just plain stupid events to cover within the scope of this website. One area that does fall under my jurisdiction, however, is the world of cinema, which was unlike any previous year in the medium’s history. As theaters across the nation shuttered in response to the pandemic, Hollywood was caught flatfooted, as hopes of a blockbuster year at the movies almost instantly evaporated.
I don’t know the exact number of Sega or Nintendo games I’ve played in my life, though the combined number is likely situated somewhere in the single digits. (Most definitely the low single digits once you rule out the games that star Italian plumbers.) That may not come as a surprise to many longtime readers; though I’ve written extensively about TV and film over the last several years, I’ve never once had cause to post a piece about the gaming world.
This past April, the Oscars released a new set of rules for film eligibility beginning in 2020. Among those was the stipulation that in order to qualify for nominations, a film must have a theatrical run of at least seven days. A film released straight to Netflix, with no screenings in major theaters, would be ignored.
In the lead-up to the premiere of the new Charlie’s Angels, some theater chains held an advance screening under the banner of “Girls’ Night Out.” The idea was to invite female viewers to bring their friends and get a chance to win a copy of the film’s soundtrack. The description did not specify if the screening was a “Girls Only” affair (as one theater chain had done with some Wonder Woman screenings a couple of years earlier), and since I had the night free, I decided to take the risk.
The Blair Witch Project is 80 minutes long, and was produced for an estimated $60,000. It features no big names, no glitzy special effects, and only the barest thread of a story. There isn’t even much in the way of a script – most of the dialogue was improvised by the film’s leads, and their scenes were shot on bargain-bin cameras.
And it’s one of the scariest movies ever made.
Update: After receiving an alarming number of angry emails, DMs, and one particularly profane postcard (those are still a thing?), I have chosen under (ahem) my own volition to reverse the order of the Top 2 films on this list. True CT purists may wish to look away. The rest of you, read on…
When first published in 1939, Detective Comics #27 featured a total of nine stories, most of them focused on square-jawed men who moonlit as crime-fighters. The roster included private eye Slam Bradley, OSS Agent Speed Saunders, and the red-uniformed Crimson Avenger (plus his, um, best-forgotten sidekick, Wing). Odds are the issue would have been passed by as just another pulpy installment of one of the still-fresh industry’s more popular magazines, had the cover not trumpeted the debut of an all-new superhero – a fellow the interior story referred to as “the Bat-Man.”
Earlier this week, Disney announced that they would be rebooting Home Alone for their upcoming streaming service, Disney+. Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of Disney, explained that the film would be “reimagined” for “a new generation.” Presumably, this means the new generation has no interest in watching the original Home Alone, despite the fact that it remains one of the most popular Christmas films ever.
To the casual nostalgic, the year 1999 may be viewed as an existential tipping point. It was the final year in a relatively stable decade, one largely unmarked by war or social upheaval. Yet despite the booming economy and a relative lack of international tension, an unconscious feeling told many Americans that something was happening. As the days shifted inexorably toward the new year – and the literal once-in-a-millennium experience of seeing all the calendar’s digits change simultaneously – fears of the Y2K bug, and how it would impact a technological culture just acclimating to the strange and mysterious force of the Internet, gnawed at many an uncertain soul.
Welcome back to my unauthorized yet highly accurate history of Shazam! and Captain Marvel. Be sure to check out Part 1 if you haven’t already. Here’s Part 2, although I must warn you – this gets real complicated…
As frequent visitors of this website can attest, I love animation. Be it the sweeping vistas of Disney, the humanized stories of Pixar, or the hip smart-alecky humor of (insert name of any animation studio that’s not Disney or Pixar), a good animated film can appeal perfectly to young and old alike.
It’s that time again – the time when film lovers everywhere stop debating each other and unite to complain about the Oscars. And there are so many problems to bring up. How bad are the nominations? How out-of-touch is the industry? Do some categories deserve to be banished to the commercial breaks? Lots of problems have plagued the Academy lately, but like any other year, we can at least pray that the host will offer some good laughs. (Oh, wait…)
Every year brings with it a new plethora of superhero films, and 2019 is no exception. At last count, studios have an estimated 827 comic-book movies (give or take) scheduled for release this year, and who can blame them? 2018 saw four superhero flicks – Black Panther, Aquaman, Incredibles 2 and Infinity War – make over a billion dollars each, which means that Hollywood will continue producing such films until the sun eats our planet for breakfast.
I don’t consider myself an expert on great film. Great TV, yes. Great animation, sure. Great comics, kinda, so long as they involve powerful people in tights. But the world of cinema is too wide and varied for me to get a firm handle on, at least thus far.
It’s that time of year again. The time when all the uppity and pretentious critics all hunch over their desks and type out their picks for the best films/shows/books/albums/games/celebrity pratfalls of the last 12 months. As a somewhat uppity and pretentious critic myself (albeit one who doesn’t hunch, for posture purposes), I’m all too eager to join the fray. I’ll be posting my “Best Films of 2018” piece next week, with a “Best TV Shows of 2018” article following shortly after.
Note: I originally wrote the following as a thesis paper in May 2016. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, I’ve decided to share it on the main site, with slight modifications for clarity. The piece contains spoilers for both the novel and the first Blade Runner film. It does not contain any spoilers for Blade Runner 2049, which did not premiere until 2017.
On Wednesday, Keira Knightley (appearing on an episode of Ellen) mentioned that she forbade her daughter from watching certain Disney films. Cinderella was on the banned list, because, as Knightley explained it, the protagonist “waits around for a rich guy to rescue her.” The Little Mermaid was also frowned upon because of its purported message – as Knightley put it, “Do not give your voice up for a man.”
It should come as no great shock to longtime readers of this site that I loved Teen Titans Go! to the Movies.
By now, it seems like everyone on planet Earth has seen Avengers: Infinity War. However, if you’re one of the select few who haven’t seen the film (or one of the fewer who don’t have interest – shame on you, BTW), I should clarify that, as the title implies, this article will feature MAJOR SPOILERS for the ending of Infinity War, as well as the two-and-a-half hours leading up to it. Oh, and maybe a few other Marvel films, too.
Last week, I divulged my picks for the ten best films in the animated DreamWorks canon. This time around, we look the other way, as I examine the ten films I consider to be the studio’s all-time weakest.
Like most critics, I’ve long been disdainful of audience scores. Simply put, people should not determine which films are worth watching based on IMDB ratings or Netflix upvotes. While some of these aggregates can give you a basic idea of how the public views a specific film, the anonymity and insubstantiality of online rankings make it a poor substitute for pop-culture critiquing.
If you’re a regular visitor to this site, you’re probably familiar with my love for all things Disney. Even if Disney may be an evil corporate monster intent on sucking our wallets dry and brainwashing us through mind-controlling Mickey Mouse ears, their films are still a lot of fun. I grew up on all things Disney and Pixar, and maintain a fondness for their works even to this day.
Once upon a time, the short film was everywhere. Cinemas preceded every new film with a brief and humorous cartoon from the minds at Warner Bros. or Walt Disney Studios. For much of the 20th century, in fact, the theater offered patrons a veritable variety show of short films (both live-action and animated), newsreels, and musical performances in addition to the feature presentation.
[Written by Jeremy Grayson]
Just a brief mention of the 1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer film will likely cause shoulders to shudder and faces to wince. While the Buffy TV series is a landmark accomplishment of story and character, the film which inspired it is generally dismissed as silly and pointless. Many Buffy fans haven’t even watched it. Joss Whedon doesn’t even regard it as canonical to the series, and he’s the guy who wrote it.
[Blogged by Jeremy Grayson]
Though I do watch and write about television quite a bit, I’m not much when it comes to filmgoing. I enjoy TV largely for its longevity, which allows viewers to get to know characters and environments, bit by bit, over (hopefully) extended periods of time. Film, on the other hand, usually constitut Continue reading “Retrospective: The Animated Films of 2016”