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Showing posts from October, 2019

Zombieland: Double Tap

It is strongly recommended that you see 2009’s  Zombieland  prior to seeing this sequel. Done? Ok, now on to the fun and games. Trailers facetiously promote the cast via their respective academy award statuses: Woody Harrelson, nominee ( The People vs Larry Flint  and  The Messenger ); Jesse Eisenberg, nominee ( The Social Network ); Emma Stone, winner ( La La Land ); and Abigail Breslin, nominee ( Little Miss Sunshine .) This film is decidedly not a medium for culturing awards. But as a fun exercise in the genre-bending comedy/horror category, it must have been a fun assignment for all involved. The four stars of 2009’s  Zombieland  return here to reprise their roles as Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita and Little Rock (Harrelson, Eisenberg, Stone and Breslin respectively), on their continuing mission to survive a viral pandemic that reduced the world to a post-apocalyptic wasteland populated by hordes of brain-eating living dead. As we have now come to know with the help of T

Judy

If you can imagine seeing a train leave a station with the understanding that it is going to experience an agonizing, slow motion and unavoidable wreck, the movie  Judy  gives you a gut wrenching, trackside view of such a journey. Along for the ride are various audiences, friends, family, fans and industry parasites that witness the spectacle and ride on the coat tails of Judy Garland’s career, spanning forty-five years, beginning at age two. Judy Garland became a household name with her performance in the  Wizard of Oz  in 1939. The film won best song that year, sung by Garland, and was nominated for best picture. But it was a big year for movies.  Gone With the Wind  took best picture. Both films were directed by Victor Fleming. This is essentially a one-woman show starring Renee Zellweger. I was unconvinced by previews but must say after seeing the film that I can’t imagine anyone doing a better job of channeling the late Garland. The film recounts Judy’s life at a stage duri

Gemini Man

When I was in my twenties while on a trip to Jamaica I met an artist who lived in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. He connected me for a couple of summers to a somewhat free flowing party crowd filled with interesting people I never would have met otherwise. Some were artists. One woman claimed to be Louisa May Alcott’s granddaughter. Her last name was Alcott. I asked. She seemed surprised that I knew the name. Or maybe she was just messing with me. But strange things like that happened, and I was never sure whom I could entirely trust. My friends and I were invited to lots of parties in the area. Other events, well, we just showed up. But we were frequent enough participants to begin recognizing people and to be recognized by others. Tim Kazurinsky, a Chicago comedian from the early days of Saturday Night Live was at one event. That was fun. And then there was the evening when a small crowd of people stood across a backyard patio, looking at me, giggling and pointing. Eve

The Addams Family

On a dark and stormy night, Gomez and Morticia Addams, fleeing a torch-bearing mob of angry villagers, run over a large straight-jacketed man on a winding mountain road.             “We’ve HIT something!” Gomez proclaims gleefully. That giant human form is none other than Lurch, escapee from a nearby insane asylum. Taking him along as an adopted butler on their quest for a spooky home of their own, the adventure begins and Lurch is on hand to answer the door with the classic, “You rang?”             “We need to find somewhere horrible to call our own. Someplace corrupt. Where no one in their right mind would want to live!” proclaims Gomez. A flash of lightning reveals the following road sign:  What gives screenwriter Matt Lieberman the right to make fun of New Jersey this way? Well, for one, Westfield, New Jersey was the birthplace of the cartoon’s creator Charles Addams in 1912. The community is now the site of the second annual AddamsFest, expecting 12,000 attendees

Joker

I grew up watching the comic-book-come-to-life  Batman  show that debuted in 1966. We didn’t even have a color TV at the time, but my mind seems to have filled in the details like the paint-by-number artwork of the same era. It was an outrageously colorful series, both visually and through its campy characters. Caesar Romero played the villainous Joker in that incarnation with a crazy enthusiasm that subsequent actors have been trying to top ever since. In 2012, a real life Joker entered a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, killed 12 people and injured scores more in the worse mass shooting since Columbine, sadly in the same state.  The Dark Knight Rises  was playing that evening, adding a life-imitates-art twist to that tragic event. Ironically, the Joker was not in that film, but the actual lunatic looked more frightening in court than any amount of makeup can convey in a movie about Batman, or one that even slightly overlaps the Batman story in the Gotham City universe. We

Rambo: Last Blood

It’s hard to believe that the first appearance of John Rambo in  First Blood  was 37 years ago. Four more films have been produced, including the current  Rambo: Last Blood , and hopefully the franchise can now be put to bed. I mean, how many times, and for how many reasons can the main character get enraged or freaked out enough to go on a horrific rampage that uses all of his military training in the art of dispensing death? Are his wounds at the end of this film severe enough to kill him, or will he heal for one more round of mayhem? For a while, Sylvester Stallone seemed intent on creating action heroes with five letter names: Rocky, Cobra, Rambo.  Rocky  had multiple sequels, as did  Rambo , and both franchises hit a formulaic and mostly successful stride. For the record, because I lost touch with several of these, here are the  Rambo  films in order: First Blood  1982 Rambo: First Blood Part 2  1985 Rambo III  1988 Rambo  2008  Rambo: Last Blood   2019 As you c