Sunday, February 14, 2016


Tim Miller's Deadpool is counterpoint (counterpunch?) to the Marvel Universe's customary earnestness -- much like 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy and 2015's Ant-Man, both of which starred enormously likable leads (Chris Pratt and Paul Rudd, respectively) playing characters who reluctantly pulled on a hero's mantle. In Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds' Wade Wilson -- cancer survivor and mutated vigilante badass -- is no more interested in being one of the sanctimonious X-men (he's being courted by Xavier's emissaries) than he is in flying to the moon. That is to say his aspirations are pretty base. Deadpool, the character, is a lethal, indestructible vulgar hedonist, who delights in both eviscerating his enemies (Ed Skrein and Gina Carano) and in holiday-themed sex play with his squeeze (Morena Baccarin). Deadpool, the film, is a celebration (and also a bit of a denunciation) of fame and fandom, targeted at fanboys who still think a quick punch to the nads is hilarious and the fangirls who hang with them. It's glib hyper-violence and a good amount of tightly choreographed mayhem and destruction. Don't forget to wear your cups -- boys and girls.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hail, Caesar!

Joel and Ethan Coen's Hail, Caesar! is not exactly a motion picture. To me, it's more of an entertaining notion realized by Coen Brother cache and connections. I enjoyed both the idea and the execution of this movie about movies and moviemakers. They've written and staged dozens of hilarious moments -- a couple of mildly risible scenes -- and packed the story of movie producer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) who's trying to make a movie about Jesus (this Ben-Hur) with crafty insights and commentary about power, faith, fidelity, communism and a half dozen other important issues but, interestingly, at least for this viewer, doesn't close the deal on any of them. And that's OK because I don't think they intended to. And I think they, self-referentially, make that point in the last reel when studio megastar Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) as a Roman centurion (think The Robe) delivers what should be the crescendo moment at the foot of the cross on Mt. Calvary but, alas, it doesn't come off as planned. And that, in Coen Brother style (Think Blood Simple, Raising Arizona), is the way it goes. Sometimes you blow the line, lose the girl, drop the cash and the deal, but, because this is life, you carry one. Highly recommended for folks who love the Coen Brothers and/or the movies.

Queen & Slim

In the soon to be iconic photograph from Melina Matsoukas's distressing Queen & Slim, stars Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith...