Posts tagged "MATM"

Mining Netflix: The Common Mess of a Punch-Drunk Love

Mining Netflix: The Common Mess of a Punch-Drunk Love

(For the optimal reading experience, listen to the film’s soundtrack on Spotify while reading.) 

The phantasmal kid films of the mid to late 1990’s functioned as educational catechisms for my comprehension of cinematic storytelling. And make no mistake, the 90’s were a golden age for children’s movies. With the birth of Pixar in ‘95 and the far too premature peak of Nickelodeon Movies in the latter part of the decade, there surely was never a better time for school to be in session. There was, however, one common denominator, shared by nearly all children’s films, that severely irked me: the obligatory…

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Mockingbird at the Movies: A Quick 2013 Summer Blockbuster Preview

Mockingbird at the Movies: A Quick 2013 Summer Blockbuster Preview

It’s April, and you know what that means? A mere four weeks away till the start of the summer blockbuster season! By no means complete, here’s a list of “big” movies to look out for this summer, based upon trailers, the likelihood they’ll merit a fuller Mbird review after they premiere, and my personal taste in movies. But if I run afoul of the almighty Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer, perhaps my recommendations will change? As has been noted elsewhere, it looks like we’re in for a quite a bit of post-apocalyptic mayhem:

4/5 Jurassic Park 3D: This is the first…

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The Dark Knight Dies and Rises: Sacrifice and Freedom in Gotham

The Dark Knight Dies and Rises: Sacrifice and Freedom in Gotham

[Spoiler Alert – those who haven’t seen it, run don’t walk…it’s fantastic!]

“All their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest.”   -Ecclesiastes 2:23

“Put your sword back in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”   -Matthew 26.52

Nolan has now traced the Dark Knight’s journey from streetfighter to hero, from hero to villain, and from villain to…recluse. Wayne has died to the world and only holds on to the shadow-life of mourning for Rachel, and Alfred drops more than a few hints that…

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Alien Righteousness: Reflections on Prometheus and its “Sequels”

Alien Righteousness: Reflections on Prometheus and its “Sequels”

It’s time to talk about Prometheus. If you haven’t seen it, probably best to stop reading now [rhymes with ‘boiler inert’]. But before we do, a few reflections on the franchise out of whose chest it sprang.

For all of its flaws, the Alien quadrilogy has aged remarkably well. In fact, the flaws are a big part of what makes the series so fascinating. The first installment notwithstanding, that is – it is essentially flawless. Alien might be that rare film that creates its own genre while spinning a narrative so engrossing and visually astounding that its filmic “importance” becomes secondary…

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The Dark Side of the Force: Teenagers, Superpowers and Chronicle

The Dark Side of the Force: Teenagers, Superpowers and Chronicle

With the glut of prequels and sequels hitting the theaters these days, it’s always refreshing to find a few originals that become successful at the box office for their creativity and storytelling. I found that to be the case with March’s Chronicle, now out on DVD, which blends the found footage style of The Blair Witch Project and the bleak comic book realism of M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable. What sets Chronicle apart, though, is its surprisingly thoughtful premise, taking the question “what if teenagers had Jedi Force powers?” to a powerful and logical conclusion.

The film revolves around a high school outcast who, with his too-cool cousin and the senior…

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Mockingbird (Conference) at the Movies: Hollywood’s Love Affair with Love

Mockingbird (Conference) at the Movies: Hollywood’s Love Affair with Love

C.S. Lewis described four kinds of love (based on the four Greek words): affection, friendship, romance, and charity (unconditional love). Since I’m about half as smart as him, I’ll say that, at the root, there are two kinds of love: love that requires something, and love that requires nothing. In this break-out session at the upcoming Mockingbird Conference (Friday, April 20th at 2:30pm), we’ll look at these two loves through the celluloid eyes of Hollywood.

In their effort to get us to put cash on the barrelhead at theaters across the country, the movies often tempt us with stories of love….

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May I Interject One Notion at This Juncture? Betrayal and Grace in Broadway Danny Rose

May I Interject One Notion at This Juncture? Betrayal and Grace in Broadway Danny Rose

Broadway Danny Rose is something of an anomaly in Woody Allen’s filmography. Released 1984, it came smack dab in the middle of his golden period (1977-1992), right after Zelig and just before The Purple Rose of Cairo, when Woody could do no wrong. His increased confidence as an actor and filmmaker showed itself in his decision to vary his character more than he ever had before, or since. Instead of a conflicted-yet-talented college-educated neurotic, Woody plays a long-suffering, working-class hustler, a guy who just can’t catch a break (and you can see why) working as an agent for end-of-the-line nightclub…

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Mockingbird at the Movies: The Descendants

Mockingbird at the Movies: The Descendants

It’s been a while since Alexander Payne made a movie.  He’s one of my favorite directors, and I’ve loved all his films. Sideways (2004) was probably his most successful work, and in the 7 years since it came out, I’ve been anxiously awaiting his next offering.

I loved The Descendants. It’s not an overwhelming film, in the sense that you don’t walk out of the theater thinking, “WOW!  What a movie!” In fact, as I left the theater, I wouldn’t have put it among Payne’s best work. Let the story percolate for a few days, though, and it…

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Steve Bartman: Sacrificial Lamb

Steve Bartman: Sacrificial Lamb

ESPN recently aired a piece of original programming, a documentary called Catching Hell. It was directed by Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, and Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer) who, apparently, loves colons. I wish I could say it was a “great” documentary because it’s about a story that I find absolutely fascinating, but my fascination is, I think, the thing that saved the doc from being pretty sub-par.

The story of Catching Hell is the story of Steve Bartman, the Cubs fan who…

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Mockingbird at the Movies: Days of Thunder and “You’re Out of Control!”

Mockingbird at the Movies: Days of Thunder and “You’re Out of Control!”

Days of Thunder is such a fun movie. For any who haven’t seen it, it’s Top Gun in race cars. Literally. Despite its therefore necessary fluff and Tom Cruise preening, Days of Thunder has at least one moment of true profundity. Here it is:

I would argue with Claire (Nicole Kidman) on one point: I don’t think that most people “automatically know” that they are basically unable to control anything about their lives. In fact, I think that the human impulse is to control every aspect of life, and we react very badly when control either slips away or is wrested…

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Looking Tobey Maguire Dead in the Eye: Heroes and Villains and Brothers

Looking Tobey Maguire Dead in the Eye: Heroes and Villains and Brothers

The latest installment of our “Mockingbird at the Movies” column comes to us from Addie Jenkins:

“Grace knows I would do anything to get back to her.”

These are the first words spoken by Captain Sam Cahill, played by Tobey Maguire in the 2009 wartime psychological drama, Brothers. Though referring to his wife, the line might also strike a chord in grace-parched hearts, or with those held captive by law for God knows how long, be it martial or spiritual. Based on a 2005 Danish film by the same name, Jim Sheridan’s adaptation drops its viewers into the pit of the painfully…

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The Law and The Reaction:  A Stan Daniels Turn

The Law and The Reaction: A Stan Daniels Turn

A “Stan Daniels turn” is a joke. A convention of comedy film and TV, the Stan Daniels turn is named after the acclaimed televison writer and producer, best known for his work (and his eight Emmys) on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Taxi. He was apparently so good at crafting a certain kind of joke that “they” eventually named the joke after him. Here is a classic Stan Daniels turn from an episode of Frasier:

That’s the verbal version:  a character makes some claim about himself and then immediately acts in a way that…

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