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How Spike Lee’s Photography Book SPIKE Captures the Director’s Evolution as an Artist

January 18, 2022 | By
How Spike Lee’s Photography Book <i>SPIKE</i> Captures the Director’s Evolution as an Artist

Late last year, Chronicle Books released the first-ever career-spanning book of photography celebrating the work of iconic auteur Spike Lee. Titled SPIKE, it features hundreds of never-before-seen photographs by David Lee, Spike’s brother and longtime still photographer. With its colorful purple cover emblazoned in giant gold letters, this bold and beautiful 360-page book is comprised of a... »

Scream Review: Middling Horror “Requel” Is Too Haunted By Its Own Past to Draw Fresh Blood

January 12, 2022 | By
<i>Scream</i> Review: Middling Horror “Requel” Is Too Haunted By Its Own Past to Draw Fresh Blood

Before I explain why the new Scream movie left me disappointed, you have to understand where I’m coming from. Scream (1996) is the reason I became a writer. No joke! I saw it when on Opening Day when I was 12 years old and it blew my adolescent mind so much that I returned the following... »

The 355 Review: Spy Movie Has Five Amazing Leads and Three Crippling Problems

January 7, 2022 | By
<i>The 355</i> Review: Spy Movie Has Five Amazing Leads and Three Crippling Problems

Revolutionary War history know-it-alls will tell you that “The 355” was the codename for a patriotic female spy whose name was unknown. Simon Kinberg’s new film bearing her name features five talented actresses whose names are well-known and whose talents are undeniable, shining through with every gunshot and dropkick featured in this film. But raw star... »

Filmmaker Allan Arkush on the Resurrection of Get Crazy on Home Video 

December 29, 2021 | By
Filmmaker Allan Arkush on the Resurrection of <em>Get Crazy</em> on Home Video 

Nearly four decades ago, director Allan Arkush followed up his punk rock hit Rock ‘n’ Roll High School with another zany music-fueled comedy titled Get Crazy. Inspired by 1941’s Hellzapoppin and the movies of Frank Tashlin, Arkush sought to compress his early 1970’s experience at New York’s famed rock club The Fillmore East working... »

J. Don Birnam’s Top 10 Favorite Films of 2021

December 22, 2021 | By
J. Don Birnam’s Top 10 Favorite Films of 2021

It is the time of year for arbitrary lists and making one of the “top” movies of the year is a tried and true one. But “top” implies seeing them all and ranking, a task not even the most dedicated of critics can claim to achieve. Instead, I’d rather mention my favorite ten movies... »

Review: Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up Offers Some of His Funniest Socio-Political Humor  Yet

December 8, 2021 | By
Review: Adam McKay’s <em>Don’t Look Up</em> Offers Some of His Funniest Socio-Political Humor  Yet

Filmmaker Adam McKay has specialized in a certain type of sociopolitical humor over his past few films, and boy, has America given him a lot of ammunition to work from in the past four years since his Dick Cheney movie, Vice.  This time, he goes further into fiction — science fiction to be precise —... »

Review: Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos Continues His Incredible Run of Biopics 

December 7, 2021 | By
Review: Aaron Sorkin’s <em>Being the Ricardos</em> Continues His Incredible Run of Biopics 

Anyone who has spent their life watching reruns of I Love Lucy may think they know Lucille Ball, her husband Desi Arnaz, and their relationship fairly well, but more than likely, only from the way they portrayed their television alter-egos.  As Aaron Sorkin did with Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and others, he has decided... »

Review: Nightmare Alley‘s Classic del Toro Panache Overcomes its Uneven Script

December 3, 2021 | By
Review: <em>Nightmare Alley</em>‘s Classic del Toro Panache Overcomes its Uneven Script

Guillermo del Toro revisits the 1946 novel Nightmare Alley, about a grifter conman, which first got adapted, film noir style, in 1947. Film noir is del Toro’s bailiwick and his own Nightmare Alley is as stylized, visually polished, and crafty as you would expect from a director with such a beautifully unique aesthetic. At the same time, del Toro’s... »

Review: West Side Story Retains Magic from Shakespeare to Sondheim to Spielberg

December 2, 2021 | By
Review: <em>West Side Story</em> Retains Magic from Shakespeare to Sondheim to Spielberg

What a wonder, as a critic, to be reviewing a film based on one of the most successful musicals of all time, considering its definitive movie adaptation was received to the tune of 10 Academy Awards way back in 1961. Enter Steven Spielberg and his take on the famous 1950s musical by Leonard Bernstein... »

Review: Sing 2 Can’t Provide a Good Encore to the Original

December 1, 2021 | By
Review: <em>Sing 2</em> Can’t Provide a Good Encore to the Original

One of the 2016’s most pleasant and unexpected surprised was Illumination Studios’ Sing, the beautifully animated cartoon about a gaggle of wannabe singer animals overcoming their various impediments to become amateur stage singers. The success of the first led to the nearly assured (and highly-desired) existence of the next, but success is a fleeting... »