That’s Showbiz, by Bob Connally

27 Jun

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Generally when it comes to biopics about famous 20th century musicians, there seems to be a standard template. It was very odd many years ago to come out of Walk the Line (released a year after Ray) and feel like Johnny Cash and Ray Charles had led essentially the same life. There have been notable exceptions (Love & Mercy and Get On Up), but there is rarely much filmmaking imagination brought to these kinds of films. However, when Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge) makes a movie about Elvis Presley, you know you’re going to be in for something different.

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It Grabs You, by Bob Connally

27 Jun

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Director Scott Derrickson’s most recent film was 2016’s Doctor Strange, a decent (though largely forgettable) entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Initially he had been set to return for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness but “creative differences” reared their ugly head and Derrickson was replaced by Sam Raimi. The irony is that it allowed Derrickson to make a thriller on a much smaller budget, akin to much of Raimi’s post-Evil Dead but pre-Spider-Man work. The result is the terrific and completely engaging The Black Phone.

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Love and Robot, by Bob Connally

20 Jun

A still from <i>Brian and Charles</i> by Jim Archer, an official selection of the World Cinema: Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

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Brian (David Earl) is a man living alone in the Welsh countryside, spending his days and nights creating things such as pine cone bags and a flying bicycle clock. His inventions have varying degrees of success but as he tells the small documentary crew who’s following him, “When one door closes, another door opens.” Brian is trying his best to remain positive and to move forward but it’s getting increasingly difficult for him. When he finds a mannequin head among a pile of scraps he gets his grandest idea yet. Using a washing machine for a body, Brian constructs a robot. To Brian’s incredible surprise, his robot not only works, he’s able to read and communicate, despite being comprised of items Brian found in his cow shed. When Brian suggests a few names to his new creation, the robot perks up at the sound of Charles and with that, a friendship is born.

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Legendary Legacy, by Bob Connally

28 May

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The original Top Gun, released in the summer of 1986 is the first movie I remember seeing in the theater. I was only four years old but I still have distinct memories of seeing it at both the Oak Tree Cinemas in Seattle and the Grand (R.I.P., it’s now a Kohl’s) in Lynnwood, Washington. I liked the movie but my brother who was nine was positively obsessed with it. He drew pictures of F-14’s, constantly put together model fighter jets, and when our parents got our first VCR for Christmas in 1987, it was one of the three movies they got on tape (the others being It’s a Wonderful Life and Return of the Jedi, in case you were curious). We watched it regularly, my mom had the soundtrack on vinyl. We loved us some Top Gun. Eventually, my brother realized his dream of becoming a Marine aviator. As ghostbuster wasn’t a real profession I was not able to have a similar movie obsession leads to career story.

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Arthouse Blockbuster, by Bob Connally

28 Apr

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Robert Eggers’ 2015 debut, The Witch, announced him as a filmmaker with a strong, singular voice out of the gate. The film’s sense of atmosphere and attention to detail made it an immersive experience that lingered with you long afterwards. At the time many assumed that Eggers was the next great horror filmmaker but with 2019’s The Lighthouse and now his newest movie, The Northman, it appears that Eggers’ real interest is in history and in placing his audience into a world long forgotten. These are not historical epics that keep the viewer at a distance. Eggers puts us right in the muck with his characters in a way few directors even attempt and while The Northman is his most ambitious film to date, it feels decidedly consistent with his previous work.

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Double Trouble, by Bob Connally

28 Apr

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Whether or not it ever becomes a reality, the ethics of human cloning have long been the subject of debate and a popular premise for science fiction stories. But imagine a society where it has been established as a way for the dying to have themselves replaced in order to prevent their loved ones from having to say goodbye. Now, imagine the original person doesn’t die after all and he or she is forced to fight their clone to the death because, by law, there can’t be two of them. This is the premise of writer-director Riley Stearns’ dry, dark satire, Dual.

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Multiverse of Gladness, by Bob Connally

19 Apr

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Coming six years after their brilliantly bonkers debut feature, Swiss Army Man, Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert have delivered a movie that is no less unique but one that is much more ambitious on multiple levels. Everything Everywhere All At Once stars Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn Wang, a woman exhausted from owning and operating a laundromat with her husband, Waymond (Temple of Doom and Goonies star Ke Huy Quan, returning to acting after several years away). She is also struggling with taking care of her elderly father, Gong Gong (the legendary James Hong) and has a deeply strained relationship with her 20-something daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu). On top of that, IRS agent Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis) is coming down on Evelyn hard over some questionable business expenses. As if all of this were not enough for Evelyn to deal with, it pales in comparison to the news Waymond gives her, which is that she is the key to preventing the collapse of the multiverse. Evelyn – and the audience – are about to go on an adventure beyond anything she could have imagined.

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Episode 244: The Batman

17 Mar

In this episode, Tyler discusses Matt Reeves’ The Batman and Paul Haggis’ Crash.

The Bob Awards!

8 Mar

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This year’s Oscar field is maybe the most uninspiring I can remember and for the second year in a row I feel absolutely no desire to watch the telecast. I’m even more indifferent to slogging through it given the disrespect the Academy and ABC are showing to the nominees in several categories. So save yourself some time and misery by reading the winners of this year’s Bob Awards which are far more important and obviously the correct choices anyway because I made them. Enjoy!

Cinematography

The French Dispatch – Robert Yeoman

Costume Design

Last Night in Soho – Odile Dicks-Mireaux

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Declawed, by Reed Lackey

14 Feb

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The new film from writer-director Sean Ellis seeks to build upon both a renewed recent interest in folk and historical horror and the classical mythology of the werewolf while delivering a frightening, atmospheric morality nightmare. While its returns on the former efforts are a mixed bag, it firmly delivers on the latter. The Cursed begins in the trenches of the first world war where, after surviving several gunshot wounds, a soldier endures an operation to remove the bullets. However, after a strangely shaped bullet of silver is removed, the story goes back 35 years to its primary narrative of greed, vengeance, and – of course – a curse.

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