Category: Retrospectives

Wayne’s World 25th Anniversary: It Doesn’t Suck. In Fact, It’s Great.

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 ...

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Smokin’ Aces: 10 Years of Dead Reckoning, Sleazy Action, and Messy Clarity

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...

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 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...

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Going Back and to the Left: JFK 25 Years Later

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 has legions of fans and detractors. It is a frustrating movie that is also seductive and persuasive. However, before we can delve into JFK we must first answer some questions, the first of which is simply why do so many of us believe in conspiracy...

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Beavis and Butt-head Do America: Still On the Couch 20 Years Later

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...

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Children of Men Ten Years Later: We Couldn’t Save La Pieta

“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...

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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...

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We See the Ships in the Distance on Apocalypto’s 10th Anniversary

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...

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“If I fight, you fight”: Rocky Balboa on HIS 40th Anniversary

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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Universal Horror Series Revisited: Dracula

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, somewhere between romantically terrifying and ridiculous, and yet he and his brood of characters are what we continue to return to time and time again. Dracula (1931) Overview: The most famous vampire story ever told. Iconic: Much like James Whale’s Frankenstein, Tod Browning’s Dracula is the version of the...

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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...

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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...

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