The Empty Balcony: 10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane, from director Dan Trachtenberg, was billed as the spiritual successor to Cloverfield, from 2008. The filmmakers, including producer JJ Abrams, have been coy about exactly how this newest film relates to Cloverfield, and this ties in well with the general air of mystery that has surrounded the films’ promotional campaigns. But in actuality, how the two films are related is an impossible question to answer, so the people involved have to be cagey. 10 Cloverfield Lane was developed independently of Cloverfield, and other than the title, has no relation. Linking the two films together was a bit of smoke and mirrors on Bad Robot’s part to give the new film a leg up at the box office. It’s disingenuous, sure, but luckily it doesn’t matter. There are plenty of genuine sequels out there that are terrible films. If a good one wants to latch on to a successful film like a remora, that’s fine with me. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: 10 Cloverfield Lane”

Guns Are Part of the Problem

This has been written about before, but until the problem is solved, it’s worth writing about over and over and over again. Omar Mateen, the shooter who massacred scores of people at an Orlando nightclub, bought his guns, a Sig Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle (similar to an AR-15) and a Glock 17 semi-automatic handgun, legally. Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the two shooters who carried out the San Bernardino massacre, acquired their weapons, a pair of AR-15 type semi-automatic rifles as well as two 9mm semi-automatic handguns, legally. Adam Lanza, the deranged killer of twenty children and seven adults in Newtown, Connecticut, used a Bushmaster XM15-E2S, a weapon based on the AR-15, to carry out his crime. It had been purchased legally by his mother, with whom he lived. James Holmes, the perpetrator of the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, bought the weapons he used, a Glock 22 semi-automatic handgun, a Remington 870 Express Tactical shotgun, and a Smith & Wesson M&P15, an AR-15 variant, legally. Continue reading “Guns Are Part of the Problem”

Oval Office Thunderdome: An Instant Disqualifier

When it was reported that EgyptAir flight 804 disappeared from radar on its flight from Paris to Cairo, I’m sure that many people made an immediate assumption that the crash was the result of terrorism. I know I did. Even without proof, the first place my mind went was the insidious realm of doubt and fear that Islamic terrorism has fostered. But it’s unwise to let a first impression like that guide opinions and beliefs, and more unwise — stupid, even — to let it guide policy, were a person in the position to do so. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: An Instant Disqualifier”

The Empty Balcony: High-Rise

High-Rise, director Ben Wheatley’s and screenwriter Amy Jump’s adaption of the novel by J.G. Ballard, sure looks good. The photography is a slick imitation of cinema from the 1960s and ’70s. Cinematographer Laurie Rose muted the palette somewhat. It’s not the type of desaturation made popular for a short time by Saving Private Ryan, but more resembles natural color decay. The blues have been turned down, making the overall color temperature quite warm. Whether this was a stylistic choice only, I cannot say, but a great deal of the mood of this film is established by the way it was shot. It flirts with clinical precision, but falls short, mostly because it’s easy on the eyes. So, like I wrote, High-Rise looks good, but I had a hard time figuring out what was happening on screen. Eventually, I had to set any frustrations aside and just go along for the ride. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: High-Rise”

The Empty Balcony: Terminator Genisys

Fair warning. This trailer is packed full of spoilers.

It’s incredible how little redundancy is built into Skynet. Not long after Terminator Genisys opens, we see the mythical John Connor leading an assault on Skynet’s time travel facilities. Connor, played by Jason Clarke, has ordered the bulk of his forces to attack Skynet itself, farther north, much to the consternation of Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), who hasn’t been let in on the Terminator series canon at this point. As the battle rages at the time machine, all of Skynet’s killer robots go inactive, signaling that Skynet has been destroyed, and only the war in the past remains undecided. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Terminator Genisys”

Tidying Up

Hey, what the hell happened to Missile Test? It’s still here. I’m just doing a transition from Movable Type to WordPress. All the junk you Loyal Seven love so much will be back soon.

The Fourth Annual Empty Balcony Awards for Movies I Saw From Last Year

The Oscars were a couple of weeks ago, which means it is past time to indulge myself, to conflate this lovely little website with the likes of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and release my own film awards. Why not? It’s no more absurd for websites with readership as small as mine to issue awards than it is for Hollywood to hand out little statues to itself. But the Empty Balcony Awards arose out of no desire to pat myself on the back. Rather, it was because, three years ago, I noticed that I had not seen one of the films that had been nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards. I could not offer an opinion one way or the other on the winners and losers. But I could get an article on Missile Test out of my ignorance, and so the Empty Balcony Awards for Movies I Saw From Last Year was born. The only criteria for a film to be eligible for one of my awards is that it was released in the previous calendar year, and that I have actually seen it. Continue reading “The Fourth Annual Empty Balcony Awards for Movies I Saw From Last Year”

Oval Office Thunderdome: What a Bunch of Cowards

There was yet another Republican presidential debate last night. These debates are finally human-sized, the number of candidates having been whittled down to just four. Joining the frontrunner, Donald Trump, on stage were Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and Governor Ted Kasich. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: What a Bunch of Cowards”

Oval Office Thunderdome: SOOOOPAAAHHHHHHH TOOOOOSSSDAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!

It’s here! The biggest day of the primary season (only to be superseded, possibly, by a chaotic GOP convention in July — I may have to visit the old family in Ohio for that one).

Each party has 11 states up for grabs tonight, with a big chunk of delegates to boot. There won’t be much in the way of surprises tonight, but I’m going to live blog it anyway, because it gives me an excuse to watch Republican pundits go through the five stages of grief on live television. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: SOOOOPAAAHHHHHHH TOOOOOSSSDAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!”