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Heartfelt, by Bob Connally

28 Jul

Extreme violence, lengthy conversations set at tables or in cars, movie references most people won’t even notice, perfectly crafted soundtracks, liberal usage of “colorful metaphors,” and so very many shots of feet are just a few of the surface level staples of the work of Quentin Tarantino. But if you’re really paying attention you see so much more revealed with each film and he can still surprise us after 27 years and either 9 or 10 movies, depending on how you count Kill Bill (for the record, Tarantino himself considers Volumes 1 & 2 a single film). For instance, the word “heartfelt” had never come to mind with any of his earlier films but it’s clear to me that Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is just that.

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Nonmedy, by Bob Connally

13 Jul

If you’re a baseball fan then you are familiar with what a fantasy camp is. People in their fifties with disposable income throw down an obscene amount of money to have baseball practice for a week with retired Major Leaguers from their favorite team. Yes, that sounds fun to me. But it also makes me wish that movie fantasy camps existed. I’m sure sci-fi and fantasy would be the most popular genres. Horror would have huge turnouts, especially if people got to kill and/or be zombies. That’s all well and good. What I really want is to go to buddy action comedy fantasy camp. You show up on a dingy looking police station set that hasn’t been used since 1993, you get paired up with a total stranger, and then you get assigned a case. You have “gun fights, car chases, proper action and,” whatnot. Along the way you cause property damage, eat about 17 street vendor hot dogs, and get trained in the art of delivering a perfect post-kill one-liner.

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We Delivered The Bomb, by Bob Connally

3 Jul

A deeply depressing thought occurred to me as I had my annual summer re-watch of Jaws. It came to me specifically when watching what is probably the film’s single best scene. Chances are that you probably already guessed that I’m referring to Quint (Robert Shaw) describing the terror of being in the water in 1945 as the U.S.S. Indianapolis sank and sharks picked off members of the crew one by one. Jaws is, believe it or not, now 44 years old. The movie remains one of the more perfectly paced and entertaining in the history of cinema. Quint’s tale of sheer horror is absorbing and still has the capacity to put viewers on the edge of their seats after multiple decades and viewings. So what depressed me so much? I imagined what would happen to this scene if this movie were to be made now. I don’t mean if someone were to remake Jaws (which shouldn’t happen ever) but if the original film hadn’t been made in 1975 and a brand new movie called Jaws with essentially the same story, characters, and time period were to be released freshly to audiences in 2019.

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The Saga Continues, by Barnabas Protnicki

19 Jun

Having ended on such a perfect note, I was wary of the Toy Story saga continuing with a fourth installment. After all, I grew up watching these toys, and was in college myself when Andy said goodbye to Woody and his friends as he left home. I still quote the original Toy Story all the time, mostly around my family. But rather than quoting something popular like “To Infinity and Beyond”, I instead think about Mr. Potato Head losing to Hamm in battleship, handing Hamm his nose and bartering, “How about three out of five?” Or Sid’s little sister looking desperately for her precious doll, until she steps on an intriguing Buzz Lightyear toy, playfully saying, “Nevermind.”

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Third Miracle, by Bob Connally

19 May

John Wick: Chapter 2 left us on a massive cliffhanger two years ago with John (Keanu Reeves) being declared “excommunicado” for a murder committed on the grounds of the New York Continental hotel. Due to a long standing friendship, the Continental’s owner and manager, Winston (Ian McShane) gave John a one hour head start before the $14 million bounty went into effect. John Wick: Chapter 3 picks up with the hour almost up for John and his dog. Every contract killer around the world is aware of what’s about to happen, which in Winston’s view means, “the odds are about even.”

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That’s Ministry! by Tyler Smith

12 May

At this very moment, all over the internet, one can find classified ads seeking out actors and crew members for films shooting in and around Los Angeles. These ads often give general details, such as the length of the shoot and perhaps a few specifics about the type of film being shot. As you skim these ads, you’ll eventually arrive at the pay rate, which, more often than not, is “low/no”, meaning that those involved likely won’t be getting paid. The ads will often specify, however, that actors and crew members will be compensated in the form of “exposure”.

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All Good Things, by Reed Lackey

24 Apr

What Marvel Studios has done in cinema is unprecedented: 10 years, 22 films, and a shared universe that spans multiple franchises, each and all cross-linked and overlapped. This grand enterprise sees its culmination (for now) in Avengers: Endgame, a film which is a direct continuation of the events in Avengers: Infinity War, but also presumes to be the grand finale of the first movement of this expansive storytelling landscape. The sheer anticipation surrounding this film is staggering, and the expectations would be monumental for any film to meet in any context.

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Just For Fun, by Bob Connally

7 Apr

It seems almost impossible to remember that there was a time – relatively recently – when superheroes were considered by the public at large to be for children. While there were always people who took issue with that assertion and there were movies that proved adults enjoyed a good superhero story too- the Superman films of the ‘70s and ’80s and the Batman movies of the ‘80s and ‘90s, which were outliers in their respective eras- the idea of superhero movies truly being geared towards adults is still a fairly recent one. From the darker DC films to even the more lighthearted Marvel Cinematic Universe offerings which have all earned their PG-13 ratings, and of course the R-rated Deadpool movies and Logan, superhero movies of the past two decades have become increasingly adult oriented. This makes the environment that Shazam is being released in an interesting one. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a true kids’ movie, it feels like a step in that direction. This is especially surprising when considering that it’s the latest entry in a cinematic universe that opened with Zack Snyder’s dour, miserable nightmare, Man of Steel.

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Death Punch, by Bob Connally

1 Apr

Usually when discussing what makes a good film work the focus is on what the filmmaker does that makes it work so well. But sometimes, it’s just as much- if not more- what a filmmaker doesn’t do that can make a movie great. Due to its very basic setup, Paddleton is a movie that could go in a lot of directions tonally and much of what makes it so wonderful is how it doesn’t go in any of the directions we might have expected.

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Just as Rehearsed, by Reed Lackey

28 Mar

The recent emergence of classic Disney animated features remade into live action films has yielded varied, but mostly positive, results. One of the biggest hurdles the respective filmmakers face is how to retain what made the classic animated feature so beloved while still justifying the existence of a renewed feature. Perhaps of all the possible choices, the biggest opportunity for reimagining and refreshing was the 1941 classic, Dumbo, which finally sees a new vision come to life.

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