The Empty Balcony: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the GalaxyI think I may have seen too many movies. That’s the only reason I can think of to explain why I did not like Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Studios’ 2014 money machine. It hit all the right notes when it comes to action, pacing, and story. It kept things simple, avoiding all pretension, and at no point did it strive to be something greater than it was. But...

I think the movie showed a profound disrespect for its audience. Big action movies aren’t just simple anymore. Rather, they have been simplified, stripped of any sort of nuance or individuality in the pursuit of massive box office receipts. There is nothing inherently wrong in trying to maximize profit. But what it does mean is that, in seeing a movie like this, no viewer can expect anything beyond superficial uniqueness. There are new stories out there. But new stories require an entrepreneurial spirit that Hollywood is currently anathema to. It’s hard to explain how much the studio system has changed in a generation, so I’ll just give this example: Taxi Driver was a Hollywood studio film. That’s right. Taxi Driver. A film featuring a violent psychopath, who develops a crush on an underage hooker, as a protagonist. These days, the talents of that film’s young director, Martin Scorcese, would be steered into projects that are designed from the very beginning to be sanitized versions of past successes. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Guardians of the Galaxy”

Schwarzenegger Month: End of Days

I blame David Fincher, Andrew Kevin Walker, and Arthur Max for End of Days. Had those three not done such stellar work on the movie Seven, Fincher directing, Walker writing, and Max doing the production design, there would not have been a flood of pale imitations that hit the market. End of Days is not about a serial killer, but it has a drained, desolate look and feel that just didn’t exist in film before Seven. And the thing is, this movie is a bit of a laugher, but it looks so bleak that at times I felt like I was laughing at a funeral. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: End of Days”

Schwarzenegger Month: The Terminator

Is The Terminator the best movie Arnold Schwarzenegger has ever been in? There’s a strong possibility that it is. Some viewers have an affinity for Terminator 2, others for Conan the Barbarian. As for me, I voted with my eyes a long time ago. Of all the films Arnold has made, The Terminator is the one I’ve watched the most. It is impossible for me to recall just how many times I’ve seen it, but I would not be surprised if it’s somewhere in the 20s, maybe even the 30s. So, pardon me while I gush. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: The Terminator”

The Empty Balcony: Excalibur & Monty Python and the Holy Grail

VHS tapes, once upon a time, dominated the space below millions of televisions in American homes. They were in your house, a friend’s house, a family member’s house, stacked tall and deep in all sorts of cabinets upon which the TV was perched — cheap particle board constructions bought at the local big box with fake wood grain or flat black veneer, peeling up at the edges always. That awful furniture can still be found. The shapes have just changed a bit as tapes have disappeared and been replaced by DVD boxes. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Excalibur & Monty Python and the Holy Grail”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Transporter

Sometimes I watch movies so you won’t have to. I sacrifice hours on lazy Sunday afternoons abusing my eyes and my sense of taste not just because I enjoy bad cinema, I do, but because some bad movies descend so low that even cinematic shit-eaters like myself can find no redeeming qualities to them whatsoever, and viewers need to be warned to avoid them. Like a signpost jutting out of the desert warning of rattlesnake country ahead, or a toxic waste dump, consider this article a harbinger, for there will be trouble for those who ignore it. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Transporter”