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Synthesized Terror, by Bob Connally

7 Jul

If you’ve been watching movies and TV for the past decade and a half, then you’ve certainly noticed ’80s nostalgia being a big part (sometimes too big a part) of our pop culture landscape. The most unabashed and probably the most famous example of this has been Stranger Things, the ’80s set kids adventure, sci-fi, horror series that is packed with references to the films and shows of that era. There are numerous ’80s pop hits on the soundtrack and the show’s original score is pure synthwave. 

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The History of the Seattle Mariners, by Bob Connally

15 May

I’ve said before how much it annoys me that there’s always a sense of obligation to tell non-baseball fans that a movie or show that involves baseball in some way is worth their time. As though it requires some sort of special interest or knowledge about the game. I mean, we all know that only doctors get why Scrubs is funny and only grave robbing history professors can truly appreciate an Indiana Jones movie, so why shouldn’t that be true for Bull Durham or Moneyball?

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Faith-based Optimism, by Bob Connally

10 May

Why are Christian movies so terrible? That’s a question many of us have been asking now for decades. The answer is simple really. Low production values, inexperienced actors, inexperienced directors, but most of all, cringe-inducing screenplays that lead with their message. They become films designed to be sermons more than movies. In his new documentary, Reel Redemption: The Rise of Christian Cinema, Tyler Smith of course examines those aspects of Christian filmmaking but he also goes much deeper into the relationship between Christianity and Hollywood over the past century.

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Streaming Comedy, by Bob Connally

2 May

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In my recent appearance on the More Than One Lesson podcast we spoke about a lot of movies, so I decided for my next article I would write about a few sort of under the radar TV comedies.

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Daddy Issues, by Bob Connally

24 Apr

David Zucker (one of the comedy geniuses behind Airplane! and The Naked Gun) stated in his “15 Rules of Comedy” that, “Two jokes at the same time cancel each other out. When an actor delivers a punchline, it should be done seriously. It dilutes the comedy to try to be funny on top of it. Likewise, if there is something silly going on in the background, the foreground action must be free of jokes and vice-versa.” There’s a scene about halfway through Man Camp where some of our characters find themselves in a bar fight that violates this very rule. The fight in the background is played for laughs as a couple other characters have a conversation that is also meant to be funny. It’s not that these are strict laws that must be adhered to, and if something works, then it works. But when you’re making your directorial debut with a broad comedy, you would do well to heed the advice of David Zucker. Unfortunately, first time director Nate Bakke did not.

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Misfire, by Bob Connally

5 Mar

In the years since his final appearance as Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe has made interesting and admirable career choices. Steering away from other big franchises, he’s taken chances with live theater as well as smaller films and television shows. In one of the more unique films of the past several years, Swiss Army Man, Radcliffe played a talking corpse who becomes a suicidal castaway’s new best friend. Radcliffe’s performance is truly wonderful and one of the better and more memorable film performances of the past decade. Now he stars in Guns Akimbo, a new film with a premise almost as bizarre as Swiss Army Man’s, though it sadly lacks that movie’s imagination.

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Classically Good, by Bob Connally

4 Mar

Some novels hold up as such classics that one adaptation just isn’t enough for film or television studios. Just a few months ago, Greta Gerwig’s wonderful big screen interpretation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women became a critical and box-office success, although there have been numerous adaptations- some in different languages- produced dating back to the silent era. Gerwig’s success was due largely to her finding a way to speak to modern audiences with material that was first published 150 years ago. Her Little Women doesn’t feel like it could have been made quite that way before now, which is what makes it such a deeply worthwhile venture in a world where so many other films and mini-series’ based on the novel already exist. Now, director Autumn de Wilde is delivering the seventh adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved Emma. (There are even more if you count Clueless and its Indian remake Aisha). So does it find a way to break through as strongly as Gerwig’s Little Women? Not quite, but it still has plenty to enjoy.

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Old Dogs, by Bob Connally

27 Feb

In 2010, Sylvester Stallone assembled a collection of big name action stars for The Expendables, what turned out to be a kind of sad attempt to reclaim ’80s glory. 2018 saw the much quieter release of Black Water, a film that trotted Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren onto an unconvincing submarine for one of the most boring action movies I’ve ever seen. Also, as of this moment Harrison Ford nears the beginning of production on a fifth Indiana Jones film and his 78th birthday. Expectations are not high. So why then does VFW work so well? It’s in part because, unlike The Expendables or Black Water, it doesn’t attempt to protect the vanity of its stars. Their ages are not only acknowledged but essential to the mentalities of the characters.

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Dropped Call, by Bob Connally

21 Feb

Jack London’s 1903 novel The Call of the Wild is the story of a dog torn between life as a pampered companion to humans and a life in his natural state as a wild animal. Chris Sanders’ new film adaptation is torn between the sensibilities of an animated kids movie and a dramatic live-action adventure that appeals to adults. This film’s inability to commit to one or the other leads to an ultimately dull movie that falls into that category of “Who is this for exactly?” It’s not a movie that will make you feel upset for having watched it, because you really won’t feel anything at all.

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A Long Way to Go, by Bob Connally

9 Feb

The first episode of VidAngel’s biblical television series The Chosen is a mostly dull approximation of a cable prestige drama. To the show’s credit, there is an attempt at production value but it doesn’t do much to draw us in over its first hour.

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