Books & Comics | Interviews | Movies & TV

Bringing it On | a Jessica Bendinger Interview

April 1
jessica bendinger

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Jessica Bendinger, screen writer, director, and now author.  Her best-known work, at least in my age demographic, is writing Bring It On.  Jessica also wrote and directed Stick It, with Missy Peregrim and Jeff Bridges, and last December she published her first novel with Simon & Schuster, titled The Seven Rays.  It’s a young adult caper into karma and destiny and love and teenage hilarity, and I got the scoop on her inspirations, intentions, and more in our conversation…which you can read below!

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Books & Comics | Movies & TV

Johnny Depp’s THE RUM DIARY Is Like Two Movies in One – REVIEW

October 28

the rum diary movie review

I walked away from watching The Rum Diary with feelings as dichotomous as the two halves of the film.  The first half is what the film appears to be in the trailers, while the second is a fairly serious take on corruption and the censorship of news by those who control what is printed.  Neither part is entirely satisfying, for differing reasons, and the two halves hang together rather awkwardly.

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Movies & TV

THE THREE MUSKETEERS Is a Hot, Delicious Mess | review

October 26

The Three Musketeers 2011 review

I did not go into this newest version of The Three Musketeers with high expectations.  In point of fact, I expected the film to be kind of bad.  I find myself forced to confess a reluctant admiration for just how bad it turned out to be.

What I expected was a historically inaccurate melodrama, with some good swordfights, cheesy dialogue, a stable pretty men and an abundance of pretty costumes.  I got… a historically inaccurate… something.  I think it bordered on theater of the absurd, but I can’t come up with a film equivalency.  Oh, and (spoiler alert) airships.

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Movies & TV

The Mortician | New Orleans Film Fest movie review

October 20

the mortician movie review

The Mortician is almost impossible to classify.  I saw it described as “post-apocalyptic,” but it’s not really SF; a fair number of people in line with me for the screening thought it was horror because the main character is a mortician, but it’s not horror; technically I guess it’s a drama, but it’s not what I think of when I hear “drama.”  The movie is set in a city that has gone to hell, with gangs running rampant and new bodies coming into the city morgue almost daily.  When a young woman’s body is fished out of a canal and brought to the morgue, the mortician (Method Man) finds himself embroiled in the tragic aftermath of her death, especially for her son (Cruz Santiago)—who is now also being targeted by the same man who killed his mother.

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Movies & TV

96 MINUTES | movie review via New Orleans Film Festival

October 16

96 minutes at new orleans film festival

96 Minutes is a festival gem.  With the films screening in competition, you never really walk in sure of what you’ll get; like Forest Gump’s box of chocolate, sometimes the film’s a truffle and other times it’s a coconut macaroon (and you hate coconut).  I went into 96 Minutes almost blind—I read the blurb but did not watch the trailer.  The screening was at 9:50 on Saturday, day 2 of NOFF 2011, and the theater was maybe half-full, which is a shame because this movie is powerful. 

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Movies & TV

‘Bellflower’ is Long on Art, Short on Ultra-violence

September 28

bellflower movie review

South by Southwest favorite Bellflower finally made it to New Orleans this week. The movie’s description placed it well inside my sweet zone for films, so I made a point to go to one of its two screenings.  Overall I liked the film.  It had some beautiful and creative filming, the acting was solid—rare in an independent film—and the premise was both interesting and well executed.  I also, however, felt a little bit…oh, what’s the word I want here…underwhelmed by the level of violence which was not as “extreme” as the film’s descriptions implied.  Probably this says more about me than it does about the film, because there was violence, and it was devastating.  It just wasn’t, you know, Drive.

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Movies & TV

‘Get Low’ Should Have Been Better | review

September 23

Get Low is one of those movies that really should have been better than it is.  The film has an interesting premise and the cast to pull that premise off, and yet somehow it simply falls flat.  I would like to know the intent behind the film, because intention is the difference between a failure of execution and a failure of conception, and perhaps that would matter to some viewers. 

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Movies & TV

Ryan Gosling Steers DRIVE Past Good to Awesome

September 16
drive

Drive just might be my favorite movie of 2011.  Certainly it is my favorite movie of the year so far.  I loved it.  Hands down.  It is one of those rare movies that I wouldn’t change a thing about, and I say that after going in with high hopes based on Valhalla Rising (director Refn’s previous effort).

Ryan Gosling plays a movie stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver.  He begins to fall for the single mother next door (Carey Mulligan) and ends up drawn deeper into the criminal world than he ever wanted to go when her son’s father’s past catches up to his family.  Things get more complicated from there.

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Interviews | Movies & TV

Enuka Okuma – “Cookie” – interview

June 3

Enuka Okuma is a young actress and now a director.  She will be back on ABC June 16th for season 2 of the summer series Rookie Blue “as the tough talking rookie cop, Traci Nash, that has a secret past and a killer right hook.”  She can also be seen on the big screen starting July 1, alongside Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks in the latter-directed Larry Crowne.

Enuka directed her first short film, titled “Cookie,” and has been busy screening it at film festivals.  I was pleased to be able to see the short piece, which is a haunting story of a couple escaping reality together, and delighted to catch up with her for some questions about the project.  Our Q&A is below!

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Interviews | Movies & TV

Ali Liebert – interview

May 16
ali liebert

ali liebert

I recently had the pleasure of putting some questions to Canadian actress Ali Liebert, who I (and my long-time Boomtron followers) know best as “Nikki the bartender” from Harper’s Island.  We talk about what her current projects are–hint:  she has a lot!–and what it’s like working with people who have household name recognition.  Read on to find out what she had to say!

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Movies & TV

The Black Death Tries Avoiding the Plague Like Cliches

May 3

the black death review

The Black Death is about what you think it is.  Set near the beginning of the era of the bubonic plague, it follows a young monk out of his abbey while he serves as guide for a group of knights on an errand from their bishop:  to find a remote village said to be free of the sickness by a pact with the devil, and deliver its witches to the holy authority for condemnation.  What the monk sees on the journey will test his faith, and what he finds in the village will threaten his very soul….

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Books & Comics

The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie | Book Review

April 28

heroesThe Heroes is a Joe Abercrombie book.  For better or for worse, Abercrombie has created a brand for himself with his world, his style of storytelling and characterization, and his view of epic fantasy—or at least his self-conscious decision to undermine its assumptions while working within its frame—that lead to an easy summary for a reviewer:  if you liked his other stuff, you’ll like this.  It’s a Joe Abercrombie ™ book.

If you follow my reviews and commentaries around this site with any sort of regularity, you probably know that I’m a huge Abercrombie fan.  I love his view of fantasy, although I would never want it to be the only view on fantasy I had.  That would be depressing, I think, because one of the relentless themes of his work is that victories are hollow, triumph is just another word for manipulated, and almost no one ever changes except for the worse.

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Movies & TV

Tangled and the Death of the Disney Fairy Tale

tangled

Like Nietzsche with God, last fall Disney declared that the fairy tale was dead.  In this case, that is, Disney would no longer be making animated features out of the old stories.

As a child of the golden years of Disney fairy tales in the early 90’s, I found this news unutterably depressing.  Forget that Disney is notorious for sanitizing the bloodiest aspects of the tales and turning the bitter endings sweet.  My love for the true stories, the old stories, the stories in my various anthologies (and it was various…as many as five, perhaps) of the original form fairy tales did not diminish my love for the Disney versions.  It still doesn’t, when the modernization is done well; case in point, The Princess and the Frog.

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Movies & TV

I Saw the Devil: Feel Good Movie of the Year | movie review

April 17

i saw the devil film review

“The count’s frozen face was petrified and ashen and the blood still poured down the parallel cuts.  His eyes bulged wide, full of horror and pain.  It was glorious.  If you like that kind of thing.” –William Goldman, The Princess Bride

If you like that kind of thing, then I Saw the Devil really might be your feel-good movie of 2011.  Like the Oldboy trilogy it was clearly influenced by, this is a revenge story as only Asian cinema can do it these days:  uncompromisingly brutal, undeniably artistic, and superlatively original.  When a serial killer (Choi Min-sik, who I know from Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, and The Quiet Family) murders the fiancée of a special agent (Lee Byung-hun, from Three…Extremes, and GI Joe Rise of the Cobra), the agent hunts him down and tortures him for the express purpose of “making him feel the same pain she did.”

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Movies & TV

I Sell the Dead | movie review

April 11

i sell the dead movie review

I Sell the Dead is proof that not every IFC production is golden. It’s from a couple years ago now—2008, I think—and showed up on my Netflix recommendations page and sounded interesting enough to try. And that was the movie’s entire problem: it sounded interesting, but somehow wasn’t. It’s about a pair of grave robbers in the 18th century who get into the highly specialized sub-division of robbing graves with potential occult significance…accused vampires and zombies, etc. See what I mean? Hell, they had me at “18th century grave robbers,” because I love me a good historical movie, and that is both an intriguing topic and one that hasn’t been the focus of a movie, just a side point in Jack the Ripper type mysteries.

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Movies & TV

Source Code | movie review

April 2

source code review

Mozart originally ended his opera Don Giovanni with Don Giovanni descending into Hell, his soul claimed by the devil, and later added a final ensemble to bring the performance away from the bleakness of that end, which was considered too dark. For me, the opera is stronger with the final ensemble omitted, because it allows the sheer emotional and moral power of Don Giovanni’s fate to linger in your mind instead of being mitigated by the tidy cheerfulness of the dénouement. Source Code suffered from the same problem: there was a clear point of finality to the story, one artistic moment of filming and philosophy that to me was the natural ending…and then there was an epilogue to that. An add-on to the story which changed the impact and the implications of that previous scene, and, for me, was a serious detraction from what would otherwise have been a truly great movie.

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Books & Comics | Interviews

Romancing the Nine Kingdoms | a Lynn Kurland Interview

March 28

Lynn Kurland is the author of the Nine Kingdoms romantic fantasy series, as well as a best-selling romance author.  For all my love of dark, bloodspurting, knights who say–er, frak–fantasy, I also love the lighter side of fairy-tale, love-story high fantasy, so this series fits right in to one of my reading sweet spots.  I enjoyed the chance to ask Lynn some questions about how this series came about, what’s been most different for her in switching between genres, how far the story might go, and more.  Keep reading to find out what she had to say!

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Movies & TV

The Lincoln Lawyer | movie review

March 26

The Lincoln Lawyer movie review

Matthew McConaughey is one of those actors that you just love even though they don’t really do that many good movies.  He’s done a handful over the years, maybe three or four, and he’s a man who makes a lot of movies.  Thus I’ve joked for years that, with the amount of roles he takes, sooner or later he’s going to make another good movie just by accident.  I am happy to tell you that I was right.  He did finally make a good movie (though whether it was an accident or not I couldn’t begin to say) in The Lincoln Lawyer.

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Movies & TV

Adjusting the Adjustment Bureau

March 22

The Adjustment Bureau movie review

When a movie could have been good, but wasn’t, it becomes an even worse movie experience than if there had been no expectation, no potential, for anything better.  So it was with The Adjustment Bureau.  This movie was like 30 Days of Night:  it had everything going for it—unique premise, great cast, decent if not brilliant filming, and a budget to support any necessary effects—and yet it somehow managed to squander them all and create a bad movie made worse by the simple fact that it shouldn’t have been.

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Movies & TV

Animal Kingdom | movie review

February 24

animal kingdom review

Animal Kingdom is not a movie about the jungle but simply the law of the jungle: it’s kill or be killed, and only the strong survive. As the poster tagline claims, it is a crime story, about a crime family–the Cody’s–and what happens when their anchor, their leader, is killed. The main character is teenager “J” who has to find a way to survive his crazy uncles’ schemes to get revenge and then to cover up the murders they commit, and to figure out where his own conscience is when it comes to the law and his family. This makes it equally as much a coming of age story as a crime drama, and it is effective in both genres.

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