• Movies

    Movies: Ghost Light

    Pulling off horror and comedy without resorting to camp can be challenging, but John Stimpson’s Shakespeare performance piece Ghost Light pulls it off well. When an irritated actor ignores the legendary Macbeth curse—never, ever say the name of the Scottish king unless it’s in the performance of the play—all manner of spiritual hell breaks loose. The horror here is mostly just jump-scary, but the comedy is laugh out loud funny. Plus, it has Cary Elwes, Carol Kane, and a great cast of other actors. Please follow and like me:

  • Movies,  Television,  Writing

    Stranger Things and the Value of a Well-Flawed Character

    Recently, I’ve read a few of the “We Need to Talk About Hopper” articles dealing with Stranger Things‘ Jim Hopper’s “problematic” qualities. Some of those pieces, I think, are designed to be clickbait–along the lines of the “Why Are Characters Smoking in Stranger Things?” and “Those Kids Need to Wear Helmets When They Ride Their Bikes” articles–but this sort of discussion always fascinates me because a large portion of my job is talking meaningfully about stories and the characters who populate them. Here’s the simplified version of that argument: Police Chief Jim Hopper is problematic because he’s angry and unruly and he drinks and smokes too much. He has Schlitz…

  • Books,  Movies

    In Search of Premium Illumination: Film vs. Book in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated

    There’s a feeling I get when I’m reading a novel and I know I’m in the hands of a master. No matter the destination, I know the journey there will be what stays with me long after I’ve shelved the book, or, since it’s a good one, probably loaned it to a friend. While I’m reading the masterpiece, the thought of putting it down makes me reevaluate my life’s priorities, and while I’m not reading it, I’m thinking about what deals I’ll need to negotiate to be able to be reading it. This kind of experience doesn’t happen that often for me, coming across a book that makes me feel…

  • Movies,  Television

    A Few Notes on The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

    Tonight, just under the wire between 2018 and 2019, my wife and I got to watch The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, the Cohen Brothers’ latest flick. Once I’ve had some time to think about it, I’m sure I’ll write a more detailed review, but for now the short of it is I enjoyed it. Here are a few stray, spoiler-free observations: -This film has many messages for us, not the least being the importance of antibiotics, hot running water, and laundry detergent. -I’ll watch anything featuring Stephen Root and/or Tim Blake Nelson. -I now realize Tom Waits and Nick Nolte could easily play grizzled old twins. This needs to happen.…

  • Movies

    (Not) Watching the World End: Bird Box

    Last night, I skipped everything already sitting in my incredibly long Netflix queue and watched the new science-fiction/horror/apocalyptic/Sandra Bullock-in-a-blindfold flick Bird Box. Most of the reviews I’d read of it were favorable, and the negative takes seemed a little fussy for my tastes. The trailer was promising, and it seemed like something I’d enjoy. Here’s the basic premise: People around the world have started committing suicide, and no one knows why. Right away, we’re thrown into the point-of-view of the shockingly pregnant Malorie (Bullock), who falls in with a group of survivors sheltering in a spacious, well-furnished house owned by a guy named Greg (BD Wong). In short order, we…