Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

(2018)

The only reason I can see for some of the simply devastating reviews of this picture is what I’m calling the Mary Poppins effect. How dare they fuck with an icon like Mary/Tchaikovsky!

“Lovely to look at, easy to forget.”

“Empty but eye-popping.”

“Soulless.”

“Dreck.”

Some deranged butthead named Alonso Durande, in a review titled “This Sugarplum is ... Read more »

2019 Live Action Short Subject Academy Award Nominees

(2019)

What a dismal afternoon at the movies. There is not a humorous one in the bunch. Only one of them offers any hope at all; the rest are so dark you want to suck a gas pipe when you come out of the show. I went back over the list of nominees and winners for the last decade or so, most of which we have seen, and every year there has been a majority of films that make you feel good in one way ... Read more »

2019 Animated Short Subject Academy Award Nominees

(2019)

It’s an oddly lackluster set of animated shorts this year. There’s nothing wrong with any of the films, unlike last year when the perfectly awful Dear Basketball beat out four genuinely good ones. (It should have been subtitled I, Kobe Bryant, Am Just So Damn Wonderful!!!) It’s just that none of them really ... Read more »

First Man

(2018)

Well, just like I feared, they went and fucked it up. The story of Apollo 11 is one of the greatest stories of exploration in human history, and it’s kind of surprising that it’s taken so long to tell it. I guess it has to do with the fact that Apollo 13 was a near disaster, easy to dramatize, whereas this mission came off without a ... Read more »

Blitz Wolf

(1942)

Warner Brothers saw fit to run a disclaimer before this little cartoon, explaining that the racial stereotypes contained herein “… were wrong then, and they are wrong now.” No argument from me, but I was expecting yellow, buck-toothed, narrow-headed, grinning, myopic “Japs,” and this is just about the Nazis. Frankly, I didn’t see any racial stereotyping of Germans. Were the Nazis ... Read more »

For the Common Defense!

(1942)

MGM had a series of shorts called “Crime Does Not Pay.” During wartime they were mostly about spying by the Nazis and the Japs. This one is about some arms smuggling operation from Chile to Columbia, and it’s pretty dull with low production values. It is notable today mainly because a very young Van Johnson appears in only his third screen role. He was only a year away from superstardom in ... Read more »

Mr. Blabbermouth!

(1942)

The DVD of Mrs. Miniver (one of the best movies about World War II) contains three contemporary shorts from MGM. They cover different aspects of the morale-building efforts at home while our boys in uniform fought the Japs and Krauts. I use those terms deliberately, as they (and worse) were routinely used to describe our enemies.

In this one a portly ... Read more »

Russian Doll

(2019)

The story idea explored so wonderfully in Groundhog Day, of someone who dies repeatedly and wakes up on the same day the “next” morning has been used in several other films, some of them good, some not so good. It has even been used in a slasher movie which, I’m told, is actually a very black comedy, something called Happy Death Day, ... Read more »

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

(Canada, Sweden, Germany, USA, UK, 2018)

Stieg Larssen’s Lisbeth Salander is right up there with Lee Child’s Jack Reacher as one of the best genre literary creations of the last few decades. The Swedish film trilogy of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest are among the best movies I’ve ever seen. The American ... Read more »

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

(UK, 2018)

When I heard about this I reacted the same way I did when, quite a few years ago now, there was a spate of “interactive” books, where you made choices and turned to page X or Y to proceed. My reaction was simple. Why? Why would anyone want to read such a book? When I pick up a book I want to be told a story, not have to thread my way ... Read more »