Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Empire of the Sun

(1987)

If you have a strong stomach, you should try reading about the six-week series of atrocities known as the Rape of Nanking. The invading Japanese Army indulged in an orgy of executions and rapes of Chinese civilians. (There are some fucking Japs [and I use the term deliberately to insult these assholes; if it offends you, go fuck yourself] who to this day deny it happened at all!) Accurate ... Read more »

Smilla’s Sense of Snow

(Denmark, Sweden, Germany, 1997)

I’m always sad when a movie starts out showing a great deal of promise, and then loses it. And I really was enjoying it. Julia Ormond is fascinating as Smilla, who is half Danish and half Greenlandic … well, technically Greenland is part of Denmark, but 88% of the population is Inuit, the people we used to call Eskimos. She is half Inuit. She spent her early life in Greenland and is now ... Read more »

A Sound of Thunder

(USA, UK, Czech Republic, Germany, 2005)

Here’s one more example of someone taking a classic SF story and totally ruining it. Every once in a while someone gets it right. Philip K. Dick has done reasonably well with short stories, though there are plenty of turkeys, too. Heinlein’s All You Zombies was made into an excellent, and totally faithful movie, Predestination. But not ... Read more »

Grand Canyon

(1991)

The only reason a white man of a certain economic class, driving a luxury car, could have for driving through Inglewood at night is to be returning home from a Lakers game at the Forum. Kevin Kline decides to drive around some traffic by taking back streets. His car breaks down and five gangbangers surround him. He is about to get the shit beat out of him when he is saved by the arrival of ... Read more »

Our Kind of Traitor

(UK, 2016)

There’s no one better in the world for spy stories than John le Carré. He is also maybe the luckiest novelist in the world, because well over half of his books have been made into movies, and there is not a bad one in the lot. I’ve seen all but two of them. Several of them are actual masterpieces, such as the Alec Guinness version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, ... Read more »

Broadcast News

(1987)

Holly Hunter is a fierce television news director. Albert Brooks is a crackerjack TV reporter. And William Hurt is an underachiever who just happens to be handsome enough to be a star news anchorman. It would have been easy to make this character a Ted Baxter WJM Mary Tyler Moore buffoon with an inflated ego and nothing at all going on between his ears. His saving grace is that he realizes ... Read more »

The Accountant

(2016)

Boy, there’s a title that makes you want to run right out and see it, right? I mean, whose life is more exciting than a CPA? But no, really, how do you make an accountant’s life interesting? By thinking up a highly unlikely plot device … but I have to admit, an interesting one.

Ben Affleck is the title character. He is on the autistic spectrum, what is known as a high-functioning ... Read more »

Reds

(1981)

When it is good, it is very, very good, but when it is bad … it’s not horrid, exactly. But it can be damn slow. Warren Beatty is one of those obsessed, perfectionist directors who can demand literally a hundred takes. During the filming of this one, when Beatty was about to order the 101st take of a simple scene, Gene Hackman said fuck this, and walked out. And ... Read more »

Kubo and the Two Strings

(2016)

People keep writing the obituary for stop-motion animation, and then something like this comes along. It was produced by Laika, the successor to Will Vinton Studios, probably best known for the claymation commercials for California raisins and the song “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” They did a lot of other stuff, of course.

Technically it is stunning. Two things made it better ... Read more »

Two Brothers

(Deux freres, France UK, 2004)

It is the mid-1920s and Kumar and Sangha are tiger cubs from the same litter. (I just learned that though tigers usually have two or three cubs, they can have as many as six!) Their father is killed trying to protect them, and one is sold to a small circus while the other goes to a young boy who raises him as a pet until his mum puts her foot down. After that he is caged and abused by a ... Read more »