2017 Movie #42: Wonder Woman

2017 Movie #42: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is easily the best of the current slate of DC films. It’s something of a backhanded compliment given the state of past DC films, but the sheer competence of Wonder Woman is such that it could stand head-to-head against most superhero films, Marvel, DC, or otherwise. Wonder Woman stars Israeli actress Gal Gadot as the eponymous heroine, princess Diana of Themyscira (aka Paradise Island), who gets drawn into the world of man to intervene in the dying days of World War I, the Great War. It’s of course noteworthy that Wonder Woman is the first big budget superhero film to be directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins, who struggles with some of the bigger action sequences, but overall does a fine job).

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2017 Movie #41: Titanic

2017 Movie #41: Titanic

Where do you even begin with a film like Titanic, a film so sprawling, so epic, so visionary, that it earns every moment of its three hour length? Do you begin with Jack and Rose, the romantic leads of the story, played by (a very young) Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet? Do you begin with the epic and sprawling scope of the story, its subtext on the hubris of mankind? Do you talk about the impact that Titanic has had on our culture, the myriad ways in which two decades of films have copied and stolen from James Cameron? Any one of these would be a valid starting point.

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2017 Movie #40: Moneyball

2017 Movie #40: Moneyball

Who doesn’t love an underdog story?

Moneyball tells the story of the 2002 Oakland Athletics, a team destined for failure, and their general manager, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt). The A’s are a small-market team with almost no money to compete for the top talents in baseball, and they just lost three of their best players. Beane is responsible for putting together a winning team, but when he asks for more money, he’s turned down. He’s a man used to rejection and failure – he was once considered by the conventional wisdom of baseball scouts to be an elite prospect, but ultimately never quite made it as a player. But he’s persistent, and he knows that there has to be another way

Beane turns to analytics expert Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) for help, and with his insight, comes to the realization that the conventional wisdom is flawed. The scouts were wrong about Billy Beane the prospect – maybe they’re wrong about other things, too? The two go on a quest to build a successful team by taking advantage of a marketplace where players are valued for all the wrong reasons.

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TV Review: Master of None, Season 2 (Netflix)

TV Review: Master of None, Season 2 (Netflix)

I wrote about season one of Master of None after its debut; in its first season,this show had already established itself as one of television’s best, most exciting, new shows. In its second season, Master of None continues to be one of the most thoughtful and insightful shows on TV. Between its larger story about the life of lead character Dev (Aziz Ansari) is an attention to characters on the periphery, to stories that we haven’t seen much of in our popular culture. The intellectual curiosity on display here allows the show to create vivid portraits of characters both big and small.

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2017 Movie #39: The Adventures of Tintin

2017 Movie #39: The Adventures of Tintin

If The Adventures of Tintin isn’t the finest or most inspired work of Steven Spielberg, it’s proof positive of his sheer mastery of the art of film. Spielberg’s adaptation of Tintin is interesting, if nothing else, for its visual style, an exaggerated realism that Hergé surely would have approved of, with characters that seem to leap off the page and into the screen. The flourish and style that defines The Adventures of Tintin is nothing short of impressive.

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2017 Movie #38: Wag the Dog

2017 Movie #38: Wag the Dog

This review is part of my Remake Preview series, where I watch the original version (or versions) of a movie that is set to be re-made in the near future. 

Wag the Dog is a harshly cynical film, a film about a political fixer who comes in to cover up a crisis in which the President of the United States has been accused of sexual impropriety. It’s bizarre to watch a film with this basic premise given the events of the 2016 election, though its not hard to draw parallels between the situations. The film is at parts highly implausible, and yet as Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) and Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro) produce a series of events to distract from the real narrative, we follow an utterly contrived story that feels, somehow, simultaneously surreal and improbable to real life, and yet convincing as a satire of real events that occur all the time.

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