Premise: A Democratic strategist helps a retired veteran run for mayor in a small, conservative Midwest town.
By transposing a high stakes political arena onto a small town rural America setting, Jon Stewart’s Irresistible takes a relatively low key approach to its ribbing of the world of campaign finance. It is not simply a “fish out of water” story. Nor does it attempt to romanticize the quaint small town it occupies. Instead, Stewart uses this juxtaposition to call attention to the absurdity of campaign fundraising in a fairly unique manner. And although the approach is surprisingly refreshing in this era of fourth wall breaking Adam McKay political and socio-economic commentary films, Irresistible falters a bit on the road to its message.
This week, our contributor and friend Ben joins me to review the retro sci-fi film, The Vast of Night and the new Judd Apatow film The King of Staten Island. We also talk about drive-in movies and AMC’s plans to reopen. For Potpourri, we discuss the Netflix films Da 5 Bloods and The Wrong Missy.
Premise: A pilot’s aircraft is hijacked by terrorists.
Patrick Vollrath’s 7500 is a tense and claustrophobic thriller about an airplane hijacking and the pilot’s efforts to keep control and guide the passengers to safety. Taking place almost entirely within the cockpit, 7500 quickly becomes a showcase of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s ability to command the screen with an intense and introspective performance. It is also an exercise in low-budget filmmaking and storytelling that utilizes limited set space.
Premise: The owner of a coal mining operation, falsely imprisoned for fratricide, takes a drug to make him invisible, despite its side effect: gradual madness.
Nine years after Dr. John Griffin’s invisible rampage depicted in 1933’s The Invisible Man, his brother, Dr. Frank Griffin (John Sutton), helps his friend escape the gallows with an experimental drug that turns him invisible. Once Geoffrey Radcliffe (Vincent Price) escapes, he sets off to find the person who murdered his brother while he waits for Frank to develop an antidote for the invisibility. The Invisible Man Returns is noteworthy for the improvements to the visual effects that nine years afforded the production. Continue reading →
In the midst of a global pandemic and stay at home orders all over the country, I am coping by watching movies and podcasting about them as if they were part of a Film Festival. In this episode, Kyrsten joins me as we review 2019’s Richard Jewell and the brilliant Middleditch & Schwartz improv specials on Netflix. We then chat about a bunch of other comedy streaming selections.
Premise: A young couple looking for the perfect home find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical houses.
In concept, Vivarium (Latin for “place for life”) has all the makings of a mind-bending sci-fi thriller that should be rich with character development and social commentary. The film features an ominous set design showcasing an empty and endless housing development in which the film’s protagonists become trapped. It’s an idyllic, yet monstrous prison of suburbia and the only inkling of hope they have toward being released is to raise a bizarre alien child that appears in a box on the street. Continue reading →
In the midst of a global pandemic and stay at home orders all over the country, I am coping by watching movies and podcasting about them as if they were part of a Film Festival. Here is my coverage of cOVid-19 Film Festival Days 20-38: Sci-fi Showcase (April 6-24, 2020). For the spotlight review, frequent guest ad contributor Ben calls in to talk about Alex Garland’s Devs with me in a non-spoiler and spoiler review.
Premise: One of the sons of Frankenstein finds his father’s monster in a coma and revives him, only to find out he is controlled by Ygor who is bent on revenge.
Son of Frankenstein finds Baron Wolf Von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) traveling to the village in which his father’s monster wreaked havoc many years after the tragic events transpired. The young baron brings his bride Elsa (Josephine Hutchinson) and son Peter (Donnie Dunagan) to the Frankenstein castle where Wolf is set to collect his inheritance. In the village, the Frankensteins are met with hostility while, in the castle, the Frankenstein patriarch faces off with the heavy shadow of his father’s legacy. Continue reading →
Premise: Hungarian countess Marya Zaleska seeks the aid of a noted psychiatrist, hoping to free herself of a mysterious evil influence.
The Universal Monsters’ second direct sequel, 1936’s Dracula’s Daughter, takes a different approach than Bride of Frankenstein before it. Like Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula’s Daughter begins immediately after the events of its predecessor. However, there is no retconning to be found here. Dracula is dead. Long live Dracula. This sequel examines the fallout of the events of the first film through Van Helsing’s (Edward Van Sloan) interactions with the law and the introduction of Hungarian countess Marya Zaleska (Gloria Holden), who is seemingly possessed by the re-deceased Dracula. Continue reading →
Premise: The juice of a rare Tibetan flower is the only thing that keeps Dr. Glendon from turning into a werewolf during a full moon.
Though it underperformed commercially compared to the success of The Wolf Man six years later, 1935’s Werewolf of London has the distinction of helping to create much of the mythology that is still associated with werewolves today. Prior to the film, transforming into a werewolf involved witchcraft, did not involve a full moon, and bites were not transformative to humans. Thus the legacy of Werewolf of London is indelible even if the film itself is slightly uneven and muddled with too many protagonists. Continue reading →
In the midst of a global pandemic and stay at home orders all over the country, I am coping by watching movies and podcasting about them as if they were part of a Film Festival. Here is my coverage of cOVid-19 Film Festival Day 16: Netflix Spotlight (April 2, 2020). For the spotlight review, Tiny calls in to talk about Tiger King with me in a spoiler review.
In the midst of a global pandemic and stay at home orders all over the country, I am coping by watching movies and podcasting about them as if they were part of a Film Festival. Here is my coverage of cOVid-19 Film Festival day 6: Programmed by Mike White. For the spotlight review, Mike calls in to talk about Freaks with me in a mostly non-spoiler review.
Premise: Mary Shelley reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein, goaded by an even madder scientist, builds his monster a mate.
The first direct sequel in the Universal Classic Monsters chronology is also the final one to be helmed by James Whale (after Frankenstein and The Invisible Man). Bride of Frankenstein is replete with themes of creation and destruction amidst subtext involving identity politics, nature vs nurture, and a healthy of dose of homosexual undercurrents thrown in for good measure. The film builds upon what was previously established in Frankenstein by introducing a more menacing mad scientist character and further humanizing Boris Karloff’s monster. It also pays homage to the woman who created the monster and brings some light religious commentary to the forefront as well. Continue reading →
Pretty cool creature feature. The first reveal of the creature is really freaking cool. Good suspense, strong protagonist (Kiersey Clemons nails the quiet, sole survivor performance through a big chunk of the movie).
Pete Davidson character is hard to root for and he's really playing into the personality he's known for.But something about The King of Staten Island works. I bought into the journey the character went through and felt like the dramatic moments were pretty well earned