Movies

'The Founder' Portrays Ray Kroc as a Hamburglar

I love biopics. I completely believe them when I'm watching, then spend the next few days scouring the web for how much nonsense I accepted as fact. After hearing that The Founder was on Netflix, last night I watched Michael Keaton portray Ray Kroc as he pried McDonald's away from the brothers who founded the original restaurant and invented its fast food techniques. The film portrays Kroc as a villain and the brothers as heroes. Judging strictly by the film itself, and not the actual facts, I ... (read more)

Fargo Reviewer on Refinery 29 Races to Conclusion

I'm a huge fan of Noah Hawley's Fargo TV series, which just completed its third season on FX. This post contains spoilers, so bail out now if you're avoiding them. I enjoyed the season but thought it didn't live up to the greatness of the earlier ones. For most of the season, the villain V. M. Varga lacked a protagonist formidable enough to be a credible challenge. It wasn't until the final third when the bridge-playing parolee Nikki Swango brought up her game to put his evil scheme in ... (read more)

Christopher Tolkien Hates the Peter Jackson Movies

Christopher Tolkien, the son of J.R.R. Tolkien, gave his first interview to the media last year after being his father's literary executor for four decades. Speaking to the French newspaper Le Monde, the 87-year-old expressed great unhappiness with the Peter Jackson movies even though they helped sell 25 million copies of the books in three years, a 1,000 percent increase: Invited to meet Peter Jackson, the Tolkien family preferred not to. Why? "They eviscerated the book by making it an ... (read more)

Review: 'Kiss of the Spider Woman'

I just finished reading Kiss of the Spider Woman, the 1976 Manuel Puig novel that became a terrific 1985 film. William Hurt won an Oscar playing Molina, a gay window dresser sharing a prison cell with Valentin, a straight Marxist revolutionary played by Raul Julia. To pass the time, Molina retells his favorite movies to Valentin. The book held my interest but was difficult to read because of the experimental fiction techniques used by Puig. Most of the book is told through dialogue between ... (read more)

No Social Networking in 'The Social Network'

I saw the film The Social Network for the first time last night after letting it sit in a Netflix envelope on a dresser for 10 months. I'm losing the will to watch physical copies of movies. Too much work, like calling somebody on a rotary phone whose number has a lot of eights and nines. The movie's great, but there's an interesting omission: None of the main characters is shown using Facebook to improve their social lives in any meaningful way. Facebook founder Eduardo Saverin is depicted ... (read more)

Buying Our First iMac for Video Editing

My son Max has volunteered to help athletes at his high school edit video of their game highlights to send to colleges. The athletic department devotes an Apple iMac to this purpose and also has some Windows 7 laptops. Since my sons all have an interest in filmmaking, thanks to YouTube, we're going to buy an iMac that will be devoted to editing video and find classes to help them nurture their inner Akira Kurosawa. As a Windows and Linux guy, I'm not sure what we need to purchase. I have a ... (read more)

Boy Meets Girl, Girl Renounces Lesbianism

As a comic book fan I've been meaning to see Kevin Smith's films for years. I finally got started over the weekend with Chasing Amy, his 1997 romantic comedy starring Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams and Jason Lee. The movie's entertaining, but I couldn't buy the premise at all. Affleck plays Holden, a whitebread comic book artist who falls in love with another artist named Alyssa (Adams), despite the fact that she's a lesbian. Though Holden's best friend Banky (Lee) explains to him the utter ... (read more)

Rainn Wilson: Failure Was Good for Me

Two years ago, Rainn Wilson of The Office was the lead star in The Rocker, a movie that cost $15 million to make and only earned $6.8 million. It opened on 2,784 screens and earned $1,180,836 the first weekend -- only $424 per theater. Wilson didn't take the failure well, he recently admitted in an New York Magazine interview: I was literally in my car at five-thirty in the morning and I started to weep ... as I drove down the 105 Freeway. They said, "It's just like Kelsey Grammer when he did ... (read more)

The Danger of Employing Redskins as Movie Actors

Although it's getting a lot of flak from publishers and authors, Google Books is one of the most amazing contributions to world knowledge launched on the web in years. The ability to search the full text of thousands of books published prior to 1923 -- and hence in the public domain -- is amazing. I've been poking around it for a while, and I found something today while studying how Americans used the term "redskins" before Washington's NFL team chose that repulsive racist mascot in 1933. In ... (read more)

They're Gonna Put Me in the Movies

I haven't seen the film Paranormal Activity, but I did fill out a web form requesting that it be shown in my town. That's apparently enough for me to earn a spot in the credits of the film when it comes out on DVD. I got an email inviting me to add my name to the credits, and if you click the link the invitation will be extended to you as well. After I filled out the form, I was shown a list of other people who are going to be credited. The list was 3,346 people long when I saw it, and ... (read more)