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...

Network 40 Years Later: We’re Still Mad as H...

Network is among the greatest works of contemporary satire in the past forty years. Its pointed skewering of the multimedia marketplace has only become more accurate with each passing year. In the fictional basic cable network Union Broadcasting System, Oscar winning screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky remarkably predicted the formation and susequent rise of such twenty-four hour news behemoths as MSNBC and Fox News. On both sides of the political divide, Howard Beale (Peter Finch) and his populist rants against the unknowable terror of the universe, as refracted and distorted by network programming executives, has found its outlet in real life in...

The Blair Witch Project Is So Perfect, It Can Only...

They say that part of the problem with addiction to the harder, more dangerous drugs is that no high feels better than the first one. The Blair Witch Project got me. I have told the story a million times, the way one does with first loves. I watched it on opening night in a small town in my home state of West Virginia, thirty minutes from my house in the woods. Where I lived, there was no internet access (there wouldn’t be for a little while). My family had only had cable just long enough for me to catch the brilliant Curse of the Blair Witch documentary that had aired on what was then the Sci-Fi network shortly before the film’s...

Midnight Special Finishes The Great 21st Century F...

Overview: A father and his son, a child with mysterious abilities, are pursued by federal agencies and a desperate religious group. Warner Bros. Pictures; 2016; Rated PG-13; 111 minutes. Violent Information: Each of the three Jeff Nichols films starring Michael Shannon in the lead role, including Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and now Midnight Special, jumps into a first scene cold-opening that sees a father presented with the possibility of losing his child. And each storyline then pursues the father’s coming to terms with the threat, in all cases an idea too large for one person to understand but one that the paternal characters need...

Cloverfield: Great Monster Movie, Better Human Sto...

Overview: A group of friends travel to the heart of New York to save a friend in the middle of a monster attack in a definitive film for our times. Paramount Pictures; 2008; Rated PG-13; 85 minutes. The Monster: Cloverfield isn’t really about the monster. It’s not even really about a monster attack. The 2008 J.J. Abrams-produced, Drew Goddard-penned, and Matt Reeves-directed project operates as a film about how small and insignificant we are in the grand scope of things. In Lovecraftian fashion, people are inconsequential to the disaster and giant terrors ever-present in the corners of our world and existence. Much has been...

The Witch is Sublime Horror

Overview: A Puritan family, banished from their community, relocates to the edge of the woods where satanic forces undermine their unity and faith. A24; 2015; Rated R; 93 minutes. Seduction of the Innocent: From the moment the film’s title, stylized as The VVitch, appears on screen, there is something decidedly off about what we’re witnessing. It’s not simply the persistent sense of dread set by Jarin Blaschke’s gloomy cinematography, or Mark Korven’s score of violently clashing strings punctuating large gaps of silence, which create reason for pause. These elements enhance but do not overtake or distract from our central cause of concern:...

Carol Is A Landmark In Queer Cinema

Overview: In 1950s New York, a young woman confused about her future falls for an older woman, and the two begin a relationship. The Weinstein Company/StudioCanal; 2015; Rated R; 118 minutes. Tragic Flaws: Movies about queer relationships, or even just queer characters, don’t traditionally have happy endings. Even today’s supposedly more progressive cinema indulges in this disappointing trope. Films like The Imitation Game and Dallas Buyers Club seem content to merely trade on the tragedy of these characters, treating them with condescending levels of dignity and grace, but never as human beings. Even legitimately great films like Brokeback...

Reservoir Dogs is Quentin Tarantino’s Person...

Overview: Seven color-coded, armed criminals come to grips with a heist gone wrong and attempt to discern and discover the traitor in their midst. Miramax Films; 1992; Rated R; 99 minutes. The Pen is Sharper Than the Sword: In a film that is full to the brim with remarkably well-written and superbly performed narrative set pieces, the scene that opens writer-director-actor Quentin Tarantino’s theatrical debut is among the very best of any to be produced over the course of his entire career. In a diner, over a conversation on the sexual promiscuity of the popular recording artist known only as Madonna, a diatribe on the ethics of leaving a...

A Symphony of Kindred Spirits: Michael Mann’...

Overview: A bank robber and police lieutenant go head to head in Michael Mann’s triumphant crime epic. Warner Bros.; Rated R; 1995; 170 minutes. A Mann’s Man: Michael Mann’s filmography often forsakes traditional plot for the sake of emotion. Mood, atmosphere, and cinematography draw in the audience to the world of individuals who both inhabit and avoid the constraints of society. Each character is defined by their desires and attempts at achieving said desires. More than anything, these individuals are bound by a personal code of ethics to maintain order in worlds run by larger forces seeking to influence them on their pursuit of...

Rocky and the Communal Triumph of Losing

Overview: Inconsequential club fighter Rocky Balboa is given a once in a lifetime shot to take on Apollo Creed for the world heavyweight championship. United Artists; 1976; Rated PG; 119 Minutes. The Italian Stallion (Shamrock Meats, Inc.): As contemporary purveyors of film quality, it’s so easy to take Sylvester Stallone for granted, to mistake the masculine bravado he’s exhibited in action role after action role as some kind of substitute for talent. His physique, speech patterns, and quality of star power have become so often parodied over the years, making him another seemingly expendable advertisement for an age of endless Commandos,...

The Incredibles is Still Incredible

Overview: A family of superheroes is forced into hiding but may not be able to stay hidden for very much longer. Buena Vista Pictures; 2004; Rated PG; 115 minutes. Impeccable Fan Appraisal: At Audiences Everywhere, we have a system by which we decide if a movie is a Great or not. A writer pitches an idea and every other writer votes upon it, yes or no. Get enough yes votes and away you go. Get too many No votes, and no dice. When The Incredibles was pitched as one of The Greats, it received zero no votes, which is generally in keeping with popular opinion regarding the film. There are people who say that The Godfather is pretentious and...

The Good, the Bad an...

Overview: Three men search for gold during the American Civil War. United Artists; 1966; Not Rated; 161 minutes. Keep it Simple: The key to greatness might be simplicity. A lot of the time the movies that fail to age well are the ones that we can’t sum up in a sentence. If a movie can be sold...

Vertigo

Overview:  A former detective struggling with vertigo and acrophobia  is hired to shadow the wife of an acquaintance. Paramount Pictures/Universal; 1958; Rated PG; 129 Minutes. A Balanced Perspective:  Every ten years, British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound magazine polls hundreds...

The Terminator

Overview: A humanoid, cybernetic robot goes back in time (to the year 1984) in order to win a war against humanity (in the year 2029), tasked with the single assignment of killing one young woman (Sarah Connor), the soon-to-be-mother of the future leader of the human resistance against the machines. 1984; Orion Pictures; Rated R; 107 minutes. He’ll Be Back: James Cameron’s 1984 sci-fi action-blockbuster The Terminator still stands as one of the greatest genre releases of all time, standing alongside such thrilling, escapist serials as George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy, Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones franchise, and Ridley Scott’s...

PTA: Life & Liberty, Porn & Milkshakes

California seems to be both the birthplace and the final resting place of the American Dream. It is the metaphorical end of the earth, where all cross country road trips come to a halting close. It is a contradictory oasis of both natural beauty and physical artifice; a symbol of unlimited opportunity, and a destination set upon by dreamers and naïve kids, but also by those schemers and con men whose covert manipulation of the former appears seemingly endless in scope and respective ambition. Yet, once one reaches this beacon of idealism, where can one go? The sun and palms seem to inspire things in people, and make them try and achieve...

The Look of Silence

Overview: Joshua Oppenheimer’s companion film to The Act of Killing follows the family of one of the victims of the genocide explored in that film. Drafthouse Films; 2015; Unrated; 103 Minutes Puzzle Pieces: Joshua Oppenheimer’s 2013 film The Act of Killing is a towering cinematic achievement, its calm demeanor belying a power and immediacy that almost demands to be labeled “important”. His follow-up, The Look of Silence, made me wonder how I ever appreciated Act of Killing alone. As its title suggests, the first film focused on killers, specifically a group of former thugs in Indonesia whose genocide of supposed...

The Godfather Part I...

Overview:  The sequel to the original classic chronicles the descent of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) and the ascent of his father, Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro). Paramount Pictures; 1974; Rated R; 200 Minutes. Calling The Godfather Part II one of the Greats is a bit of a moot point at this...

Groundhog Day: What Do You Do With Forever?

Movies are about more than they are about. Obsessive fans and critics have applied several complex equations in attempt to determine how many days Phil Connors was stuck reliving February 2nd in the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day.  Educated estimates range from nine years (Wolf Gnards) to 34 years (WhatCulture.com). Danny Rubin’s initial script had Phil stuck in a single day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania for 10,000 years. Had this detail not been changed, Groundhog Day would have been an unwatchable movie for some. Apeirophobia is the fear of infinity. For those who deal with it, this fear can manifest as crippling anxiety. As is the case...

The Graduate

Overview: When a young man returns home after graduating college, he find himself avoiding the pressures and expectations of his family by embarking on an affair with an older woman only to later fall in love with her daughter.  1967, distributed by Embassy Films, rated PG, 105 minutes. Here’s To You:  Everyone knows the song, even those who haven’t seen Mike Nichols’ iconic coming of age story are familiar with its premise.  The late Mike Nichols put himself, and his star, Dustin Hoffman, on the map with a film that can feel both like a perfect snapshot reflection of its time and an ageless, familiar tale that resonates...

The Dark Knight

Overview: Batman makes the biggest mistake of his career when he decides to take down the mob instead of The Joker. 2008; Warner Bros Pictures; PG-13; 152 minutes. Where Do We Begin? Batman Begins ends with Lieutenant Gordon anticipating the escalation of Gotham’s war on crime as Batman...

21 Grams

Overview: In Alejandro González Iñárritu’s second feature, three lives intertwine following a tragic car accident. Focus Features; 2003; Rated R; 124 Minutes. How much does life weigh? In his debut feature, Amores Perros (2000), Iñárritu explored the cruelty of love, the obliteration of...

The Texas Chainsaw M...

Editor’s Note:  You can win a copy of the 40th Anniversary Special Edition Blu-Ray and several other great horror films in our #hAElloween contest here.  Overview: Tobe Hooper’s low-budget horror masterpiece about five road-tripping friends whose trip is interrupted by an encounter with...

Shaun of the Dead

In 2004, I was 14 years old and had idea of what my own interests were. My family never took trips to the theater, and I didn’t have the means to go on my own, but shortly after Christmas, somehow, my brother convinced our dad to bring home a DVD. That’s the first time I remember watching Shaun of the Dead and the first time I connected with a film on a substantial level. I distinctly remember after the film had ended, it was as if someone had finally laid the foundation for my personality. I watched the film on repeat for the next few months. Like any teenager, I still wrestled with other facets of my identity, but one...

Taxi Driver

Overview: An unhinged Vietnam veteran takes a job driving a cab at night through the streets of New York City, where he grows more violent and unstable as a result of the perceived human scum he encounters. Columbia Pictures; 1976; Rated R; 113 Minutes. God’s Lonely Man: This film is,...

Raiders of the Lost ...

Overview: Archaeologist Indiana Jones races Nazis to discover the Ark of the Covenant. 1981; Lucasfilm/Paramount; Rated PG/PG-13; 115 Minutes Is There Such a Thing as A Perfect Movie? The short answer is no. The slightly less short answer is yes, and that movie is Raiders of the Lost Ark....

Withnail And I

Overview: It’s 1969 and two, rarely sober, out of work actors take a holiday from their squalid Camden Town flat to a no less dilapidated cottage in Penrith, courtesy of eccentric Uncle Monty. 1987; Handmade Films; Rated 15; 107 minutes. Joining the cult: A smoke infused living room, dingy...

The Exorcist

The following review of The Exorcist, written by Sean Fallon, first appeared on the wonderful film site Writer Loves Movies… An Homage To Our Love For Cinema, where film critic Natalie Stendall is hosting guest contributors in a search to determine why we love the movies we love.   — I...

Chinatown

Overview: When private detective Jake Gittes is hired to investigate an adultery case, he discovers something much darker. Paramount Pictures. 1974. Rated R. 131 minutes. Everything Matters: The first time I saw Chinatown, I thought I had missed something. The film propelled me into action...

Psycho

Overview:  A Phoenix secretary checks into a hotel run by an odd loner.  Paramount/Universal.  1960.  Rated R. 109 Minutes. From Rejected to Revered: Many people, including this writer, hold Alfred Hitchcock in high esteem as one of the greatest directors of all time. His style, creativity,...

Rear Window

Overview:  A wheelchair bound photographer recovering from a leg injury observes some suspicious behavior while watching his neighbors to pass the time.  1954; distributed by Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures; rated PG; 112 minutes. Peeping Toms:  The plot of Rear Window revolves...

12 Angry Men

Overview:  Things get heated as a jury deliberates. United Artists; 1957; Not Rated; 96 Minutes Mild Irritation: The poster for 12 Angry Men, with that iconic image of the wavy knife sticking into the ground, seems rather desperate. It promises a much more thrilling film, one that “explodes...

Toy Story 2

Overview:  While Andy is away at camp, Woody is toynapped by a collector who intends to sell him to a museum in Japan.  1999; distributed by Buena Vista Pictures; rated G; 92 minutes. Bigger and Better:  In the four years after the original Toy Story was released, Pixar’s animation...

Blade Runner

Overview: In the near future of 2019, Harrison Ford is forced to mumble and grumble while hunting down a group of replicants. Warner Bros.; Rated R; 116 minutes. Los Angeles 2019:  Based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Blade Runner presents a grim future for Los...

Toy Story

Overview: Cowboy doll Woody feels his status as favourite toy is threatened when his owner receives a high-tech Buzz Lightyear action figure. Pixar Animation Studios; 1995; Rating PG; 81 Minutes. There’s a First Time for Everything: Toy Story was the very first computer-generated feature...

Boyhood Measures Hyp...

Overview: Filmed over a groundbreaking twelve years, Boyhood is the story of a young boy growing up. IFC; 2014; Rated R; 164 minutes What Is This?: Boyhood garnered instant buzz when director Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused) divulged he had been working on a film project over a decade....

Persona

Overview: A well-known actress (Liv Ullmann) and her nurse (Bibi Andersson) retreat to a small cottage after she has a breakdown, and their lives become increasingly surreal. AB Svensk Filmindustri; 1966; Unrated; 84 Minutes Tearing Down the Wall: Ingmar Bergman’s Persona is a terrifically...

Star Wars Episode V:...

Overview: Luke begins his training with a Jedi Master, while his comrades find themselves at the mercy of the Empire as the result of a well-laid trap to capture young Skywalker.  1980; 20th Century Fox; rated PG; 127 minutes. The Great Escape:  The fist pumping climax that concludes A New...

Stories We Tell

Overview: Stories We Tell explores the nature of truth and storytelling while investigating an unraveling secret regarding director Sarah Polley’s family history. National Film Board of Canada; 2013; Unrated; 109 Minutes. A Family of Storytellers: Pay attention to the position of the...

The Sound of Music (...

Overview/Rating/Length: A singing nun is sent to work as a governess for Captain von Trapp and his seven children, and melts his icy military heart with her music, gumption, and earnest concern for the children’s well-being. Rated: G; Robert Wise Productions/Twentieth Century Fox; 174...

Gravity

Overview:  Orbiting debris sends an astronaut and engineer drifting into space; Warner Bros; 2013; Rated R; 91 Minutes. The Future of Cinema: Any contention that any film experience could be comparable to its subject matter is a ridiculous one. Watching Donnen’s Charade doesn’t count as...

The Godfather

Overview: In a film that many— including this reviewer — hail as one of the best movies ever made, The Godfather tells the outward struggle of a 1940s Mafia family trying to defend their empire from rival families, and the inward struggle they face as the family’s leadership is forced...

The Fall (2006)

Overview: In 1915, a film stunt man, paralyzed and lovesick, offers an improvised fairy tale to a young hospital patient with the hopes of coercing her into a dark scheme.  Roadside Attractions; 2006; Rated R; 117 Minutes. A Milestone in Film Production:  With just one film under his belt...

Seven Samurai

Overview: Akira Kurosawa’s Japanese epic about a group of seven misfit samurai that come together to defend a farming village from bandits. Toho; 1954; Unrated; 207 Minutes. The Original Epic: At the time of Seven Samurai’s release, very few films had a vision or scope as ambitious as...

Apocalypse Now

Overview:  Captain Willard travels to Cambodia in pursuit of Colonel Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola’s definitive Vietnam masterpiece.  United Artists; 1979; Rated R; 155 Minutes We Live, As We Dream — Alone:  Coppola permits precisely one minute of calm, settled audience.  The medium long-shot...

Paris, Texas

Overview:  A lost man is found wandering in the desert and returned to the family he abandoned years before. Twentieth Century Fox; 1984;  Rated R; 147 Minutes America:  In Paris, Texas, German-born auteur Wim Wenders’ indulges an aesthetic fascination with America’s landscape.  His...

One Flew Over the Cu...

Overview:  Milos Foreman’s Oscar-winning adaptation of Ken Kesey’s anti-establishment novel.  United Artists; 1975; Rated R; 133 Minutes. Pe-cul-iar:  Randall P. McMurphy is not crazy.  Erratic, reckless, and selfish, to be sure. But  Nicholson’s version of the One Flew Over the...

The Big Lebowski

Overview:  A case of mixed identity pulls a slacker and his bowling buddies into a kidnap scheme; 1998; Rated R; 117 Minutes. The Problem of Likability:  I always imagined The Big Lebowski must be a problematic film for the aspiring film critic to approach.  I’ll risk my qualifications to...

In the Mood For Love

Overview: Set in 1960s Hong Kong, In the Mood For Love, directed by Wong Kar-Wai, is an examination of how the seed of romance can form and leave an indelible mark. USA Films. 2000. Rated PG. 98 Minutes. The Romance: With a delicate and natural touch, Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung bring to...

Oldboy (2003)

Overview: A man is kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, then set free with no explanation. 2003. Show East/Tartan Films. Rated R. 120 Minutes. Korean Filmmaking: Oldboy is the second part of director Park Chan-Wook’s Vengeance Trilogy, and a benchmark in the history of Korean film. It...

Alien

Overview:  A crew of space miners unknowingly allow a discourteous and inhuman passenger aboard their towing ship.  Twentieth Century Fox; 1979; Rated R; 117 Minutes. Nostromo: As is the case with so many science-fiction masterpieces, the key to appreciating Alien begins with an investigation...