Wayne’s World 25th Anniversary: It DoesnR...

You can quote the hell out of Wayne’s World. The movie is a catchphrase factory. In its every scene, the script co-authored by the movie’s star Mike Myers, who made his big screen debut in the now-iconic comedy, presents at least one famous snippet of dialogue. Wayne’s World introduced or popularized quite the collection of quotes within the pop culture lexicon—some that are still in currency (“We’re not worthy!” and “That’s what she said…”), others that have lost their value (“Ass sphincter says what?” and “Ex-squeeze me? Baking powder?”), and still others that feel as if maybe they missed  widespread circulation the first time through...

Smokin’ Aces: 10 Years of Dead Reckoning, Sl...

To call Smokin’ Aces sleazy is an understatement. It’s a shotgun blast of nihilism with the bullets made out of compact flesh from a rusty meat-grinder. Once the trigger is pulled, the shrapnel propels itself into a block of cheese that will not be satisfactory to everyone’s tastes. But Joe Carnahan isn’t interested in taste here. The focus is on watching a menagerie of degenerates and people in way over their heads get lost in the shuffle of what we can refer to as a “gaggle-fuck” of bad decisions and worse combatants. It also stars an assortment of fantastic character actors doing some of the weirdest work in their careers. The...

 The Controversies of Straw Dogs 30 Years Later

“Bloody Sam” Peckinpah made a name for himself with his vicious western The Wild Bunch in 1969. After controversy surrounded his professional methods, he took to England to film Straw Dogs, a movie that 30 years later remains as controversial as the director himself. Straw Dogs is certainly a frustrating film to watch. Those familiar know that it’s generally praised or condemned for its content to two extremes: is it a misogynistic, self-fellating film or an insightful look at humanity’s savagery? Looking at it on its 30th anniversary I aimed to ask, why can’t it be both? The truth is that it is both – but not equally or without...

Going Back and to th...

JFK is 25 years old this month. It is still a fascinating movie that is unique in so many ways. It is essentially a three hour accusation against the US government of killing John Kennedy made by a three-time Oscar winner with an all-star cast. It won two Oscars and 16 other movie awards, and...

Beavis and Butt-head Do America: Still On the Couc...

Based on the hit MTV animated series, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America was the feature length directorial debut of Middle America provocateur Mike Judge. After several offers were made and turned down by Judge for a motion picture production based on his original cast of characters, a Beavis and Butt-Head movie finally began to go into production in 1994, with co-writer Joe Stillman attached to develop the an original screenplay. Eventually, Stillman and Judge developed what became one of the most successful December releases of all time, making back $20,114,233 on a $12 million budget. Taking the form and inheriting the narrative tradition...

Children of Men Ten Years Later: We Couldn’t...

“And therefore I looked down into the great pity of a person’s life on this earth. I don’t mean that we all end up dead, that’s not the great pity. I mean that he couldn’t tell me what he was dreaming, and I couldn’t tell him what was real.” – Denis Johnson, Jesus’ Son It’s easy now, isn’t it? Almost too easy. Today, there is a clear and topical reason to discuss the film beyond just its upcoming ten year anniversary. Do a Google search of the title with the words “relevant” or “accurate” any time over the next few weeks, as we move toward an inauguration of a president whose anti-immigration platform might have been pulled directly...

Bangarang! Hook Turns 25

Originally published December 12, 2016.  Hook was the first movie I ever saw in a theater. I was just three years old when the magic of the experience was made known to me. I was enamoured with those thick plush seats, the enormous screen, and the smorgasbord of treats available. More importantly, it was Steven Spielberg who introduced me through Hook to the joy and awe of being transported somewhere unbelievable when its magical scenes were first burned into my tiny toddler mind. It’s because of memories like these that this film holds a special place in the hearts of so many people who saw it as youngsters. Watching it as an adult 25...

We See the Ships in the Distance on ApocalyptoR...

I never saw Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto when it was released in 2006. I remember being vaguely interested, appreciating that it seemed ambitious in scope and subject, and filing it away as a movie I’d maybe get around to. For whatever reason, that didn’t happen—not for years anyway. It wasn’t until a weekend, in the middle of doing a few loads of laundry, that I caught an afternoon cable showing. I sat down to watch just the opening scene to see what it was all about before getting back to the laundry. I didn’t move until the closing credits. So admittedly it wouldn’t take much to pull me away from laundry, but this afternoon must have been in...

“If I fight, you fight”: Rocky Balboa ...

When I was growing up, I knew about Rocky. That’s to say – I knew of Rocky. I’d seen the poster, I knew that Sylvester Stallone was a movie star, I knew that at some point he shouted “Adrian!” Like most that haven’t sat down and watched any of the Rocky series, I felt like I already knew the story – and in a way, I did. It is a fairly straightforward underdog story in a lot of ways, which makes it hard to convince non-believers of its worth. The language that Rocky himself uses is simplistic, but the melodrama of the series’ middle casts a shadow over what is otherwise a nuanced, delicate character study. Before Creed was released,...

10 Years Ago, Borat Punched Everybody

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, or Borat, as it’s come to be known, is the funniest movie I have ever seen. Caution me against publishing hyperbole as much as you would like, but with Sacha Baron Cohen’s brilliant film today celebrating the 10th anniversary of its release, I have had a decade to think about it. And I am more confident in the assertion than ever. Borat is the funniest movie I have ever seen. That status is insulated and protected by a few facts. First, there had never been anything quite like Borat before. Sure, American pop culture has been heavily familiar with recorded...

Carrie White Burns in Hell: Carrie’s 40th An...

Forty years later, Carrie is still one of the most popular horror movies of its time. As is the case with any successful adaptation, it would be a disservice to neglect to consider the source material. 1976: In the middle of one of the hottest decades for horror, Stephen King’s first film adaptation was born. This would spark the beginning of a successful book to film career that took King from a job making $1.60 an hour in a laundry to where he is today as one of the most successful writers of all time. Carrie’s Hollywood success largely has to do with the stylish direction of Brian De Palma, but also its ability to speak to a large...

Marie Antoinette 10 Years Later

If you ask anyone what they know about Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France, most will quote “Let them eat cake”. As a response to the starving poor of the country she reigns over, it’s the clearest expression of either privileged ignorance or a facetious disregard of the lower classes. It’s worth noting then, that her most famous quote wasn’t said by her at all. The phrase originally appeared in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Les Confessions, where he speaks of a “great princess” who made the remark. Whether or not it really happened, the writing date precedes Marie Antoinette’s arrival in France. In fact, she was nine years old in a...

Universal Horror Series Revisited: The Wolf Man

Stories of werewolves are hugely prevalent in cinema and folklore. They are a personal favourite of this writer and the legends have spawned such cult classics as An American Werewolf in London, Dog Soldiers, Ginger Snaps, and Wolfcop. There is something universally appealing/terrifying about the idea of a person cursed to become a beast at the next full moon. The inevitability of it all, and the ticking clock makes for some great tragic cinema. Universal pretty much created the template for the modern idea of a werewolf with Lon Chaney Jr. playing the doomed man. The Wolf Man (1941) Overview: Larry Talbot returns to his ancestral home...

Universal Horror Ser...

Dracula is such an iconic cinema villain that it is hard to imagine a time when that wasn’t the case. Bram Stoker may have created the character, but it was Universal who created the image we have not only of Dracula but also of all vampires. Dracula is an oddly compelling character,...

Universal Horror Series Revisited: Frankenstein

Frankenstein as a character, a concept, and a monster has always been a fascination for viewers. The original Mary Shelley novel has been adapted more times than I am able to count, and continues to be modernised, subverted, and parodied. Perhaps it’s a fear of death that brings us back to this story of the doctor who proves that we can cheat the grim reaper, or maybe simply it is an excellent story that deserves to be introduced to new audiences over and over. In 1931, James Whale was tasked by Universal with directing one of the first movie versions of the story, and also one of the most influential on future versions of the story....

Blue Velvet 30th Anniversary Retrospective

Blue Velvet is the type of film that lingers in your mind long after your first viewing. One that inspires focused and passionate discussion amongst friends. Love it or hate it, it still has people talking to this day, 30 years after its initial controversial release. My friend Eddie says it best: “I don’t like how this movie makes me feel.” Neither did Roger Ebert, by the looks of his infamous scathing review in which he referred to Blue Velvet as “…a story that’s marred by sophomoric satire and cheap shots” but many viewers today find his opinion somewhat misinformed. To this day it is considered one of the best films of the...

Summer 2016 Retrospective: The Good, the Bad, and ...

Another year, another summer movie season come and gone. Look, there’s no point in comparing this summer to last since it has the displeasure of following up Mad Max: Fury Road. Last year was a defining year for blockbusters. If they weren’t great, they at least made buckets of money (. In a perfect world we would receive one blockbuster, and movie in general, to achieve the caliber of entertainment and creativity. What we’re left with this year is odd. The big studio tent-poles garnered mostly critical disappointment, with few bright spots, and even then audiences will most likely disagree on which was the definitive...

Stand By Me 30 Years Later: How Does Nostalgia Age...

When we first see Gordie LaChance , it is autumn, a time of endings, of dying things. He gazes aimlessly out of his car window, his face blank with memory. As the daylight begins to wane in the rural field around him, he watches a few young kids putter along innocently on bicycles. He has grown old. Stand By Me is so clearly a film borne out of wistful reflection that this opening series of shots establishing the somber Richard Dreyfuss as Gordie LaChance, The Writer behind this story, is hardly necessary. From the dreamy soft lighting to the almost nauseatingly “of the time” soundtrack, the movie is one with its neck eternally craned to...

30 Years Later, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Hasn...

The house anecdote about Tobe Hooper’s 1974 horror masterstroke, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is that it was so terrifying, viewers left the theater thinking they’d just seen the goriest film ever made; a full-body submersion into blood, guts, and other assorted human viscera. The punchline, of course, is that Hooper had actually shown next to nothing, instead using quick cuts and frantic camerawork to engage the audience’s collective imagination, whipping them up into a hysterical frenzy. It’s not a stretch to guess that the film these impressionable viewers thought they saw might look a little bit like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. One...

Poetry of the Steak: Reinterpreting The Fly 30 Yea...

When we think about David Cronenberg’s The Fly we think about the grotesque transformation of Seth Brundle that drives the film and weakens our stomachs. 30 years later and the artistry of Chris Walas and Stephan Dupuis on Seth Brundle’s six staged transformation into Brundlefly remain an unmatched feat in practical effects, paralleled only by Rob Bottin’s work on The Thing four years prior. Despite the effects wizardry that keeps audiences returning to Cronenberg’s film over and over again, The Fly’s memorable body horror and exploration of the flesh would be lessened if not for the compassion for character that binds each scene, even as...

Manhunter 30 Years Later

One of the biggest injustices of pop culture is that Michael Mann’s Manhunter has been lost in the shadow of the (admittedly brilliant) Silence of the Lambs, as well as the film’s 2002 remake Red Dragon. While I can understand people choosing Silence as their favourite of the series, for me Manhunter stands tall as the best these adaptations have to offer. It was the late ’80s when the VHS became the dominant videotape format and prices fell to a point where they were affordable. We begin with this home video aesthetic, something that was low quality to see in a movie theatre in 1986, and feels even more dated with...

Ten Years Ago, The Descent Turned American Horror ...

Over a decade later and we still talk about The Descent by describing its parts. That’s pretty common with horror films, really. The best of them always operate as a start-to-finish experience, but are typically discussed afterward by cataloging singular images—Regan’s 360 degree head twist, Leatherface waving his chainsaw against a burning sunrise, the creepy hallway twins urging Danny to “come play,” etc. Even the most learned and experienced horror fans, when pressed to discuss a shared love of a favorite fright feature, are susceptible to just passionately mentioning scenes and recalling their effect. The release of...

Holy Fifty Years Batman! Batman (1966) 50 Years La...

If you’ve never watched Batman: The Movie (1966) then first you need to forget everything you know about the character Batman. Well, not everything. Batman ‘66 is still Bruce Wayne and Robin is Dick Grayson. They’re still aided by Commissioner Gordon and hindered by the Joker, Penguin, Riddler, and Catwoman. They live in Wayne Manor, drive the Batmobile, and wear capes and tights. However, they also do most of their work in the daylight in contrast to the near constant darkness of most other Bat media. The cops love them and they balk at the idea of being labelled vigilantes, as they are both deputised by the police department in a move...

Miami Vice On Its 10th Anniversary

In the original series, Miami Vice carried the same traits as its film reboot. Mood and atmosphere were favored over conventional plotting to justify a meditative state. Instead of Crockett sitting on his boat, overlooking a sunset with a heavy synth score illuminating isolation, Moby’s “One of These Mornings” plays as Crockett and business partner/soon-to-be-lover drive a speedboat towards a seemingly endless horizon. It’s not a disregard for the original stylings of the series as much as it is an update. The pastiche of ’80s fashion trends have been forgone in favor of sleek blacks, whites, and blues. The...

Truth In Brian De Palma’s Blow Out 35 Years ...

A common topic for artists when speaking of their work is this amorphous and kind of indefinable idea of truth. The unspoken tenets of art seem to call for this truth, or verisimilitude, that transcends a work from just something someone made, to a divine object of a cultural significance few people have ever seen. What a strange notion, this idea of truth? There are few things more elaborately and deliberately untruthful than art. Film, especially, is a particularly deceptive and sneaky art form. It is so carefully put together, each of its elements picked and chosen to fit a theme and idea. It is all rehearsed, all theatre. It would seem...

Aliens Turns 30: Why It’s Still Great

It’s always difficult finding words to describe a movie like Aliens. James Cameron’s bonafide classic sequel evokes admiration from the hearts of multiple genre stylings. Whether you’re an action junkie, horror fiend, or science-fiction fanatic, Aliens has something worth offering. Along with being one of the few sequels capable of standing up to the original, many would argue it even surpasses Ridley Scott’s seminal monster movie. The discussion of which film is superior certainly leads to interesting debate, but Aliens maintains its status as a classic for reasons beyond that. It goes to show sequels can do...

Making a Brick: Richard Linklater’s Slacker ...

When James Joyce first published his now celestial-seeming classic novel Ulysses, he was asked why he put so much effort into the specifics of the book’s geography, focusing a great amount of text on street names and building placements and so forth. In his reply, Joyce articulated that “if I can get to the heart of Dublin, I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.” For Joyce, getting all the details of Dublin with a certain painstaking exaction was essential, for if he could do that, he could truly capture Dublin in all its uniqueness and eccentricity. It is that...

The Devil Wears Prada: A Snapshot of Millennial Ps...

Ten years ago Meryl Streep graced us with her icy tone of disdain and fierce collection of handbags as Miranda Priestly, fashion tycoon and ruthless tyrant of the fashion magazine Runway. 2006 was five Oscar nominations (and one win) ago for Streep, and two nominations (and one win) ago for her costar Anne Hathaway, who played Andy Sachs, the mousy, serious journalist who struggles to maintain her values and her friendships during a cutthroat internship at Runway.  On the surface The Devil Wears Prada watches like a slightly confused combination of criticism and glorification of the high fashion industry, a shallow dip into the pool of...

A.I. Artificial Intelligence: A First Viewing 15 Y...

Originally published June 26, 2016. I didn’t expect to like A.I. Artificial Intelligence very much when I watched it for the first time this past weekend. Growing up I remember the film primarily for the novelty of how a copy of it first entered my family household, when my father procured a used copy of the special edition DVD from Blockbuster Video, and I was astounded by the sheer amount of content that could fit onto what looked like a compact disc. A.I. became the signifier of something that I had been denied access to temporarily, and perhaps stands as one of the earliest examples of a movie that presumably held more meaning than I...

A 15-Year Car: Looking Back At The Fast and the Fu...

Long-running film franchises don’t become long-running through constancy. Well, on a superficial level they do – a James Bond movie is always going to star James Bond – but a series that runs past its sixth, seventh, eighth entry tends to become characterized more by change than by whatever initially defined it. Bond actors change out regularly, and the action of, say, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is far removed from that of Spectre. The Fast/Furious franchise (which I have to call it, to avoid confusion with either its first or fourth entries) is seven films deep, with an eighth on the way next year, and a cursory glance seems to...

American Gods 15 Years Later: The Art of the Con

American Gods posits an incredibly simple and incredibly complex idea: what if all of the settlers who ever arrived in America brought their gods along with them, and when they left, converted, died, or were killed, the gods were left behind? What is a god without worshippers? What is a god without sacrifices, temples, believers, and priests? And if human beings created the gods would our worship of TV, the internet, cars, sports, and credit cards create more gods? And how do these two kinds of gods, the old and the new, co-exist in one country and one time? American Gods was published in 2001.  It is a fantasy novel and a road novel. There...

Defining Muhammad Ali Through Film

Muhammad Ali passed away on June 3, 2016. To commemorate the complex, beautiful, larger-than-life hero, champion, and icon, three of our writers attempt to understand him by watching and discussing three films about his life. Facing Ali (Pete McCormack, 2009) Defines Muhammad Ali Through Enemies and America David Shreve, Jr. Facing Ali opens with the trademark declaration from the legendary pugilist: “Rumble, young man, rumble.” Here, in the first moments of this documentary where Ali’s battlecry opens into a short collection of portraits of his aged former opponents, the sentence feels more broadly functional, not about himself or one...

It’s All For You: The Omen Turns 40

“When the Jews return to Zion and the comet rips the sky and the Holy Roman Empire rises, then you and I must die. From the eternal sea he rises, creating armies on either shore, turning man against his his brother ‘til man exists no more.” Evil exists. In 2016, there’s no denying it. Any of us could turn on the news right now or venture to the current events outlet of our choice and see the headline…the omen, if you will, that’s enough to make most of us forever question human decency. And yet many of us still choose to see evil as something that stomps its way in from the outside, a black and ferocious mongrel that we choose to let into...

Stranger in a Strange Land: An Unfilmable Book?

Today, June 1st, is the 55th anniversary of the publication of Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, which tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human raised by Martians and then taken to Earth as an adult. Initially, Valentine Michael Smith (“Mike”) finds the ways of humans difficult to cope with, as he also finds himself a sort of political captive due to his parentage—biological and adoptive alike. As the only child of two famous space travelers and scientists as well as the first Martian to visit Earth, he stands to inherit both his parents’ fortunes and the role of alien emissary. Eventually, following a sequence of...

Loneliness and Longing in The Man Who Fell to Eart...

I was never able to watch The Man Who Fell to Earth all the way through. The first time I tried was early last year. I switched the film off after about forty-five minutes or so, feeling it was dull and strange without a real sense of offered connection. I came back to it after a while, eventually finishing it in bits and pieces.. While this seems like a far from ideal way to watch a film, it seems oddly fitting for The Man Who Fell to Earth. The film is about Thomas Jerome Newton (David Bowie), an alien from some distant, unnamed desert planet who crash lands on Earth looking for water. His home is undergoing a drought and he comes boldly...

Shane Black Is the Perfect Age for this Sh*t

“I’m too old for this shit,” claims Detective Roger Murtaugh, as he repeatedly finds himself caught in action-packed and thrilling police cases. Murtaugh was one half of the “Riggs & Murtaugh” duo that first-time screenwriter Shane Black developed in Lethal Weapon. You know the phrase. Lethal Weapon was born in the mid-80s. By this time, action films such as First Blood, Commando, and Aliens had already been ingrained into the action lexicon. And the most popular 80s crime-comedy at this point was Beverly Hills Cop. Enter Shane Black and director Richard Donner, with a crime-comedy that focuses on two cops, who couldn’t be any...

Brian Wilson Alone: The Beach Boys’ Pet Soun...

The eleventh Beach Boys LP, Pet Sounds, was recorded from July 12, 1965 through April 13, 1966. Released by Capitol Records on May 16, 1966, the record marked a turn in the career of the popular American rock group. Marked by the band’s penchant for glittery California pop, Pet Sounds was singular in its self-conscious appraisal of the appeal of popular music in general. Produced, arranged, and largely written and composed by central band member Brian Wilson while on leave from touring with the rest of the band, Pet Sounds proved divisive among general audiences. Despite peaking at #2 in the UK Top 40 Album Charts, the record was discordant...

The Unexplainable, Wonderful Chaos of Bob Dylan...

Throughout the singer-songwriter’s almost six decade career, Bob Dylan has been compared to Jesus Christ many times. From the moment his “wild mercury sound” broke through to the public, monikers like “prophet,” “savior,” and “voice of a generation” have been attributed to the man with such frequency and rapidity it’s a wonder a religion hasn’t sprung up around the man yet. It’s entirely likely Dylan has even considered himself a sort of Christ figure at one point. The comparisons, however absurd and over-dramatic they may seem, do have some founding in fact and reason. Dylan came out of humble beginnings. Like Jesus’ ascension from his...

A Funeral For Citizen Kane: Trying To Remember The...

In high school, my journalism teacher screened a few of the more significant films about the profession. I recall that All the President’s Men and Shattered Glass were my favorites. She told me that she would screen Citizen Kane, but at three hours it was far too long to reasonably fit into our class periods. Actually, Citizen Kane runs a tight two hours, but I can’t blame her for the misunderstanding. This film has grown so titanic in our cultural imagination that even its runtime balloons. Ask someone what Citizen Kane is about. No, seriously, go and ask. I’m curious. If they’ve seen the film, they’ll probably give you the logline: “A...

A Necessary Dying: Rewatching United 93 On Its 10t...

Ten years after its release, it is still strange that the film United 93 even exists. In 2006, no one was expressly asking for a movie about 9/11, certainly not a 9/11 movie from an untested director whose biggest feature to date was an as-yet under-celebrated action flick, and, when this exact release was announced, there were many who promised to avoid the presumably-exploitative film on principle. This response should not have been unforeseeable. In the near half decade between the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the release of Paul Greengrass’ film, American pop culture, particularly within the realms of film and television, exhibited our...

“I’ll See You Again In 25 Years”...

At 10:30 AM on 26th March, I entered Duke of York’s Picturehouse, Britain’s oldest cinema in continuous use. At 19:30 PM on 27th March, I left.  I’d just spent 33 hours drinking coffee, eating doughnuts, and watching Twin Peaks. I wouldn’t commit myself to a marathon screening of any other show – in fact, up until this point the longest I’d spent in the cinema was to see Nymphomaniac parts 1 & 2 back-to-back. But Twin Peaks is different. While it may have stiff competition for favourite TV show, I feel confident in saying it has been the most electrifying and influential – from my tastes in art to my own writing. It also...

Slither Turns Ten: Is It the Perfect 2000s Horror?

Slither’s official website is still operational and in its original state. Visitors today are immediately exposed to one of those forced introductory flash animation ads that were all the rage in web-design in 2006. Poke around a little and you will discover that the site still allows you to download free promotional Slither icons to use in AOL Instant Messenger. In a way, it’s like a virtual trip to a different era. That distinctive feeling that it belongs to “some other time” isn’t exclusive to the film’s preserved online marketing. The opening of Slither is its own throwback to an era even further back. Two bored local cops sit in their...

The Boss Of My Own Body: 35 Years Of Thief

“‘My money is still in your pocket, which is from the yield of my labor.’ ‘Why don’t you join a labor union?’ ‘I’m wearing it.'” It’s tempting to look at a director’s first film as a translation for the cipher of their career. There we can often see a director’s style in its rawest form, unrefined by time and experience. But like Athena, Michael Mann’s style emerged fully-grown from its creator’s forehead with Thief, his theatrical debut. Here’s a potential corollary: Can we look at movies from early in a decade as blueprints for that time-frame’s cultural obsessions? Thief was released in 1981 – 35...

Fetishizing The Dark Knight Returns

In 1986, a storm came to Gotham. To be fair, a storm is always coming to Gotham. But this one? This one was unlike anything we’d ever seen. Partly born of anger and fear, Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s The Dark Knight Returns offered a brutal re-assessment of the icon born of anger and fear: The Batman. Thirty years ago, this alternate take on Batman’s dystopian future changed the comics’ landscape forever. No longer could Batman only be looked at as just another superhero or even a detective. No, Miller created a warrior god…or better yet, a demon whose crusade became frightening in its mythological scale. Along with Watchmen, V for...

There Can Be Only One: 30 Years of Highlander

Next to my heart, there is another heart. The first heart pumps blood around my body and keep me alive. The second is just full of my emotions concerning 80s sci-fi/fantasy movies that bring crazy concepts into the modern (or 1980’s) world. If I could only watch Warlock, Monster Squad, The Masters of the Universe, Flash!, The Terminator, Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing, Predator, and Ghostbusters forever I would die a happy man. But at the top of that list is, and will always be, 1986’s Highlander. The first two things you hear in this movie are the smooth, dulcet tones of Sean Connery and a song by Queen. Realistically, that should...

Pretty in Pink 30 Years Later

John Hughes’ body of work is diverse, multifaceted, and remarkably forthright in its consistency in terms of character. Films like Mr. Mom and Uncle Buck function like standard studio comedies, and the celebrated filmmaker only became more of a seemingly appointed studio scribe in later years on projects such as the Home Alone movies and the family-friendly Beethoven franchise, among other similarly minded projects that were given birth over the course of the 1990s. And yet it is in his directorial outpouring where many cinephiles have found emotional and spiritual succor over the years. Hughes has made certain motion pictures out of some...

25 Years of The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs is the last horror movie to make a big impact at the Oscars. It took home the five big awards and has since secured its place in the canon of great cinema. Today marks twenty-five years since its release. Since then, we’ve seen a sub-par sequel, a pair of terrible prequel movies, and a truly incredible prequel TV show. It has spawned innumerable parodies and homages, and its scenes of a captured villain being faced by the hero looking for help or information from a foe much smarter than themselves have been borrowed in recent movies like The Avengers, Skyfall, The Dark Knight, Star Trek Into Darkness and a variety...

Taxi Driver On Its 40th Anniversary

When we talk about films that have reached “classic” status, it’s easy to forget that they weren’t always a sure thing. Taxi Driver was a product of a particular time in U.S. history, and it was Paul Schrader’s script with Martin Scorsese at the helm that tapped into the cultural climate and brought it to the screen. Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is an outsider, a loner, disgusted with the world he sees around him. He is also a veteran of the Vietnam War, and has returned from his experiences of combat with a disturbed mind and an incomplete journey. There was a kind of national trauma felt after the unpopular war crawled to its close, an...

For a Time We Were There: The History and Impact o...

Early in the 1974 film Foxy Brown, Foxy tries to convince her dope-pushing brother to do more with his life. He responds, “You tell me what I’m supposed to do with all this ambition I got.” To understand the boom of the so labeled Blaxploitation films of the ’70s and their lasting impact on everything from music, fashion, film, and pop culture is to understand that line. Like any genre, Blaxploitation films are comprised of good and bad qualities, celebratory of and problematic towards black culture. Even the best of these reliably low-budget films are not known explicitly known as great works of art, but I can’t help but see them as...

2112 and Rush 40 Years Later

There is perhaps no band more ubiquitous for the more esoteric and literary listener than the Canadian prog-rock band Rush. Despite the group’s relative self-absorption and objectively simplistic lyrics that more often than not comprise grand fantasy and science-fiction epics to rival the works of Tolkien and Heinlein, Rush is still a go-to band for the more nerdy and obsessive audiophile. And their decided courtship of some of the more involved aspects of genre fiction has lent them a certain socio-cultural cache that places them in the realm of bands who appeal to a very specific milieu, namely the suburban white male, of an approximate...