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Technically Competent, by Bob Connally

9 Jan


American Night is the kind of movie where you know during the first scene that you’re going to hate your life for the next 2 hours. What begins as a knockoff of other superior knockoff gangster movies with lame attempts at quippy dialogue, pathetic attempts to be cool, and unimaginative soundtrack selections gives way to just becoming painfully dull. There’s nothing interesting or entertaining here. There isn’t a nugget of a potentially fun movie here or even a pretty good performance that deserves to be in a better movie to cling to. It’s just bad and a waste of time and money. Don’t watch it.


Good Fun, by Bob Connally

26 Dec


While Paul Thomas Anderson has been one of the more celebrated filmmakers of the past quarter century, it’s not often that one might describe his movies as being “fun.” He’s certainly never made anything approaching a mainstream crowd pleaser. The most lighthearted of his first 8 films, 2002’s Punch-Drunk Love, is incredibly divisive. While it remains my personal favorite of his works- and I’ve honestly at least liked all of them- I remember the vitriolic response many people I knew personally had to it. It wasn’t enough for some of them to simply dislike it, they took it upon themselves to be angry with me that I had loved it so much. I can’t remember that happening with any other movie. 


Resurrected, by Bob Connally

20 Nov

Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Podcast (Logan Kim) in Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE.

I make no secret that the original Ghostbusters is my favorite movie of all-time. I don’t consider it the best movie of all-time by any means, but it is my favorite. However, I did not go into Ghostbusters: Afterlife with unreasonably high expectations. In fact, among people who love the first Ghostbusters film as much as I do, I’m probably in the minority about continuing the series. I never really wanted a Ghostbusters 3. 1989’s Ghostbusters 2 seemed to make it clear that the first movie was pure lightning in a bottle. If the same creative team couldn’t recapture the magic 5 years later then it was likely best to leave it alone altogether. Funnily enough, though, my friend Sam and I hashed out a Ghostbusters 3 story in the span of about half an hour during a very slow day at work. 


Troubles in Paradise, by Bob Connally

14 Nov


A couple of years ago, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood took a loving look at Los Angeles in 1969. It was personal without being at all autobiographical. Now writer-director Kenneth Branagh has made a film that examines the world of his own childhood, also set in 1969. Belfast is the story of a young boy named Buddy (Jude Hill) who is about the age Branagh would have been at that time. The opening scene of the film sees the camera gliding joyfully above the streets on a summer day as the whole neighborhood engages in play and conversation with one another. Everyone knows everyone by their first names and there’s a sense of community that seems hard to imagine for most of us. However, this idyllic scene quickly turns to horror as a massive riot breaks out in which a violent sect of the local Protestant community attacks Catholics and causes destruction.


Sights to Show You, by Bob Connally

2 Nov


Full disclosure: The director of this film is Tyler Smith, who of course runs this site. These are my honest thoughts about his movie.

For a long time I was not a fan of the horror genre. There were exceptions. Movies like Scream, 28 Days Later, and (still) my all-time favorite, George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead to name a few of the few. My issue was based on the feeling that far too many horror movies weren’t interested in their characters and while that can certainly be said of some, I was not fair to the genre as a whole. But my problem with horror was not due to spiritual concerns. However, there are many fellow Christians who, “have condemned horror outright, for it’s population of vampires and werewolves, witches, ghosts, zombies, serial killers. Mad scientists with their monsters?! Oh, surely nothing so ugly could have any artistic or cultural value. Satanic cults and dark wizards. Oh, surely nothing so ungodly could have any place in a faithful imagination.”


Branching Out, by Bob Connally

30 Oct

Matt Smith stars as Jack and Anya Taylor-Joy as Sandie in Edgar Wright’s LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, a Focus Features release.  
Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC

After honing his skills on the cult comedy television classic Spaced, director Edgar Wright made his brilliant film debut with 2004’s Shaun of the Dead. Working as both a zombie film and a romantic comedy, Wright displayed an uncanny ability to blend genres which he perfected in his follow-up, 2007’s Hot Fuzz, which is easily one of my top 10 personal favorite films of all-time. His next two movies, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and The World’s End were further illustrations of Wright’s unique comedic and filmmaking talents. He then followed with 2017’s Baby Driver, a film with plenty of humor but the first movie of Wright’s that one wouldn’t primarily classify as a comedy. 


Good News, by Bob Connally

22 Oct


The French Dispatch is the 10th feature film directed by Wes Anderson and you know by now whether or not you like his movies. If you don’t then this one will certainly not change that so if that’s you, then feel free to move along. However, if you’re like me and there’s nothing funnier to you than Gene Hackman criticizing his young (“adopted”) daughter’s play as “just a bunch of little kids dressed in animal costumes,” then you are in for top tier Anderson. Rushmore will probably always be my favorite as it’s a movie with a place in my heart few other films have but The French Dispatch – at least based on this first viewing – is up way up there with the likes of The Royal Tenenbaums and The Grand Budapest Hotel. It has everything you expect and want from a Wes Anderson film but, more importantly, he delivers all of those things about as well as he ever has.


Mission Accomplished? by Bob Connally

9 Oct


2015’s Spectre ended with James Bond (Daniel Craig) leaving a defenseless Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) alive to be captured and walking away from MI6 with his new love, Madeleine Swan (Lea Seydoux). It recalled the originally planned ending of 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which was to see Bond marry Tracy (Diana Rigg), saving her murder at the hands of Blofeld for the next film’s opening. 

The new and long-delayed entry in the Bond series, No Time to Die, opens with James and Madeleine on vacation in Italy. Having left the life of a spy behind him, James is as light as we’ve ever seen him, though Madeleine remarks how until he stops looking over his shoulder, he’ll never really be able to move forward. Their bliss is interrupted by an attack somehow orchestrated by the imprisoned Blofeld, who gives Bond the impression that Madeleine has betrayed him, just as Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) had in Casino Royale. The action sequence itself is outstanding, with director Cary Fukunaga taking James and Madeleine on a wild ride as he attempts to fight their way out. Once they reach safety, James tells her they’ll never see each other again.


Almost No Time, by Bob Connally

7 Oct


We pick up where we left off in the glorious month of October 1983. It saw the release of one of my favorite films of all time, The Right Stuff, and the most recent World Series championship for my beloved Baltimore Orioles who beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4 games to 1. I wish I had been more than a month and a half old at the time. What it also saw was the not quite so glorious but still very notable return of Sean Connery to the role of James Bond.

Never Say Never Again (1983): It’s considered unofficial as far as the franchise goes as it was not produced by the Broccoli-Saltzman team. However, I’ve always looked at it as Sean Connery is playing James Bond. It counts. The legal battle between the official Bond producers and Thunderball co-writer Kevin McClory, who owned the rights to SPECTRE, and the character of Blofeld, is incredibly convoluted and there are a number of articles that cover it in detail so I won’t go diving into that here. The movie’s existence and indeed Connery’s participation in it was based primarily on McClory and Connery wanting to stick it to Broccoli and Saltzman. As for the film itself, it’s a remake of Thunderball and while it’s nothing special, in all honesty, I enjoy this take on it more than the original. I can hear a few of you booing now and while I’m not going to die on the hill of Never Say Never Again being a great or, for that matter, even very good movie, it’s mildly entertaining enough and Connery is clearly enjoying being back in the role far more than he did in You Only Live Twice or Diamonds Are Forever. This one also spends significantly less time underwater. All in all, it was the best James Bond movie of 1983 and when you’re riding high on the Orioles winning the World Series and waiting for The Right Stuff to come out next weekend, that’ll do.


The Spy We Loved, by Bob Connally

5 Oct


It’s been a year and a half of waiting since No Time to Die’s original release date but as October 8 approaches, James Bond fans eagerly await the final entry of Daniel Craig’s tenure as 007. My relationship to the Bond franchise is a bit of an odd one. I have seen every film in the series and there’s nothing quite like when one of these movies really connects. But for me, there are far more mediocre or outright bad Bond movies than good ones. So why do I get excited every time a new one is about to come out? Because I know how entertaining they can be when they get it right. So with that, let’s take a trip through every single James Bond movie in preparation for No Time to Die.